While at Warwick, Dr John Tillson was a Teaching Fellow with academic responsibilities for admissions, outreach and recruitment activities. David Woods has taken over this role. Dr Tillson is now Lecturer in Philosophy of Education at Liverpool Hope University.
- PhD Philosophy of Education, Dublin City University, Institute of Education.
- MA Philosophy of Education, University College London, Institute of Education
- PGCE Religious Education (Secondary), University College London, Institute of Education
- BA Philosophy, University of Durham
Dr Tillson completed his doctoral studies on a scholarship from the Irish Centre for Religious Education in 2015. In the final year of his doctoral studies he taught undergraduate and postgraduate Philosophy of Education at Dublin City University. After defending his thesis he worked as a Teaching Fellow in Philosophy at St Patrick’s College, Dublin City University, teaching existentialism and the philosophy of education. In September 2018 he became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and in November of the same year he became a full fellow.
He is the author of Children, Religion and the Ethics of Influence (Bloomsbury, 2019) and has published peer reviewed articles on video game ethics, Curriculum Theory, ethics education, religious education, and educational epistemology and metaphysics. He has presented papers at academic proceedings around Europe, North America and Australasia, and has been awarded honorary lifetime membership of Humanists UK, the Conway Hall Ethical Society, and of Trinity College Dublin’s Metaphysical Society.
The ethics and nature of formative influence; religious education; moral education; philosophy of education; ethical theory; philosophy of religion.
Research grants and scholarships
Research Grant: Principal Investigator ($39,969.50) with Winston Thompson (Co-PI), ‘Pedagogies of Punishment: How and Why Should Schools Punish Students (If At All)?' awarded by the Centre for Ethics and Education (2019-2020)
PHD Scholarship (€51,000), awarded by the Irish Centre Religious Education (2012 - 2015)
- Doctoral Award Scheme (£12,000), awarded by the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, declined in favour of the ICRE Scholarship (2012)
- MA Scholarship (£3,624), awarded by the Conway Hall Ethical Society (2009 - 2010)
- Children, Religion and the Ethics of Influence (Bloomsbury, July 2019)
Praise for the book:
An almost universal assumption is that forming children’s religious identity is something that adults permissibly do as parents, religious teachers, or the like. John Tillson argues with great force and ingenuity that this is simply a huge moral mistake. Tillson’s prose is a model of clarity, and though there is much here to interest scholars in the area of children’s rights, the book is accessible to anyone who cares about the questions it raises and is ready to consider the subversive answers it gives. This is a brilliant and provocative book.
Eamonn Callan (Pigott Family School of Education Professor, Stanford University)
The belief that parents have a right to raise their children within a religious tradition - be it in school or outside - is widely assumed to be correct. But is it? John Tillson presents a careful, well-crafted case for a conclusion many will find a shocking. Tillson has the virtue of writing in an engaging, accessible way. This is a valuable contribution to an important debate. It is a book that nicely illustrates how analytic philosophy can both effectively challenge received wisdom and generate conclusions that have significant, real-life consequences.
Stephen Law (Reader in Philosophy, Heythrop College)
Children, Religion and the Ethics of Influence is a detailed, closely argued, and richly resourced contribution to the philosophy of education. Tillson provides a carefully constructed, comprehensive, and analytically rigorous rebuttal of the view that it is morally permissible to attempt to instil religious beliefs in children. This is a work that is stacked full of interesting and controversial arguments, from questions about well-being and the moral responsibilities of parents, to arguments for and against the existence of a deity. The upshot is an exciting and ingenious intervention into the live moral and political debate surrounding the appropriate role of parents, teachers, and other educators with regard to religious belief and worries about indoctrination.
David Stevens (Associate Professor in Political Philosophy, University of Nottingham)
- Guest-editor (with Dave Aldridge) for a symposium of Educational Theory: Cheating Education: the coherence and desirability of technological human enhancement in educational contexts. Contributors: Dave Aldridge (Brunel), Adam Carter (Glasgow), Cian O'Donnell (Bristol), Shaun Gallagher (Memphis), Katherine Puddifoot (Durham), Sophie Stammers (Birmingham), and John Tillson (Liverpool Hope).
- 'Assessment, Truth and Religious Studies', Studies in Philosophy and Education, 38, No. 2 (2019): 195–210.
- 'Might Knowledge be Insertable?' Educational Theory 68, No. 6 (2018): 595-607.
- ‘Is it Distinctively Wrong to Simulate Doing Wrong?’, Ethics and Information Technology 20, No. 3 (2018): 205-217.
- 'Is all Formative Influence Immoral?' Ethics and Education, 13, No. 2. (2018): 208-220.
- 'The Problem of Rational Moral Enlistment'. Theory and Research in Education, 15, No. 2 (2017): 165–181.
- ‘When to Teach for Belief: A Tempered Defence of the Epistemic Criterion’. Educational Theory, 67, No. 2 (2017): 173–191.
- ‘The Possibility of Horizontal Tolerance: A Reply to van Waarden’. Democracy and Education, 25, No. 1 (2017): Article 6.
- ‘Towards a Theory of Propositional Curriculum Content’. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 48, No. 1 (2014): 137–148.
- ‘Is Knowledge What It Claims to Be? Bernard Williams and the Absolute Conception’. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 45, No. 8 (2013): 860 – 873.
- ‘In Favour of Ethics Education, Against Religious Education’. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 45, No. 4 (2011): 675–68.
- ‘Rival Conceptions of Religious Education’ in International Handbook of Philosophy of Education (ed.) Paul Smeyers (Dordrecht: Springer, 2018): 1059-1082.
- 'Sympathy, social stability, and those left out: Querying A Theory of Moral Education'. Journal of Philosophy of Education (forthcoming).
- 'A Review of Walter Feinberg's What is a Public Education and Why We Need it’. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 37, No. 5 (2018): 529-536.
- 'Elmer Thiessen and the Ethics of Evangelism'. Journal of Education and Christian Belief, 17, No. 2 (2013): 243-258.
- ‘A Critical Commentary of Richard Bailey’s Philosophy of Education: An Introduction’, in Bajo Palabra, Journal of Philosophy, II Época, 6 (2011): 185 – 190.
- ‘A Critical Commentary of Stephen Law’s The War for Children’s Minds’, in Bajo Palabra, Journal of Philosophy, II Época, 5 (2010): 551-556.
Year book articles
- ‘Against a Disguised Defense of Religious Initiation,’ in Philosophy of Education Society Yearbook. Urbana: IL, Philosophy of Education Society (2016): 401 – 404.
- ‘Religious Education and the Floodgates of Impartiality’, in Robert Kunzman (ed.) Philosophy of Education Society Yearbook. Urbana: IL, Philosophy of Education Society (2011): 118 – 123.
Creative philosophical writing
- ‘Modify Your Body!’ Philosophy Now, Issue 91 (2012): 53 – 54.
Links to other profiles
Department of Philosophy
University of Warwick
Email: J dot Tillson dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk