Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Judgement calls: the ethics of educational deliberation

Smith, R.D.



In all kinds of ways the idea of judgement has fallen under suspicion in recent times, and opportunities to exercise it have become fewer. It has suffered from being confused with judgmentalism, and from the assumption that it amounts to little more than subjective whim or preference. In the public services of the UK, and especially in education, it has been steadily eliminated by micromanagement and the insistence on tightly specified criteria, for example for assessment, and centrally detailed curricular schemes of work. The growth of neoliberalism, in which judgement becomes replaced by choice, has contributed to these developments. I argue that while the use of judgement does not constitute judgmentalism it cannot be practised in a moral vacuum, and that the exercise of moral judgement is more ubiquitous in our daily lives than is generally acknowledged. Finally I argue that opportunities for judgement and interpretation work to give our lives meaning, and that understandings of the nature of education that are implied by prevalent models of educational research, especially Randomised Controlled Trials and the insistence that educational research should be focused on discovering ‘what works’, further marginalise judgement and the making and discovery of meaning.


Smith, R. (2014). Judgement calls: the ethics of educational deliberation. Pedagogical Culture, 1, 101-114

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Dec 16, 2014
Journal Kultura pedagogiczna. = Pedagogical culture
Print ISSN 2391-9175
Publisher Warsaw University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Pages 101-114
Publisher URL