Teaching Ethics to Student Relativists

Teaching Philosophy 18 (4):301-311 (1995)
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Abstract

Following from the critiques of moral relativism advanced by philosophers such as Gilbert Harman and J.L. Mackie, the author explores philosophical challenges that educators face in philosophy courses. Specifically, the author accounts for the new wave of moral relativism and its effects on classroom discussions in philosophy courses. The purpose of this paper is to outline various pedagogical approaches that help with identifying student relativism. Unlike philosophical relativism, student relativism can be identified as an unreflective response to or attitude towards moral philosophical issues. The author contends that the proper identification of student relativism will allow educators to effectively respond to and be able to decipher its philosophical validity in order to improve students’ ability to comprehend philosophical discourse. In addition to the identification of various aspects student relativism the author seeks to qualify the ways in which it functions in student college life.

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