Skip to main content

My Blackham Lecture next Friday: How Do We Raise Moral Children?

Blackham Lecture 2013: How do we raise moral children? Presented by Stephen Law

What is our best protection against moral catastrophes such as the Holocaust and killing fields of Cambodia? Are such events a product of the collapse of traditional religious authority and the rise of secularism and atheism? Must we either return to traditional religious values and authority, or slide into moral relativism and nihilism? How do we raise moral citizens?

Chaired by Adrian Bailey from Birmingham Humanists, and introduced by Jane Wynne Willson.

Date: 17 May, 2013
Time: 7:00 pm for 7.30 pm start – 9.30 pm

About the speaker:
Stephen Law worked as a postman before first entering university as a mature student at the age of 24. He has a B.Phil and D.Phil in philosophy from the University of Oxford and was a stipendiary Junior Research Fellow in philosophy at Queen’s College, Oxford, for three years.  He is a senior lecturer in philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London, Provost of Centre for Inquiry UK, and a member of the Humanist Philosophers Group.

He gave the first BHA Darwin Day lecture “Is creationism scientific?” in February 2002, and also wrote “Sleight of hand with faith”.

Specialist topics include: relevance of philosophy; philosophy and religion; philosophy and children; moral education; creationism v evolution.

Stephen is editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s new popular journal of philosophy Think: Philosophy For Everyone, and the author of a number of popular philosophy books, including The Philosophy Files (Orion, for adults and children 12+), The Philosophy Gym (Headline, winner of the Mindelheim philosophy prize), The Xmas Files and a book on faith schools called The War for Children’s Minds (Routledge). His most recent books include Really, Really Big Questions, for children age 9+ (Kingfisher), A Very Short Introduction to Humanism (2011), and Believing Bullshit (2011).

May 17th, 2013 7:00 PM   through   9:30 PM
Moseley Exchange
149-153 Alcester Road
Birmingham, B13 8JP
United Kingdom


Daver said…
Do videos of these lectures ever get posted? If so, I'd like to watch one.

Cheers & thanks;

townleystreet said…
I'd second Dave's thoughts. I'm a parent and I'd like to think I'm doing it alright, but I'd be very interested in watching this.
Simon said…
Hello, at the talk I cited an extra case for Liberalism in terms of thought reform being carried out on Priests in China.

The text I got that from Kathleen E. Taylor was here on Page 17 (scroll up a bit):

I checked that you have cited her before. However this I think was cited from Robert Lifton's book 'Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism:
A Study of Brainwashing in China.'

I remember being sceptical about her account of the Jonestown masacre and how it didn't match up exactly on a documentary on the same topic, but I think it was a discrepency in describing a chain of events, but it wasn't that important to the theme of the book.

Lifton has also been mentioned here by a responder on this blog but his 8 signs of a cult is I think generally very important.

Also I mentioned in the car park that there was a kids TV show that taught Philosophy called KNTV which was a BAFTA award winner in 2006: Well here is some of it and I challenge you to try not to laugh whilst watching it. They are addictive. Also I think General Smoliakov belongs in the bottom right of your Liberalism- Authoratarian Thought-behaviour graph.

Popular posts from this blog


(Published in Faith and Philosophy 2011. Volume 28, Issue 2, April 2011. Stephen Law. Pages 129-151) EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS Stephen Law Abstract The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of indepen

What is Humanism?

What is Humanism? “Humanism” is a word that has had and continues to have a number of meanings. The focus here is on kind of atheistic world-view espoused by those who organize and campaign under that banner in the UK and abroad. We should acknowledge that there remain other uses of term. In one of the loosest senses of the expression, a “Humanist” is someone whose world-view gives special importance to human concerns, values and dignity. If that is what a Humanist is, then of course most of us qualify as Humanists, including many religious theists. But the fact remains that, around the world, those who organize under the label “Humanism” tend to sign up to a narrower, atheistic view. What does Humanism, understood in this narrower way, involve? The boundaries of the concept remain somewhat vague and ambiguous. However, most of those who organize under the banner of Humanism would accept the following minimal seven-point characterization of their world-view.

Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism refuted

Here's my central criticism of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN). It's novel and was published in Analysis last year. Here's the gist. Plantinga argues that if naturalism and evolution are true, then semantic epiphenomenalism is very probably true - that's to say, the content of our beliefs does not causally impinge on our behaviour. And if semantic properties such as having such-and-such content or being true cannot causally impinge on behaviour, then they cannot be selected for by unguided evolution. Plantinga's argument requires, crucially, that there be no conceptual links between belief content and behaviour of a sort that it's actually very plausible to suppose exist (note that to suppose there are such conceptual links is not necessarily to suppose that content can be exhaustively captured in terms of behaviour or functional role, etc. in the way logical behaviourists or functionalists suppose). It turns o