Beyond Manipulation: Radical Humanist and Care Ethics Perspectives on Mindfulness Education
The chapter considers whether using mindfulness training to inculcate in schoolchildren the capacity for emotional self-regulation has the potential to harm them. A heavily qualified argument along these lines, derived from work by Carl Cederstrom and Andre Spicer, is accepted and its ethical implications drawn out. It is juxtaposed with a view of school-based mindfulness training as an emancipatory practice that prepares young people for the emotional rigours of social activism. To the extent that this training furthers the end of transformational social change, I locate its normative foundations loosely in the neo-Aristotelian and Nussbaumian radical humanist ethical theory developed by Lawrence Wilde. The implications of the manipulation and emancipation arguments are then pinpointed: children can both benefit and suffer as a result of mindfulness training. In view of these effects, the chapter asks, "should teachers continue to do mindfulness in the classroom?" Some logical-moral reasoning problems that inevitably arise when such a question is posed are identified, and consideration is given to the double effect principle as a way of solving them. I conclude that double effect reasoning is eminently appealing but simply does not fit the case at hand. Instead, an educationally germane form of care ethics provides a conditional answer in the affirmative.