Open for Debate

Bullshit You Can Believe In

Posted on 5 November 2018 by Jonathan Webber

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. So begins Harry Frankfurt’s rightly celebrated essay On Bullshit, raising the important questions of precisely what bullshit is and why there is so much of it around. That sentence is particularly poignant now, three decades after it was first
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Why even bother with political debate?

Posted on 8 October 2018 by Karen Stohr

Debates about politics, whether in public forums or in private conversations, often seem to go nowhere. This is particularly true when the participants have diametrically opposed perspectives on how the world works and how it should work. Even when people manage to stay civil, which of course is not always the case, debating doesn’t usually
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Teaching Intellectual Humility

Posted on 24 September 2018 by Brian Robinson

We have good reason for wanting to teach and instill the virtue of intellectual humility. Those with this virtue are more cooperative, want to learn more, are more forgiving, are more willing to admit mistakes, and even make better leaders. But how do we encourage people to become intellectually humble?
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Identifying Core Psychological Processes with Neuroimaging Experiments to Improve Education in Practice

Posted on 27 August 2018 by Hyemin Han

Following my previous post for this blog, in this post I discuss why examining psychological processes related to teaching and learning can provide useful insights about how to improve education. Many educators might think that they have their own tacit knowledge about how to make their classroom activities effective and that their knowledge is well grounded
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Improving moral education through neuroscience

Posted on 13 August 2018 by Hyemin Han

Thanks to the rapid development of science and technology, scholars interested in morality now have more sophisticated ways to do their research. To date, relatively simple methods, such as the interview and self-report questionnaire, have been available to study morality among human subjects. However, achievements in the field of neuroscience may provide researchers with more
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Speak Up!: Inquiry and Expressing Disagreement

Posted on 16 July 2018 by Casey Rebecca Johnson

In 1994, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray published The Bell Curve.  In it, the authors notoriously argued that the difference in performance on IQ tests between members of different races is due to genetics rather than socialization.  They argued that the difference between African American average IQ scores and white American scores is caused, at
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Am I in an echo chamber?

Posted on 2 July 2018 by C. Thi Nguyen

Spend enough time tracking the liberal and conservative media worlds, and you’ll notice a certain symmetry in their accusations. Each side thinks that the other is living in an echo chamber. Each side thinks the other is blind to the truth because their informational community has been corrupted. The usual thought goes something like this:
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The Heart of Justice

Posted on 4 June 2018 by Paul Bloomfield

The ancient Greeks all thought of morality in terms of the virtues: justice, courage, temperance, and wisdom. And they all thought of the virtues as if they are like skills that can be learned. As Aristotle said, “…we become builders by building and lyre players by playing the lyre. So too we become just by
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Group membership, moral criticism and self-affirmation

Posted on 21 May 2018 by Matt Stichter

Public debates often involve issues that people find distressing, especially if they involve accusations of moral wrongdoing (even in the past) by groups with whom one identifies.  People want to avoid guilt ‘by association’ and maintain a general belief that they are good, rational, and moral creatures. Avoiding such feelings and maintaining such beliefs may,
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‘Implicit Bias’ in public discourse

Posted on 7 May 2018 by Jules Holroyd

The news has been awash with discussion of implicit bias, and the role it seems to have played in the discriminatory treatment of two black men in a Philadelphia branch of Starbucks in the US. Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson were waiting to meet a friend when they were asked to leave; when they declined
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Reflections on Transcribing Multimodal Texts

Posted on 26 March 2018 by Tom Martin

Since the election of Donald Trump in 2017 the media has often seemed to be in a continual state of shock at the brusque manner of the forty-fifth president’s speech. During the summer of 2017 I conducted a research project into transcription methods for multimodal discourse, contributing to the Changing Attitudes in Public Discourse study.
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Intellectual Humility and Conviction

Posted on 12 March 2018 by Duncan Pritchard

Here is a puzzle. On the one hand, we laud people in public life for their conviction, for sticking to their principles come what may. Indeed, we take to be crucial to someone’s authenticity. On the other hand, however, don’t we also think that it is important that those in public life are intellectually humble
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Explaining the puzzle of national shame

Posted on 26 February 2018 by Helen De Cruz

In the aftermath of the EU Referendum, I encountered many people who said to me, “I am ashamed to be British”, or, when confronted with the fallout of the referendum such as the lack of diplomacy exhibited by David Davis, May’s use of EU citizen rights as bargaining chips, or the failure to keep human
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The Multiple Ways to Criticise Stereotyping

Posted on 12 February 2018 by Kathy Puddifoot

Do you assume that the person wearing the uniform in the shop is a shop assistant, that the teacher enjoys the company of children, or that the vegan has a good level of self-control? It is widely accepted that thoughts like these that associate individuals with features due to their membership of social groups—i.e. stereotypes—are
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