We are faced with decisions all the time in life. Normally, we think about the possible outcomes and choose a course of action that matches what we take to be of most value to us.
Can prisoners benefit from engaging in philosophical thinking?
Research associate Kirstine Szifris spent six months teaching philosophy to prisoners held in two male prisons. She claims that philosophy lessons can mitigate prison violence and the pervading feeling of drudgery. Specifically, she writes, philosophy helps prisoners question and dismantle macho identities that the prison environment instils upon them. Through asking philosophical questions such as "what is morality" and "how should society be organized" prisoners are able to engage in deep self-reflection, getting closer to the ideals of rehabilitation.
If indeed philosophy classes can provide transformative experiences to prisoners, maybe we should consider having more of them as part of the ongoing conversation about prison reform.
Read more about Szifris' research here: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/prisoners-research-criminal-justice-...
Also, check out "Philosophy Behind Bars," the episode we did with philosopher Jennifer Lackey, who teaches philosophy to prison inmates: https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-behind-bars
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From Plato and Sextus Empiricus to Wittgenstein, many important thinkers have thought of philosophy as a type of therapy.
According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, there are more people living with mental illness in prisons than in psychiatric hospitals across the country.
In 1994, Congress eliminated federal funding for college education in prisons.