I am entering my second year in a 'Leiterific' program and as a second year I will be teaching my first section in an intro to ethics course. Since I have no background in teaching I am a bit anxious about it. One source of my anxiety is the specter of student moral skepticism! I worry that until I'm pedagogically acclimated that the first few weeks of teaching might be prone to derailment from such conversation stoppers as "Well, that might be true for you..." and "Nothing matters." I was wondering whether you might consider soliciting ISW readers for advice on how to effectively address relativist, subjectivist, and nihilist student comments. I stress 'effectively' because while I've received tips regarding general strategies, I'm more interested in hearing about what kind of arguments philosophers 'on the ground', as it were, often employ successfully. As a new teacher, it will take some time to distinguish arguments that I and my colleagues find convincing from those that 18 year olds will. My skill in conversational philosophy are still very much in development, and I don't want to lose my students as they wait for me to get my chops.Any tips on how to answer the student skeptics?
Friday, July 8, 2011
Responding to knee jerk student skepticism in ethics courses
An anonymous correspondent writes with the following query: