Teaching Moral Reasoning as a Thinking process.

Research shows that a greater willingness to show our opinions on the phones we use than on the personal data that is collected on individuals. This reluctance is terrifying that we have so little framework to guide our moral decisions. It is felt that it is because many are not exposed to any type of moral reasoning study or how to think. Unfortunately, we are taught what to think in most education institutions rather than how to think.

How are we to know the truth as to what is moral and ethical? What system do we use? Is it deontology, following the rules, or the consequential decisions, of the greater good? How do we know what is so or truth as we do with math? We always know when 2 + 2=4 is right, the equation is right about the abstract form of 2 no matter what substance/form you are talking about, 2 apples and 2 oranges will always make 4 pieces of fruit no matter what fruit is substituted.  Two eyes, 2 ears always make 4 body parts. All manifestations of reality can participate in the truth or absolute existence of the number 2. But in moral decisions where is the Truth? How do we decide what is moral and ethical? Is our decision because it feels good, what our parents, or school taught us? How do we decide what is ethical and moral?

Plato’s idea of morality as a mathematical decision, is not doable as Aristotle pointed out. His idea is to abstract for most of us to embrace.  Utilitarian choices see moral decision as correct when the majority opinion overrides what would seem to be an intrinsic right. Utilitarian moral reasoning goes amuck when it overrides the integrity and autonomy of a person.

There are actions that are intrinsically wrong, like lying and torturing innocent children. Kant paraphrase, said, “we should use our reasoning to figure out our rules that guide our conduct and then it is our duty to follow those rules.” Most evil and bad ideas are not created because a person wants to do bad or be evil, but because they do not think. They do not look for what is intrinsically right as Kant suggested but put the responsibility of the decision onto others, or systems that allow us NOT to think about the decision we are making.

Think back to the last time you had to make a decision, how did you make, what system did you use. Find a friend and explain to them how you made your decision. If you are into technology and base your decisions on a more logarithm way of thinking, talk to someone from the humanities. In your decision making it is the humane aspect that will lead you to intrinsic truth. Intrinsic Truth is irrefutable just as math and can be axiomatic, or that which is so, no matter where you contemplate it.

Teaching  a Thinking process.

The beginnings: At birth, it is known, we are not a blank slate we already have a foundation of personal and society basis of a ethical foundation. These innate knowing are; 1) Not to harm, and to care for young of species. This is apparent in both humans and other species; 2) Fairness and reciprocity, (the Golden Rule, present throughout our world); 3) In group loyalty, a baby knows its species, and looks to its group, caregivers, for leads on social behavior; 4) authority and respect, the baby knows that to look at those in charge. The following is out of love; (5 Chasity, is defined as a kind of innocence over ones’ physical form. A baby strives to attain this virtue through the control of their body. This is also reflective of purity and sanctuary of the body, what it eats etc. We often see Chasity in babies as will.

No matter what society you come from east or west these same fundamentals exists. We start out with an intrinsic sense.  We go from a fundamental stage of focusing on self and survival to an accumulative understanding of social responsibility. Progress does not always happen. There are many reasons, intellectual disability, perhaps an inability to read social cues or a perspective inability. In many cases the environment we grow up in does not present the circumstances for moral development. In most schools we are given facts and tested on facts and our grasp of facts rather than our ability to comprehend and think.

Other ideas effect our ethical and moral behavior. If our circumstances are such that we are well taken care of a child we are free to develop an understanding of morality toward others, the environment, and society as a whole. If our childhood is spent in an atmosphere of abuse, physically and mentally, and patterns of neglect, research shows that we are more likely to not to develop a mature moral and ethical consciousness. In this case our thinking and ethical development lacks empathy, connectedness, and an appreciative knowing of the plight of others.  and how our actions and lack thereof cause a ripple effect throughout their personal and social environment.

Some of the social moral and ethical errors we see perpetuated by individuals are thinking errors, misuse of ability to reason in a principled syllogistic manner; blaming others, where we are unable to see our actions in others’ responses; seeing situations as someone else’s

responsibility; a lack of ability to see our personal reactions to social taunts and ability to step away from them; unawareness of the need for power over others.

 Can we intentionally treat the lack of ethical reasoning by design?

We must be able to teach moral and ethical reasoning by design and not by default. To intentionally teach ethically reasoning would set our society on a different path. A safer society and our world a much better place for children yet unborn.

To do wherever you are… we are all teachers to someone. When teaching at Shundee Polytechnical University in China, it was apparent that many students didn’t have an idea how they would ever be a leader. My seminars were based on my book Back to Basics Management, Lost Craft of Leadership, I approached the first lessons as everyone was a leader in some aspect. If you contemplate the idea you can see that we all have the opportunity to display leadership skills many times in a week; be it one child, or a group where we speak up on an idea. This same reasoning applies to teaching. Each of teaches to someone, many times we teach by example, good or bad. We teach.

Teaching How to Think

Today, as I was writing, there was a piece on NPR about how it is difficult to connect the working of the brain to the mind. The brain is a physical appendage full of neurons and connections. We can study what parts of the brain light up when we cogitate certain ideas, but this does not explain how the mind thinks and reasons.

You can learn in different ways… either by training the individual to respond in a certain way, such as athletes’ do or by learning how to think by exercising the mind. Training the physical body and brain is process is where the muscles are trained without engaging thinking or reasoning by repeating a movement. A kind of memorizing for the muscles. A person can learn facts by memorizing too. But the learning that we are talking about is where the student learns how to think about a subject like math, but in this case how to think and reason using principles that are axiomatic in nature. To be axiomatic means that reasoning (syllogistic reasoning) conclusions are always so. True, no matter where or how you use them and think of them. Just as we spoke of 2 + 2=4 earlier. Math is axiomatic in nature.

A supra athlete is will tell you that achieving excellence is more than training the muscles, they must learn to produce certain states of consciousness before they perform at a challenge of any sort. Artist of all kinds say similar things, they have a state of consciousness they think up to before they begin to perform their art be it painting (or any form of creating visual forms), dancing, writing, and acting.

Teaching at any level is engaging the consciousness of an individual. Memorizing be it muscles, or facts, is not considered learning.

More on March 30, 2020                                                                                                                   © Suzanne Deakins

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