Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Teaching Controversial Issues in the Ethics Classroom

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Education Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit follows up on Ethical Theory for Teaching Ethics. It assumes that the significant ethical theories have been taught and the students are familiar with them. It will look closely at contemporary controversial ethical issues and will discuss the nature of the moral disagreement over these issues and the possibility of resolving them rationally.

It will also look closely at the kind of moral education that corresponds with such an approach. In this respect the study-unit will focus on life and death issues; suicide, euthanasia, the conduct of war, abortion, and so on. The reason why the topic has been chosen is because it is the subject set for critical examination and debate in the SEC syllabus. This study-unit is a preparation for future teachers who will be expected to discuss these issues in the classroom and explores the ways in which moral philosophy can help deal with them.

Study-Unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to familiarize students with the Philosophy for Children approach and its relevance to the teaching of Ethics in schools. It also aims to familiarise students with the Learning Outcomes Framework , specifically the Ethics learning outcomes. It also aims to familiarize students with the methodology used for lesson planning and the delivery of lessons.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- establish the nature and source of ethical disagreement in today’s world;
- examine how the ethical theories he/she has learnt congregate around the major ethical issues of our times;
- inspect the nature of these ethical issues and know how they are approached by the different theories;
- examine the specific issues dealt with in this study-unit, namely life and death issues;
- synthesise the approaches and positions taken by the different ethical theories with respect to the different issues discussed.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- engage with the readings for the lectures and seminars in a critical way;
- identify the different ethical concerns raised on the different issues dealt with by the readings and case-studies;
- examine and analyse the concerns to identify the theoretical roots of the disagreements they raise;
- construct arguments for the views they wish to support or to reject;
- exercise skills of discussion and debate to a sophisticated level that will later be transferred to students in classroom settings.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:
- Belshaw, C. (2005) Ten Good Questions About Life and Death, Blackwell Publishers.
- Burwood, L. (1996) ‘How Should Schools Respond to the Plurality of Values in a Multi-cultural Society?’, in Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp.415-427.
- Camus, A. (1981) ‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’, in Klemke E.D. (Ed.) The Meaning of Life, Oxford University Press.
- Hand Michael (2014) ‘Towards a Theory of Moral Education’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 48, Issue 4, November, pp. 519-532.
- Singer, P (2011) Practical Ethics, Cambridge University Press.
- White John (2016) ‘Moral Education and Education in Altruism: Two Replies to Michael Hand’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 50, Issue 3, pp. 448-460.

Supplementary Readings:
- David, O (2000) Moral Theory a Non-Consequentialist Approach, Blackwell Publishers.
- Glover, J. (1990) Causing Death and Saving Lives, Penguin Books.
- Lovlie Lars (1997) ‘The Use of Example in Moral Education’, Journal of Philosophy of Education Vol. 31 Issue 3, November, pp. 409-425.
- Nagel, T. (1991) Mortal Questions, Cambridge University Press.
- Skillen Anthony (1997) ‘Can Virtue be Taught – Especially these Days?’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 31 Issue 3, November, pp. 375-393.
- Steutel Jan W., (1997) ‘The Virtue Approach to Moral Education: Some Conceptual Clarifications’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 31 Issue 3, November, pp. 395-407.
- Tolstoy, L. (1981) ‘My Confession’, in Klemke E.D. (Ed.) The Meaning of Life, Oxford University Press.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

Joseph Vancell
Kenneth Wain

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.