Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Caring about Moral Problems

I noticed (or remembered) today that many students in my class on moral problems do not care about moral problems. "Abortion? Whateve." (Some students cannot be bothered to complete their words.) "Animal rights? [Shrug.]" (Some cannot be bothered to use spoken language.)

What is surprising, perhaps, is that these are not typical slacker students. They are not apathetic about other aspects of their lives, even other aspects of their academic lives. They are very interested in, say, biology or chemistry. They just do not care about moral problems.

Such apathy is also not to be confused with moral relativism. That I can respond to. Apathy, however, is difficult to respond to. The student is asleep and needs to be woken up. Since apathetic students often appear to not pay attention in class, the teacher may try some antics to get their "attention." But this is just to send a jolt through their bodies.

What needs to be awakened is their soul. How is that done? Socrates tried to wake up the soul by refuting the person's opinions. Sometimes this is easy to do, but then the problem reasserts itself when the one who is refuted refuses to admit it. What do you do in that case? Antics?

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