Change the People or Change the Policy? On the Moral Education of Antiracists

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (1):1-20 (2023)
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While those who take a "structuralist" approach to racial justice issues are right to call attention to the importance of social practices, laws, etc., they sometimes go too far by suggesting that antiracist efforts ought to focus on changing unjust social systems rather than changing individuals’ minds. We argue that while the “either/or” thinking implied by this framing is intuitive and pervasive, it is misleading and self-undermining. We instead advocate for a “both/and” approach to antiracist moral education that explicitly teaches how social structures influence ideas about race and how ideas about race shape, sustain, and transform social structures. Ideally, antiracist moral education will help people see how social change and moral progress depend on the symbiotic relations between individuals and structures. We articulate a conception of “structure-facing virtue” that exemplifies this hybrid approach to illuminate the pivotal role moral education plays in the fight for racial justice.

Author Profiles

Alex Madva
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Michael Brownstein
John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)
Daniel Kelly
Purdue University


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