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Children, Religion and the Ethics of Influence

Children, Religion and the Ethics of InfluenceLink opens in a new window (Bloomsbury, July 2019)


‘Author Interview: John Tillson’, interview by Naomi Hodgson for Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (2020).

‘Children, Religion and Influence in Philosophy of Education’, interview by Richard Marshall for 3:16. (2020).



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, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Stanford University, USA

“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, UK

“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 and Head of the Department of Philosophy, Heythrop College, UK