Manuel Rodeiro

Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Mississippi State University

Teaching Statement

I generally proceed in class by endeavoring to be as inclusive as possible (recognizing the merits of each perspective brought to the conversation), while still pushing back on students' views and challenging their preconceived notions. On the first day of the semester, I often tell my students that, unlike other courses, my hope is that they will walk out of each class more confused (i.e., in a state of aporia) about a topic than when they walked in.

Essentially, I approach teaching philosophy as the attempt to navigate my students between the Scylla and Charybdis of skepticism and dogmatism. The destination guiding my navigation is for each student to arrive at their own personal state of reflective equilibrium. This refers to a state of interlocking coherence between one’s beliefs, guiding general principles, and considered judgements about particular cases, achieved through an ongoing process of reflection and deliberation. I deploy John Rawls's philosophical ideal of reflective equilibrium as a pedagogical goal in order to spur student participation toward obtaining a personalized education, which includes knowledge, self-knowledge, and life skills required in the ongoing development and revision of one’s beliefs and ideas.

To carry this out in the classroom, I attempt to maintain a 'view from nowhere,' keeping an open and neutral stance while discussing philosophical debates, so that students feel free and comfortable to put their views on the table. One of the benefits of this approach is that it shows everyone has philosophical beliefs, which reflection can bring to the surface. By utilizing an active 'learn by doing' approach, students, in stating their values, gain greater awareness of their positions as they clarify them in conversation with the class. I believe these animated and enlightening conversations depend on my ability as an instructor to express complex philosophical concepts in a clear and accessible fashion so that the entire class may participate.

Finally, the reason I love teaching philosophy is that each class is an opportunity for a 'lightbulb moment' in which a student for the first-time sheds light on an area of thought they had never before considered. My hope is to continue developing my pedagogical skills so as to better encourage these illuminating moments for every student I instruct.

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Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • Political Philosophy
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Existentialism
  • Pragmatism
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Contemporary Ethical Issues