This informative article by Joan Goodman got me thinking about respect. I think most philosophy instructors would agree that they teach (and teach about) respect. In ethics courses, respect might be an explicit target of philosophical inquiry: what is respect? What sorts of conduct display it, etc.? Is it earned or inherent? More generally, respect is a kind of intellectual virtue, and even if we don't make it explicit, we attempt to model it and teach it by example.
But Goodman's article reminds me of a conception of respect that students sometimes have and which is problematic in teaching: intellectually at least, respect involves agreement with another's view (or short of that, praising another's view regardless of its actual coherence, persuasiveness, or other intellectual merits). Anything that doesn't exhibit this respect amounts to "dissing."
I came face to face with this conception of respect three years ago when a student came to office and asserted that his C- grade on a paper about Peter Singer's argument for a duty to alleviate global poverty was evidence I didn't 'respect' him. The paper had many familiar shortcomings in student writing: some misunderstandings of Singer's reasoning, objections that were weak or irrelevant, too much heated rhetoric instead of careful argumentation. But the student insisted that in criticizing his work, I failed to show him adequate respect. I had 'dissed' him.
What ensued was a very challenging, but ultimately rewarding, discussion about respect. I pointed out to the student that I was not disagreeing with the conclusion of his paper, but taking issue with its understanding of the relevant material and how it defended its thesis. (This of course is another common student misunderstanding: assuming that any criticism of their written work is a rejection of its conclusion(s) rather than a critique of its methods and arguments, but that's a topic for another time.) Moreover, to deviate from my own grading criteria and award him a higher grade would (1) fail to show integrity and hence to show respect for my own evaluative standards, and (2) in effect condescend to him. I underscored that by taking his work as an attempt to make a serious contribution to philosophical understanding, I was showing him the ultimate form of intellectual respect, namely, assuming (regardless of any evidence to the contrary) that he could master an intellectual task and participate in the larger philosophical conversation.
This particular interaction ended fairly well, but I fear that the view of 'respect' wherein I had 'dissed' the student is not respect, but a perversion of it, and one that is detrimental to student learning and intellectual development. I'm curious if others have had similar experiences and how you handled them. More broadly, how should we teach in light of this (in my estimation) distorted and ego-driven picture of respect?