Teaching Ethics in Philippines Schools: 2014 World Philosophy Day
With support from Philippines NatCom’s SHS Committee, the Philosophical Association of the Philippines (PAP) organized a one-day conference on Teaching Ethics at the Ateneo de Manila University on 06 December 2014. The conference, which was also PAP’s year-end meeting was well-attended with 430 philosophy teacher and student attendees, representing various universities and colleges around the country.
Dr. Agustin Martin Rodriguez, chairperson of Ateneo’s Department of Philosophy, opened the conference, pointing out that the current curriculum changes provide an avenue for “possibilizing” creative approaches to teaching ethics, and that these changes provide a novel opportunity for those in the education sector to shape the minds of millions of students in the years to come. More than anything, he said that this also gives space for philosophy teachers to be creative in their approaches in teaching ethics, as most methods of teaching ethics rely heavily on historical approaches.
Dr. Angeles' keynote address set the tone for the day's presenters, each within their own respective expertise in ethical theories. While expounding on their respective philosophical traditions, each presenter’s main aim was to show/demonstrate the possibility of teaching ethics creatively, away from purely historical approaches. The presenters who were mostly PAP Members and Ateneo Professors of Philosophy include Dr. Manuel Dy who discussed Eastern Philosophy; Dr. Agustin Rodriguez who elaborated on Max Scheler's hierarchy of values; Dr. Jesus Principe who presented two aspects of Plato's Politeia; and Dr. Jean Tan who discussed the concept of virtues in Aristotelian ethics.
The afternoon session featured more presentations, including those by young Professors of Philosophy from the Ateneo de Manila University: Dr. Tomas Rosario who expounded on St. Thomas' natural law ethics; Dr. Oscar Bulaong, Jr. who reflected on Kant's deontological ethics; and Dr. Jacqueline Cleofas with her thoughts on utilitarianism and how the recent debates concerning consequentialism can provide a good counterbalance to utilitarian ethics. Finally, UP Professor of Philosophy Dr. Zosimo Lee discussed John Rawls' A Theory of Justice, specifically on the Rawlsian idea of justice as fairness.
The breakout sessions were divided into five themes: (1) business ethics, which was sponsored by Ateneo de Manila University; (2) environmental ethics, headed by Miriam College; (3) research ethics, organized by University of Sto. Tomas; (4) gender ethics, spearheaded by the De La Salle University; and finally, (5) bioethics led by the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. These sessions were done to reflect the specific challenges that ethics educators face, specifically on the difficult questions that students have to confront when they study ethics.
One of the five breakout sessions focused on environmental ethics, which was chaired by Miriam College.