Letter from the Editors
Tziporah Kasachkoff, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Eugene Kelly, New York Institute of Technology
We welcome readers to the Fall 2012 issue of the APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy. In this issue we have four articles and a list of recently published books that may be useful to teachers of philosophy.
The following guidelines for submissions should be followed:
Our first two articles are accounts by two different philosophy instructors of the courses that they teach on the topic of philosophy of sex, one including a focus on the philosophy of love. Readers will find the courses described very different from one another in focus, in readings, in questions raised, in class requirements, and in overall orientation to the topic.
In the first article, "Teaching a Course on Sexual Morality," Tziporah Kasachkoff describes what she hopes students in the course will learn about philosophy in general as well as what she aims at in having them take a philosophical look at the particular subject of sexual morality. She includes in her article the topics covered, detailed reading assignments, a description of those issues that seemed especially interesting and important to students, and sample questions that served as weekly writing assignments in the course. Of special interest may be the account of how philosophical discussion of questions that were specifically about sexual morality led naturally (and unsurprisingly) to questions of a broader philosophical nature.
Our second article, "Teaching Philosophy of Sex and Love," is an account by Nils Ch. Rauhut of the course he has taught on the subject and, as he sees it, the lessons he learned while teaching the course. After deciding to focus the course on the central theme of the relationship between the good life on the one hand and sex and love on the other, there was the challenge of finding appropriate sources available for teaching the course around this theme rather than (as most such courses are taught) around discrete but related questions. The rationale for the particular sources chosen—classical as well as contemporary studies from psychology and evolutionary biology, as well as philosophical writings—is shared with readers, as are students’ responses to the readings chosen. Also described are both the in-class activities and the written home-assignments that formed a central part of the course. The author indicates the reasons for his choice of these activities and assignments, the classroom protocol he established for class discussions, and why, unlike his practice in other philosophy courses, he reveals much of his personal position on the philosophical issues that come up for discussion in this class.
We hope Newsletter readers will enjoy reading these two very different ways in which the Philosophy of Sex and Love can be approached in the philosophy classroom (and perhaps submit to the Newsletter their own version of such a course).
Our third article, authored by Moti Mizrahi, is entitled "A Decision Procedure for Evaluating Natural Language Arguments." In this article, the author presents a way of diagramming arguments that may help students to understand the nature of the difference between deductive and inductive arguments. Mizrahi’s especial concern is to get students to see that inductive arguments are not, relative to deductive arguments, a "second class" or inferior way of arguing, a view he has encountered among some students in his informal logic and critical thinking classes. For each step in the decision procedure that he outlines, Mizrachi indicates the question(s) whose answer(s) will determine which step to take next in the procedure. He then helpfully provides a sample argument and applies the decision procedure to it to show how it may aid in assessing its worth as an argument.
We welcome readers’ responses to trying the decision procedure out in their own informal logic and/or critical thinking classrooms.
Our fourth and final article, by Matthew Wills, is entitled "Fostering the Exploration of Philosophical and Ethical Questions among School Students in Australasia." Wills reports on the establishment of "Philosothons," first at Hale School in Western Australia (where Wills himself teaches), then in other secondary Australian schools, and finally as national events. He explains the nature of a "Philosothon," provides the list of specific philosophical topics that served as the focus of the first Philosothon that was held, and presents us with the list of criteria used for assessing student participation in Philosothons. Finally, he considers, and answers, an objection to the concept of learning philosophy (and assessing the learning of philosophy) in the way described, and provides links for readers who wish to know more about Philosothons in general, and/or the notion of "Communities of Inquiry" on which Philosothons are based.
As members of the philosophical community we are happy to hear of the broadening compass of philosophical study such as is described in this article.
We offer no book reviews in this particular issue of the Newsletter, though we do include a Books Received section. As always, we encourage our readers to suggest themselves as reviewers of books and other materials that they think may be especially good for classroom use. It is especially useful to receive reviews of materials from those philosophy instructors who have used those materials in their own classrooms and so can comment from experience on the merits and/or disadvantages of their use. (Bear in mind that our publication is devoted to pedagogy and not to theoretical discussions of philosophical issues. This should be borne in mind not only when writing articles for our publication but also when reviewing material for our publication.)
We warmly encourage our readers to write for our publication. We welcome papers that respond to, comment on, or take issue with any of the material that appears within our pages.
- The author’s name, the title of the paper, and full mailing address should appear on a separate sheet of paper or, if the paper is sent to the editors electronically, on a note that will not print out within the text of the paper itself. Nothing that identifies the author or his or her institution should appear within the body or within the footnotes/endnotes of the paper. The title of the paper should appear on the top of the paper itself.
- Please submit the paper in electronic form. If this is not possible, four complete copies of the paper should be sent to one of the co-editors listed below. Authors should adhere to the production guidelines that are available from the APA. If you send an article by post rather than electronically, do not send the disk on which it was composed. The editors will request an electronic form of the paper when the paper is ready to be published. In writing your paper in electronic form, please do not use your word processor’s footnote or endnote function; all notes should be added manually at the end of the paper.
- All articles submitted to the Newsletter are blind-reviewed by the members of the editorial committee. They are:
Tziporah Kasachkoff, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, co-editor
Eugene Kelly, New York Institute of Technology, co-editor
David Martens, University of the Witwatersrand
Andrew Wengraf, Brooklyn College (ret.)
Robert Basil Talisse, Vanderbilt University
Contributions should be sent (if not electronically) to:
Tziporah Kasachkoff, PhD Program in Philosophy, The Graduate School and University Center, The City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Eugene Kelly, Department of Social Science, New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, NY 11568
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Teaching a Course on Sexual Morality
Tziporah Kasachkoff, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, ISRAEL & The Graduate School and University Center, CUNY
In this paper I want to present a course that I taught on Sexual Morality, indicating my objectives in teaching the course, the assigned readings, some of the issues that surfaced in class discussions, and the requirements for the course (which appear in the attached syllabus).
The course was open to students who had taken at least two other courses in ethics so that all who enrolled could be presumed to be familiar with ethical terms and concepts and acquainted with the sorts of arguments that go by the name of "ethical reasoning." I offered the course as a four-hour per-week seminar in which there would be no more than twelve students enrolled. This afforded sufficient time to allow class discussion in which all students could participate fully. It also allowed me the time to read, comment, and discuss with each student individually his/her two (one-typewritten-page) papers per week. (More on the paper assignments is contained in the attached syllabus.) The first three hours of each class meeting were devoted to discussion of various topics and readings (noted below) and the last hour of each week’s class was devoted to individual meetings with each student to discuss the papers that s/he had handed in the previous week.
My Objectives in Teaching the Course:
I had various objectives in teaching the course, some having to do with the specific topic of the course (Sexual Morality) and some having to do with general philosophical/intellectual skills that I wanted my students to develop and which I thought especially important to work on in connection with the topic of the course. Some of the more generic skills that I had in mind to promote were:
- Being able to describe another person’s position, especially on a sensitive issue such as that having to do with sexual attitudes and behavior, in normatively neutral terms.* (I had found that some students find it quite difficult to describe views they disagree with in ways that do not include their own implicit negative commentary.)
* This is not to deny that some statements and/or terms may not fall easily into a descriptive/normative divide. But it is to encourage students to pay attention to the normative dimensions of what might otherwise be seen as purely neutral descriptions.
- Being able to distill a writer’s own position both from the reasons given for that position and from the reasons given for rejecting other positions, and being able to present a writer’s position in a way that the writer him- or herself would regard as an accurate and fair representation of his or her views.
- Being able to state how the question that an author attempts to answer by means of his or her stated position might be answered differently, and the difference that it makes whether we answer the question one way or another.
- Being able to state one’s own view clearly and completely, and to explain why one’s own views are worthy of others’ adopting them.
The objectives I had for the course that were specific to the topic of sexual morality were many, but chief among them was having students come to appreciate how sexual attitudes, desires, and behavior are matters worthy of philosophical reflection and discussion. (Though all the students who enrolled in the course were philosophy majors, most said they were curious as to what could possibly be said about sexual activity from a philosophical point of view.) Other objectives that I had for the course were to have students reflect on the following questions:
- What it means to designate particular desires and behavior as "sexual";
The relevant readings on this topic included the ‘Definition of Sexual Relations’ that appeared in the deposition of President Clinton in the Paula Jones vs. Clinton case, and the discussion in that deposition of what constitutes a "sexual relationship" and "sexual contact"; Thomas Nagel’s article on sexual attraction; Roger Scruton’s article on sexual arousal; and Alan Goldman’s views on sexual desire. (Full references to the readings are to be found in the attached syllabus.)
- Why there is a morality of sex at all (and not, say, of eating or bathing). If one thinks the answer lies in the fact that (unlike eating or bathing) sex involves interaction, then why are moral judgments sometimes made about masturbation, and why is there no morality about some other interactive activities (such as playing in an orchestra or participating in a conversation)? This question inevitably involves discussion of what it means to take a moral point of view towards an act or activity, and what counts—and perhaps what should count—in favor of our viewing certain behaviors and attitudes as morally neutral.
- What (if anything) is sex that is "unnatural" or "abnormal" and how do such seemingly descriptive terms as "unnatural" and "abnormal" come to be seen as suitable characterizations of sexual desires and practices that are, on account of these characterizations, claimed to be morally suspect?
- What non-sexual proclivities and activities are viewed as perversions and what sexual proclivities and activities are viewed as sexual perversions. Are there some common criteria for assessing activities or proclivities as "perverse" whether the activities/proclivities are sexual or not?
Is there a connection between the perversity (sexual or otherwise) of a desire, proclivity, or conduct, and its moral assessment? Is the calling of a desire or act "sexually perverse" in itself to make a moral judgment of it?
- Whether there is something especially important about free and informed consent when it comes to morally legitimate sexual interaction as compared to its importance in nonsexual interactions (say, between physician and patient or lawyer and client). This naturally leads to class discussion of how consent to an activity or social arrangement—sexual or nonsexual—may be "normatively transformative," that is, transformative of a case, say, of stealing into a case of permissible borrowing, of rape into (what some might describe as) "lovemaking," or of illegitimate imposition into invited involvement.
On these topics the class read articles by Alan Wertheimer, Robin West, and John Kleinig. (Full references to the readings are to be found in the attached syllabus.)
Whether, if one grants that free and informed consent is necessary for morally legitimate sex (so that sex with unwilling or unknowing others—for example, sex with children or with unconscious others, and rape—is ruled out) one should also grant that consent is sufficient for morally legitimate sex.*
* Consideration of the question of whether consent was not only necessary but sufficient for morally legitimate sexual encounters led to one of the liveliest and most extended discussions of the semester, with most students choosing to mount arguments against or in defense of positions taken by the authors they read.
[Since only students who had taken two other courses in ethics were permitted to enroll in the seminar, I assumed—an assumption not called into question by the students—that all understood what was meant by an act’s having "moral legitimacy." This is, of course, not to say that the students were all in agreement regarding the grounds for asserting that particular behaviors were or were not morally legitimate.]
The class read arguments on these issues by Igor Primoratz, Martha Nussbaum, Alan Soble, and Alan Wertheimer.
- Whether, in addition to its being engaged in with freely-given and informed consent, sex with another is morally permissible only if:
a) one is married to or in a committed relationship with one’s sexual partner;
b) there is the possibility of the sexual encounter eventuating in conception and reproduction;
c) one is committed to the welfare, or at least the sexual enjoyment, of the other;
d) love (or at least affection) for one’s sexual partner is present.
Readings on these questions included: The official position of the Roman Catholic church as expressed in Humanae Vitae and as compared to the position of John Finnis and some other religiously based "natural law" theorists. (Full references to the readings are to be found in the attached syllabus.)
- Whether engaging in sex with another (or multiple others) outside of a socially intimate relationship "objectifies" one’s partner(s) and what this might mean; How best to define, and normatively regard, both "casual sex" and "promiscuity"; whether treating a person as an object is always to be morally condemned, and if so, why; whether "treatment of oneself as an object" makes sense and if so, what sense it makes; and whether there is a connection between treating another (or oneself) as an object and acting so as to degrade one.
Just as the question of how consent to sexual activity affects the normative assessment of that activity leads to the more general question of how consent may normatively transform any social encounter so, here too, discussion of a question having to do particularly with sexual ethics leads naturally to more general philosophical questions: What does it means to treat another "as a person?" What does it mean to treat oneself with respect? And what are the demands of morality regarding the treatment of others and of oneself?
Readings for this topic included writings of: A.J. Richards, Immanuel Kant, Igor Primoratz, Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Mappes, Alan Wertheimer. (Full references to the readings are to be found in the attached syllabus.)
Issues of General Philosophical Interest That Emerged in Class Discussion of Sexual Morality
One of the most satisfying aspects of the course, both from my own point of view and from the students’ viewpoint (the latter having been made known to me through discussions with each individual student during the last hour of our weekly meetings and through students’ end-of-semester evaluations of the course), are the many questions of general philosophical interest that the readings and class discussions gave rise to. As a result, the course, despite its billing as one on Sexual Morality, developed into a course with a much broader philosophical compass. The following are two of the many examples of the broader philosophical issues that engaged students in the class.
I. In discussing the legitimacy of sexually engaging with someone without that person’s valid consent (that is, consent that is full, informed, and free) students raised questions concerning the conditions under which one can assume that a sexual partner has given valid consent. While students in the class were unanimous in their agreement that outright deception should not take place in order to obtain consent to sexual contact, there was much less agreement regarding the appropriateness of withholding information in order to obtain that consent. Two issues raised by students were: 1) the relevance of the information to the health and welfare of the other and 2) whether the withholding of information is motivated by the desire to win the other’s consent to engage in sexual relations rather than, say, for reasons of personal privacy. Discussion of these two issues led to discussion of the further questions of: 3) whether sexual engagement with another confers on that other a right to information that other sorts of social engagement do not, and if so, why; and 4) whether one who deceives another can be said to be "using" that person and whether the answer to this question depends on the motive for the deception. (This latter question led some students to read Sissela Bok’s book Lying and to write papers on the ethics of truth-telling in different contexts, sexual contexts being one among others that they considered.)
In connection with class discussion of what constitutes "freely given" consent, the class looked at the distinction some philosophers have drawn between obtaining consent through threats—If you don’t do what I want you to do I shall bring about undesirable consequences for you—and obtaining consent through offers—If you do what I want you to do, I shall bring about desirable consequences for you. Since there is much discussion of this distinction in relation to the question of the legitimacy of prison programs in which incarcerated individuals "consent" to participate, it was natural for students to question whether the social environment in which the threat or offer is made is what gives the distinction whatever "bite" it has. Women in the class were quick to air the view that the environment in which sexual requests are made by men of women on the one hand, and by women of men, on the other, are sufficiently different that there may be a distinction between threats and offers in the one case that is lacking in the other. (I found this observation a rather sophisticated one, and was pleased to see that students were thinking about the morality of sexual behavior not in the abstract but against the background of particular, if not always explicit, social/cultural understandings relating to gender. I should note, as well, that of the twelve students in the class, seven were women and five were men. Although it was the women in the class who suggested that sexual requests by men of women, on the one hand, and by women of men, on the other, may bear on whether that request is taken as a threat or an offer, the men in the class agreed with the point.
For the most part, I did not see differences between the men and the women in the class either in their readiness to respond to questions raised in class or in the content of their responses.
II. In discussing whether sexual objectification is the "using" of another person in morally objectionable ways, students in the class were interested in focusing on what it is to treat another as a person and what it is to "use" another person and whether the two might be compatible. All the students in the class were familiar with and claimed to accept Kant’s view that we should never act in ways that treat other persons not as ends in themselves but merely as a means to our own ends. But few students in the class were prepared to agree with Kant that personhood was to be characterized by the capacity for reason and that rationality raises one "above" our passions. Some students in the class saw human passions not as a deviation from reason but as contributing to an empathetic understanding of others. For this reason, many in the class rejected Kant’s view of sexual attraction as exposing one to self-degradation and the degradation of those with whom one sexually interacts. Students were keen to explore the question of whether there might be desires or needs other than sexual ones—say, the desire/need for drugs of certain sorts—that may degrade a person in the way that Kant believes that sexual needs and desires do since when in need or desirous of drugs, that need/desire may take precedence over everything that human rationality requires. Discussion of this question led students to discuss the further question of whether behaving irrationally is always, sometimes, or ever self-degrading, and what plausible reasons there are for giving one rather than another answer to this question.
Syllabus for the Course
4-hour per week seminar meeting Mondays 2-6 p.m.
A philosophical investigation of the various topics having to do with the morality of sexual identity, attitudes, relationships, and behavior. By "philosophical investigation" I mean:
a) looking at the assumptions behind views advanced concerning these topics and evaluating both their truth and their importance for holding certain positions, and
b) critically examining the arguments of advocates of various (and sometimes opposing) positions to determine their cogency and appeal.
Topics we will cover in the class:
(a) the nature of sexual desire, arousal, behavior, and identity;
(b) the sources of normative claims about sexual behavior;
(c) the morality of certain specific sexual behaviors.
(I have selected some "classic" and some current influential readings. We may have time to cover only some of the topics and readings listed. The interests of members of our seminar will determine which topics and readings especially to focus on, and what, perhaps, to add to the list.)
Since this is a seminar, much of our time will be spent discussing the issues raised in the reading(s) for that week. Each member of the seminar is expected to do the assigned reading(s) and, at the beginning of each week’s class, hand in two 1- page typewritten papers.
One paper will be a short summary of the reading along with a written critical reflection on one or more of the issues raised in that reading. The other one-page paper will be a response to some issue(s) raised in the class discussion of the past week. [To the Newsletter reader: Three sample questions follow the syllabus.] Since there are 13 class meetings, at the end of the semester a student will have handed in a total of 24 papers; the grades of the best 20 of these papers will be averaged and constitute the final grade in the seminar.
During our class session we will discuss the issues raised by the reading for that week. This means that you will need to have read that week’s article(s) carefully, thought about it (or them), and tried to formulate your own views regarding the positions about which you have read. The writing assignment is intended to help you to learn to focus your thoughts, articulate your position clearly and succinctly, and develop arguments for positions that you think are correct and against positions you think are mistaken. Since learning to express yourself well is a developmental process, I shall grade the earlier papers in the first 3rd of the course more leniently than the papers done later in the course. Although reading the assignments is necessary for success in the course, it is not sufficient: the most important part of the course is what happens in the classroom discussion in response to the readings and what you have to say in response to the readings. Attendance is therefore required.
Readings: (wherever possible I shall provide the readings to you in electronic form)
I. The nature of sexual identity, thought, desire, activity, and relations
a. Jamison Green, Becoming a Visible Man (excerpts), (Vanderbilt Univ. Press, 2004)
Green’s autobiographical account of his experience as a male born with a female body, and his physical and social transition into a "visible" male is a moving and intelligent essay on what it means within our culture to have one sexual identity rather than another.
b. William Jefferson Clinton, testimony as reported in Documents from Independent Counsel Ken Starr, released 9/21/98. [In his testimony Clinton refers to and uses a definition of sexual activity and relations that, he claims, is correct in "popular usage."]
c. James Giles, "Sex Hormones and Sexual Desire," Journal of the Theory of Social Behavior 38:1.
d. Greta Christina, Are We Having Sex Now or What?" from The Erotic Impulse: Honoring the Sensual Self, ed., David Steinberg (Penguin Program, Inc. 1982).
e. Robert C. Solomon, "Sexual Paradigms," The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 71, no. 11 pp. 336-345 (1974).
f. Thomas Nagel, "Sexual Perversion," in Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 66, no. 1 (1969).
(Nagel’s piece, when it was initially delivered at a symposium at New York University, was one of the first philosophically to explore the question of what constitutes sexual attraction. Nagel defines perversion against the background of a philosophical analysis of "ideal" sexual attraction and behavior; it is against this norm that he sees masochism, fetishism, bestiality voyeurism, and exhibitionism as sexual perversions. Be sensitive to whether Nagel equates sexual perversion with behavior that is morally suspect.)
g. Roger Scruton, "Sexual Arousal" in Philosophy & Practice, ed., A. Phillips Griffith (Cambridge University Press, 1985).
h. Louise Collins, "Is Cybersex Sex?" in The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings, eds., Alan Soble and Nicholas Power (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).
II. The source of normativity in sexual activity, desire, and relations
(Some of the readings here presuppose knowledge of the ethics of St. Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant.)
a. "Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics: On The Regulation of Birth: Humanae Vitae," Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI, 1976.
b. John Finnis: "Law, Morality and Sexual Orientation," Notre Dame Law Review 69, no. 5 (1994); and "Natural Law and Unnatural Acts," in Human Sexuality, ed., Igor Primoratz (Adlershot, UK: 1997).
c. Alan Goldman, "Plain Sex," Philosophy and Public Affairs 6, no. 3 (1977).
(This article is quite long. I shall indicate which parts of it are required reading.)
d. Michael Levin, "Why Homosexuality is Abnormal," in Ethics in Practice: An Anthology, ed., Hugh LaFollette (Blackwell, 1997).
e. Thomas Mappes, "Sexual Morality and the Concept of Using Another Person," in Social Ethics: Morality and Social Policy, 3rd edition (McGraw Hill Publishing,1987).
f. Igor Primoratz, "Sexual Morality: Is Consent Enough?" Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (2001).
g. John Kleinig, "The Nature of Consent," in The Ethics of Consent: Theory and Practice, eds., Franklin G. Miller & Alan Wertheimer (NY: Oxford University Press, 2009).
h. Alan Soble, "Sexual Use," in The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings, eds., Alan Soble and Nicholas Power (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).
i. Alan Werthheimer, "Consent and Sexual Relaions," Legal Theory 2:2 (1996).
j. Robin West, "The Harms of Consensual Sex," The American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Feminism 94:2 (1995).
III. The Morality of Specific Sexual Activities
a. Martha Nussbaum, "‘Whether from Reason or Prejudice’: Taking Money for Bodily Sevices," Sex and Social Justice (Oxford University Press, 1999).
b. John McMurtry, "Monogamy: A Critique," The Monist 56, no. 4 (1972).
c. Igor Primoratz, "What’s Wrong with Prostitution?" Philosophy 68 (1993).
d. Richard Wasserstrom, "Is Adultery Immoral?" in Morality & Moral Controversies, ed. John Arthur (Prentice-Hall, 1993).
e. Richard Mohr, "Gay Basics: Some Questions, Facts and Values," in Richard Mohr, ed., Race, Gender, and Sexuality: Philosophical Issues of Identity and Justice (Prentice-Hall, 2003). (Mohr does not take up the issue of the morality of homosexuality but argues for the unfairness of discrimination against gays. Left open are the questions of a) whether homosexual sex is, as Finnis maintains, immoral; b) whether all immoral sex should be made illegal; and c) whether all practitioners of illegal sex should be subject to social and personal discrimination.)
f. Burton Leiser, "Homosexuality, Morals and the Law of Nature," in Ethics in Practice: An Anthology, ed., Hugh LaFollette (Blackwell, 1997).
Students: We shall add other topics in response to particular student interest
*- Three Sample Questions
1. Re: A. J. Richards’ view regarding prostitution:
1) Clearly and concisely state A.J. Richards’ presentation of the argument that prostitution degrades the participants and so is morally objectionable and then state Richards’ rebuttal.
2) Is Richards’ presentation of the "prostitution is degrading" argument fair to those who actually maintain that prostitution degrades? Why or why not?
3) What is your assessment of Richards’ rebuttal to the "prostitution is degrading" argument? Give reasons to support your assessment of his argument.
2. Re: Humanae Vitae, the Vatican’s 1976 "Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics," John Finnis’ "Morality and Sexual Orientation" and "Natural Law and Unnatural Acts," and Michael Levin’s "Why Homosexuality is Abnormal":
The Catholic Church, John Finnis, and Michael Levin all argue that what we do with our sexual (or other parts of our) lives must be in accord with nature.
What is the notion of nature employed by each of them?
Are there other plausible ways of interpreting what nature enjoins? And in your view are they all equally reasonable? Why or why not?
Does a reasonable account of nature give us a reason for drawing connections between it and the morally right way to behave with respect to sexual (and perhaps other) matters?
3. Re: Robert Solomon’s "Sexual Paradigms," Roger Scruton’s "Sexual Arousal," and Thomas Nagel’s "Sexual Perversion":
What are the criteria of "normal" sex offered by Solomon, Scruton, and Nagel, against which they define sexual perversity?
Does sexual perversity connect, for any of these authors, with sexual immorality? Why or Why not? Does the perversity that each describes connect for you with sexual immorality? Why or why not?
Some General Comments On The Course To Readers Of The Newsletter:
1) Some philosophy instructors who may be thinking of offering such a course (whether or not in seminar form) may worry that the material of the course is such that some students will be especially shy with respect to participating in class discussion, and perhaps in writing papers that express their views, on sexual behavior and practices. In my own class, some students did speak more often than others but from my knowledge of the particular students in the class, this had less to do with subject matter than with personality. I myself did not see the subject matter as having much of an effect on student involvement and participation one way or the other. (I should note, however, that this may be due to the fact that my class was taught at a university in Israel, and so my students—having come to the university only after their compulsory three-year army service and into my class at least one year after entry into the university—were mostly in their mid or late twenties. They were, therefore, no longer teenagers. This may have had something to do with the ease with which they were able to discuss issues that younger students might have had problems dealing with in a classroom setting.
2) From my point of view the importance—and success—of the seminar was students’ coming to see how questions about sexual morality connect very quickly to broader and more general philosophical questions. My students’ interest in this fact was made clear to me both in the weekly conversations I had with individual students and in the end-of-semester evaluations that the students wrote. It was a topic that came up over and over again.
Instructors who offer general philosophy or general ethics courses might find it useful to introduce some of the topics we covered in the course—such as the topic of consent and the topic of degradation and self-respect—for their broader appeal as important issues in political and/or social philosophy.
3) A word about the one-page assignments. I assigned such papers for two reasons, one practical and one pedagogical. The practical: I wanted to be able carefully to read and fully comment on at least two papers from each student each week, one paper dealing with the reading(s) of that week and one having to do with class discussion. Since there were 12 students in the class, that meant reading and commenting on 24 pages per week. Reading 24 pages is not very time-consuming; writing out questions and comments on each of these is. I found that it took me about 30-45 minutes to construct a (typewritten) response to each paper, one that consisted of comments on what had been written, requests for clarification, other sorts of questions, and recommendations for further reading.
The pedagogical point of the one-page paper assignments was to get students into the habit of 1) not repeating themselves; and 2) not introducing material that (interesting though it might be) was irrelevant to the point they were making. Students initially found it very difficult to restrict themselves to a one-page statement or explanation of what they had to say. I suggested that they start by writing everything they wanted to and then after a day or so, go back to what they had written and cull from their written material all that was not essential to, or repetitive of, the points they wanted to make. Some students actually found this a helpful writing exercise. (An aside: Even the one-page papers often had the same point made over and over again in different words.)
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Teaching Philosophy of Sex and Love
Nils Ch. Rauhut, Coastal Carolina University
For several years, I have been teaching Plato’s Symposium as part of my classes in Ancient Philosophy. No matter how much time I devoted to the Symposium, I always felt as if I was doing something wrong. Many students were intrigued by the speeches on Love and Eros and they demanded more time and a fuller discussion. When I listened to students’ requests for an extended discussion of the Symposium, I seemed to hear Eros himself. He was demanding more attention and respect in my teaching and I began to wonder whether questions about categories, substance, and unmoved movers are really worth so much more time than questions about sex, reproduction, and love. For a time I was able to resist the demands of Eros, but eventually I succumbed: I decided to teach a full course dedicated to "Philosophy of Sex and Love." (Although I designed the course as a sophomore-level course, seniors can and did register for it.) The course turned out to have a lasting effect both on me and on my students. Although I did not end up achieving all the goals and expectations I had set for myself, the class provided me with opportunities to try new teaching strategies and led, along the way, to numerous surprises and insights. Some obvious challenges never materialized, whereas other challenges—challenges which I did not anticipate—needed to be addressed. In the following, I give a short summary of the lessons I learned while teaching "Philosophy of Sex and Love."
The first obstacle in teaching the course came as a surprise. I had planned to use one of the anthologies1 of articles about sex and love that are widely available. As I looked at the numerous anthologies, I began to feel some unease. Standard anthologies on the subject are topically organized. There are articles on marriage, homosexuality, pornography, or feminist critiques of sexuality. Although it was possible to impose my own order on the anthologies, I became concerned that if I followed the structure of any of the anthologies too closely my course would develop into a sequence of loosely connected topical discussions. This is something I wanted to avoid.2 Instead, I wanted to find a central theme, a central question that would unite and organize the whole course. At first I was at a loss. Is it really possible to identify a central question in the philosophy of sex and love? Does it make sense to think, for instance, that questions about perversions are more central to philosophy of sex and love than questions about the ethics of adultery? After a while it became clear to me that even if there is no central question per se, there was a central question that was motivating my interest in the topic: I wanted to explore the relationship between the good life on the one hand and sex and love on the other. Although it was clear to me that there existed, for example, a relationship between virtue and the good life, I wanted to explore whether such a relationship existed also between sex and love and the good life. I was interested in this question not only for its own sake, but also because I expected that reflecting on this question would be beneficial for my students. Students obviously are concerned with sex and love, but by reflecting on the relationship between sex and love and the good life I was hoping that they would start thinking about sex and love not—as they might frequently do—as ends in themselves—but rather as a part of their overall conception of what a good life consists in. Thinking about this broader question might help them to integrate love and sexuality into a more encompassing understanding of the good.
Once I had decided upon the central question for the course, the overall structure of the course became much clearer to me. It seemed fitting to start the course by reflecting on the central question in some depth. After providing students with the opportunity to think about the central question in the first part of the course, the next part of the course would be devoted to various thinkers who have something unique to say about the relationship between sex and love and the good life. I decided to begin with a classical philosopher—Plato; then turn to a classical psychologist—Freud; then explore the perspective of contemporary evolutionary biology by reading Faye Flam. In the final part of the course, I wanted to give students the opportunity to explore those questions in the philosophy of sex and love they themselves regarded as most intriguing and most worthy of attention. That meant that in the final four weeks of the course every student would have the opportunity to write and present a term paper on the topic of his or her choice to the class. Let me say a bit more about each of these phases of the course.
While setting the stage for the course, I did something I had not done before: I started the first day with a short paper assignment which is included as Appendix A. When I met my class of twenty students for the first time, I could sense a bit of apprehension. Students seemed to be wondering whether this was a serious academic class and whether the class discussion would be dominated by a few outspoken students who felt the urge to pontificate about their love life. Presenting the students on the first day with a take-home writing assignment turned out to be a good idea and a fitting antidote to some of the initial uneasiness. The assignment sent the message that this course would require effort and dedication. Moreover, the paper assignment also gave me the opportunity to introduce some of the central learning goals I had in mind for the course as a whole: for students to increase their level of comfort while presenting their perspective on sex and love while at the same time respecting the feelings of those who think differently. I explained to them that during the second class meeting I would invite them to share their papers with another student in the class and that they should write such that they would feel comfortable sharing their writing with others.
On the second day of class, I invited each student to exchange his or her paper with that of another student in the class. Students had the opportunity to opt out of sharing their papers with others in the class and to work with their own paper instead, but in this course nobody decided to take advantage of this option.3 I gave the students ten minutes to read the papers they received and then asked each student to present to the whole class a summary of the paper that she or he had received. I urged students to present the content of the paper with as much charity as possible. The students’ presentations had a wonderful effect on the class atmosphere and subsequent class discussions as it set an inclusive tone for the class conversations that followed and discouraged outspoken students from dominating the discussion. It was a good thing that each and every student had an opportunity to speak so early in the class. Moreover, it was beneficial for each student to present the perspective of somebody else in the class. Right off, they were encouraged not only to present and express their own ideas, but also to come to terms with the ideas of another student. The paper switching exercise also encouraged students to pay more attention to their own writing. Students who did not like the way their position was represented by another student in the class quickly realized that the reason for this was a failure to express their views clearly in their papers. Subsequently, I observed that students seemed to spend extra time on their writing assignments because they did not want to be misrepresented by other students. The paper switching exercise also made it clear to the students that this class would make demands on their willingness to share more about themselves than they might share in other classes and that they had to decide whether they would be comfortable with this aspect of the class.
I recognized very quickly that this demand for more openness also applied to me as the instructor. In my other philosophy classes I aim to speak from a neutral position. For example, when I discuss the existence of God I try to present the best possible arguments for and against the existence of God without my own beliefs about religion explicitly entering the classroom at all. But I found that this neutrality did not work while teaching philosophy of sex and love.4 Right from the second day of class, I discovered that any attempt to speak about sex and love from a neutral perspective made it appear that I myself was uncomfortable with the subject matter. (I do not think that this would necessarily be true for all teachers, but in the context of my learning goals for the class a neutral teaching perspective did not seem to accomplish what I had in mind.) In order to increase students’ level of comfort while discussing sex and love, I found it necessary to reveal how I myself thought about the relationship between sex, love, and the good life. I had to model more explicitly than in other classes what I expected from my students.
Modeling more explicitly what I expected from my students was also important in another respect. During the first couple of class discussions, I observed that students had a tendency to use a wide variety of informal expressions to describe sexual activities. On the one hand this was an encouraging sign, since it was an indication that students were indeed saying what they truly believed, but on the other I was concerned that many informal, colloquial expressions can be offensive and inflammatory and might alienate some students from participating in the discussion. I therefore decided to put some emphasis on "linguistic responsibility." I stressed to students that one of the goals of the class was to learn to speak publicly about sex and love in such a way that one could say precisely what one had in mind without causing unnecessary discomfort or offense to others. For instance, I discouraged the use of expressions such as "dick" and "cock" (and the like) for "penis." Similarly, I discouraged expressions such as "fuck" and "screw" for "having sexual intercourse." What was interesting to observe was that after a few explicit reminders students themselves started to reinforce linguistic responsibility. It was not uncommon that a student would say something and then stop in mid-sentence and say: "…well, let me try to say this in a linguistically responsible way…" I found that establishing a common, accepted vocabulary for sexual activities helped students to express controversial ideas with more ease and confidence. It is worth mentioning that being linguistically responsible has nothing to do with being politically correct: by modeling and enforcing certain ways of expressing oneself, I was not encouraging students to endorse a specific set of positions regarding love and sexuality.
The second and main part of the course—the reading and discussing of various influential works—began with Plato’s Symposium. We spent a full two and a half weeks on the dialogue. I used the Symposium as a starting point because I had observed that in their initial papers students paid more attention to the role of sex than to the role of love with regard to what constitutes the good life. The Symposium suggests that erotic love between particular persons aims ultimately to be transformed into higher and more universal forms of love (i.e., love that is directed towards the good) and that it is these higher forms of love that are most crucial for enjoying a good life. Beginning our readings with Plato’s Symposium was also beneficial in that the implicit focus on homoerotic love made students realize that thinking and speaking about sex and love with a predominant focus on heterosexual relationships might lead to misleading and myopic judgments. Reading the Symposium provided, among many other insights, the opportunity to recognize how much our ordinary thinking about sex and love is shaped by contingent cultural factors because students came to realize, for example, that Plato’s focus on pederasty struck them as unusual and standing in need of explanation because our culture has a tendency to understand all erotic relationships between younger and older men as a form of pedophilia. At the end of our exploration of the Symposium, I returned to the central question of the course and asked students in their second writing assignment—which is included in Appendix B—to reflect on Plato’s views of the relationship between sex, love, and the good life.
I followed the reading of the Symposium with a discussion of two classical pieces by Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality and Civilization and Its Discontents. I found it curious that none of my students—not even the numerous psychology majors among them—had ever read Freud before. They had heard about Freud and had formed negative opinions about Freud ("Freud is a sexist" or "Freud is a pervert"), but they had never actually read Freud’s writings. After they had the chance to explore Freud’s lucid prose on their own, the majority of students continued to reject Freud but a few of them became passionate Freud converts in that they agreed with Freud, for instance, that sexual desires are present in us long before puberty and that much of what happens in our psyche later on is hidden from our conscious introspective gaze. This led to wonderfully spirited class discussions about whether or not human infants are polymorphous perverse (i.e., whether they possess an undifferentiated impulse for sexual pleasure that includes bisexual tendencies) or whether or not we develop a super-ego that punishes us not only for what we do but also for what we think and desire. Freud’s writings—more than the writings of other thinkers—challenged students to rethink their assumptions about sexuality. I also found that reading Freud helped students to refine their skills in speaking with linguistic responsibility. Even in translation Freud’s clinical, scientific prose is the ideal role model of how to speak precisely about human sexuality without vulgarity or rudeness. I thus came to the conclusion that reading and discussing Freud would—from now on—be an essential element in all of my classes on sex and love.5 At the end of each of the two works by Freud, I returned to the central question of the course by assigning a reflection paper on each work. These paper assignments are included as Appendix C and Appendix D.
The final book of the second part of the course was Faye Flam’s The Score: How the Quest for Sex has Shaped the Modern Man.6 I had been looking for a readable book that would introduce non-science majors to some of the recent work in modern evolutionary biology as it explains human feelings (love) and behaviors (sex) as consequences of natural selection. Evolutionary biologists explain women’s tendency to find sexually attractive those men whose looks are associated with healthy genes and who signal through their behavior that they have the resources and interest to stay in a committed relationship, because women who have these types of sexual preferences have a higher chance, relative to other women, of reproductive success. There are equally obvious reasons why most men are strongly attracted to younger women: men who are attracted to other men or to older women tend to leave behind fewer offspring. In order to introduce students to the thinking about evolutionary biology I had considered Matt Ridley’s book The Red Queen,7 and Geoffrey Miller’s book The Mating Mind,8 but I eventually decided on Faye Flam’s book as the most readable and entertaining introduction to modern evolutionary biology.9 A science writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1995, Flam based her book on some of her best known weekly columns. My students immensely enjoyed reading Flam’s book which contains, among others, well-written and informative chapters about pick-up artists, penis museums, "alpha" males, and testosterone. (At the time that she wrote the original articles for the newspaper Flam’s material was cutting-edge science, but now some of her data—for example, the data in chapter five about the shrinking Y-chromosome—are out of date. Nonetheless, the book serves as an excellent platform for discussions about the role biology ought to play in our understanding of human sexuality.) The corresponding writing assignment for this part of the course—which I am including as Appendix E—took a slightly different form than the earlier assignments. Evolutionary biology has very little to say about the good life since it implicitly reduces the human good (and the good of all other living organisms) to reproductive success. I therefore decided to focus the last reflection paper on the question of whether questions about gender can be separated from questions about our biological make-up. The assignment struck a cord with students because though many of them had been exposed to the idea that femininity and masculinity are social and cultural constructions, prior to our course they were not presented with the need to reflect with much care on the relationship between biology and gender.
In the final part of the course, students were asked to do research on those questions on sex and love that they found most intriguing. I was amazed at how varied were student responses to this task. Some explored issues in applied ethics (such as same-sex marriage and prostitution); others wrote on topics that were scientific, but had implications for normative issues in philosophy (such as the question of whether sex-addiction is or is not a true disease; whether there is a genetic basis for homosexuality; and the general connection between sexuality and biology.) One of the strongest papers was written by a history major on the history of masturbation. I am normally not a fan of letting students freely choose research topics since it can encourage students to avoid those thorny and difficult problems that are most crucial for their learning, but I met with each student individually during his or her research period and tried to steer the papers in a direction so that they addressed questions of philosophical significance. For example, I asked the history major who wrote on the history of masturbation to include in her paper a final section that addressed the normative question of what one ought to say about masturbation in contemporary sex education for young adults. When listening to the in- class presentations of the various papers, I got the distinct impression that each student—through his or her research—had taken ownership of a particular question and felt pride in being able to share with others in the class what he or she had learned. Moreover, students wrote, on average, much better papers than I had seen in other classes. I think this was due, in part, to the fact that students were able to draw on their expertise in history, biology, psychology, or other fields of study when researching their particular question. Many of the papers were interdisciplinary in that they drew on the results of academic disciplines other than philosophy.
The extraordinary level of student engagement in our in-class discussions10 as well as in students’ individual research had a very positive effect on my own teaching as a whole. I found that the positive momentum which developed in the class on philosophy of sex and love affected my teaching in other classes as well. A certain playfulness in teaching spread from this class to all of my other classes. It was as if Eros, once explicitly invited to one particular class, took the freedom to visit all of my classes. I have heard it said that there is nothing better for an exhausted college teacher than to spend a year on sabbatical. After my experiences with teaching a class on the Philosophy of Sex and Love, I have to disagree. When it comes to scholarship, Eros is a more powerful rejuvenator than is free time.
First Reflection Paper
When philosophers talk about the "good life" they tend to think about a life that allows human beings to flourish. A flourishing human life must, among other things, give human beings the opportunity to exercise and develop their capacity to be rational and their capacity to use language. In addition, most people agree that a good life for human beings must be a social life that involves friendship and provides opportunities for political engagement. However, not many philosophers have explicitly discussed the relationship between a good life and sexuality. This will be the task of your first reflection paper.
Is there a relationship between leading a good life and being sexually active? Can a person who is sexually abstinent, like a Catholic priest or a nun lead a good life or is he/she missing something essential in human flourishing? Suppose that you agree that sexual activity is a necessary ingredient in a good human life. Is there a specific type of sexual activity that is more fulfilling for humans than other kinds of activities? Would a person who only engages in masturbation but never has sex with other humans be on the wrong track? What about somebody who has multiple lovers and who is not interested in having exclusive sexual relations with only one other person? Would this person be missing something? Should we think about sexuality in similar terms as we think about food? We need some food to flourish but we should not eat too much if we are to stay healthy. Is the analogy between food and sex helpful in coming to understand the role that sexuality plays in a good human life? Might it be that sexuality in some forms—say in the form of sexual addiction or of sexual perversion—is a source of human misery and unhappiness rather than a resource for enhancing the quality of life? If the answer here is "Yes," might it be better to forgo some sexual pleasures in order to avoid addictions and perversions?
In your first reflection paper, I want you to think about these and similar questions. Your paper should be a clear expression of what you think about the relationship between sexuality and a good, flourishing human life and it should provide some reasons in support of your view. The paper should be typed and should be between 750 and 1500 words long. Please be aware that this paper might be shared with other students in the class. Only write about those experiences and beliefs which you feel comfortable sharing with others.
Second Reflection Paper
Plato’s theory of love is famous—we still use the terms "platonic love" and "platonic relationship" in our language—but Plato’s theory is rarely correctly understood. Now that you have read the Symposium you are in a good position to show that you understand Plato’s theory of love. In this second reflection paper, I want you to explain the main features of Plato’s account of love. Pretend that you are explaining this to someone who has never read the Symposium. It is important here that you use quotations from the Symposium. It is OK if you assume that everything Socrates and Diotima say about love expresses Plato’s own view on love. Among the questions you should address are:
a) What, according to Plato, is the function of love?
b) Are there higher and lower forms of love?
c) What would Plato say about the relationship between sexuality and love?
Second, I want you to compare Plato’s theory of love with Aristophanes’ account of love. What are the similarities and what are the differences?
Finally, I want you to think back to the questions we raised on the last reflection paper. What would Plato say about the relationship between sexuality and the good life?
For the purposes of this paper you are not permitted to use any source other than the text of the Symposium. The paper should be typed and should be between 750 and 1500 words long. Please be aware that this paper might be shared with other students in the class. Only write about those experiences and beliefs which you feel comfortable sharing with others.
Third Reflection Paper
In his three "Essays on Sexuality," Freud develops the outlines of his theory of sexuality. His account differs greatly from what most ordinary people take sexuality to be. In your third reflection paper, I would like you to start by giving a good but succinct summary of Freud’s theory of sexuality. It is important here that you use quotations from Freud’s essays. Do not go off on tangents, but stay close to the text. Your summary should probably make use of all or most of the following concepts: sexual object; sexual aim; sublimation; repression; latency period; oral, anal, and genital stages of development; autoeroticism; shame; disgust; morality; and scopophilia.
Second, I want you to identify what you take to be the three most controversial claims in Freud’s theory. Focus on one particular claim and then decide whether you agree or disagree with the claim. If you agree explain what arguments (in Freud) can be developed to support the claim. If you disagree explain why you think that Freud’s arguments in defense of this claim are mistaken. Finally, I want you to think back to our questions from the first reflection paper. What would Freud say about the relationship between sexuality and the good life?
For the purposes of this paper you are not permitted to use any source other than the three essays. The paper should be typed and should be between 750 and 1500 words long. Please be aware that this paper might be shared with other students in the class. Only write about those experiences and beliefs which you feel comfortable sharing with others.
Fourth Reflection Paper
Freud thinks that the development of civilization is closely linked to the psychic development of the individual. According to Freud, when we are very young our ego is mostly dominated by the seeking of immediate gratification of our desires. To speak loosely, this means that early on our ego is dominated by the id (our instincts). As we grow up within our families we learn that our seeking immediate gratification of our desires leads us into conflict with our parents. Our parents want us to "grow up" and control our bodily functions so that we can become more useful members of our civilization. Our parents punish us when we do not control our urges and they reward us if we exert control. Eventually, we start internalizing the role of our parents and create an agency in our psyche that controls our instincts (especially for sex and aggression). This agency is what Freud calls the "super-ego." The super ego is a tough task master. It not only punishes us for our acts (as our parents did) but punishes us also for the wishes we have that it deems inappropriate. The way the super-ego punishes us is by making us feel guilty, ashamed and unworthy.
If Freud is right about this development, then we are confronted with a real dilemma: On the one hand, we can identify with the demands of the super-ego and become very useful members of civilization, working hard, suppressing and sublimating our desires for sexuality and aggression, and (probably) advancing quickly within institutions of civilization. But we pay a price for our advancement. The more power we give to the super ego the harsher become its demands. There is always another paper to write and another work project to take on. We are thus driven mad to succeed, but nonetheless always feel that we never achieve anything. The super-ego never lets up and allows us to rest. In the end, we have guilt feelings, and lots of repressed sexual and aggressive longings. This does not seem a happy life.
On the other hand, we can demolish the power of the super-ego and start to identify more and more with our instincts. In doing so we try to get back to the life of a child who seeks immediate gratification of its desires. But rather than being all fun, choosing this alternative confronts us with several other problems. First, when we live a life that seeks immediate gratification of desire, we come into conflict with the institutions of civilization that do not approve of our behavior (i.e., you will not get that college degree etc). Moreover, some of our instincts (such as aggressiveness) are inherently destructive so in allowing them free rein we might end up destroying our own lives and the lives of others and this is not a very happy prospect either.
For your reflection paper, I want you to reflect on this dilemma. Is there a way to escape it? Can we be happy within civilization? The paper should be typed and should be between 750 and 1500 words long. Please be aware that this paper might be shared with other students in the class. Only write about those experiences and beliefs which you feel comfortable sharing with others.
Fifth Reflection Paper
Many thinkers who are interested in gender studies draw a sharp distinction between sex and gender. By sex they understand the biological characteristics of males and females. (From a biological point of view my sex is determined by the fact whether I have a Y-chromosome and how high my testosterone level is.) On the other hand, by gender, many thinkers have in mind a culturally constructed property. Each culture constructs certain gender roles which means in part that each culture develops over time a narrative of why certain actions and characteristics should be seen as "male" or "female." These cultural narratives are clearly contingent paradigms. Some cultures, for instance, view being caring and compassionate as typical female characteristics and being competitive and aggressive as typical male characteristics, but things could be otherwise.
What it means to be a "real man" in a particular culture may therefore require both a biological component (having physical male sexual characteristics) as well as behavioral or attitudinal characteristics which that culture defines as masculine. For your reflection paper, I want you to reflect on the question to what degree being a male is solely a biological property. Or to phrase the question differently: to what degree can we reduce the question of what it means to be male to purely biological facts? In order to answer this question, it is important that you reflect on much of the information that we have learned in our last book "The Score."
Start your paper with a thesis. Do you understand "being male" as predominantly as a biological property or as the having of a property viewed by your culture as a "male" property? Then clarify your thesis with the help of some examples. For example, focus on the question whether being polygamous is typical of male behavior and whether this tendency is determined by male biology or cultural narrative. Or focus on the question of whether striving to gain status among peers is a male characteristic and to what degree this characteristic is determined by male biology. What about child caring? Or faithfulness?
What is important is that you make lots of references to the current research in evolutionary biology that we discussed while reading Faye Flam’s book. After you have developed your thesis consider and discuss at least one objection to your point of view.
The paper should be typed and should be between 750 and 1500 words long. Please be aware that this paper might be shared with other students in the class. Only write about those experiences and beliefs which you feel comfortable sharing with others.
1. I considered using the following anthologies: B. Robert, Baker, Kathleen Winniger, and Frederick Elliston (eds.), Philosophy and Sex, 3rd ed. (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1998); Robert Trevas, Arthur Zucker, and Donald Borchert (eds.), Philosophy of Sex and Love: A Reader (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1996); Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins (eds.), The Philosophy of (Erotic) Love (Larences: University of Kansas Press, 1991); and also Alan Soble, The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings, 5th ed. (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008).
2. I would like to point out that my hesitation to use an anthology should not be understood as a general weakness and criticism of anthologies. Anthologies can be used in various ways. Even if they lack a central organizing question, they can be used in such a way as to be compatible with a course that is organized around a central question. I, therefore, could have used an anthology in the class and I might very well do so, if I teach the course again.
3. One reviewer of this paper expressed grave ethical misgivings about the paper switching exercise. In so far as I understand these misgivings correctly, these concerns fall into two categories. First, the reviewer pointed out that students have a reasonable expectation that their papers will be read by the instructor only and that the students might reveal information about themselves in these papers which they do not feel comfortable sharing with other students in the class. I have tried to address this issue by alerting students both on the first day of class as well as in the text of the first writing assignment that their papers might be shared with others in the class. My initial draft of the paper did not make it clear that I alerted students to the fact that their papers might be shared with other students and I want to express my gratitude to the reviewer for helping me clarify this. Second, the reviewer raised concerns about the "opt-out" procedure I offer to students. According to the reviewer, paper-switching should be used in class only if no student objects and only if students have been given a confidential vote on the matter. I am not convinced that such a procedure is required. What is of some interest in this context is that student paper sharing without prior confidential vote by the students is a common procedure in many peer-review teaching techniques in philosophy classes (see, for example, Scott D. Wilson, "Peer-Review Assignments" in Teaching Philosophy 29:43 (2006): 327-42 and Jeffrey K. McDonought, "Rough Drafts without Tears: A Guide to a Manageable Procedure for Improving Students’ Writings," in Teaching Philosophy 23:2 (2000): 127-37). Paper-switching is also widely used in other disciplines, for example, in creative writing classes as well as composition classes without any student opt-out or confidential vote of consent. Overall—as explained in the main text of this article—the paper switching helped me achieve a number of learning goals I had for the course. My experience has been so positive that I have started to use paper switching also in other classes.
4. A similar point is made by Richard White in his article "Thinking about Love: Teaching the Philosophy of Love (and Sex)" in Teaching Philosophy 25:2 (2002): 111-124.
5. In future classes I am inclined to assign additional readings in the Freud section. I noticed that I had to provide a lot of general background information about Freud and psychotherapy and I think it would be beneficial for the students to read, for instance, Jonathan Lear’s Freud (New York: Routledge, 2005).
6. Faye Flam’s The Score: How the Quest for Sex has Shaped the Modern Man (New York: Penguin Books, 2008).
7. Matt Ridley, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (New York: Penguin Books, 1993).
8. Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature (New York: Anchor Books, 2001).
9. If I had to teach this section again, I would also assign sections of Michael Ruse’s The Philosophy of Human Evolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012) as well as Kim Serelny and Paul Griffiths, Sex and Death: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Biology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).
10. It is interesting to note that three of the twenty students in the course later on decided to become philosophy majors and nearly all of the students took additional philosophy classes later on. I think this is evidence that students developed a love for reflection and discussion in the course, and that a course on "Philosophy of Sex and Love" can be a good recruitment class for small philosophy programs.
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A Decision Procedure for Evaluating Natural Language Arguments
Moti Mizrahi, St. John's University
In what follows, I present a decision procedure for evaluating arguments expressed in natural language. I think that other instructors of informal logic and critical thinking might find this decision procedure to be a useful addition to their teaching resources. To be clear, the decision procedure does not purport to add anything new to the field of informal logic and it is obviously not designed for the edification of instructors in argument evaluation. Rather, it simply presents the basics of argument evaluation in a visually clear way that students might find helpful. In that respect, the decision procedure is designed to address two problems that I face whenever I teach informal logic and critical thinking:
1. When they have an argument to evaluate, students tend to examine the premises (to figure out if they are true or false) without examining the form of the argument. The decision procedure is designed with the aim of separating these two steps and showing students that they should evaluate the form of an argument as well as its premises.
2. I think that Salmon (2007, v) is right when she writes:
"With a clear understanding of inductive arguments, students are less likely to have the mistaken impression that only deductive arguments are effective and that inductive reasoning is an inferior alternative that is employed only when nothing better is available."
The decision procedure is designed with the aim of separating these two kinds of arguments and showing students that an argument can be worthy of serious consideration even if it is not deductive.
Admittedly, these problems may be unique to my experience teaching informal logic and critical thinking. However, in case any readers of this Newsletter have confronted similar problems, they might find this decision procedure a useful addition to their arsenal of teaching resources.
Before I present the decision procedure, however, a few terminological notes are in order. I follow Salmon (2007) in distinguishing between deductive and inductive arguments in the following way:
Deductive Argument: An argument constructed such that, if all of the premises are true, the conclusion cannot be false is deductive (Salmon 2007, 102). [See Figure 1]
Figure 1. Deductive argument
Inductive Argument: An ampliative argument in which the premises, if true, make it probable that the conclusion is true as well is an inductive argument (Salmon 2007, 103). [See Figure 2]
Figure 2. Inductive argument
My terminology differs from Salmon’s in the following way: I reserve the term sound to valid deductive arguments in which the premises are true (to be contrasted with unsound argument). I use the term cogent to refer to strong inductive arguments in which the premises are true (to be contrasted with non-cogent argument). Of course, this terminology is consistent with the fact that deductive arguments are monotonic (i.e., additional premises—even false premises—cannot make a valid deductive argument invalid), whereas inductive arguments are non-monotonic (i.e., additional premises can make an inductive argument stronger or weaker). And it is also consistent with the fact that valid deductive arguments are truth-preserving, whereas inductive arguments are ampliative. To say that an inductive argument is ampliative is to say that its conclusion amplifies or expands on what is stated in the premises.
As anyone who teaches informal logic knows, the terminology of argument classification is hardly uniform across textbooks. Unlike Salmon (2007), some authors distinguish between valid arguments, i.e., deductive arguments that succeed in providing logically conclusive support for their conclusions, and invalid arguments, i.e., arguments that structurally resemble deductive arguments but fail to provide logically conclusive support for their conclusions. (See, e.g., Copi and Burgess-Jackson 1996; Hurley 2008). For example, the argument form
If p, then q.
is said to be valid (modus ponens), whereas the argument form
If p, then q.
is said to be invalid (affirming the consequent). The decision procedure is not designed to teach students how to identify specific argument forms. Rather, it is meant to paint the process of argument evaluation with a broad brush and provide students with a concise decision procedure they can refer to when they evaluate natural language arguments.
Salmon does not use the valid/invalid distinction in her characterization of fallacious arguments. For Salmon (2007, 103), a fallacious argument is "an argument in which the premises provide only very weak support, or no real support, for the conclusion." My decision procedure, on the other hand, does have room for the valid/invalid distinction (for deductive arguments) and the corresponding strong/weak distinction (for inductive arguments). In that respect, it can be used by instructors who use textbooks with different terminology.
With this terminology in hand, I now present the decision procedure for evaluating arguments [see Figure 3]. (For similar terminology, see Rainbolt and Dwyer 2011; cf. Govier 2010.)
Figure 3. A decision procedure for evaluating arguments expressed in natural language.
Figure 4 shows an example of the decision procedure at work.
Figure 4. An example of the decision procedure at work.
Given the view that species evolve into one another, then members of one species must somehow give rise to members of another species. It follows that members of the second species must somehow derive as variants of members of the first (Kauffman 1993, 6).
Based on my experience, I think that this decision procedure addresses problems (1) and (2) mentioned above in the following ways:
1. The decision procedure helps students see that argument evaluation is (broadly speaking) a two-step process. First, the logical form of the argument must be evaluated, i.e., whether the premises provide deductive or inductive support for the conclusion. Second, the content of the argument must be evaluated, i.e., whether the premises are true or false. Although the first step is not necessarily temporally prior to the second, it does seem to be the case that figuring out the logical form of an argument is easier (e.g., less time-consuming) than figuring out the truth value of its premises. So, even if students cannot judge whether an argument is sound or cogent, they can still judge whether or not the conclusion would be worthy of acceptance if the premises were true.
2. The decision procedure helps students see that deductive and inductive arguments are two kinds of reasoning and that an argument can be worthy of serious consideration even if it is not deductive.
In light of the above, I recommend the decision procedure outlined above to instructors of informal logic and critical thinking. I think that those instructors who are concerned with showing students that induction is not an inferior alternative to deduction will find room for this decision procedure in their arsenal of teaching resources.
Many thanks to several anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts.
Copi, I.M. and Burgess-Jackson, K. 1996. Informal Logic. Prentice Hall.
Govier, T. 2010. A Practical Study of Argument. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Hurley, P.J. 2008. A Concise Introduction to Logic. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Kauffman, S.A. 1993. The Origins of Order. Oxford University Press.
Rainbolt, G.W. and Dwyer, S. L. 2011. Critical Thinking: The Art of Argument. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Salmon, M.H. 2007. Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking. Thomson Wadsworth.
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Fostering the Exploration of Philosophical and Ethical Questions among School Students in Australasia
Matthew Wills, Hale School/Philosophy, Values, and Religion Division
In 2007, Hale School in Perth Western Australia embarked on a new project to promote higher-order thinking among secondary-school students. Our intention was to provide young people with an opportunity to reflect deeply on philosophical and ethical issues while developing and then demonstrating good critical-thinking and communication skills. This initiative coincided with the introduction of a three-year course, entitled Philosophy and Ethics, designed for senior-school students in the secondary schools in the state of Western Australia. Foundational to this new multi-year course was the development of critical-thinking skills, the study of formal logic, training in argument mapping, and the study of both formal and informal fallacies.
A prime feature of the new three-year course is the use of an approach known as "Community of Inquiry" (COI). A COI is an educational environment, first introduced by Professor Matthew Lipman, that leads to questioning, reasoning, deliberating about, challenging, and developing problem-solving techniques. The benefits of "Communities of Inquiry" have been well documented: over 74 studies of COI provide evidence of positive cognitive and social outcomes arising out of the "Community of Inquiry" approach. Teaching children reasoning skills early in life through this method greatly improves other cognitive and academic skills and greatly assists learning in general. (An extensive analysis of the benefits of COI can be found in a recently published article by Millett and Tapper, which appeared in Educational Philosophy and Theory (2011), entitled "Benefits of Collaborative Philosophical Inquiry in Schools.")
Our project is a friendly "competition" between schools in which students participate in a series of "Communities of Inquiry" and are judged by the quality of their participation. We decided to call this initiative a "Philosothon." In 2007 nine schools accepted the invitation to take part in the first Philosothon, which was to take place during one evening late in the academic year. Each school was invited to send a group of five students to the event. In the months leading up to the Philosothon these students were introduced to stimulus material—for example, Plato’s Ring of Gyges and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Harrison Bergeron—and they were then asked to think of an open-ended question that arises for them from what they have read. Open-ended questions are questions that require an extended response whose answers might involve appeal to more than one discipline and which are not likely to have a single, simple, answer. These open questions are collected by a teacher nominated from each school and emailed to the organizers of that year’s Philosothon who, in turn, collate all the questions received and include them within the printed program of that year’s Philosothon.
Everyone involved in the Philosothon receives a Resource Pack via email at least three months before the event. This pack includes details about the program such as where it will be held, when it starts and finishes, links to the resources that will be used, and other important details relevant to participants in the event.
The Philosothon is not to be viewed as a lightweight "airy fairy talk fest." As indicated previously, students are given stimulus material well in advance. Schools differ in the way they select and prepare their students. Many schools conduct trials and select students on the basis of their aptitudes and skills. Once a team for the Philosothon is selected the student teams meet regularly with a coach, usually a teacher at their school, to prepare for the event. (Many schools prepare their students within the context of a weekly Philosophy Club that offers an opportunity for students to participate in "Communities of Inquiry" discussions.)
The four COI topics covered at our first Philosothon in 2007 were:
1. Do human beings have free will?
2. Do we have reason to believe that God exists?
3. What is the nature of the human mind?
4. Is it morally worse to actively kill a person than to passively allow that person to die?
Prior to our first Philosothon we invited members of the University sector to participate. The judging panel of our first Philosothon consisted of philosophy lecturers from all the local universities who volunteered their time for this event. We also invited Ph.D. philosophy students to facilitate the discussions. Facilitating a COI involves giving all students an opportunity to contribute to the discussion with a view toward developing a sophisticated and clear collective response to the complex question that is the focus of discussion. University lecturers and Ph.D. philosophy students have continued to be involved in subsequent Philosothons.
Nine schools participated in our first Philosothon. Each school entered five students, consisting of one student from each of four different high-school-year groups, along with a "reserve" student (explained below). Students were placed with other students of the same school-year level for the first two "Communities of Inquiry" and were placed in randomly mixed groups of students for the final two COI discussions of the evening. The rationale for having groups of students randomly mixed with respect to academic-year level is to encourage intellectual growth, based on the view that gifted and talented students are often capable of thinking philosophically at levels beyond their age if they are exposed to that sort of thinking among the older students.
The students representing their school participate in each COI of the evening, with the "reserve" student of their group being on call to take the place of another student from that school if one of the group should happen to be absent on the night of the Philosothon event. If none of the four students from a particular school is absent on the night of the event, the "reserve" student can still participate but his or her participation is limited to no more than two COI discussions. (Initially, we invited each school to nominate a "reserve" as a way of covering for absentees, but having "reserve" students attend the event has now become a way of easily involving more students in the event.) In the Philosothon itself, the reserve student may only replace someone in a COI who is his/her own age or younger. (Inclusion of "reserves" causes problems when collating individual scores, as medals are awarded by age groups to the individual students who achieve the highest score. However, it does not affect the marks given to the winning school as "reserve" students only replace students from their same school.)
On the night of the Philosothon, students, their parents, and their teachers all gather in a large assembly hall and, following a short welcome and a light meal and drinks for everyone in attendance, the students are assigned, based on age level, to a nearby classroom. Each Community of Inquiry consists of eight or nine students with one student from each school participating. All four COI’s run simultaneously with a judge and a facilitator in attendance at each COI. During the evening each student participates in a total of four thirty-minute COIs.
Scores are assigned to individual students by judges who sit in on each of the four discussions. At the end of each discussion, these scores are collected and collated on a central database. Given that points are allocated both to schools and to individuals, the tally of points will yield total school marks as well as a score for each participating individual student.
At the end of the Philosothon evening everyone re-assembles in the hall and all the students receive a certificate to honor their selection as participants in the event. Gold Medallions are awarded to winning students in each age division and Silver and Bronze Medallions are awarded to the runners up. A magnificent crystal trophy with an image of Rodin’s thinker embedded in it is awarded to the winning school of the evening. (Students whose school achieves second or third place on the night are also awarded medallions to recognize their achievement.) Additionally, a Philosothon encouragement-award is given to the most promising male and female philosophers. These latter awards are determined by a head judge and are sponsored by various professional associations, including the Australian Association of Philosophy (AAP).
Our first Philosothon was a great success and the fact that those involved in it expressed the desire to continue in the following year suggested to us that the event might well become a regular feature in our academic calendar. And it has. (Following each Philosothon we have asked for written feedback from the judges and facilitators who participated in that year’s event, which we have used to improve the event in such matters as scoring procedure, marking keys, training for facilitators, and structuring the evening.)
Over time the network of support for the Philosothon has grown. Increasingly, we have been able to draw on university students who, in their secondary-school years, had participated in a prior Philosothon and are now eager to stay involved with the event as university-student facilitators. (We usually pay such students a nominal amount of $200 each for their participation.) We believe that participation of the university sector in the Philosothon is a vital ingredient in the success of the Philosothon. It keeps "graduates" of the Philosothon interested in what happens in the earlier years of education, and it brings students in the secondary schools into easy contact with those in the tertiary sector of Australian education. Moreover, our network of judges has grown over the years to the point that at present every professional philosophy lecturer in the state has been involved as a judge.
Notwithstanding the growth of the event and the enthusiastic support it has received from many people, there has been some criticism. Some have said that philosophy cannot be undertaken in the context of a competition on the grounds that ranking individual performance at the event fundamentally compromises the process of developing a "Community of Inquiry." I am not unsympathetic to this view, but my experience of these events belies this criticism. Interestingly, many students forget that they are involved in a competition and engage in the exact sort of investigation and collaboration we would hope to see in our philosophy and ethics courses. In any case, in almost all secondary and tertiary academic institutions, students are ranked with respect to one another relative to certain criteria. The only—but very big—difference between what takes place in an ordinary classroom and what takes place in the Philosothon is that in the latter, one of the most important criteria of success is collaboration with peers. The successful resolution of questions that are raised for discussion in a COI very much depends on the engaged participation of the COI participants to the discussion.
The following excerpt from a report on a recent Philosothon sums up what many who are involved in Philosothons have observed.
Everyone was working together to come up with the most intellectually sustainable understanding that they could. Another extraordinary thing was that although the Philosothon was a competition it hardly felt competitive at all. Students almost forgot that they were being judged against each other. The "prize" for the students was just being in the discussions and being able to thrash out these things. A medal for winning was just the icing on the cake. Everybody walked out feeling like the proverbial winner.
If there is some tension between collaborative learning and Philosothon competitions, I, for one, am happy to live with this apparent contradiction—so long, that is, that it remains the case that participating students a) recognize that wisdom is the ultimate goal and b) develop skills along the way in putting together clear and constructive arguments.
Each year since the first Philosothon took place, the number of involved schools has grown. The second Philosothon in 2008 involved twelve schools, and in the third Philosothon, which took place a year later in 2009, eighteen schools participated. Twenty-two schools participated in the fourth Philosothon, and twenty-four in the fifth Philosothon, held in 2011. Thirty schools are currently booked for the 2012 Hale School Philosothon.
In 2010 we decided to promote the event in other Australian states. I visited each state and ran workshops for teachers on how to conduct a "Community of Inquiry" and how to run a Philosothon. These workshops were well attended and soon afterwards other Australian states were conducting their own annual Philosothons in each major capital city. This year eighteen schools participated in the Sydney Philosothon and eight schools participated in the Victorian Philosothon (hosted by Ballarat Grammar School). A.B. Paterson College in Queensland hosts the Brisbane Philosothon and eighteen teams participated in their second Philosothon in 2011. In 2012 the first Philosothon will be held in the state of South Australia.
In 2011 the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations (FAPSA) agreed to host the first National Philosothon. The FAPSA Australasian Philosothon took place at Cranbrook School in Sydney in July 2011. Each state sent its best three teams (drawn from those schools that had won the 2010 Philosothon in that state). In the end, a total of twelve schools arrived in Sydney to participate in the inaugural national event, which consisted of three days of speakers, various philosophical games, and "Communities of Inquiry" discussions. Again, leading academic philosophers from Australia awarded points to students on the basis of their ability to work collaboratively in the construction of arguments on interesting philosophical and ethical issues.
But for the fact that the National Philosothon was held over three days rather than one evening, the format and structure of the competition was based on the same model used at the initial Hale School Philosothon that was held in 2007. The feedback from all involved was extremely positive. Many people have commented on the quality of the discussions and the following email, sent by a Philosothon judge, is not untypical.
I would like to thank you and everyone else involved in the Philosothon last evening for such an enjoyable and enlightening evening. It was truly wonderful. My experience here at Notre Dame is, of course, with tertiary students and I have been impressed in recent times to see that the "self-centred" image that the media presents of youth today is ill founded. Last night, listening to the Year 8s (13 year olds) expound their ideas of the "Good life," I was amazed and delighted to hear them progress (self-propelled) from the benefits of wealth to the greater benefits of altruism. As was so rightly said by the School Headmaster, "the future is in very safe hands." Where I come from there is an old rustic saying which I thought appropriate for the experience of the proceedings: "if you could bottle it and sell it you would make a fortune!" Thank you, indeed, and if required, [you can] be sure that I would be delighted to attend next year.
Indeed, all of us were left with the sense that we had participated in something important and seminal.
In 2012 the second National Philosothon will be held in the state of Queensland at Bond University and A.B. Paterson College. Once again schools from all around the country will be participating, but this time there will be two age divisions and there will be teams of eight (rather than of five) students from each school. Also in 2012, the first Primary School Philosothon will be held in Melbourne in the state of Victoria. The National Gallery of Victoria and the Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools (VAPS) have invited schools to apply for this inaugural Victorian Primary School Philosothon. Ten students from eight schools will participate in three 30-minute "Communities of Inquiry" sessions (sessions that will be held in front of a variety of artworks at the National Gallery). The event is open to students in year-levels 4, 5, and 6, and schools will be asked to choose two students from each of these year-levels (with extra students from each school serving as "reserves"). In 2013, we will try to replicate the Victorian Primary School Philosothon and hold primary school Philosothons in Western Australia as well as in other Australian states.
We have submitted funding applications to various granting institutions in order to fund the establishment of a more structured and well-resourced presence, to sponsor remote schools, and to establish new Philosothons in other parts of Australasia.
In 2013 the first International Philosothon will take place in the UK.
(If you are interested in hosting a Philosothon at your school we have assembled a kit for schools to use which provides everything necessary to prepare for the hosting of one’s own Philosothon. More information about Philosothons and contact details can be found at www.philosothon.org or http://www.hale.wa.edu.au/Our%20Community/HalePhilosothon/Pages/default.aspx)
Note: In 2009 Mr. Wills (the author of this article) won a Winston Churchill Fellowship to travel to the U.S. to research the only similar competition we could find world-wide. The U.S. Ethics Bowl is well established and we thought that by meeting with key people in the U.S. we might gain some vital wisdom in the setting up of our own national Philosothon competition in Australia. In December 2009/Jan 2010 Mr. Wills travelled around the U.S. attending an Ethics Bowl in California and speaking to key people about what they had done to establish the National Ethics Bowls in the U.S. The full report of his research, including his visit to the APA conference in New York, is available on the Winston Churchill Trust website (http://www.churchilltrust.com.au/fellows/detail/3416/matthew+wills).
Philosothon Community of Inquiry Marking Key
The following key was sent to schools and facilitators participating in the Philosothon. It is a marking key developed by Curriculum Council to assist teachers in assessing student participation and performance in the classroom "Community of Inquiry."
Assists in the facilitation of procedural inquiry, that is, students contribute to the smooth running of the inquiry with a clear understanding of the importance of rules and procedures, including the need to treat others in the discussion with dignity and respect.
Develops a substantive dialogue with peers about stimulus materials, for example, students engage in a detailed way with ideas and assumptions about stimulus materials put forward by peers.
Articulates with some clarity conceptual difficulties held by self / peers. Students make an honest attempt to clarify difficult ideas and assumptions put forward by peers.
Prepares a conceptually sound explanation in relation to key views/issues. That is, students put forth their explanations based on reason and evidence.
Adjusts responses as new arguments arise, and revises thinking in light of new evidence that emerges from the inquiry, especially if the new evidence runs counter to previously-held positions.
Weighs reasons offered by peers against one another to come up with the best reasons for holding or rejecting a position.
Questions peers about views on core issues and concepts in stimulus materials and endeavours to understand the possibility of alternative ideas and assumptions.
Formulates questions specifically designed to elicit information and clarify difficulties.
Is willing to share ideas with peers in a dignified manner.
Responds to open questions generated by stimulus materials and offers explanations in a respectful manner.
Exchanges ideas and builds on the ideas of others. Helps to build examples to illustrate points and, where necessary, counter-examples to support the rejection of a particular position.
Identifies some core issues and concepts in the stimulus materials and attempts to explain it to peers.
Identifies, for the given context, the implications of the claims that are put forth and the relationship between it and other claims.
Has simplistic/limited engagement with questions/peers in light of the stimulus materials.
Offers incomplete and inadequate interpretation and explanation of the stimulus materials.
Fails to explain the concepts and issues in the stimulus material fully and clearly.
Asks rhetorical questions and/or disjointed questions regarding stimulus materials/issues..
Asks unclear questions of peers and/or gives unclear answers to peers.
Makes assertions about stimulus materials/issues/peer questioning without providing reasons or evidence for those assertions.
Dominates/monopolises the inquiry rather work to contribute to the cooperative and smooth running of the inquiry.
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Gomberg, Paul. What Should I Believe? Philosophical Essays for Critical Thinking (2011).
Edinburgh University Press (c/o Columbia University Press)
Williams, James. Gilles Delueze’s Philosophy of Time: A Critical Introduction and Guide (2011).
Dartmouth College Press
Bogues, Anthony. Empire of Liberty: Power, Desire, and Freedom (2010).
Harvard University Press
Baier, Annette. The Pursuits of Philosophy: An Introduction to the Life and Thought of David Hume (2011).
Bilgram, Akeel. Self-Knowledge and Resentment (2012).
Ford, Anton, Hornsby, Jennifer and Stoutland, Frederick, eds. Essays on Anscombe’s Intention (2011).
Fox, Robin. The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind (2011).
Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America (2012).
Mirel, Jeffrey. E. Patriotic Pluralism: Americanization, Education and European Immigrants (2010).
Rosen, Michael. Dignity (2012).
Wittman, Rebecca. Beyond Justice: The Auschwitz Trial (2012).
Furrow, Dwight. Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America (2009).
Kitcher, Philip. Science in a Democratic Society (2011).
Law, Stephen, Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole (2011).
Westview Press (Perseus Books Group)
Sterba, James P., Morality: The Why and the What of It (2012)
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Addresses of Contributors
The Graduate School and University Center
Department of Philosophy
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10014
St. John’s University
Department of Philosophy
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439
Nils Ch. Rauhut
Coastal Carolina University
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
PO Box 261954
Conway, SC 29528-6054
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Philosophy, Values and Religion
Wembley Downs 6018, Western Australia