published on November 6, 2014
Teaching to the Elenchus
Socrates declared that the unexamined life is not worth living, but if someone opens themselves up to Socratic cross-examination, they are likely to fail, and on a matter of no small importance—how best to live. They will want to be able to pass their exams. Fortunately, philosophers’ avowed aim is (amongst other things) to teach and facilitate ethical reflection. Someone who aims to lead an examined life, then, will want these instructors to teach and to help them to pass elenctic exams on how best to live. The purpose of this paper is to describe and defend a mode of philosophy instruction with this as its sole aim, by responding to various objections leveled against other approaches within the Socratic teaching tradition.