I’d like to raise this issue, explore the possible pros and cons, and find out what others do. In the past, I’ve generally sought to present the two or more sides of an issue (e.g. abortion, God’s existence), present what I take to be the strongest arguments for the positions, the key objections, and leave it at that. Lately, I’ve been a little more open about my own views. I find it difficult not to share my thoughts because, of course, they are my views and I care about these issues. I’ll kick the discussion off with just a few thoughts on this question.
The benefits of sharing and/or advocating our views include:
1. We are being honest and open about our views and why we hold them, which I take to be an important way to model philosophical thinking for our students.
2. Doing so works against students’ concluding that philosophy is just a matter of “opinion,” which I take to mean that there is no true answer to the question at issue, and one can just decide what to believe based on personal preference.
The cons include:
1. Students are hypersensitive, and often with good reason, about professors seeking to enforce their views.
2. Many, if not most, students are afraid to disagree with their professors. They fear it will hurt their grade. This can put a serious damper on discussion in the classroom.
3. When evaluating a course at the end of the term, students often express appreciation for the professor’s “impartiality” or “fairness,” because he or she did not share or advocate his/her own take on the issues.