Bringing Public Reason into the Philosophy Classroom

Teaching Ethics 22 (2):173-191 (2022)
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In recent years, ‘philosophy as a way of life’ [PWOL] courses have emerged as an exciting new pedagogical approach. I explain what a PWOL-course is. Next, I argue that the standard method for teaching such courses—what I call the ‘Smorgasbord Model’—presents us with a basic problem: viz., the challenge of how to enable students in the context of the modern university to truly experience what a PWOL even is. I propose a solution to this problem by exploring a PWOL that most teachers and students alike already find themselves immersed in, what I describe as political liberalism applied to the university classroom context. I show how this overlooked fact not only offers us a novel resource for teaching PWOL-courses. It also helps philosophy teachers—in a meta-pedagogical sense—to become more self-reflective about and appreciative of our fundamental ethical commitments when teaching philosophy.

Author's Profile

Ernesto V. Garcia
University of Massachusetts, Amherst


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