Recent attention to character formation as the key to moral education has also regarded personal and fictional role models as appropriate means to this end. Moreover, while one may have grave reservations about the influence of personal role-models (perhaps upon the young by those they happen to admire), serious fiction has often been considered an inspirational source of moral example. Still, while this paper ultimately mounts a defence of the moral educational potential of literature, it is also concerned to press two significant reservations about any and all attention to fictional character as a means to such education. First, since the ultimate meaning of any fictional character and conduct is largely, if not exclusively, confined to their narrative contexts, we should not suppose them to have any direct role-modelling application to the affairs of human life beyond such contexts. Second, and more significantly, since morality is also ultimately more than and/or not entirely reducible to the contingencies of human character, attention to either fictional or real-life character must anyway fall somewhat short of full moral education.

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Author Biography

David Carr. Emeritus Professor of the University of Edinburgh and was until recently Professor of Ethics and Education at the University of Birmingham (UK) Jubilee Centre for the Study of Character and Virtues. He is author of four books, editor or co-editor of several major collections of essays on philosophy and/or education and his papers have appeared in such journals as Mind, Philosophy, Philosophical Quarterly, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Philosophical Studies, Journal of Value Inquiry, British Journal of Aesthetics, Educational Theory and Oxford Educational Review. Much of his work has explored aspects of virtue ethics and, more recently, the impact of literature and various other arts on moral character.

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Palabras clave | Keywords

literature, fiction, character, virtue, moral education