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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A useful piece on "trigger warnings"

I found this piece via Brian Leiter's site, so a hat tip to him. Published in Inside Higher Ed in May 2014, "Trigger Warnings Are Flawed" sets out the legal, psychological, and pedagogical problems with a policy of issuing trigger warnings for potentially confrontational materials. My own sense of it, as someone who has done quite a lot of teaching at university level in Eng. Lit. and Philosophy, is that an attempt to warn students systematically of even the most obviously potentially "triggering" material would tie teachers in at least those subjects (and certainly Law, and probably History) in knots. It doesn't follow that we need to take harsh attitudes to students who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, but as the authors describe there are more effective and professional ways for universities to handle this. I don't necessarily agree with all the points and assumptions made in the last few paragraphs, but universities have great resources available to them, some of which should be (and in my experience are) directed at supporting students with mental health problems.

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