Overcoming Relativism and Absolutism: Dewey's ideals of truth and meaning in philosophy for children

Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (5):453-466 (2011)
Abstract
Different notions of truth imply and encourage different ideals of thinking, knowledge, meaning, and learning. Thus, these concepts have fundamental importance for educational theory and practice. In this paper, I intend to draw out and clarify the notions of truth, knowledge and meaning that are implied by P4C's pedagogical ideals. There is some disagreement amongst P4C theorists and practitioners about whether the community of inquiry implies either relativism or absolutism. I will argue that both relativism and absolutism are incompatible with P4C, as neither one of them can facilitate all of P4C's ideals of reflective thinking, community, fallibilism, care, open-mindedness, empathy, and meaningfulness. I will argue that P4C incorporates Dewey's middle ground position between relativism and absolutism
Keywords epistemology  pragmatism  theories of truth  John Dewey  philosophy for children
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