An occasional newsletter from The Philosophy Club
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Dear friends,

Welcome to the new school year, with all its fresh beginnings and exciting potential! And a very special welcome to new subscribers who have joined us since our last newsletter.

Today I bring you a couple of updates about The Philosophy Club's activities, as well as an invitation to support the crowdfunding campaign for a new book that's being developed overseas.

    New Philosophy elective for Years 7 – 10 students at Preshil
    Ethical Capability staff development at Birralee Primary School

    Invitation to support the Moral Pictures book project

New Philosophy elective for Years 7 – 10 students at Preshil

Can simply moving your body be a philosophical act? Is 'natural' always 'good'? Can history be trusted? What are the limits of language? Why does authenticity matter to some people, but not others? Does Instagram own your face? Is the truth really out there, or does it all just come down to your opinion?

I'm about to launch a whole term of Philosophy elective workshops for the curious high schoolers at Preshil. I'm up to my eyeballs in new workshop ideas, and I'm tingling with excitement! Through short films, concept games, thought experiments and spooky science fiction stories, we'll dive into all kinds of contemporary issues that have their roots in ancient philosophical puzzles. Stay tuned for more...

Ethical Capability staff development at Birralee Primary School

Earlier this week I gave a brand-new presentation about Ethical Capability to 50 receptive staff at Birralee Primary School.

In our two hours together, we covered a lot of ground! We looked at what it means to live an examined life and make conscious and rational ethical choices. We discovered why this can't be achieved with absolutist ("appeal to authority for the right answer") attitude, nor with a relativist ("all opinions are equally right and true") attitude. And we discussed what sort of attitudes are actually conducive to making and evaluating deliberative moral judgements.

I then presented the goals, ethos and methods of ethical enquiry in school classrooms. I offered an introduction to using constructive collaboration, together with respectful disagreement, to achieve non-competitive argument – or what’s been called ‘friendly excursions into disequilibrium’.

Along the way, we investigated some key elements of ethical decision-making. We took a look at recent psychological research into the foundations of our moral intuitions, and the difficulties – as well as the benefits – of engaging in reasoned argument with people whose views challenge our own.

We also explored a variety of moral frameworks emerging from the history of philosophy, and addressed what to do when our basic values are in conflict. Together, we tackled some really tough moral dilemmas, and took a look at the kinds of cognitive dispositions that are needed to address them.

There were plenty of practical examples, including a video of five-year-olds engaging in some surprisingly nuanced conceptual enquiry, which enabled them to jointly develop a set of criteria for moral judgement.

It was a great start for The Philosophy Club at Birralee, and I look forward to working further with the teachers there.

I'm also keen to deliver this kind of presentation to teachers at other schools -- so if you know anyone who might be keen, please share this newsletter with them, or invite them to subscribe or contact me!

Invitation to support the Moral Pictures book project

Below I bring you a message from Dr Ilan Perez, creator of Moral Pictures, a new book currently in development that will introduce philosophical ideas to young people.
I would like to invite you to contribute to the creation of my book Moral Pictures (by donation or sponsorship).

The book will be completed in Hebrew this year, with an English translation planned for next year.

I believe that ethical reasoning and critical thinking doesn't have to be boring or reserved only for intellectuals. Moral Pictures provides an objective and easily comprehensible moral perspective, with an original and attractive graphic design approach. It describes ethical concepts clearly through graphics, and introduces a range of moral dilemmas, including free choice, abortions, organ transplants, euthanasia, immortality, divine morality, religion and society, political ideology, human rights, social justice, affirmative action, feminism, social conflicts, law and morality, just war, conscientious objection, torture, and conflict resolution.

The book is intended for the general public, and especially young people. It helps to develop and expand readers' critical and complex thinking, as well as fostering an appreciation and tolerance of diverse world views.

Please consider taking a generous part in the creation of this book by donating or sponsoring via the project's crowdfunding website. As you'll see, the website also includes sample pages and a short video (with English subtitles).

I would be so grateful to have you as a partner in this important project. If you choose to donate and receive a copy of the book, I'll contact you afterwards to ask which language edition you'd like to receive.

Heartfelt thanks,
Dr. Ilan Perez
That's all for now!

If you know of a school that might be interested in working with me this year, please get in touch.

I'd love to hear from you anyway -- even if you just want to say hello!

Best wishes,


Michelle Sowey
The Philosophy Club
Mobile: + 61 425 221 604

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Michelle Sowey · 46 Bennett St, · Alphington, VIC 3078 · Australia

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