SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Didactics of Philosophy
(Affiliated Workshop, English)

The didactics of philosophy is concerned with the foundations, aims, content and methods of teaching and learning philosophy. Depending on the various national educational systems, the didactics of philosophy has various different goals in different countries. But no matter to which extent philosophy is implemented in the schools -- as a regular subject, as an elective or as philosophy for children -- it faces central questions that transcend national and regional peculiarities. These questions are rooted in
a) metaphilosophical questions: Which understanding of philosophy should serve as the framework for doing philosophy in democratic societies?
b) the rapid transformation of our lifeworld: intercultural class-rooms, digitalization and globalization, international education standards and all sorts of societal challenges affect our understanding of education and Bildung and entail the need to reflect on fundamental didactical questions.
The aim of the workshop is to bring together research fellows from different countries to discuss some of these central questions.


Schedule.

16:00--16:15 Bettina Bussmann: Introduction to Teaching Philosophy (Five proposals)
16:15--17:00 Sebastiano Moruzzi & Luca Zanetti: Which truth for philosophy with children?
Short break
17:15--18:00 Nils Höppner: Plato's early dialogues -- On the Origins of Philosophical Bildung
Short break
18:15--19:00 Sandra Prinz: Philosophy with children: A development of competence-oriented methods
Short break
19:15--20:00 Luca Zanetti: Existential questions in Philosophical Inquiry with Children


Abstracts.

Nils Höppner (Muenster): Plato's early dialogues -- On the Origins of Philosophical Bildung
Why and when did educational philosophy begin? What were the reasons for and first signs of the reflections on philosophical Bildung? And of course, how do we know anything about these origins? I want to undertake a historically and systematically oriented attempt to reconstruct the origins of philosophical reflections on philosophical Bildung.
In my talk I intend to reveal the dismantled discursive structures that define teaching and studying philosophy in Ancient philosophy (see Buchheim; Martens). For this purpose, it is important not to underestimate the philosophical significance or, more precisely, the scope of philosophical Bildung in Plato's early dialogues (see Lampert). In an exemplary reading of Plato's Protagoras I want to show the developmental stages at work in the implementation of the thinking about philosophical Bildung. This text is not only a dramatic spectacle or philosophical strike against the sophists and their manipulative rhetoric (see Coby). It is even more an intellectual debate between Socrates and Protagoras, the founder of Greek Enlightenment (see e.g. Hegel). Above all, the discussion is a critical reflection on the ontological, epistemological, and ethical assumptions about teaching and studying philosophy. Obviously, no one would deny the pedagogical and didactical content: Socrates and Protagoras talk expressis verbis about teaching and studying arete, that is human excellence (see van Ackeren; Manuwald; Wolf). The textual manifestations, however, also suggest a specific course of philosophical Bildung in the underlying structure. In order to understand this immanent logic one cannot apply exogenous methods or categories. For this purpose, I intend to follow the movement of these concepts of thought immanently by reconstructing the inwardness of the textual figures. This will allow me to work out this implicit dynamic and its relevance to our own concepts of teaching and studying philosophy. The analysis of this dimension is a desideratum in the Plato scholarship and in philosophical and didactical studies more broadly.

Sebastiano Moruzzi & Luca Zanetti (Bologna): Which truth for philosophy with children?
This paper argues for two theses: first, the quest for truth is an inescapable aim of inquiry, and as such it is a constitutive aim of philosophical inquiry with children; second, the inescapability of the quest for truth poses some constraints on the theory of truth and knowledge that should be put at the background of the practice of philosophical inquiry with children.
In the first part of the paper, we argue that inquiry constitutively aims at truth. Inquiry is the process of asking questions and answering them in the form of judgment. To ask a question is to aim at receiving a true answer, and to judge is to take the content judged as true. In this minimal sense, to inquire is to seek for the truth. The aim of truth is also dialectically inescapable (Ferrero 2009) because any judgment and doubt about inquiry and our capacity for truth and knowledge would be a move within inquiry. The inescapability of truth allows us to argue against those who take philosophical inquiry with children as not aimed at discovering the truth and supports those (e.g., Gardner 1995) who contend that truth as the aim of belief is at the centre of philosophical inquiry with children.
In the second part of the paper we focus on the following question: does the inescapability of truth pose any constraint on the theory of truth and knowledge that should support and orient one's philosophical inquiry with children? Lipmanian P4C is defended and vindicated within a broadly pragmatist framework. Some (e.g., Bleazby 2011) have recently argued that only a pragmatist conception of truth (and knowledge) can make sense of P4C. We argue against this fairly widespread view. First, we argue that the intelligibility and point of the practice is compatible with several accounts of truth and knowledge. Second, we argue that some accounts of truth and knowledge are incompatible with the inescapability of truth. Third, we argue that some motivations for weakening the realist and objectivist features of truth and knowledge can be captured by endorsing a pluralist account of truth and knowledge which countenances the differences between, say, empirical truths and moral truths without downplaying the role of truth across all domains of discourse. A pragmatist view of truth and knowledge is therefore not necessary in order to vindicate philosophical inquiry with children.

References:
-- Bleazby, Jennifer (2011). Overcoming Relativism and Absolutism: Dewey's ideals of truth and meaning in philosophy for children. Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (5):453-466.
-- Ferrero, Luca (2009). Constitutivism and the Inescapability of Agency. Oxford Studies in Metaethics 4:303-333.
-- Gardner, Susan (1995). Inquiry Is No Mere Conversation Facilitation Of Inquiry Is Hard Work! Analytic Teaching and Philosophical Praxis 16 (2):102-111.

Sandra Prinz (Salzburg): Philosophy with children: A development of competence-oriented methods
The practice of doing philosophy with children as it is known today has its roots in Matthew Lipman's Philosophy for Children (P4C) programme which he developed together with Ann Margaret Sharp, in the 1970s. Since then P4C has been discussed controversially, Lipman's ideas have been developed further and viewed from different perspectives. The term P4C is still used but more and more replaced by Philosophy with Children (PwC), as this term highlights the active participation of the children. However, the terms are connected and the concepts have the same basic ideas.
Numerous arguments about the positive effects of PwC can be found in the literature and studies have shown that philosophy with children ''leads to an improvement of the student's reasoning skills'' (Moriyon & Colom, 2005: 13). Moreover, when engaging in a philosophical conversation, children are encouraged to ask questions, to express their own opinion, to think critically, to take part in a discussion, to reformulate what they have said, to come up with new ideas and maybe even to change their point of view. To prove that, more research has to be conducted and convincing arguments have to be found that Philosophy with Children ''as a discipline, has something distinct to offer'' (Gatley 2017) and that implementing it in the curriculum is important and worthwhile.
In my talk I would like to present and discuss some parts of my MA thesis entitled Philosophy with children using picture books: A development of competence-oriented methods. I aim at developing a toolkit of methods and at the same time point out the competence that can be trained with a specific method. By doing that I would like to show on the one hand that PwC has distinct features and that on the other hand the trained skills can have positive effects on the child's performance in other subjects, like mathematics. In March and April 2018 I had the chance to put a lesson plan that I developed into practice. I philosophized with 121 1st graders of the Musische Gymnasium Salzburg. Among other methods I used tables to structure philosophical content. The idea behind it was that completing the table should help the students to summarize and analyze the plot of the picture book we worked with. In my talk I am going to point out some advantages and disadvantages this method has, reflect on my work with the students, and raise questions for further discussion.

References:
-- Gatley, Jane (2017). Book Review: The Routledge International Handbook of Philosophy for Children. In: Journal of Philosophy in Schools. Vol. 4 No. 1 2017).
-- Moriyon, Felix G. & Colom, Roberto (2005). Evaluating Philosophy for Children. Online: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290944083_Evaluating_Philosophy_for_Children (Date of access: 27th June 2018).

Luca Zanetti (Bologna): Existential questions in Philosophical Inquiry with Children
In this paper I argue that Lipmanian philosophy for children (P4C) hasn't provided enough resources to address children's existential questions, that is, roughly, questions that concern the meaning of existence, death, the nature of the self and the existence of free will.
In the first part of the paper I argue that P4C's curriculum doesn't focus on existential questions. I defend the claim by exploring the texts that constitute the curriculum and the corresponding manuals. I will point out that only very few passages address existential questions, and that most of these passages address them only obliquely. Moreover, I will argue that the corresponding manuals don't provide methodological and philosophical support for discussing existential themes.
In the second part of the paper I argue that the overall aim which provides the motivation for P4C overlooks the centrality of existential questions in children. Many P4C practitioners justify their practice by arguing that its overall aim is to educate future citizens of a democratic society, and/or by insisting that practicing P4C helps children to build their capacities for multidimensional thinking. Yet, existential questions don't have a natural place within this educational agenda. I will tentatively suggest that this omission is in partly due to the pragmatist framework within which P4C has been standardly conceived and developed.
In the third and last part of the paper I will raise some new challenges for P4C that emerge once the centrality of existential questions in children is taken into account. First of all, should we rethink the formation of the facilitator so as to provide her with a background to deal with existential questioning with children? Second, should we introduce texts and manuals explicitly aimed at addressing existential issues? Third, are there special philosophical questions (like existential ones) that deserve special attention? Relatedly, should we avoid some questions and discussions, or should we rather insist on some questions (like existential ones) which are perceived as central by the children?


Organisation: Bettina Bussmann (Salzburg).

Chair: Bettina Bussmann
Time: 16:00-20:00, 13 September 2018 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.004

Nils Höppner 
(University of Muenster, Germany)

Nils Höppner is teaching and research assistant at the Institute for Philosophy of the Westfälische-Wilhelms University in Muenster. His fields of interest are Philosophy of Bildung and Didactics of Philosophy, Plato and the Sophists, Hegel and the analytic tradition (Bradndom, Pippin), Neo-Pragmatism and Critical Theory.

Sebastiano Moruzzi 
(University of Bologna, Italy)

Sebastian Moruzzi is Lecturer at the Philosophy and Communication Department of the University of Bologna. His research areas are: philosophy of logic, philosophy of language, epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy for children. He is currently working on pluralism (alethic, ontological and logical), relativism, faultless disagreement, hinge epistemology, vagueness, meta-ontology, and the philosophical foundations of the philosophy for children and the techniques for practicing philosophy with children in the classroom.

Sandra Prinz 
(University of Salzburg, Austria)

Sandra Prinz is a student of Psychology/Philosophy and English at the University of Salzburg. Subject of MA Thesis: Philosophy with children: A development of competence-oriented methods.

Luca Zanetti 
(University of Bologna, Italy)

Luca Zanetti obtained a PhD in Philosophy in 2018 at the University of Bologna, Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies. His research areas include epistemology, philosophical methodology, phenomenology, philosophy of education, and philosophy for children. He is currently working on certainty, hinge epistemology, the value and normativity of truth, nihilism and existential questions in children, spirituality and philosophy with children, the philosophical foundations of the philosophy for children and the techniques for practicing philosophy with children in the classroom. He is a member of Cogito -- Research Centre in Philosophy, and FarFilò -- Research Centre on Philosophy and Childhood. He also works with children in classrooms, and has recently funded an association that promotes philosophical practices with children.

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