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Keywords:

  • identity;
  • citizenship;
  • moral education;
  • persons;
  • relational;
  • inquiry

Abstract

Questions of identity such as ‘Who am I?’ are often answered by appeals to one or more affiliations with a specific nation (citizenship), culture, ethnicity, religion, etc. Taking as given the idea that identity over time—including identification and re-identification—for objects of a particular kind requires that there be criteria of identity appropriate to things of that kind, I argue that citizenship, as a ‘collectivist’ concept, does not generate such criteria for individual citizens, but that the concept person—which specifies the kind of entity that I am—does generate such criteria. Confusion on this point has led some writers on citizenship to equivocate between identity for individuals and what is properly called self-determination in terms of their group affiliations and commitments. In the second part of the paper, I articulate and defend a relational view of personhood, and argue that it provides adequate grounding for morality in general, and moral education in particular. While not denying the value of civics or citizenship education, the link between morality and citizenship is derivative, at best. Finally, I examine the implications of a relational conception of personhood for the specific context of schools and classrooms, arguing that this conception is appropriately represented when the classroom functions as a community of inquiry, in which each member is encouraged to see her/himself as one among others. Drawing on the theory and practice of Philosophy for Children, I conclude with a call to reunite citizenship and moral education with their philosophical roots.