- knowing that: mental structures for beliefs that are warranted by disciplined inquiry, that is, students come to hold true beliefs about universals;
- knowing how: mental stuctures for effective performances which are ethical; and
- knowing that one: mental structures for right opinions about particulars, where students learn to appreciate unique elements of culture.
If we are going to determine what is worthwhile, we must have justifiable criteria for making such judgments. Reasoned argument is paramount for such justification. Rationality is required.
Reasoned argument for criteria should not be based on what is, but rather on what ought to be. Reasoned argument for justifying criteria should not rely solely on empirical evidence, for to do so would be to commit the naturalistic fallacy. For example, it does not make sense to argue that murder of human beings is worthwhile, based on the empirical fact that murders do occur.
The ultimate criteria for making such judgments must be based on initial principles that are justified by means other than empirical evidence. As examples,
- In Plato's Republic, Socrates put forth the fundamental principles of truth, goodness, and beauty in seeking an answer to "What is justice?"
- Immanuel Kant (1785) reasoned that justice should be determined by the categorical imperative: “Act as though the maxim of your action were to become, through your will, a universal law of nature.” (p. 24)
- Elizabeth Steiner (2009) reasoned that these criteria are essential:
The justification of the principles of universality (impartiality), autonomy (liberty), and humanity (rational benevolence) resides in the intuition of rationality as the essential characteristic of humanness. (Section 13.5, italics added).
Steiner concluded that, on the meta-ethical level:
The principles of impartiality, liberty, and rational benevolence must be true if there is to be moral discourse at all, i.e., moral discourse of which the principles are examples is impossible without presupposing the principles. (Section 13.5.1)
In summary, justification of criteria for determining worthwhile education and worthwhile content must be through reasoned argument from initial principles—i.e., through rationality—not from empirical fact.