There is an emerging consensus that to teach something as controversial is to present it as a matter on which different views are or could be held and to expound those different views as impartially as possible. This raises an important normative question that has yet to receive the attention it deserves from educational theorists: how are we to decide which topics to teach in this way? The answer suggested by Robert Dearden is that we should apply the epistemic criterion: (...) a matter should be taught as controversial when contrary views can be held on it without those views being contrary to reason. In this essay, Michael Hand aims to defend that answer. In the first part of the article he revisits Dearden’s rather thin and unsatisfactory justification for the epistemic criterion and attempts to mend its deficiencies. In the second part, Hand examines an alternative to the epistemic criterion in the area of moral education, an alternative he labels the political criterion, and explains why he thinks we should reject it. (shrink)
The knowability paradox threatens metaphysical or semantical antirealism, the view that truth is epistemic, by revealing an awful consequence of the claim [i] that all truths are knowable. Various attempts have been made to find a way out of the paradox.
The ‘new school system’ described in the Schools White Paper (DfE, ) presents religious organisations with two interesting opportunities. The first is an opportunity to play a significantly enhanced role in the management of faith-based schools. The second is an opportunity to rethink quite radically the content of their curricula. In this article I advance a proposal for the consideration of religious organisations: that they take up the opportunity to develop innovative, religiously distinctive curricula whilst eschewing the activity of confessional (...) religious education. I show how non-confessional, faith-based curricula are possible and offer some suggestions about what they might include. (shrink)
Building on Miranda Fricker’s work on epistemic injustice, Karin Murris has recently argued that children in school characteristically receive a credibility deficit based on a disparaging stereotype of children, and charged teachers with eschewing such stereotypes and committing to epistemic equality. I raise some objections to Murris’s argument.
How should patriotism be handled in schools? We argue that schools cannot afford to ignore the topic, but nor are they justified in either promoting or discouraging patriotic feeling in students. The only defensible policy is for schools to adopt a stance of neutrality and teach the topic as a controversial issue. We go on to show that there is general support among British teachers and students for school neutrality on patriotism and that the currently preferred classroom practice is to (...) address patriotic ideas in the context of open discussion. We conclude with some discussion of the extensive and often hostile coverage of our research in the British press. (shrink)
In this inaugural lecture, delivered at the University of Birmingham in January 2014, I sketch the outline of a theory of moral education. The theory is an attempt to resolve the tension between two thoughts widely entertained by teachers, policy-makers and the general public. The first thought is that morality must be learned: children must come to see what morality requires of them and acquire the motivation to submit to its authority. The second thought is that morality is controversial: there (...) is deep uncertainty about both the requirements of morality and the reasons to comply with them. I draw distinctions between two kinds of moral education and between two kinds of moral inquiry . I argue that some basic moral standards are robustly justified and that schools should promote subscription to these standards by means of both moral formation and directive moral inquiry. (shrink)
R.S. Peters' arguments for the worthwhileness of theoretical activities are intended to justify education per se, on the assumption that education is necessarily a matter of initiating people into theoretical activities. If we give up this assumption, we can ask whether Peters' arguments might serve instead to justify the academic curriculum over other curricular arrangements. For this they would need to show that theoretical activities are not only worthwhile but, in some relevant sense, more worthwhile than activities of other kinds. (...) I argue that Peters' hedonistic and transcendental arguments do not show this, but that his account of theoretical activities is suggestive of an instrumental argument which might fit the bill. (shrink)
Truth’s universal knowability entails its discovery. This threatens antirealism, which is thought to require it. Fortunately, antirealism is not committed to it. Avoiding it requires adoption (and extension) of Dag Prawitz’s position in his long-term disagreement with Michael Dummett on the notion of provability involved in intuitionism’s identification of it with truth. Antirealism (intuitionism generalized) must accommodate a notion of lost-opportunity truth (a kind of recognition-transcendent truth), and even truth consisting in the presence of unperformable verifications. Dummett’s position cannot abide (...) this, while Prawitz’s can. Antirealism’s epistemic notion of truth derives from general features of its meaning theory, not from a universal knowability principle. (shrink)
The structure of strategies for semantical games is studied by means of a new formalism developed for the purpose. Rigorous definitions of strategy, winning strategy, truth, and falsity are presented. Non-contradiction and bivalence are demonstrated for the truth-definition. The problem of the justification of deduction is examined from this perspective. The rules of a natural deduction system are justified: they are seen to guarantee existence of a winning strategy for the defender in the semantical game for the conclusion, given winning (...) strategies for that player in the games for the premises. Finally, it is shown how semantical games and the truth-definition can be given for languages lacking individual constants. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** AZ902009 00003. (shrink)
In the face of rising concerns about citizenship, national identity, diversity and belonging in Britain today, politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have looked to schools to inspire and invigorate a strong, modern sense of patriotism and common purpose, which is capable of binding people together and motivating citizens to fulfil their obligations to each other and to the state.In this timely and astute analysis, Michael Hand unpacks the claims made on both sides of the debate to assess (...) whether love of country is a defensible aim of education. Remarking on the curious failure of engagement between defenders and opponents of patriotic education, he looks beyond the usual arguments for and against, to offer original insight into whether teaching patriotic attachment can be defended on rational grounds. Rather than looking merely to the practical difficulties of cultivating common bonds without misrepresenting or distorting the country's history, Hand's tightly argued conclusion is that reasonable disagreement about the desirability of loving one's country rules out the explicit teaching of Patriotism in schools, and therefore, it should not be actively promoted but rather taught as a controversial issue in the classroom.Breaking new ground in the intellectual debates around teaching citizenship and promoting common patriotic purpose, Patriotism in Schools is an illuminating treatment of a pressing contemporary issue, which will animate and provoke debate amongst parents, teachers, students, academics, politicians and policy-makers alike. (shrink)
Adding branching quantification to a first-order language increases the expressive power of the language,without adding to its ontology. The present paper is a defense of this claim against Quine (1970) and Patton (1991).
I have proposed that the complementizerthat has a pragmatic property of demonstrativity, analogous to that ascribed by demonstrative analyses of the semantics of the complementizer but not impinging on the syntactic analysis of sentential embedding. My account explains a number of phenomena, including the illocutionary peculiarities of parentheticals, the pragmatics ofthat-omission, and consequently the distributional statistics ofthat-omission and related grammatical features of embeddings reported in the literature. By this means these phenomena are theoretically unified under a single hypothesis.Furthermore, this demonstrativity (...) is a matter of degree. There is a spectrum of distinct pragmatic manifestations of this demonstrativity, ranging from the purely paratactic-like interpretation that ascribes no illocutionary relation between the speaker and the complement, and is highly incompatible withthat-omission, to the purely parenthetical interpretation where illocutionary force attaches to the complement and is highly conducive tothat-omission.A more general moral appears when the minimally revisionist syntactic consequences of my proposal are compared to the radical syntactic consequences of Thompson and Mulac's. Even if we hold that the syntactic structure of a natural language cannot be grasped outside of its general communicative contexts, we need not connect syntax and pragmatics so immediately as Thompson and Mulac seem to think. By resisting the idea that the syntax of parentheticals isipso facto different from the syntax of compositional embeddings, we allow some “slack” between syntax and pragmatics, thereby enabling us to analyze such subtle syntax-pragmatics interactions as negative-raised parentheticals. The methodological moral is to avoid too facile a connection between syntactic and pragmatic analyses. (shrink)
Discussion is widely held to be the pedagogical approach most appropriate to the exploration of controversial issues in the classroom, but surprisingly little attention has been given to the questions of why it is the preferred approach and how best to facilitate it. Here we address ourselves to both questions. We begin by clarifying the concept of discussion and justifying it as an approach to the teaching of controversial issues. We then report on a recent empirical study of the Perspectives (...) on Science AS-level course, focusing on what it revealed about aids and impediments to discussion of controversial ethical issues. (shrink)
In a recent paper in BJES, John Wilson examines the question of the desirability of education and argues that the enterprise can only be justified if it is thought to be necessary 'as a means of salvation'. Here I expose a number of flaws in Wilson's argument and defend a rather more prosaic justificatory strategy.
Assuming that the issue of same-sex marriage should be discussed in schools, how should the discussion be framed? Michael Hand first distinguishes this question from the related but distinct question of whether discussion on this topic should be steered. He then examines three possible frames for discussion of same-sex marriage: the perfectionist frame, the antiperfectionist frame, and the practical accommodation frame. He defends the perfectionist frame over the two alternatives: the purpose of state involvement in marriage is to promote valuable (...) forms of intimate relationship, so the case for enabling same-sex couples to marry turns on the ethical claim that same-sex and opposite-sex intimate relationships are similarly valuable. Interrogation of this ethical claim must be central to classroom discussion of same-sex marriage. (shrink)
Because there are good arguments both for and against loving one’s country, patriotism should be taught as a controversial issue in schools. But is this pedagogical approach practically viable in the British educational context? Here we report on a small‐scale survey of teachers and students in secondary schools and show that their perspectives and practices are highly compatible with our recommended approach.
Serious difficulties attend the reading of David Hilbert's 1925 classic paper ?On the infinite?. I claim that the peculiarities of presentation plaguing certain parts of that paper, as well as of the earlier ?On the Foundations of Logic and Arithmetic? (1904), are due to a tension between two incompatible semantical approaches to numerical statements of elementary arithmetic, and accordingly two incompatible metaphysical conceptions of the natural numbers. One of these approaches is the referential, or model-theoretical one; the other is the (...) iterativist's approach. I draw out the two tendencies in these works, with more attention paid to Hilbert's iterativistic tendency because of the unfamiliarity of iterativism generally. I begin with an exposition of this view. (shrink)