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Teaching to the converted: religious belief in the seminar room
  1. I Brassington
  1. Correspondence to:
 I Brassington
 School of Law, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; Iain.Brassington{at}


It is not unknown for participants in discussions of ethics to prefix their claims with a profession of their religious faith—to say, for instance, “Well, I’m a Christian/Muslim/whatever, so I think that …”. Other participants in the debate may well worry about how to respond without the risk of giving offence or appearing ad hominem. Within a teaching environment, the worry may be even more acute. Nevertheless, it is suggested in this paper that such worries should not be allowed to impede debate; moreover, a teacher who let such prefixes pass without critique would be considered a poor teacher. In fact, a kind of duty for a teacher of ethics is to be contrary and to play the apostate.

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  • i An elaboration of this claim and a consideration of how we might ever be able to ascribe truth to any moral claim whatsoever—this is no small problem—is given in my forthcoming Truth and normativity.

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