Moral education in the community of inquiry

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    Moral inquiry – inquiry with children and young people into the justification for subscribing to moral standards – is central to moral education and philosophical in character. The community of inquiry (CoI) method is an established and attractive approach to teaching philosophy in schools. There is, however, a problem with using the CoI method to engage pupils in moral inquiry: some moral standards should be taught directively, with the aim of bringing it about that pupils understand and accept the justification for subscribing to them; but directive moral teaching is widely thought to be impermissible in the CoI. In this article I identify, and push back against, three sources of resistance to directive teaching in the CoI literature: (i) the idea that imparting moral beliefs is indoctrinatory; (ii) the idea that questions discussed in the CoI must be open; and (iii) the idea that teachers in the CoI must be philosophically self-effacing. I argue for a more expansive understanding of the CoI method – one in which there is, after all, room for directive moral teaching.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4-20
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Philosophy in Schools
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2020


    • community of inquiry
    • directive teaching
    • epistemic equality
    • indoctrination
    • moral inquiry
    • open questions
    • substantive neutrality


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