Public Philosophy Network

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Moral Literacy


A group dedicated to exploring moral literacy--understood as the cultivation of ethics sensitivity, ethical reasoning skills, and moral imagination--in primary, secondary, and higher educational contexts and beyond.

Members: 22
Latest Activity: Dec 20, 2014

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Comment by Christopher L. Moore on March 20, 2012 at 12:06pm

Yes, as modernism has bled into post-modernism any hope for common ultimate grounds or authority (revelation or a scientific basis for ethics) has disappeared. But the "easygoing moral individualism" is mirrored by rabid fundamentalism. Neither is desirable, but the first is of far less immediate danger to a free society to the second (though they are both symptoms of the same problem).

Comment by Stephen Satris on March 20, 2012 at 10:26am

I'm not intending to appeal to authority or to invoke it, but it's pretty easy to see that the claims to moral revelation don't really pan out and that the idea of morality being a private matter of one's own heart (or feelings) is false, inconsistent or, at the most, empty. The original claim in the op-ed, that what is rampant among young people is a sort of "easygoing moral individualism" is true -- it  is indeed rampant.  This easygoing moral individualism seems to be a confused mishmash of relativism, subjectivism, and nihilism.

Comment by Christopher L. Moore on February 10, 2012 at 11:01am

Dr. Satris,

I fully agree that the peculiarly persistent American myth that participating in a religious community makes you moral or ethical is often naive and misguided. An aesthetic claim by an individual (what feels right) is also an unsatisfactory grounding for the moral and ethical. But what authority do you invoke to declare them false?


Comment by Stephen Satris on February 5, 2012 at 1:26pm

The last sentence in the article says: " Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it’s thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart."  The second part of that sentence is true:  morality is thought of in that way.  But the first part, where David Brooks claims that morality was once revealed, is false.  Both the idea that morality is revealed and the idea that it is a private matter of your own heart (or feelings) are false.  Both are strong obstacles to moral literacy.  Contemporary religion has largely hijacked the idea of morality, and a very large percentage of the public believes that without religion there really isn't any morality.


Stephen Satris      

Comment by Sarah Clark Miller on October 19, 2011 at 4:14pm

Welcome to the Moral Literacy affinity group!


Here is a recent article from the New York Times to get the conversation going, a piece by David Brooks on the lack of moral literacy among college students. Definitely worth a read:


Best wishes,


Members (22)


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