These discussion boards
have been designed to explore controversial philosophical topics. Some
of the questions are designed to solicit very personal responses and
opinions, and these debates have the potential to become heated. In the
act of creating ideas, heat can be a good thing, but not at the expense
of hurt feelings or frustration. Remember that the practical aspect pf
philosophy asks us to examine and perhaps even change something about
ourselves. Hopefully, we will be challenged by others with a different
opinion, but we need to remember that a challenge to our beliefs is not a
threat. To the contrary, it should be regarded as an opportunity to
re-evaluate and understand why we hold these beliefs.
Some important rules to follow:
will be no Ad hominems (attacks against the person); not following this
rule may result in failure of the assignment. You can disagree with a
person’s opinions, but you may not attack other people. You may,
however, disagree with the ideas of others, but do so in a constructive
manner. For example, you can say, "I don't agree with your post. I think
instead that . . . " But, you cannot say, “You’re an idiot” or even
“That’s just plain stupid.” Academia requires a diversity of opinions
but presented politely; after all, ethics is part of Philosophy.
making statements meant to be absolute (such as, "There is no other way
to think about this"). Instead of asking closed-ended questions looking
for a “yes” or “no” or the “right” answer, ask open-ended questions
(such as, “Have you thought about . . . ?”)
- Try to connect the
current discussion to topics from other lessons. Remember that all of
the Philosophers wrote about more than a single topic and the way they
think about one area of Philosophy probably affects other areas as well.
For example, it might be extremely useful to mention John Stuart Mill’s
ethical theories from an earlier lesson during a later discussion of
his support for women’s rights and equality.
- Rather than simply
reacting to the readings and the responses of your classmates, think
about the arguments being made. Really consider the effectiveness of
these arguments. “I agree” responses are not useful to the discussion
and will not receive credit.
Give some serious
consideration to the topic or scenario before answering; and, then,
using the questions below as a guide, write a 75-100 word initial
response about the issue being discussed.Next, please take the time to
respond to at least two of your classmates.
you and several hundred other people were about to form a new society
(let’s say, as you plunged into space to populate a newly discovered
planet), what principles of justice would you propose to your peers?
sort of principles (if any) do you think would gain general agreement?
(Examples: “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” “Everyone shares what
they’ve got equally with others.” “No one should be punished under any
circumstances.” “Anyone who breaks even the smallest law is exiled to
space.”) Include at least three principles or laws that everyone would
have to follow.
- Who would be in charge of enforcing the laws and why?