In a ponderous elaboration of his John Dewey Lecture, the eminent teacher searches for a viable egalitarian ethic. Like...

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THE SCIENCE AND ETHICS OF EQUALITY

In a ponderous elaboration of his John Dewey Lecture, the eminent teacher searches for a viable egalitarian ethic. Like Dewey, Hawkins harbors ""no naive illusions about the separability of educational progress from that of other institutions"" in society, yet his focus is on educational possibilities. He considers genetic differences insufficient to explain human diversity and the complexities of behavior. Cherishing the ""plasticity"" of human characteristics--unique in the animal world--he looks at the origins of statistical analysis, points to deficiencies, and supports them with examples. Scrutinizing the studies of human longevity, a neutral issue, he notes the limited range of significance in their findings, then jumps to the meat of his argument--the similarity of that somewhat slippery data to the data on IQ testing. Thereafter he attacks the circular reasoning and recalcitrant shortsightedness of Jensen and his gang (less comprehensively than Ehrlich & Feldman, above), demonstrating the limited range of significance in their controversial studies. Hawkins advocates an adjusted view of the nature-nurture argument, suggesting that the interaction is complementary rather than additive. He concludes by comparing the growth of children's talents--a preoccupation--to that of trees or bacterial colonies (logarithmically) and finds his definition of equality in a society that commits itself to assuring each citizen the opportunity to attain it. A demanding, philosophical exposition, combining biology, statistics, educational savvy, and uncommon reflection.

Pub Date: July 1, 1977

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1977