Student Relativism: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Teaching Philosophy 35 (2):171-187 (2012)
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I present a novel approach to teaching ethics to students who are moral relativists. I argue that we should not try to convince students to abandon moral relativism; while we can and should present arguments against the view, we should not try to use these arguments to change students’ minds. Attempts to convince student relativists to change their minds can be disrespectful, and often overlook the reasons why students are relativists. I explain how instead to show moral relativists that their commitment to relativism is also a commitment to studying ethics rigorously and engaging with the views of others. This approach is easier and more respectful than alternatives, and openness to relativism encourages good pedagogy



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Brian Talbot
University of Colorado, Boulder

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