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1. moral issues in education

broad intro

Mike Yule

on 29 January 2018

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Transcript of 1. moral issues in education

Moral issues in education
Duty based theories
God's will
Virtue ethics
"deon" (Greek) = duty
puts the character of the agent at the centre of morality
"If God doesn't exist,
anything is permitted"
The Enlightenment
The age of reason
rejects Utilitarianism
all humans, as individuals, are deserving of respect and dignity in their own right...
as rational beings
we are truly free when we are autonomous -
when we act according to rules we give ourselves
pain and pleasure are not our sovereign masters ... we are capable of reason
it's wrong to use people as a means to someone else's happiness
What is your reason for not allowing bullying?
the Duty motive
wants or desires or impulses
What gives an act its moral worth?
the consequences that flow...
the motive
"doing the right thing
for the right reason"
as a means for something else
Act on the maxim
hat you would want to be a
Act in such a way that you always treat humanity never simply as a means,
but always as an end.
not subject to any particular circumstance
"the false promise..."
Each of us has certain duties which we ought to perform, or others which we ought to avoid doing...
Absolute duties
But what about conflicts of duty?
duty to tell the truth
duty to protect my friends
Aren't there examples of moral emotions?
compassion, remorse, sympathy...
The 'trolley car' dilemma
Why study moral issues?
Unless we know the basis of what's right how can we justify promoting it?
Unless we know the basis of what's wrong, how can we justify preventing it?
Teachers have a moral responsibility, if only because children look up to you and copy...
You need, for practical reasons, to be able to justify your decisions
Putting it at its lowest...
Michael Sandel
Philosophy unsettles...
But beware...
It estranges us from what's familiar
Provokes us to see things afresh
Self knowledge is like lost innocence
Beware scepticism
"Scepticism is a resting place
for human reason,
but it is no dwelling place
for permanent settlement."
Immanuel Kant
I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no person should witness:
gas chambers built by learned engineers.
Children poisoned by educated physicians.
Infants killed by trained nurses.
Women and babies shot by high school and college graduates.
So, I am suspicious of education. My request is:
Help your children become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths or educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.”
"Dear Teacher,
from Haim Ginott, Teacher and Child, 1972
racist incident:-
"any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person."
based theories
Jeremy Bentham
1748 -1832
maximising the balance of pleasure over pain,
happiness over suffering.
All of us are governed by two sovereign masters:
When thinking about laws...
(or what goes on in the classroom),
consider maximising overall levels of happiness
"The greatest good for the greatest number"
Tom Dudley
Edwin Stephens
Richard Parker
Edmund Brooks
Objections to Utilitarianism
minority rights
Capturing different values
on one scale
To judge whether an action is right or wrong, look not at the intentions
of the person performing the action,
but at the consequences of that action
Cost benefit analysis
Phillip Morris
Ford Pinto
opera v football
long term v short term
Problem cases
Hanging an innocent person might act as a deterrent
Someone has lent you something but forgotten about it
telling the truth
repaying debts
being honest in our dealings
But what about
John Stuart Mill
(1806 - 1873)
Rule Utilitarianism
Supposed to combine aspects of Utilitarianism and deontological ethics
Rather than assess consequences of each act separately , adopt general rules about the kinds of actions which tend to promote greater happiness for the greater number of people.
Nigel Warburton
based theories
"Raft of Medusa"
the purpose of politics was to cultivate
good character
For Aristotle
To cultivate the virtue of its citizens:
Should that not be the goal of our education system?
...the purpose of [politics] is to enable people to develop their distinctive human capacities and virtues -
to deliberate about the common good , to acquire practical judgement, to share in self government,
to care for the fate of the community as a whole...
What might be an objection to that?
For Aristotle
You become moral by practising morality
It requires judgement as well as habit
Cultivate good characteristics and excercise them in the right degree
(the golden mean)
not too much
not too little!
Doesn't tell us what to do
Who decides on the list of virtues?
Is it circular? What is good is what a good person would do...
character is more important than rules or outcomes
so that you can discern the particular features of a situation...no rule can be particular enough
Danger of becoming socially conservative
"washing up"
more inconsistency
When decisions are made on basis of utility instead of laws or rights:
erosion of trust
perceived unfairness
"what if everybody did that?"
tragedy of the commons
(for later in course)
self interest
Legal rights
Moral rights
Is God God, or a symbolic expression of our moral position?
1724 - 1804
the answer to:
"what if everyone did that?"
Ronald Dworkin
But school is also society
individuals learn what are the parameters of their liberties
What responsibilities they owe to others
Humans are social beings

Through living in society they live out their essential humanity
It is the network of those signals, some spoken and some unspoken, which make up the values or morality of groups
Teaching is, in part, an inherently MORAL undertaking
Are you ready to accept the moral burdens?
As teacher, you are the moral tour guide...

Any ideas?
Brookfield e.g.
...not the same as whether we should teach it or not
Full transcript