Why our children don’t think there are moral facts

In this article on the New York Times Opinionator Blog, philosopher Justin McBrayer rightly laments the amorality rampant in the culture under the guise of cultural relativism.

“the overwhelming majority of college freshman in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture. ”

McBrayer lays the blame for this scourge on the public schools, and focuses in on the epistemological relativism pushed by Common Core. And he does a great job of unpacking the dire moral and political consequences.

But he eschews the idea that philosophy is responsible for this disaster. Yet students in many private schools are subjected to the same ideological program. Where does he think these teachers get their ideas? Does he think they come up with them on their own?

No – they learned them in college, where the drumbeat out of philosophy into anthropology, history, politics, economics, science – all the humanities – has been relativism for almost a century. The weighty cultural anthropologists starting with Franz Boas, and including Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead, used their research as evidence for this philosophical point of view.

But Boas studied philosophy in Germany where you can find Marx arguing for deterministic relativism based on one’s economic class, and Nietzsche’s biological relativism allowing the Uber Mensch powers denied to other mortals. And before them, Herder and Hume pushed relativistic arguments. More deeply, however, Kant and others attacked reason’s power and objectivity. Without that as McBrayer mentions, how does one argue for moral objectivity?

Unfortunately, the Malificent of this story lurks squarely in the philosopher’s cave. This is why an education in philosophy and in reason’s power to know reality is crucial – from grade school to graduate school.

Hattip Andrew Humphries. #ResoundingBooks #CommonCore #moralrelativism #RIF_Institute

University Education As It Might Be and Ought To Be

Great Connections head Marsha Familaro Enright wrote a new article on university education as it might be and out to be at The Savvy Street. This is Part I of a five part series of articles on optimal higher education. Below are the opening paragraphs from the article:

Maria Montessori on Discipline and Liberty

Standard education not only fails to teach the philosophy, history, economics, and politics of a free society, but its methods oppress individuality and instead encourage conformity and obedience. It does the opposite of teaching young people how to live as free, autonomous persons.

In the main, the teaching methods at traditional universities have remained unchanged for centuries. Most classrooms rely heavily on an authoritarian, top-down structure of a single arbiter of knowledge, often in the position of lecturer, discussion leader, and knowledge authority, who conveys knowledge to the waiting student-receptacles.

Of course, many colleges and universities are using all the bells and whistles of the latest physical technology, which makes the world’s knowledge available to their students through Internet-connected classrooms, cool electronic-writing technology, online discussion groups, and handheld quiz machines.

But the more crucial and fundamental psychological and social elements to learning are often still ignored, especially at the university level. Yet, a free future demands more than the dissemination of information; where do free individuals learn how to use it in their lives?

Given what we now know about human development, learning, and motivation, university education is ripe for a revolution in its psychological technology.

Students need an educational program that embodies the ideals of self-sufficient, self-responsible, goal seeking, and autonomous individuals. Furthermore, when freedom and autonomy are directly experienced, students become more engaged, interested, and enthusiastic learners and more often adopt the ideas and values of liberty. Such a system for lower education has been around for more than 100 years.

This is why RIFI aims at innovating higher education, starting with The Great Connections Seminar. Continue reading the article here.

Marsha Familaro Enright on Changing the Teaching Paradigm