The need for education in moral values is increasingly being recognised today, but how is it to be conducted in schools? In particular we consider the appropriateness or otherwise of a teacher assuming the role of a neutral chairperson in discussion.Advocacy of such a stance is especially associated with Lawrence Stenhouse who saw neutrality as a procedural device in order to empower students’ own involvement. We point out many of the insights of Stenhouse's approach, but also some of its disadvantages (...) which subtly encourage a popularist form of relativism.We suggest the substitution of procedural neutrality with a different approach, that of critical affirmation. Here the teacher advocates a stance alongside everyone else. This, however, is done in a way that affirms pupils, and their right to personal views, whilst subjecting all views, including the teacher's own, to a close scrutiny, especially regarding implications for the views of others. (shrink)
Starting from support for James's critique of Clifford's dictum, the article argues for holding beliefs, whether secular or religious, firmly but provisionally, remaining open to fresh experience. This consideration prompts reflection on the debate following the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Alternative beliefs were opposing each other with seemingly equal certainty. The justification for insistence on the right to free speech itself requires scrutiny. The article finishes by noting the baleful effects of the intellectual apartheid which has tended to be practised (...) in the West which presumes that religion and reason have nothing to do with each other. (shrink)
Reginald Williams in (Think Autumn 2011) argued that the psychological need offers for endorsing atheism over theism. My article outlines six objections to his thesis, questioning how empirically verifiable the evidence he adduces is, and pointing out various logical fallacies such as illicit use of generalizations and begging the question. It concludes that atheism needs defending on stronger grounds.