Teaching Ethics 17 (2):213-226 (2017)

Recent events around the world point to the dire need to counter harmful unconscious bias. Reams of evidence now exists that literal pre-judgement in regards to race, sex, ethnicity, age and religion among other categories strongly affects our behaviour in ways that when we consciously contemplate it, we would condemn. Using Community of Inquiry methods in developing critical reasoning and empathy offer some possible remedies but also hold pitfalls. The dilemma concerns the fact that if harmful unconscious connotative representations are unconscious, then it’s terribly hard to spot and correct them. We need a better way of exploring our own poorly-arrived at beliefs: we need other people. Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of dialogic understanding allows meaning to be created through the process of discussion. It gets particularly interesting when this idea combines with the notion of a “floating signifier.” This suggests that a discussion could then also alter the connotative value of words, signs and concepts through making what had been hidden overt. This paper explores the ways that the dilemma of damaging discourse could be altered and strategies for interrupting this, including the format of a Community of Inquiry. The promise offered by a Community of Inquiry is that connotative meanings can be made explicit. It also points to the challenge: unveiling hidden bias only becomes possible in a setting of great diversity. In the end, while a Community of Inquiry may not be able to solve the problem of unconscious bias, it may help combat the consequences.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Business and Professional Ethics  Teaching Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 1544-4031
DOI 10.5840/tej201822655
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 51,304
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Contesting Nietzsche.Christa Davis Acampora - 2002 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 24 (1):1-4.
Social Representations, Alternative Representations and Semantic Barriers.Alex Gillespie - 2008 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 38 (4):375-391.
Infants' Representations of Causation.Stephen Andrew Butterfill - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (3):126-127.
How is Climate Change Harmful? Hartzell-Nichols - 2012 - Ethics and the Environment 17 (2):97-110.
Lattice Representations for Computability Theory.Peter A. Fejer - 1998 - Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 94 (1-3):53-74.


Added to PP index

Total views
8 ( #905,497 of 2,330,104 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #254,915 of 2,330,104 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes