The Ethics of Mathematics By Dr John Jensen

     “The Ethics of Mathematics: Is Mathematics Harmful” is a paper by University of Exeter Professor Paul Ernest, and published as a chapter in a 2018 textbook he edited called The Philosophy of Mathematics Education Today.

     Here is the paper’s abstract:

“In this chapter I challenge the idea that mathematics is an unqualified force for good. Instead I show the harm that learning mathematics can inadvertently cause unless it is taught and applied carefully. I acknowledge that mathematics is a widespread force for good but make the novel case that there is significant collateral damage caused by learning mathematics. I describe three ways in which mathematics causes collateral damage. First, the nature of pure of mathematics itself leads to styles of thinking that can be damaging when applied beyond mathematics to social and human issues. Second the applications of mathematics in society can be deleterious to our humanity unless very carefully monitored and checked. Third, the personal impact of learning mathematics on learners’ thinking and life chances can be negative for a minority of less successful students, as well as potentially harmful for successful students. I end with a recommendation for the inclusion of the philosophy and ethics of mathematics alongside its teaching all stages from school to university, to attempt to reduce or obviate the harm caused; the collateral damage of learning mathematics.”

     On this line of postmodern, sociology of knowledge reasoning, mathematics harms the dumbest by making them feel inadequate, and conditions the very capable to ignore “ethical” values and do research with the military, or whatever is bad this week. Who in the real sciences cannot but dislike sociology? Any subject, including sociology, could make those intellectually challenged feel bad about themselves – but so what? And, as for the promotion of ethical ignorance, that is not limited to mathematics, but is found in all sciences, where monetary value over-rides the disinterested search for truth. Mathematics itself is nothing special, and probably the least utilitarian of the sciences, compared to physics and biology, and pharmacology. It would be more constructive for eager sociologists of knowledge to focus on where the real power is:

Postscript: No sooner had I put the finishing touches on this magnificent essay then I saw yet another attempt to Social Justice Warriorise mathematics:

“A professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago is encouraging others to teach “math for social justice” to help fight the “oppressive status quo” in the United States. “The Struggle is Pedagogical: Learning To Teach Critical Mathematics” was penned by Professor Eric Gutstein, who writes in a new textbook that the time is nigh for social justice math considering the “racist and sexist billionaire in the White House.” “How does one shift contexts from ostensibly apolitical ones to those that are explicitly political (assuming one’s mathematics teaching is contextualized at all)?”   Tweet This Gutstein, who notes that he once taught a “math for social justice” class at the Social Justice High School in Chicago, argues that teaching “critical mathematics” isn’t an option for math teachers, but rather, a “responsibility to our future.”

“We are in an historical period that challenges us to action in ways that we probably cannot fully understand,” Gutstein asserts. “Teaching in critical ways is not optional in the present juncture. We have a responsibility to our future and our planet, to life and all species,” he adds. “What we do in the classroom matters, for today and tomorrow, and the myriad possibilities for resistance and transformation are inextricably and dialectically related to the intensity of the crises we face.” Reflecting on his longstanding commitment to social justice, Gutstein laments that he has had difficulties converting other math teachers into vectors of “social justice pedagogies” to promote “revolutionary” and “radical” teachings. Traditional mathematics education, he complains, “is not sufficient and does not address many issues” necessary to “critical mathematics.”

     So, you see nothing is safe from the ravages of the Left. There is little point arguing with them, for they are attempting to deconstruct “rationality.” We need to recognise that this is a political battle for nothing short than the survival of the West and Christendom.



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Sunday, 25 October 2020
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to