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How can a teacher of students with SEMHD unhide moral value? (A Wittgenstein-influenced perspective)

How can a teacher of students with SEMHD unhide moral value? (A Wittgenstein-influenced perspective)
How can a teacher of students with SEMHD unhide moral value? (A Wittgenstein-influenced perspective)
This thesis proposes and exemplifies a philosophical method for untangling moral confusions faced by teachers, specifically of students with social, emotional and mental health difficulties [SEMHD].

D. Z. Phillips (1979), following the philosophical approach of Ludwig Wittgenstein, believed that teachers generally command a clear view of moral value in education; that is, in any given situation, it is normally clear, or obvious to us what we ought to do. He, again following the lead of Wittgenstein, suggests that what we consider to be ethical or philosophical problems are just confusions caused by our inability to see the situation clearly.

This thesis contends that such confusions arise because moral value has become hidden by a misplaced desire for foundational facts, or certainty. This desire is misplaced because moral value is absolute value, and this can only be shown and not said. Any belief that there are moral facts (in an absolute sense) is based on a philosophical illusion and results in various forms of dogmatism. Therefore, the recognition, or unhiding of moral value is a methodological issue, in that it requires us to develop a way of looking at problems that necessarily involves the virtues of being tentative, of recognising the incompleteness of our utterances, of humility. This methodological approach is best described by Simone Weil’s (1951, 2005) notion of paying attention, and it is work that needs to be undergone on one’s self. To respond to a situation correctly is to recognise (and accept) its contingency, and thus ascribe absolute (i.e. moral) value to all aspects of it. However, when we hide this contingency behind a veil of one’s own expectations, of one’s own dogma, we can only ascribe relative value to it. Thus, ethical confusions are like visual illusions that are solved by looking at them from different aspects.

In the first half of the thesis, this philosophical method is developed referencing relevant literature. In the second half, that method is demonstrated in an ethnographic study of one teacher-researcher’s experiences teaching students with social, emotional and mental health difficulties.
University of Southampton
Andrews, Bernard
8c025353-0216-4c3c-8958-588452e82ae6
Andrews, Bernard
8c025353-0216-4c3c-8958-588452e82ae6
Nind, Melanie
b1e294c7-0014-483e-9320-e2a0346dffef
Azaola, Marta
9ac43b18-a969-4877-a1b8-62bb4541da82

Andrews, Bernard (2018) How can a teacher of students with SEMHD unhide moral value? (A Wittgenstein-influenced perspective). University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 202pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis proposes and exemplifies a philosophical method for untangling moral confusions faced by teachers, specifically of students with social, emotional and mental health difficulties [SEMHD].

D. Z. Phillips (1979), following the philosophical approach of Ludwig Wittgenstein, believed that teachers generally command a clear view of moral value in education; that is, in any given situation, it is normally clear, or obvious to us what we ought to do. He, again following the lead of Wittgenstein, suggests that what we consider to be ethical or philosophical problems are just confusions caused by our inability to see the situation clearly.

This thesis contends that such confusions arise because moral value has become hidden by a misplaced desire for foundational facts, or certainty. This desire is misplaced because moral value is absolute value, and this can only be shown and not said. Any belief that there are moral facts (in an absolute sense) is based on a philosophical illusion and results in various forms of dogmatism. Therefore, the recognition, or unhiding of moral value is a methodological issue, in that it requires us to develop a way of looking at problems that necessarily involves the virtues of being tentative, of recognising the incompleteness of our utterances, of humility. This methodological approach is best described by Simone Weil’s (1951, 2005) notion of paying attention, and it is work that needs to be undergone on one’s self. To respond to a situation correctly is to recognise (and accept) its contingency, and thus ascribe absolute (i.e. moral) value to all aspects of it. However, when we hide this contingency behind a veil of one’s own expectations, of one’s own dogma, we can only ascribe relative value to it. Thus, ethical confusions are like visual illusions that are solved by looking at them from different aspects.

In the first half of the thesis, this philosophical method is developed referencing relevant literature. In the second half, that method is demonstrated in an ethnographic study of one teacher-researcher’s experiences teaching students with social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

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Published date: June 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 422160
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/422160
PURE UUID: bb74f0ce-9bf5-4bfe-8567-cf9f03ecdd73
ORCID for Melanie Nind: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4070-7513

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Date deposited: 18 Jul 2018 16:30
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 01:43

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