Philosophy

21st July 2000 at 01:00
EXPLORING ETHICS. By Jeremy Hayward, Gerald Jones and Marilyn Mason. John Murray pound;35.

With ethics cropping up on all sorts of syllabuses, such as citizenship, PSHE, philosophy and critical thinking, Exploring Ethics has arrived not a moment too soon. It is based on the premise that the best way to teach the subject is through structured activities such as games and role-plays. This way ethics is about thinking through dilemmas and the principles that underlie them.

There are 16 different activities in the book, which includes photocopiable worksheets and materials. With the exception of the incongruous questionnaire "Are You a Humanist?", each one brings to life issues at the heart of ethics, ranging from the meta-ethical question of what morality is about, to practical ssues such as our responsibilities to the environment. In "Health or Wealth", students have to make tough financial and ethical choices about who receives medical treatment and who doesn't. And the "Universalisability Challenge" is surely the most accessible introduction to Kant yet devised.

Crucially, the activities work. The authors have been developing their methods and materials for several years in sixth-forms, adult education and teacher training colleges. I have seen them in action and used some of their methods myself, and can testify to their ability to bring clarity to sometimes esoteric concepts. This is serious fun which teaches us not what, but how, to think about ethics.

Julian Baggini

Julian Baggini is editor of 'The Philosophers' Magazine'


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