Thursday, October 31, 2013

Philosophy degree - why'd you want to study something useless like that?

Also - it's fascinating.

Heythrop College - my welcome speech for Open day yesterday

Welcome speech

I have been teaching philosophy at Heythrop College for seventeen years. This was my first full-time teaching appointment after leaving Oxford. Unlike many academics keen to climb the career ladder - and who consequently tend to migrate from one institution to another at the beginning of their careers - I have stayed put. I have remained here at Heythrop for my entire career. Why?

The answer lies in what I discovered when I arrived here. I quickly discovered just how unique and valuable an institution Heythrop College is.


Friday, October 25, 2013

THE 'YOU CAN'T PROVE IT EITHER WAY" MOVE A bit from draft for my DK book Companion Guide to Philosophy


(this was cut down in published version)

Reasonableness comes in degrees (B heading)


INTRO: Beliefs can be more or less reasonable. There is, if you like, a scale of reasonableness on which beliefs may be located. Unfortunately, that reasonableness is a matter of degree is often overlooked. It’s sometimes assumed that if neither a belief A, nor its denial B, are conclusively “proved”, then the two beliefs must be more or less equally reasonable or unreasonable. As we will see, this assumption is false.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My book The War For Children's Minds

My book The War For Children's Minds. Amazon.co.uk.



PHILIP PULLMAN SAYS: 'The War for Children's Minds is a brilliantly clear and convincingly argued defence of liberalism in moral education. Stephen Law examines and demolishes all the arguments in favour of authoritarian ways of teaching, and shows that in spite of the insistence of popular commentators from the religious right, a liberal and rational examination and discussion of moral questions does not lead to relativism and the decay of ethical behaviour, but can in fact be the best defence against them. This book won't be read by popular journalists: they will attack it without reading it. But it should be read by every teacher, every parent, and every politician. What's more, it should form the subject for discussion in every church, synagogue, mosque, and religious youth group. It's one of the most engaging as well as one of the most necessary books that I've ever read in the field of moral education.' 

CHURCH TIMES SAYS '...this volume has a hugely significant contribution to make. It is also highly readable, and provides a useful pocket guide to current philosophical thinking - a sort of religious Bill Bryson.'

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Paper for conference this weekend in Graz, Austria


Here's a short paper that is adapted from parts of my book The War For Children's Minds. Title taken from the event, which is focused on Philosophy for Children. Austrian Centre for Philosophy with Children and Youth. Details here. Apologies for font issues (I can't solve them)

Do the individual and his or her rights disappear behind the over-emphasis on cultural identity?

Stephen Law

My approach to this question will be to look at two arguments for restricting young people’s freedom of thought and expression on the grounds that this is necessary if they are to develop a robust cultural and moral identity.

I favour what I call a Liberal approach to moral and religious education. By a Liberal approach, I mean an approach that emphasises the importance of encouraging young people to think independently and make their own judgements on these important matters. A Liberal approach lies at the opposite end of the scale to what I term an Authoritarian approach, which encourages an attitude of deference to some external authority. According to Authoritarians, young people should be raised to realize that what is right or wrong, religiously true or false, is not for them to judge – they should defer to those who know.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Feedback on my books, writing, blog, etc. needed for "impact" please

I really need some quotes to demonstrate how either of these books:

Humanism: A Very Short Intro
Believing Bullshit

or my blogging, debates, etc (especially the Evil God Challenge and stuff on rationality of theism) has had some impact on e.g. on your teaching, your life, etc. I need quotes I can attribute though so if you don't want to post your name here and/or prefer to send me something confidentially send it to me to think@royalinstitutephilosophy.org

thanks...