Letter: Yes, schools can teach us morality

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The Independent Online
Yes, schools can teach us morality

Sir: Morality can very much be taught (leading article, 28 October). It has been taught as a philosophical discipline for as long as universities have existed. Indeed, it can be taught at school level, as secular alternatives to religious education in German schools demonstrate.

Clearly, the mainstream religions are not any longer in the situation to provide moral guidance. Their history of mass murder and violation of their own codes of moral conduct make this point time and again.

However, you seem to confuse the issue of teaching ethics, which is easy, with living a moral life. We can teach students in school what they ought to do and how they ought to live their lives. Even though there is a wide range of differing ethical theories around, their practical conclusions are not that different in most situations.

The question, however, that many young people ask in a country ravaged by 17 years of Conservative rule, is: why should they live a moral life? As a society and as ethicists we need to provide an answer to this question, and indeed, I think we need to provide this answer at a very early stage in our education of children.


Lecturer in Applied Ethics

University of Central Lancashire