ONLINE FIRST ARTICLES
Articles forthcoming in in this journal are available Online First prior to publication. More details about Online First and how to use and cite these articles can be found HERE
August 23, 2022
Creating a Virtual Symposium
The Benefits of Using a Democratic Syllabus
first published on August 23, 2022
Democratizing the syllabus has been discussed in the fields of sociology and political science but rarely in philosophy. In this paper I will draw upon my experience of teaching Philosophy of Love in an online modality to examine the impact on motivation when students fill in the gaps presented in a democratic syllabus.
W. John Koolage, Natalie C. Anderson
Addressing the Deep Roots of Epistemological Extremism
first published on August 23, 2022
In this article, we defend the view that problematic epistemological extremism, which presents puzzles for many learners new to philosophy, is a result of earlier learning at the K–12 level. Confirming this hunch serves as a way of locating the problem and suggesting that recent learning interventions proposed by Christopher Edelman (2021) and Galen Barry (2022) are on the right track. Further, we offer that this extremism is plausibly described as what Miranda Fricker (2007) calls an epistemic injustice. This suggests that disrupting the problem is a boon for learners, the discipline, and good citizenship. In our discussion we introduce work by Derek Muller suggesting that it is important to address the misconceptions involved in epistemological extremism (and its precursors) lest we simply reinforce these problematic misconceptions for the worse—inhibiting student learning, reproducing challenges to good citizenship, and leading to a discounting of many ways of knowing.
July 23, 2022
Hasko von Kriegstein
A Primer on Moral Concepts and Vocabulary
first published on July 23, 2022
This article is an introduction to moral concepts. Its purpose is to introduce and explain vocabulary that can be used both in examining ethical theories, and in talking about the ethically significant aspects of concrete situations. We begin by distinguishing descriptive and normative claims, and explaining how moral claims are a special type of normative claims. We then introduce terms for the moral evaluation of actions, states of affairs, and motives. Focusing on the question ‘what should be done?,’ we talk at some length about factors that influence the moral evaluation of actions, such as rights, duties, and consequences. We also cover related concepts such as justifications, excuses, praise, and blame. Finally, we discuss ethical reasoning and the roles played therein by principles, values, and theories.
Hasko von Kriegstein
The Moral Vocabulary Approach
first published on July 23, 2022
At or near the beginning of many textbooks and syllabi in applied or professional ethics is a unit on philosophical moral theories (such as utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics). However, teaching such theories is of questionable value in this context. This article introduces the moral vocabulary approach. Instead of burdening students with complex ethical theories, they are introduced to the logic of elementary moral concepts. This avoids many of the drawbacks of teaching ethical theories, while preserving the benefit of equipping students with the conceptual tools they need to critically analyse ethical issues.
July 14, 2022
Kristin Rodier, Samantha Brennan
Teaching (and) Fat Stigma in Philosophy
first published on July 14, 2022
This article draws on authors’ experiences as fat-bodied white women philosophers, empirical research about fat discrimination, and common teaching topics and practices to reflect on fat stigma in dominant forms of teaching philosophy. We situate our critique in fat studies literature, locating the “normal professor body” within eugenic social and political movements, and the transatlantic slave trade. We outline how fat stigma specifically applies to historical and contemporary forms of Western canonical teaching practices and materials. Many of the topics philosophers teach on practical rationality evoke stereotypes about fat-bodied people as bad eaters, and activate stereotype threat for fat philosophers, thus affecting performance and credibility. We offer the case of “fat man” hypotheticals in contemporary analytic ethics as cases of perpetuating stigma, thereby undermining their pedagogical efficacy. We conclude by offering recommendations for teaching in ways that mitigate the influence of fat stigmatizing stereotypes and stereotype threat for fat philosophers.
May 24, 2022
Blending Synchronous and Asynchronous Discussion Strategies to Promote Community and Criticality during a Time of Crisis
first published on May 24, 2022
While discussion is a hallmark of philosophy teaching methods, some instructors express doubt as to the possibilities for its meaningful implementation in online classes. Here, I report on a routine that utilized synchronous and asynchronous discussion strategies to promote community-building and critical engagement in an educational philosophy class forced online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before class, students used social annotation software to collaboratively read a text. During class, we pursued whole-group discussion using student-centered strategies before breaking into partners for small-group work on a written discussion prompt. After class, students individually replied to the prompts written by these small groups. Results show that students found that this routinized structure promoted engagement with the course content and each other, ultimately building a community that supported critical thinking in the virtual classroom. Implications are raised regarding instructor workload and control over course outcomes.
May 19, 2022
Benjamin Hole, Monica Janzen, Ramona C. Ilea
Radically Hopeful Civic Engagement
first published on May 19, 2022
Tragedy feels disempowering and the confluence of tragedies since the beginning of 2020 can overwhelm one’s sense of agency. This paper describes how we use a civic engagement (CE) project to nurture radical hope for our students. Radical hope involves a desire for a positive outcome surpassing understanding, as well as an activity to strive to achieve that outcome despite its uncertainty. Our CE project asks students to identify ethical issues they care about and respond in a fitting way, questioning the assumption that their efforts do not matter, and imagining creative ways to make a difference that are in their power. We scaffold our CE project in order to nurture hopeful possibilities for students by offering real-world, feasible pathways for addressing systemic problems.
May 13, 2022
Sally J. Scholz
Graduate Seminars and the Climate Problem in Philosophy
first published on May 13, 2022
Designing a successful graduate seminar should account for more than just the content to be conveyed and the completion of the standard seminar paper. This article dissects the seminar structure, revealing some of what is obscured by the “hidden curriculum” of graduate education, with an eye toward transforming the climate in philosophy. I begin with a brief review of literature on graduate teaching and inclusive teaching in philosophy. I then examine four components of a typical graduate seminar: the faculty instructor of graduate courses, the graduate students themselves, the material selection, and the course requirements. Reflecting on the graduate seminar compels revisiting learning goals, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility, and adopting a more intentional approach to graduate course design that ties course goals to specific activities and assessments for the life of the professional philosopher.
May 7, 2022
first published on May 7, 2022
Despite their difficulty, the writings of Aristotle can be effectively used in an introductory course. This does not mean that students should be assigned whole books, or even chapters. Instead, their readings should consist of individual paragraphs. To justify this procedure, the paper draws on the work of Reviel Netz, who has argued that the “basic discourse unit” in Aristotle’s writings is precisely the “paragraph.” With this term he does not refer to the feature of modern writing signalled by indentation, for that did not exist in antiquity. Instead, he means a short, logically self-contained segment, discernible through specific linguistic markers. To illustrate how a close reading of an Aristotelian “paragraph” can be pedagogically fruitful, this paper offers a case study: the opening lines of the Metaphysics (980a20–27), in which Aristotle argues that “all human beings by nature desire to know.”
May 5, 2022
Probability without Tears
first published on May 5, 2022
This article is about teaching probability to students of philosophy who don’t aim to do primarily formal work in their research. These students are unlikely to seek out classes about probability or formal epistemology for various reasons, for example because they don’t realize that this knowledge would be useful for them or because they are intimidated by the material. However, most areas of philosophy now contain debates that incorporate probability, and basic knowledge of it is essential even for philosophers whose work isn’t primarily formal. In this article, I explain how to teach probability to students who are not already enthusiastic about formal philosophy, taking into account the common phenomena of math anxiety and the lack of reading skills for formal texts. I address course design, lesson design, and assignment design. Most of my recommendations also apply to teaching formal methods other than probability theory.
May 3, 2022
Robert Weston Siscoe, Zachary Odermatt
Seeking to Understand
Small Group Dialogues about Race and Gender
first published on May 3, 2022
It is no secret that we, as a society, struggle to have productive conversations about race and gender. Discussions about these issues are beset with obstacles, from the inherent power dynamics between conversation partners to the fear that participants feel about saying something harmful. One practice that can help address these difficulties is intergroup dialogue—sustained, small group discussions with participants from a variety of social identities. In this paper, we detail how we incorporated intergroup dialogue into a 120-student “Philosophy of Race, Class, and Gender” course, providing a blueprint for anyone who wants to help their students develop the ability to take part in fruitful conversations surrounding these challenging topics. We provide strategies for how to design intergroup dialogues to avoid many of the common pitfalls of such conversations, strategies that ultimately helped our students become more likely to initiate and participate in worthwhile discussions on race and gender. We expect our experiences to be especially helpful for instructors of large courses, where making time for small group dialogue is quite challenging, but many of the practices we used can also be adapted for smaller scale courses as well.
April 28, 2022
Anna Gotlib, Ruth Groenhout
Bioethics Pedagogy Meets Science Denialism
first published on April 28, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic and its conflict with science denialism raises the question of how philosophers teaching bioethics should respond to debates concerning truth, scientific evidence, and medical treatment raised by their students. We suggest that philosophical responses to the spread of serious disinformation in the health care context can be effectively explored in bioethics courses through discussions of informed consent, patient autonomy, the nature of scientific evidence, and moral responsibly for one’s views in ways that are especially important in the current pandemic era. Addressing these issues offers important epistemological grounding for students who will soon be making biomedical judgments and policies, as well as students who, like the rest of us, will be on the receiving end of those decisions. We argue that helping all of our students to understand the epistemological structures, and the moral consequences, of biomedicine and its detractors is a vital part of the professor’s responsibility.
April 26, 2022
The Levels System
An Application of Mastery Learning
first published on April 26, 2022
This paper describes an application of mastery learning to the teaching of philosophical writing—an approach I call “the Levels System.” In this paper, I explain the Levels System, how I integrate it into my course, and the pedagogical research supporting the principles of mastery learning on which it is built. I also compare the Levels System to Maryellen Weimer’s “menu approach,” Linda Nilson’s “specifications grading,” and Fred Keller’s “personalized system of instruction.” I argue that the Levels System has many of the virtues of these other systems and some additional virtues of its own.
April 22, 2022
An Argument for Asynchronous Course Delivery in the Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic
first published on April 22, 2022
I argue that campus closures and shifts to online instruction in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic created an obligation to offer courses asynchronously. This is because some students could not have reasonably foreseen circumstances making continued synchronous participation impossible. Offering synchronous participation options to students who could continue to participate thusly would have been unfair to students who could not participate synchronously. I also discuss why ex post facto consideration of this decision is warranted, noting that similar actions may be necessary in the future and that other tough pedagogical cases share important similarities with this case.
April 20, 2022
Academic Internships in Philosophy
first published on April 20, 2022
Academic internships are increasingly common in other disciplines, but have not been discussed or implemented widely in the discipline of philosophy. This article fills this gap by discussing the potential benefits of philosophy internships and addressing two important questions: whether there is something different about philosophy—possibly its abstractness, versatility, or what I refer to as “pluripotency”—that renders the benefits of internships out of reach for many philosophy students, and whether philosophy faculty should be responsible for developing and implementing philosophy internships. In this article, I argue that there is nothing about the discipline itself that prevents philosophy majors from experiencing the benefits of academic internships and that, among the different possible internship coordinators, philosophy faculty bear primary responsibility for developing academic internships in philosophy and assisting philosophy students as they transition from college to professional career.
April 16, 2022
The Case for Philosophy as a General-Education Requirement
first published on April 16, 2022
I argue that colleges should include philosophy courses as general-education requirements. I begin by explaining the prima facie case against general-education requirements and the need for philosophers to defend their courses’ place in the general-education curriculum. Next, I present two arguments for philosophy as a general-education requirement. The first is the Argument from Content: that philosophy courses’ content tends to match the intended nature and purposes of general-education courses. The second is the Argument from Outcomes: that even if philosophy courses didn’t match the intended purposes of general-education courses, they would still be appropriate as general-education requirements, because there is empirical evidence that philosophy courses produce valuable skills and knowledge in students.
C. D. Brewer
A Logic Game
first published on April 16, 2022
Here I describe a game that I use in my logic classes once we begin derivations. The game can help improve class dynamics, help struggling students recognizes they are not alone, open lines of communication between students, and help students of all levels prepare for exams. The game can provide struggling students with more practice with the fundamental rules of a logical system while also challenging students who excel at derivations. If students are struggling with particular rules or strategies in the system, the game can be tailored to address them. I explain how the game has evolved since I started using it, highlighting the pedagogical benefits of the changes I have made, and (in the appendix) I provide examples of the handouts I distribute and a “checklist” to use before, during, and after the game.
Facts vs. Opinions: Helping Students Overcome the Distinction
first published on April 16, 2022
Many students struggle to enter moral debates in a productive way because they automatically think of moral claims as ‘just opinions’ and not something one could productively argue about. Underlying this response are various versions of a muddled distinction between ‘facts’ and ‘opinions.’ This paper outlines a way to help students overcome their use of this distinction, thereby clearing an obstacle to true moral debate. It explains why the fact-opinion distinction should simply be scrapped, rather than merely sharpened. It then proposes a different distinction well suited to replace it. Finally, it outlines an activity which can be used to teach the new distinction, as well as a number of benefits to attempting the whole replacement process.
March 12, 2022
A Cooperative Approach to Critical Thinking
first published on March 12, 2022
This article traces my own pedagogical journey to find strategies for teaching critical thinking that emphasize intellectual cooperation, empathy, and argument repair, a journey that found me frequently turning to sources outside of philosophy, including work in intergroup dialogue and pedagogical work in rhetoric and composition. Theoretically, the article showcases Maureen Linker’s notion of ‘cooperative reasoning’ (2015), sets it against the ‘adversary paradigm’ Janice Moulton critiques, and illustrates how Peter Elbow’s challenges to critical thinking as a ‘doubting game’ resonate with Linker’s work. Practically, it illustrates the structure and the role of peer-to-peer dialogues in my own reasoning classroom, an enactment of a cooperative, belief-based approach to reasoning inspired by Linker and Elbow alike, while also learning from the methodologies of intergroup dialogue.
March 8, 2022
Teaching Students Some Cognitive Science to Evaluate Weird Perceptual Experiences
Some Advantages of the “We See What Our Evolutionary Ancestors Needed to See” Approach
first published on March 8, 2022
How can we use what cognitive science has taught us about perception to improve the critical thinking skills of our students? What, for instance, does it tell us about subjects who think they’ve seen Bigfoot, ghosts, and other “weird things”? I explore two approaches for giving students some empirically based tools for examining cases like these. The first, which I call the “we see what we want to see” approach, focuses the idea that beliefs and desires can shape our visual experiences. This approach, however, encourages students to view subjects who report weird experiences as being cognitively irresponsible and worthy of derision. The second approach, which I call the “we see what our evolutionary ancestors needed to see” approach, asserts these experiences are the result of evolutionarily designed perceptual mechanisms that specialize in representing human-like qualities. Fortunately, the second approach does not create the same problematic attitude in students as the first.
February 23, 2022
Teaching Medical Ethics through Medical Law
first published on February 23, 2022
Medical ethics is normally taught in a combination of three ways: through discussions of normative theories and principles; through for-and-against debating of topics; or through case studies (narrative ethics). I want to argue that a fourth approach might be better, and should be used more: teaching medical ethics through medical law. Medical law is already deeply imbued with ethical concepts, principles and reasons, and allows the discussion of ethics through the “back door,” as it were. The two greatest advantages of the law are (i) its familiar authority, especially among the disengaged medical students who have little interest or respect for the subject of ethics; and (ii) its focus on the reality of the people and the tragedies discussed (as opposed to the abstractness of a lot of ethical discussion). Finally, I argue that medical law, unlike ethics, allows more efficient and more detailed MCQ assessment.
December 18, 2021
On the Invidious Distinction Between Weak and Strong Critical Thinking
first published on December 18, 2021
The distinction between weak and strong forms of critical thinking is a hallmark of Richard Paul’s pedagogy. He maintains that good reasoning entails a personal commitment to fair-mindedness. In this brief essay, I argue that Paul’s conception of fair-mindedness conflates cognitive empathy with empathetic concern and altruism. One’s understanding another’s perspective by no means entails approving of it, and one may seek to better grasp this standpoint for purely selfish reasons. Depending upon the circumstances, the other could be one’s competitor, enemy, mark, or even intended victim. This implies that while we may wish that the world were otherwise, even very bad people can be highly effective critical thinkers.
November 23, 2021
Creating Reflective Engagement
Philosophy of Science for Science Majors
first published on November 23, 2021
This paper describes an approach to teaching the philosophy of science to science students that was developed in a context where the course is a lower-level requirement for all natural science majors. This audience made it appropriate to reconsider standard approaches to the field and resulted in an innovative pedagogical strategy subsequently used, in modified form, in more traditional philosophical contexts. This paper describes the pedagogical approach, explains reasons for it, motivates more specific ways of enacting it, and assess its value, not only for science students, but for philosophy majors as well.
Two Years of Specifications Grading in Philosophy
first published on November 23, 2021
Points-based grading, though now traditional, faces powerful critiques: Such grading creates a low road to passing, it undermines motivation, it wastes time, and it causes stress. It creates an illusion of mathematical precision. It is unfriendly to necessary conditions for satisfactory performance. This paper defends the alternative of specifications grading. Specifications grading grades only on whether work meets a set of expectations for satisfactory performance, with the expectations set at a high but reachable level. With a high bar also comes opportunities to revise unsatisfactory work. I summarize arguments from the literature in support of the system, but I also give account of my two-year experiment in philosophy courses with specifications grading. Compared with points-based grading, specifications grading appears to motivate students better and helps them learn more. I consider objections from both traditionalists and so-called ‘ungraders.’ The former hope to secure the benefits of specifications grading while still keeping points. The latter favor eliminating grading altogether.
October 19, 2021
Making Philosophy of Language Classes Relevant and Inclusive
first published on October 19, 2021
In this article, I present a philosophy-of-language assignment which emerges as the hero in a fable with the following trio of villains: Abstractness, Parroting, and Boredom. Building on Penny Weiss’s “Making History of Ideas Classes Relevant” (Teaching Philosophy 25 [June 2002]: 123–30; https://doi.org/10.5840/teachphil200225225), and serving students taking an introductory course which covers (at least) Western theories of meaning, the “You are there” essay conquers Abstractness by requiring students to make a connection between the material and their lives, rendering theories relevant. It conquers Parroting by requiring them to apply theories to new examples. And it conquers Boredom by producing papers whose originality can not only surprise but also remind the instructor reading them how meaningful the original theories are. In addition, I present a way to adapt the Weiss framework such that it’s (more) inclusive, and discuss my experience piloting and negotiating the assignment. As appendices, I include materials which an instructor can use to scaffold the assignment. Note that beyond dispatching Abstractness, Parroting, and Boredom, the assignment invites collaborative/cooperative learning, fosters learner autonomy, and lends itself to online course delivery.
September 7, 2021
Who Is Who?
Testimonial Injustice and Digital Learning in the Philosophy Classroom
first published on September 7, 2021
In this paper, I argue that there are significant instances of educational injustice in the context of philosophy teaching that can be effectively reduced by an increased implementation of digital technologies. More specifically, I show that there are good reasons to believe that testimonial injustices constitute serious instances of educational injustice that will frequently occur in philosophy classes. Using digital tools to anonymize student contributions opens up a promising way of dealing with these injustices. If convincing, my arguments give reason to perceive epistemic injustices in educational settings as a serious threat to educational justice and to reconsider the implications of increased digitalization for issues of educational justice.
A Useful Approximation
first published on September 7, 2021
This article attempts to contribute to the literature on what has become known as “student relativism” by suggesting that in many cases it is a symptom of a broader and equally problematic pre-reflective epistemological framework that students often bring with them to the study of philosophy. It goes on to describe the notion of a “dialectical fact,” and to propose that this concept can be a useful pedagogical tool for helping students to progress beyond that framework.
September 2, 2021
Paul D’Ambrosio, Dimitra Amarantidou, Tim Connolly
Teaching (Chinese/Non-Western) Philosophy as Philosophy
The Humble Gatekeeper
first published on September 2, 2021
In this paper we argue that the approach for teaching non-Western, and specifically Chinese philosophy to undergraduate Western students, does not have to be significantly different than that for teaching philosophies from “Western” traditions. Four areas will be explored. Firstly, we look at debates on teaching non-Western philosophy from the perspective of themes or traditions, suggesting that, as an overarching guideline, it is mote discussion. Secondly, in terms of making generalizations, we argue that no more explanation of the “Chineseness” of Chinese philosophy be offered than the “Germanness” of German philosophy, or “Greekness” of Greek philosophy. Thirdly, that lines of philosophical coherences are not limited to regional or cultural bounds. Finally, that foreign language be used in a way that invites understanding and does not close ideas off to students. In sum, we suggest applying well proven methods of teaching “Western” philosophy to Chinese (and other “Non-Western”) philosophies. After all, value of Chinese and other “Non-Western” philosophies comes not from their being “Chinese” or “Non-Western,” but from being philosophical.
July 9, 2021
Philosophy for Children in a Pandemic
Rethinking the “Community” of Inquiry
first published on July 9, 2021
In this article, I reflect upon my experiences developing an asynchronous Philosophy for Children (P4C) course toward the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I argue that P4C practitioners ought to reconsider what we mean by community in Community of Inquiry (CoI). The traditional Community of Inquiry model emphasizes face-to-face interactions in which the children and facilitator(s) are traditionally seated in a circle, synchronously wondering together. The CoI pedagogical model has, once again, served as a methodological starting-point for the place-based P4C I have tried to practice in my teaching, but it was also the model that I had to overcome while developing a virtual P4C course in a pandemic. Specifically, I argue that we ought to broaden vastly what we mean by “community” in “Community of Inquiry” in order to make Philosophy for Children more accessible for a virtual, and even asynchronous, learning environment. Furthermore, I argue that this reconceptualization of “community” is useful not only to our pandemic pedagogy, but also for our post-pandemic future in which face-to-face classes are resumed.
June 25, 2021
Irwin Y. S. Chan
Should Talking be Allowed during Exams?
Fairness and Value of Group Exams
first published on June 25, 2021
In a group exam, students first do an exam individually and then redo the same exam in small groups. Studies have shown that group exams provide a number of benefits, including improvements in performance, learning, motivation, and preparation, as well as a reduction in anxiety. However, little has been written on whether group exams are fair. This paper aims to discuss and reject three fairness concerns that arise from (i) improved performance, (ii) improved learning, and (iii) accessibility. It also discusses in detail the benefits of improved learning, arguing that they are the most valuable benefit which makes group exams particularly suitable for philosophy education.
June 12, 2021
Nathan Eric Dickman
Physical Distance, Ethical Proximity
Levinasian Dialogue as Pandemic Pedagogy in Faceless (Masked or Online) Classrooms
first published on June 12, 2021
I develop Levinas’s analysis of “proximity” to explain how successful faceless class dialogues are possible despite physical social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. I first examine features of Levinas’s notion of proximity within his idiosyncratic approach to “ethics.” Second, I turn to Levinas’s examination of intentionality and questioning in relation to the hermeneutic priority of questioning. Third, I detail some successes and failures in attempts to embody Levinasian proximity in online or masked discussions with students. I draw out contrasts between experiences at two different institutions as well as between curricular and extracurricular experiences. I do this to expose my own vulnerability in this essay itself. Given pandemic conditions as well as Levinas’s theory of proximity, I found that many masked or virtual class discussions—but especially extracurricular group discussions, such as a philosophy club and the Black Student Union meetings—maintained a closeness of community despite social distancing.
An Argument for Self-Assessments, the Potential to Reproduce Inequalities, and Preventive Suggestions
first published on June 12, 2021
I argue that instructor-graded participation assessments, which are one of the most popular ways to incentivize classroom participation, either fail to satisfactorily assess student participation or are open to issues of unconscious instructor bias. I then argue that a better way to assess participation is to use student self-assessments. Student-self assessments not only avoid these issues, but also have other added benefits like cultivating student self-reflection which is associated with academic gains. However, self-assessments pose new worries about under confidence biases and cultural differences for some students from diverse backgrounds. This is particularly worrisome since many students in these situations are already vulnerable to systemic biases. If there is a possibility that self-assessments might reinforce inequalities, great care needs to be taken in how they are designed and implemented. I then present a way to approach student self-assessment surveys and ways to frame classroom participation to help lessen the chance that these self-assessments will reinforce inequalities.
May 20, 2021
Vaughn Bryan Baltzly
Trolleyology as First Philosophy
A Puzzle-Centered Approach to Introducing the Discipline
first published on May 20, 2021
Though sometimes maligned, “trolleyology” offers an effective means of opening and framing, not only classes in ethics, but indeed any introductory philosophy course taking a broadly “puzzle-based” approach. When properly sequenced, a subset of the thought experiments that are trolleyology’s stock-in-trade can generate a series of puzzles illustrating the shortcomings of our untutored moral intuitions, and which thus motivate the very enterprise of moral theorizing. Students can be engaged in the attempt to resolve said puzzles, inasmuch as they’re accessible and compelling, and their resolutions generally easy to achieve. Once thus engaged, students can be directed to the fact that (perhaps unbeknownst to them) they had already rolled up their sleeves and begun “doing philosophy.” In this way, engagement with trolleyological puzzles can serve as a “microcosm” for philosophy more broadly, illustrating the processes of critical thinking that are likewise the stock-in-trade of philosophers across many different domains of inquiry.
April 8, 2021
Graham P. McDonough
Exaggerating Emile (and Skipping Sophie) while sliding past The Social Contract
Why Philosophy of Education Textbooks Require a Comprehensive View of Rousseau’s Work
first published on April 8, 2021
This paper examines how philosophy of education textbooks present Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s views on women and socialization. It reviews ten texts, involving nine authors, and finds that they generally focus on the concepts of Nature, Negative Education, and Child Development from Books I-III of Emile, but severely restrict mentioning its Book V and The Social Contract. While these results implicitly reflect Rousseau’s historical influence on “progressive” educators, they do not seriously attend to well-established critiques of Rousseau’s sexism and omit acknowledging his intent that Emile’s Negative Education in Nature leads toward his socialization in the General Will.
April 7, 2021
Kit Rempala, Katrina Sifferd, Joseph Vukov
Bringing Pedagogy and Research Together
first published on April 7, 2021
Conversation is a foundational aspect of philosophical pedagogy. Too often, however, philosophical research becomes disconnected from this dialogue, and is instead conducted as a solitary endeavor. We aim to bridge the disconnect between philosophical pedagogy and research by proposing a novel framework. Philosophy labs, we propose, can function as both a pedagogical tool and a model for conducting group research. Our review of collaborative learning literature suggests that philosophy labs, like traditional STEM labs, can harness group learning models such as Positive Interdependence Theory (PIT) to engage in meaningful discussion and execute projects and research. This article distills PIT into four essential tenets which we argue support student success at both the individual and group levels. Our argument is grounded in two case studies detailing our experiences facilitating different philosophy labs, and demonstrations of how they can foster the continued evolution of philosophical research and pedagogy beyond the single-occupancy armchair.
Referee Report of (Hypothetical) Philosophy 101 Textbook by Professor Unspecified
first published on April 7, 2021
This piece offers a critique of what is commonly the structure of introductory philosophy textbooks, syllabi, and courses. The basic criticism is that this structure perpetuates the systematic devaluing of the views of historically marginalized and exploited people. The form my critique takes is that of a referee report on a hypothetical manuscript for an introductory philosophy textbook, authored by “Dr. Unspecified.” I examine what the manuscript chooses to focus on and what it chooses to omit from discussion. I thereby outline much of the content typically used to introduce newcomers to philosophy, while illustrating that presenting exclusively that content supports a prejudiced view of philosophy. I try to show how this representation of philosophy marginalizes the concerns and insights of many and reinforces the disproportionate extent to which those who can do philosophy for a living are white, straight, men with typical body morphology. My report also identifies various ways that the content of an introductory philosophy textbook or course could be modified or supplemented in light of the sort of critique my report makes.
April 1, 2021
Alejandro Arango, Maria Howard
Re-envisioning the Philosophy Classroom through Metaphors
first published on April 1, 2021
What is a philosophy class like? What roles do teachers and students play? Questions like these have been answered time and again by philosophers using images and metaphors. As philosophers continue to develop pedagogical approaches in a more conscious way, it is worth evaluating traditional metaphors used to understand and structure philosophy classes. In this article, we examine two common metaphors—the sage on the stage, and philosophy as combat—and show why they fail pedagogically. Then we propose five metaphors—teaching philosophy as world-traveling, wondering, conducting an orchestra, storytelling, and coaching—that can better respond to the needs of increasingly diverse student bodies. Further, these metaphors find their ground in long-standing beliefs about what philosophy is, how it is done, and what it can do for those willing to engage in it. While no single one of them is comprehensive, we think that these models can help us enliven our own thinking about our teaching and the roles we and our students play in our classrooms.
March 7, 2021
Sasha L. Biro
Reading in a Time of Crisis
Using Perusall to Facilitate Close Reading and Active Discussion in the Remote Philosophy Classroom
first published on March 7, 2021
An important part of the work of an introductory philosophy class is learning how to read philosophy. The digital annotation platform Perusall can be useful in both F2F learning environments as well as in virtual learning environments, as it helps students learn how to read philosophy. While the traditional online learning environment relies heavily on the discussion forum to replicate the F2F learning experience, digital annotation is a valuable alternative for promoting student engagement with course material. This paper will describe the platform as well as how to use Perusall to facilitate student participation and close reading of texts.
March 6, 2021
Closing the Feedback Loop
Strategies for Increasing Student Engagement With Remotely Delivered Feedback
first published on March 6, 2021
The study presented here is concerned with the pedagogical and technical issues around the provision of feedback. More specifically, it looks at how feedback is received and interpreted by students and how it can become integrated in a comprehensive plan for supporting philosophy students and helping them develop critical and analytical writing skills. It is especially relevant in post-Covid-19 educational settings, where face-to-face contact is limited and feedback is delivered remotely, potentially opening a gap between instructors’ intentions and student perceptions of the feedback they receive. I discuss tools for eliciting students’ responses to feedback and argue that having a strategy for receiving feedback from students can have a lot of benefits: it provides a timely tool for instructors to check on the effectiveness of their feedback, helps solidify the learning partnership and circumvents some of the problems digital technologies pose for teaching and learning.
How Teaching Online Can Invigorate Chinese Students and Revivify Philosophical Education
first published on March 6, 2021
Online classes have brought with them challenges, as well as opportunities, for philosophy and philosophical education. The democratization of interactions, the creative tension between anonymity and publicity, and the virtualization and centralization of information that compel participants to focus on the mobility of ideas together make up what the present article calls e-philosophy. The article presents three issues essential to teaching philosophy via the internet: building a framework for communication, syllabus design, and engaging participants. Two major problems specific to China, where the author teaches and works as a philosopher of science, and those related to philosophical education in the internet era in general, are discussed.
March 5, 2021
Boaz Faraday Schuman
What Does Success in Online Teaching Look Like?
first published on March 5, 2021
What does success in online teaching look like? There are two ways to answer this question. The first defines success in terms of replacement of educational means: for example, how closely does an online lecture approximate its offline counterpart? The second defines success in terms of educational goals: for example, how well does an online lecture facilitate learning, compared with its offline counterpart? The first is a trap: it commits us to an endless online game of catch-up with offline models of teaching. Instead, we should adopt a goal-oriented approach, mindful of obstacles to online teaching. As a case study, I present practices developed using this approach to teach philosophy online in 2020. An important upshot is that this approach leaves us open to ways in which online teaching is actually better than its offline counterpart. I conclude with some examples of these, and discuss their future implementation.
January 12, 2021
An Experiential Education Approach to Teaching the Mind-Body Problem
first published on January 12, 2021
This article shows how the mind-body problem can be taught effectively via an experiential learning activity involving a couple of classroom props: a brick and a jar of ground coffee. By experiencing the physical properties of the brick (shape, weight, length, width) and contrasting them with the olfactory experience of coffee (seemingly dimensionless, weightless, etc.), students are introduced in a vivid way to the well-known difficulty of explaining the mental in physical terms. A brief overview of experiential learning theory and its connection to philosophy is also provided.
December 8, 2020
Including the Iroquois Great Law of Peace in Introduction to Political Philosophy
first published on December 8, 2020
Introductory courses in political philosophy would benefit from the incorporation of material on the Iroquois Great Law of Peace, including the story of the foundation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Classroom study of this tradition will serve several purposes: introducing a valuable account of political phenomena such as negotiation, consensus, veto, and rational communication; contributing to the diversity of syllabi; tracing the influence of Iroquois law on Western political institutions; and comparing the Haudenosaunee story to early modern social contract theory, especially Hobbes’s Leviathan. This paper draws connections to relevant topics in a standard, historically-oriented course and suggests learning resources and objectives.
Sarah E. Vitale, David W. Concepción
Improving Student Learning with Aspects of Specifications Grading
first published on December 8, 2020
In her book Specifications Grading, Linda B. Nilson advocates for a grading regimen she claims will save faculty time, increase student motivation, and improve the quality and rigor of student work. If she is right, there is a strong case for many faculty to adopt some version of the system she recommends. In this paper, we argue that she is mostly right and recommend that faculty move away from traditional grading. We begin by rehearsing the central features of specifications grading and providing two examples of how to implement it in philosophy classes. In light of the examples, we argue that specifications grading fulfills two of Nilson’s central desiderata (increasing rigor and motivating students) but not the third (saving faculty time). Since specifications grading generates two benefits that when combined increase student learning, without adding or increasing burdens, we conclude that student learning increases when courses are revised to include aspects of specifications grading.
December 4, 2020
The Skills-First vs. Content-First Philosophy Class
first published on December 4, 2020
This paper offers a contrast between “content-first” course design, and “skills-first” course design. The traditional lecture format is a paradigmatic example of the former, by the later I mean courses that emphasize the sustained practice of skills integral to the discipline. Two arguments are offered for adopting, other things being equal, the skills-first design. One is the “content-plus” argument that the skills-first course design does a better job of promoting content acquisition than a content-first class. The second argument, the “skills-plus” argument, claims that a skills-first course design has the added value of better promoting philosophical skills as compared with a content-first course.
December 1, 2020
An Introduction to Philosophy
first published on December 1, 2020
Augustine’s Confessions would seem an unlikely work to feature in an introductory philosophy course: it appears to offer too much religion, too little philosophy. In fact, this work presents a series of reflections in which varied and interesting philosophical questions arise in the course of ordinary life. After defining the introductory course for which this work might be suitable, I explore its philosophical themes and extend a few suggestions for its use in the classroom. In closing I forward several reasons why an instructor should consider including the book in an introduction to philosophy.
Taylor Elyse Mills
Building a Pedagogical Relationship between Philosophy and Digital Humanities through a Creative Arts Paradigm
first published on December 1, 2020
Though numerous disciplines are cultivating pedagogical relationships with the emerging field of digital humanities, philosophy appears to be among the least interested in what digital humanities has to offer. This is a missed opportunity. Through a proper pedagogical framing of both fields, I argue that philosophy educators would benefit from building a pedagogical relationship with digital humanities. First, I outline digital humanities methods and teaching practices, then I identify several core educational aims and teaching methods in philosophy, which I conceptualize in terms of a creative art. Ultimately, I argue that digital humanities practices would enhance philosophy’s education aims by making philosophy more relevant and accessible to students’ needs, by fostering active learning, by establishing more equitable, collaborative participation, and by balancing skill-development with philosophical creation. The goal of this essay is not to replace traditional philosophy pedagogy, but rather to supplement it to better support modern students’ needs.
November 30, 2020
Alexander T. Englert
Philosophical Think Tanks
first published on November 30, 2020
While small group discussion is invaluable to the philosophy classroom, I think it can be improved. In this paper I present a method that I have developed to better facilitate active learning in the spirit of a philosopher within a Socratic community. My method is to form what I call a “philosophical think tank,” which takes the form of a small group that persists for the duration of the semester (or a large portion of it) in order to overcome deficiencies that can arise if groups are determined anew with each class meeting. After presenting the technique, I offer an overview of results, possible issues, and ideas for future development.
November 24, 2020
Teaching Ancient Practical Ethics and Philosophy as a Way of Life
first published on November 24, 2020
In this article, I describe an approach to teaching ancient practical ethics that encourages learners to engage actively with the ideas under consideration. Students are encouraged to apply a range of practical exercises to their own lives and to reflect both independently and in collaboration with others on how the experience impacts their understanding of the theories upon which such exercises are built. I describe how such an approach is both in keeping with the methods advocated by the philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome, and also well supported by a wide range of contemporary educational research. I suggest that such active learning strategies encourage students towards a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the philosophical theories under consideration. Practical recommendations for incorporating such an approach into the teaching of applied philosophy are given. I finish by considering the impact such an approach may have on student motivation.
October 21, 2020
Matthew P. Schunke
Integrating the First-Year Experience into Philosophy Courses
A Tool for Improving Student Engagement and Recruiting Majors
first published on October 21, 2020
This article argues that integrating philosophy courses and the first-year experience can address the problem of attracting students to the philosophy major and make philosophical material more accessible and engaging. Through a reflection on teaching a first-year honors seminar on the topic of meaning in life, I show how we can use the philosophical tradition to help students with the transition into the university environment and, in the process, give them a sense of the value of philosophy as a tool to think through and evaluate their current experiences. The article demonstrates the value of philosophy to first-year students and shows how philosophy faculty and departments are well-suited to contribute to first-year programming at their institutions. Furthermore, it shows how addressing these issues can help departments recruit students into their major and minors while also sparking a genuine interest in philosophical inquiry.
August 15, 2020
Julie Loveland Swanstrom
Why Take Notes?
Engaging Students in Critical Thinking through Active Learning
first published on August 15, 2020
For disciplines depending upon precise definitions and distinctions, students’ notes provide an avenue for student engagement with skill and content. Activities enliven the classroom, and those discussed here can also help students develop and exercise critical thinking skills through note-taking. Lecturing and experiential learning happen hand-in-hand when the instructor uses teaching about notes and note-taking as a method for critical engagement with class content. In this paper, I integrate research on the cognitive function of student note-taking with research on student engagement—particularly, motivating student learning, engaging students with texts, lecture, or discussion, and promoting metacognition about learning practices—by arguing that the instructor who teaches and emphasizes student note-taking elevates note-taking to a method of student engagement and daily critical thinking practice; I discuss particular methods for supporting teaching note-taking, methods that promote active learning, student engagement, and student understanding (and could be utilized in a variety of classes).
August 11, 2020
Sally J. Scholz
The Teaching Demonstration
Connection, Commitment, Coachability
first published on August 11, 2020
This article seeks to shine some light on the teaching demonstration from the perspective of observers using three guiding attributes of effective teaching: connection, commitment, and coachability. Discussing what observers are looking for and how observers interpret what is seen, the article presents the basic forms, common myths, and practical wisdom for teaching demonstrations. By reframing the goals of the teaching demonstration, the article demystifies a key part of the campus interview for the academic job market.
Noel Martin, Matthew Draper, Andy Lamey
A Role-Immersion Game for Teaching Political Philosophy
first published on August 11, 2020
We created Justice: The Game, an educational, role-immersion game designed to be used in philosophy courses. We seek to describe Justice in sufficent detail so that it is understandable to readers not already familiar with role-immersion pedagogy. We hope some instructors will be sufficiently interested in using the game. In addition to describing the game we also evaluate it, thereby highlighting the pedagogical potential of role-immersion games designed to teach political philosophy. We analyze the game by drawing on our observations as designers and playtesters of Justice, along with feedback from students obtained in focus-groups conducted shortly after playtesting ended. We present evidence that Justice, compared to conventional instructional methods alone, plausibly enhances student learning of philosophical skills and content by requiring them to practice those skills and put their content-area knowledge to use in a highly-motivating and engaging context.
August 5, 2020
Lu Leng, Zhenyu Gao
The Development and Contextualization of Philosophy for Children in Mainland China
Based on Three Model Schools’ Practice
first published on August 5, 2020
The past three years have seen a steady growth of interest in researching and practicing Philosophy for Children (P4C) in educational settings in China because many educators and administrators consider it as a coherent curriculum for developing student critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking. Excited and gratified with children’s philosophical sensitivity and enthusiasm, three representative Elementary Schools in mainland China, namely South Station Elementary School from Yunnan Province, Shanghai Liuyi Elementary School, and Washi Elementary school from Zhejiang Province, started to practice P4C in the late 1990s and the early twenty-first century. Without succumbing to the aggravated uniformity of the educational system, the three schools demonstrated innovative ways to reform their educational practice, which helped to develop a different form of Chinese educational praxis. This study provides a review on three schools’ P4C practice from the perspective of motivation, development of school-based curricula, the mode and effect of P4C. The three schools found Lipman’s P4C curriculum inspiring but, for the most part, culturally and contextually inappropriate, thus developed their own P4C textbooks, pedagogy and conceptual framework. The study further offers glimpses of P4C historical development in the past thirty years in the model schools, and discusses the challenges, opportunities, existing methodological approaches, theoretical and practical tensions that Chinese P4Cers experienced when P4C being practiced. Then it proposes methodological advancements and possibilities of future P4C practice and research in mainland China.
August 4, 2020
Stanisław Gałkowski, Paweł Kaźmierczak
The Challenges Posed by the Digital Revolution to Teaching Philosophy
first published on August 4, 2020
The rapid development of the internet and the growth of the cyberspace is the most significant phenomenon of our times. The cyberspace puts pressure on all of us to adapt to its constraints. Its influence is also palpable in philosophy, and on the teaching of philosophy in particular, and there is increasing pressure to adapt philosophical education to the internet format. This paper argues that such pressure is not necessarily conducive to better education in philosophy, which requires more discursive and abstract reasoning.
June 10, 2020
Talking about Tolerance
A New Strategy for Dealing with Student Relativism
first published on June 10, 2020
Student relativism is a widespread phenomenon in philosophy classes. While the exact nature of student relativism is controversially discussed, many authors agree on two points: First, it is widely agreed that SR is a rather problematic phenomenon, because it potentially undermines the very purpose of doing philosophy—if there is no objective truth, arguing seems to be pointless. Second, it is widely agreed that there will be some close connection between SR and a tolerant attitude towards conflicting opinions. In this paper, I will argue that if these two assumptions are true, then discussing some basic philosophical insights about the concept of tolerance with students will be a promising new strategy of dealing with SR.
May 13, 2020
Logic as a Blended Course
first published on May 13, 2020
I present Modern Symbolic Logic, an introductory philosophy course in first-order logic, as a blended course. A blended course integrates online video learning with in-class activities, out of class supports, and deliverables into a cohesive and mutually supporting package. Blended courses are an enhancement on hybrid courses, which focus on online video learning but not on the additional supports needed for an effective learning experience. This paper has two central aims. The first is to present a blended course in action in order to address a need in the literature for detailed reports of blended classes. The second is to advance an iterative approach to blended course design that significantly lowers the bar of entry for instructions hoping to create a blended course.
April 24, 2020
Lars Samuelsson, Niclas Lindström
On the Practical Goal of Ethics Education
Ethical Competence as the Ability to Master Methods for Moral Reasoning
first published on April 24, 2020
In this paper we consider the ability to master a set of methods for moral reasoning as a form of ethical competence. These methods can be roughly assembled under the headings information, vividness, and coherence. We distinguish between the theoretical characterization of ethical competence and what we take to be its practical role and argue that the ability to master these methods fits the theoretical characterization of such competence as well as fulfils its practical role. An important upshot of this result is that these methods are suitable as a basis for ethics education at various levels, at least when the goal of such education is partly practical: to provide tools for reaching justified moral decisions. Consequently, we encourage ethics educators who teach ethics with this goal to design their educational approaches in such a way that these methods are taught and practiced.
March 12, 2020
Benjamin T. H. Smart
Practicing Afrocentric Ethical Teaching
Towards a Decolonized Pedagogy
first published on March 12, 2020
Slowly, we are gaining a deeper understanding of the persisting psychological trauma experienced by students at colonial universities, and beginning to recognize that the Eurocentric curricula and pedagogies must change if students such as the “born-frees” in post-Apartheid South Africa are to flourish. In this article, I present a sub-Saharan African concept of “the ethical teacher,” and use this to ground a “ubiquitous action-reaction” teaching model. I use these concepts to develop a decolonized pedagogy – a teaching methodology that avoids a number of harmful colonial teaching practices in philosophy. I suggest a number of novel ways of accommodating a “decolonized education” with a view to inspiring teachers of philosophy in colonial countries globally. I propose a new, malleable pedagogical model that is particularly useful in the colonial context, since its uniqueness lies in the African ethical framework that grounds it. However, I contend that philosophy educators globally will benefit from taking the principles proposed in this article seriously.
January 24, 2020
How to Encourage Reading and Learning in the College Classroom
first published on January 24, 2020
In this article I argue that the best way to ensure that students engage with assigned reading is by having open-ended questions that require textual interpretation to accompany every class session. Although this runs contrary to a recent trend of using multiple-choice questions or true/false questions to ensure reading compliance, using questions that require written responses has four key benefits: (1) such questions result in 75 percent of students completing the assigned reading; this leads to more successful class discussions, and a deeper dive into the course material. (2) Daily assignments can be used to develop specific skills that the instructor would like students to demonstrate. (3) When students come to class having completed the reading, it is much easier to assign productive group assignments. (4) When students engage in significant reading and writing tasks within a semester, critical thinking, reading and writing skills are more likely to be improved.
January 21, 2020
Chiara Robbiano, Karin Scager
Cultivating Two Aspects of Intellectual Humility: Openness and Care
first published on January 21, 2020
We believe that intellectual humility is an essential intellectual virtue for university students to foster. It enables them to excel as students of philosophy and other disciplines, to navigate the fast-changing world inside and outside academia, and to flourish in interaction with others. In this paper, we analyze this virtue by singling out two distinct but related aspects: the openness-aspect and the care-aspect. The former makes one value a dialogue with those who have different views from one’s own. The latter aspect involves searching for implicit assumptions one brings to encounters with one’s object of inquiry and trying to study this object as unique and irreducible. We discuss four learning activities we developed for the philosophy bachelor course “Who are we? Philosophical views on humans and the gods” at University College Utrecht (the Netherlands). Throughout this paper, we show extracts from the students’ assignments, reflections, and evaluations. These extracts indicate that students developed both aspects of intellectual humility —openness to different views and care for the uniqueness of each object of inquiry— and acknowledged their importance.
January 18, 2020
Philosophy through Machine Learning
first published on January 18, 2020
In a previous article (2019), I motivated and defended the idea of teaching philosophy through computer science. In this article, I will further develop this idea and discuss how machine learning can be used for pedagogical purposes because of its tight affinity with philosophical issues surrounding induction. To this end, I will discuss three areas of significant overlap: (i) good / bad data and David Hume’s so-called Problem of Induction, (ii) validation and accommodation vs. prediction in scientific theory selection and (iii) feature engineering and Nelson Goodman’s so-called New Riddle of Induction.
January 15, 2020
The Concept of Argument in Philosophy as a Threshold for Learners
first published on January 15, 2020
It is commonplace for undergraduate students to find certain concepts inherent to the disciplines of study troublesome. While some concepts are troublesome simply because they represent new vocabulary for the students, other concepts are troublesome in a more significant sense. Concepts of this kind are troublesome because they highlight an aspect of the deep structure of the discipline, a way of thinking and inquiry, that the students are likely to find strange and even, counter-intuitive, relative to their own pre-existing conceptual frameworks. In this paper, I will argue that the concept of ‘argument’ in the discipline of philosophy, is one such concept. To make the case for this, I will be drawing upon a relatively new and important framework for inquiry into troublesome disciplinary concepts, known as “threshold concept theory” (Meyer and Land 2006, 2008). In addition, I propose to consider the implications, in terms of the design of curriculum and pedagogy for the philosophy classroom, of conceiving argument in threshold concept terms.
October 29, 2019
Sarah E. Vitale
Community-Engaged Learning and Precollege Philosophy During Neoliberalism
first published on October 29, 2019
Precollege philosophy programs provide young people with alternative spaces to ask questions and develop critical perspectives on their experiences, but neoliberal school management practices make the creation of these spaces increasingly difficult. Relying on my own experience as an instructor of a community-engaged course that focuses on precollege philosophy, I investigate how college and university professors and students can create philosophical learning opportunities for high school students without participating in the culture of volunteerism demanded by neoliberal logic. I argue that the work my university students perform in the community-engaged course is a win-win that undermines neoliberalism’s assault on education by providing high school students with a valuable opportunity while helping my students achieve important skills.
Challenging Conceptions of Diversity and the Good Life in Plato’s Republic
first published on October 29, 2019
Challenging students’ intuitions and unexamined beliefs, and drawing out the logical consequences of those beliefs has long been the teaching methodology of philosophers. These same educational goals are crucial to Plato’s philosophy of education, which is illustrated through Socrates’ metaphor of the midwife—the teacher helps the students create something novel out of that which they already have in them: in other words, it challenges them to rethink their assumptions. This paper will consider some of the ways in which Plato presents the reader with opportunities to see the examined life as a series of rethinkings about what it means to live a good life with other people who are different from one’s self. The rethinkings that Plato’s dialogues prompt speak to some of the most prevalent assumptions that students typically and unquestioningly believe about diversity and the good life.
Flipping the Logic Classroom
Arguments For and Challenges Addressed
first published on October 29, 2019
Despite increasing evidence that the traditional lecture is inefficient for student learning, such methods remain the central paradigm for teaching logic. In this paper, I identify the deficits of the lecture model and outline the many benefits of flipping the logic classroom—namely that students can absorb information at their own pace, freeing classroom time for active learning activities, and allowing the students to come prepared to actively engage in deeper levels of learning. I provide advice for curricular change from the traditional model, and guidance for flipped classroom implementation. I also offer suggestions for the best use of newly available class time, and advice for keeping students accountable for learning the information prior to class. Last, I consider common challenges with the flipped classroom model. I acknowledge possible obstacles to flipping the undergraduate logic course and address these challenges with potential solutions.
October 22, 2019
The Impact of Team Teaching on Student Attitudes and Classroom Performance in Introductory Philosophy Courses
first published on October 22, 2019
Despite the growing interest in collaborative teaching in higher education, there is a paucity of research on its use and effectiveness in philosophy curricula. The research that does exist focuses almost exclusively on interdisciplinary collaboration or student and faculty attitudes regarding the practice. This paper aims to address these gaps by describing a semester long, multi-section study designed to assess the impact of team teaching on student classroom performance and related variables in an Introduction to Philosophy course. The results of the study show that students overwhelmingly prefer team teaching to individual instruction and think that it positively impacts their learning and classroom experience. However, the results also show that there is no statistically significant relationship between delivery method and students’ classroom performance. The paper concludes with a discussion of some limitations with the research design and the potential benefits and challenges of implementing team teaching within introductory philosophy courses.
August 13, 2019
The “Dawn of Wonder”
An Italian Experience of Teaching Philosophy to Children
first published on August 13, 2019
“The Dawn of Wonder” is a philosophical laboratory that the author, a high school philosophy teacher, has for many years led in several elementary schools in Rome. The paper aims at presenting the main characteristics of such experience of teaching philosophy to children, which doesn’t adopt the methodology of Philosophy for Children, but develops an original approach based on a historical narration of ideas and thinkers coming from both Western and Eastern traditions. According to this perspective, teaching philosophy to children means dealing with theoretical issues by keeping them in their historical and geographical context. In this way, a child who meets philosophy can reason on the basic problems of human understanding without losing sight of their geo-historical origins.
August 9, 2019
Tricia Van Dyk
Teaching Moral Philosophy through Literature Circles
first published on August 9, 2019
How do you effectively teach moral philosophy to classes of twenty to thirty-five students who come from diverse national, ethnic, religious, linguistic, and educational backgrounds, and most of whom have little or no interest in philosophy? In seeking ways to create a course that is relevant, practical, and engaging, I hit upon the idea of adapting literature circles to the study of moral philosophies. In this paper, I contextualize the need for an approach that promotes individual student responsibility within a teamwork context, introduce the appropriateness and adaptability of the literature circles concept in a philosophy classroom, and uncover the theoretical structure underneath the strategy in order to make it more adaptable to other classrooms and courses.
August 8, 2019
Teaching Critical Thinking Virtues and Vices
The Case for Twelve Angry Men
first published on August 8, 2019
Abstract: In the film and play Twelve Angry Men, Juror 8 confronts the prejudices and poor reasoning of his fellow jurors, exhibiting an unwavering capacity not just to formulate and challenge arguments, but to be open-minded, stay calm, tolerate uncertainty, and negotiate in the face of considerable group pressures. In a perceptive and detailed portrayal of a group deliberation a ‘wheel of virtue’ is presented by the characters of Twelve Angry Men that allows for critical thinking virtues and vices to be analysed in context. This article makes the case for (1) the film being an exceptional teaching resource, and (2), drawing primarily on the ideas of Martha Nussbaum concerning contextualised detail, emotional engagement, and aesthetic distance, its educational value being intimately related to its being a work of fiction.
August 6, 2019
Philosophy in Prisons
Intellectual Virtue and the Community of Inquiry
first published on August 6, 2019
This paper describes a pilot study devoted to developing the teaching of philosophy within prison education in Scotland. The study paired the CoPI (community of philosophical inquiry) approach to learning and teaching with a set of educational resources created around a high-profile MOOC (massive open online course) that introduced students to core topics in philosophy. The primary goal of the study was to determine the extent to which the teaching of philosophy in prisons in this specific manner could enhance the intellectual virtues, and thereby the intellectual character, of the students. The results that were collected suggested that the project generated significant success on this front. In addition, the study had a further consequence, which had not been anticipated, in that it also helped the students to develop important personal and interpersonal skills, and thereby also enhanced their character more generally.
Simoni Iliadi, Kostas Theologou, Spyridon Stelios
Are University Students Who Are Taking Philosophy Courses Familiar with the Basic Tools for Argument?
first published on August 6, 2019
Philosophy courses help students develop logical reasoning and argument skills or so it is widely assumed. To test if this is actually the case, we examined university students’ familiarity with the basic tools for argument. Our findings, based on a sample of 651 students enrolled in philosophy courses at six Greek universities, indicate that students who have prior experience with philosophy are more familiar with the basic tools for argument, and that students who have taken philosophy courses at the university have stronger argument-recognition and argument-evaluation skills compared to university students with no prior experience with philosophy. Moreover, our findings suggest that students get more familiar with the basic tools for argument as their level of engagement with philosophy increases, and that they get significantly better at evaluating arguments when they become graduate students in philosophy. However, our findings also suggest that the majority of students in philosophy classrooms haven’t developed fluency in (at least some) basic argument-related concepts and skills. To remedy this, we argue that philosophy instructors need to re-think (a) the place that the teaching of argument has in philosophy courses, and (b) the way that they teach students about argument.
August 3, 2019
Classification of Strategies for Dealing with Student Relativism and the Epistemic Conceptual Change Strategy
first published on August 3, 2019
Student relativism is a widespread phenomenon in introductory philosophy courses. It is a pressing issue for teachers because it seems to undermine the very purpose of philosophy. Since the 1980s there is a debate about how to understand and how to deal with student relativism. However, there is as yet no comprehensive presentation of the debate. The first aim of the article is to offer a classification of the strategies for dealing with student relativism and a presentation and short assessment of the main strategies from the debate. The second aim is to present a new strategy based on the theory of conceptual change and drawing on the results from empirical research in developmental psychology on epistemic cognition. I call it the epistemic conceptual change strategy.
May 7, 2019
Michael Flierl, Russ Hamer
Designing Student Reflections to Enable Transformative Learning Experiences
first published on May 7, 2019
Many philosophy instructors want their students to change the way they think about and act in the world. Reflection can be one way to bring this about, yet it is common for student reflections to fail to enable this desired transformative learning experience. Our research investigated how instructors can design better reflective assignments to cultivate a more transformative learning experience for students. Using thematic analysis, a qualitative research method, we analyzed student reflection data to identify themes and patterns of student work. Findings include concrete guidelines for cultivating better student reflections, including: designing for reflection, explicitly limiting summary, and incentivizing students to make specific claims while bringing personal experience to bear.
April 23, 2019
Philosophy through Computer Science
first published on April 23, 2019
In this paper I hope to show that the idea of teaching philosophy through teaching computer science is a project worth pursuing. In the first section I will sketch a variety of ways in which philosophy and computer science might interact. Then I will give a brief rationale for teaching philosophy through teaching computer science. Then I will introduce three philosophical issues (among others) that have pedagogically useful analogues in computer science: (i) external world skepticism, (ii) numerical vs. qualitative identity, and (iii) the existence of God.
Melissa Jacquart, Rebecca Scott, Kevin Hermberg, Stephen Bloch-Schulman
Diversity Is Not Enough
The Importance of Inclusive Pedagogy
first published on April 23, 2019
In philosophy, much attention has rightly been paid to the need to diversify teaching with regard to who teaches, who is taught, and which authors and questions are the focus of study. Less attention, however, has been paid to inclusive pedagogy—the teaching methods that are used, and how they can make or fail to make classes as accessible as possible to the diverse students who enter them. By drawing on experiences from our own teaching as well as research on student-centered, inclusive best practices, we advocate for five principles of inclusive pedagogy: fostering a growth mindset, examining inclusive conceptions of authority, promoting transparency, encouraging flexibility, and, finally, continually promoting self-reflection for both students and teachers.
January 29, 2019
Jesse Fitts, David Beisecker
Two-Sided Trees for Sentential Logic, Predicate Logic, and Sentential Modal Logic
first published on January 29, 2019
This paper will present two contributions to teaching introductory logic. The first contribution is an alternative tree proof method that differs from the traditional one-sided tree method. The second contribution combines this tree system with an index system to produce a user-friendly tree method for sentential modal logic.
January 23, 2019
Virtual Reality as Experiential Learning
A Case Study in Anxiety and Walking the Plank
first published on January 23, 2019
While the pedagogical benefits of experiential learning are well known, classroom technology is a more contentious topic. In my experience, philosophy instructors are hesitant to embrace technology in their pedagogy. A great deal of this trepidation is justified: when technology serves only to replicate existing methods without contributing to course objectives, it unnecessarily adds extra work for the instructor and can even be a distraction from learning. However, I believe, if applied appropriately, technology can be used to positively enhance the philosophy classroom experience in ways that are not possible in traditional classroom settings – including new ways of experiential learning. To demonstrate this, I offer a case study of implementing virtual reality (VR) as a tool for experiential learning of philosophy. I show how having students “walk a plank” off a skyscraper in VR allowed me to exceed my course objectives for my Existentialism course in particularly effective ways that I could not have done without this technology.
January 17, 2019
T. Ryan Byerly
Teaching for Intellectual Virtue in Logic and Critical Thinking Classes
Why and How
first published on January 17, 2019
Introductory-level undergraduate classes in Logic or Critical Thinking are a staple in the portfolio of many Philosophy programs. A standard approach to these classes is to include teaching and learning activities focused on formal deductive and inductive logic, sometimes accompanied by teaching and learning activities focused on informal fallacies or argument construction. In this article, I discuss a proposal to include an additional element within these classes—namely, teaching and learning activities focused on intellectual virtues. After clarifying the proposal, I identify three reasons in favor of implementing it and I discuss how to implement it, focusing on questions about pedagogical strategies and pedagogical resources.