There has been much debate recently about the meaning, place and function of “character” and “character traits” in Virtue Ethics. For example, a number of philosophers have argued recently that Virtue Ethics would be strengthened as a theory by the omission of talk of character traits; recent neuroscientific studies have suggested that there is scope for scepticism about the existence of such traits. I will argue that both approaches are flawed and unconvincing: in brief, the first approach tends to be (...) predicated on a narrow or insufficient conception of “character” and “character traits”; the second approach tends to go well beyond the available (empirical) evidence. Finally, I will argue that it is possible to point to a philosophy of education that is deeply informed by an understanding of virtue and ethics in which the concept of character has a coherent and meaningful role. (shrink)
Though there is much interest nowadays in "aporias" there is relatively little research on the relation between these aporias and deconstruction, and further, between these two and the philosophy of education. First, it will be argued here that a sufficient understanding of the aporias must preserve the complexity of Aristotle’s own understanding and explications, or in other words, must avoid the reductive approaches one sometimes finds in some recent commentaries on studies of Aristotle’s aporias. Second, it will be argued that (...) some critiques of Aristotelian aporias, such as a deconstructive critique, require careful scrutiny. Third it will be argued that the complex Aristotelian understanding of aporias is by no means a tired or exhausted paradigm - far from it; it has rather some significant implications for educators and in relation to educational thinking in the twenty first century, especially when understood in relation to Wittgenstein’s work on some questions, some language games, as knots in our understanding (significantly, Aristotle used just the same kind of metaphor in relation to aporias). (shrink)
The links between utopian and dystopian imaginaries, computer mediated communication technologies and the digital divide, in its numerous forms, as well as the links between these things and science fiction, are relatively under-researched. It will be argued here that the tendency to view the internet in terms of utopian or dystopian imaginaries is problematic on a number of levels; it will also be argued that science fiction films which are framed in terms of informatics and computer mediated communication technologies, such (...) as 2001 and The Matrix trilogy, actually problematise such imaginaries. (shrink)
Many philosophies of engagement build upon pedagogical, metaphysical, epistemological and ethical frameworks, particularly Virtue Ethics frameworks. However, a glance at the literature suggests that there are many debates about the nature, meaning, value and application of such things. In this paper, I will look at some recent empirical work (particularly in neuroscience) on virtues. I will argue that not only do such (empirical) studies enrich and deepen our understanding of virtues and indeed of virtue ethics; when combined with a reinterpretation (...) of some key parts of virtue ethics, drawn from Aristotle, it may be possible to respond coherently to some well-‐known “misgivings” about virtue ethics (and indeed its range of possible applications in education), namely that 1) ‘the previous history of virtue-‐educational initiatives does not augur well for the prospects of future ones’; 2) ‘the study of virtue and character lacks a clear empirical methodology’; 3) ‘we know very little about the impact of previous interventions in this field.’(Kristjánsson, 2013) It may also make possible a more cogent explanation of the place of eudaimonia, if any, in modern (higher) education. (shrink)
We do indeed “live and work in a time when the issues facing education, many of which have been with us for a considerable period, are being approached primarilythrough measurement – classroom assessment, research methods, standardized testing, international comparisons”. It is also true that “we do not often stop to consider what counts – and alternatively, what doesn’t count – in a climate where measuring up to a standard is the name of the game. At a deeper level, we rarely (...) raise questions about measurement itself.” Heidegger argued that what is “most thought provoking [in this ‘thought provoking age’] is that we are still not thinking,” in What is called thinking? . This somewhat startling assertion deserves careful attention especially in relation to the quote above . Heidegger’s assertion is pertinent for a number of reasons: he associated this “not thinking” with a “critical moment in history”, with a “call”, and with a “miscalculation”. I will argue that it is important to reflect on a number of questions: what is thinking, especially in relation to measurement? Was Heidegger correct in arguing that we have “miscalculated” in so far as we have sought “the safety of the mere drive for calculation” ? And how does the desire for a higher form of “representational thinking” in these contexts serve and promote a number of aims in higher education, such as learning and even “flourishing”? I will attempt to provide answers to a number of these questions by reflecting on the broad but fundamentally important question of measurement and its limits. (shrink)
The question of the ethical life is arguably one of the most compelling, and urgent, questions of our time. As Peter Singer, among others, has pointed out, almost 10 million children die each year due to poverty, some of whom would not die if the amount of aid that we now offer increases significantly. As Singer has also pointed out, the exploitation of human beings and other animals is a major ethical and practical concern. There can be little reasonable doubt (...) that pain and suffering abound, in the world today, due to many causes such as poverty, disease, environmental degradation and destruction and anthropocentrism among others, just as there can be little reasonable doubt that some of the pain and suffering is preventable. So, what does it mean to live ethically today? Does it mean taking the point of view of the universe, as Sidgwick put it, memorably, rather than a narrow anthropocentric or speciesist view? Does it mean living in accordance with duties or obligations, or in light of recognised virtues, or with the minimisation of pain and suffering primarily in mind? Does it entail a consideration of the interests of other species and a rejection of the principle of the sanctity of human life? Does it mean not eating animals when other healthy alternatives are available, especially when those animals have been treated in ways that are inconsistent with their interests, whatever they may be? Does it mean taking active steps to reduce poverty on our part on a day to day basis? Is ethics exhausted in some sense today? And if we could reach some consensus on these questions, what difference would the ethical life make? Some argue that speciesism and the exploitation of human beings and other animals might diminish; that pain and suffering, especially gratuitous pain and suffering, would decrease, or at the very least, not increase; or that we will become more aware of the limitations of things such as "the traditional ethic of the sanctity of life", as Singer calls it. Some argue that the ethical life is closely related to a life of relationships, reflection and deliberation, all of which deepen our understanding and enrich us personally. Others argue that the ethical life is closely related to our search for a meaningful life - that the ethical life can help us to find meaning in a world in which "meaning", defined broadly, can seem elusive, enigmatic or unsubstantial. These and related issues and questions are explored in this collection, which illustrates the relevance, vitality and dynamism of ethics today. (shrink)
This book examines and clarifies the nature, meaning, significance, richness and vitality of the sacred, and several key theories of the sacred, in the context of science and religion, and philosophical ontology.