Reflections on some familiar issues: Analytic philosophy goes to school

Laurance Joseph SPLITTER

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Much of the discourse about education assumes that as times and circumstances change, so too do the key goals, ideals and directions of education. I resist this assumption, partly on the foundationalist ground that if we get the basics right, they should be right for ever; and partly because if, as we often hear, a good education is one that prepares students to face, respond to, even create, their own futures, whatever form those futures take, then once again, it is not clear that this meta-level goal changes over time. As it happens, I maintain that “the basics”, in the above sense, well and truly cover the desired forms of preparation which, following Dewey, centre on the “meaning imperative”, i.e. showing students how, and encouraging them, to extract meaning from their present-day experiences is both the necessary and sufficient requirement of education. Philosophy has a role to play here, not just as a worthy discipline worthy in its own right, but as a way of sharpening and clarifying our thinking about key educational questions. In this presentation, I shall apply an analytic scalpel to several contentious issues, including: ongoing territorial disputes about the place of moral and religious education in public schools, and how – if at all – the experience of schooling helps shape our emerging “identities” (whatever that means precisely). In reflecting on these familiar issues, I also call into question the deep-rooted duality of subjective and objective, and identify some important educational implications for Donald Davidson’s demolition of this distinction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Splitter, L. (2011, December). Reflections on some familiar issues: Analytic philosophy goes to school. Paper presented at the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia (PESA) conference 2011: Educational Philosophy and Theory and Policy Futures in Education, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.


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