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From the PLATO Philosopher's Toolkit


Animal Minds: puzzling over Puppies and Parrots

For much of modern science, since the Enlightenment, animals were generally thought to be automatons:  materialist robots programmed to behave in certain ways.  Rene Descartes drew a sharp distinction between thinking beings, humans, and everything else, matter.  20th Century behaviorism

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Personal Identity in Memento

  Personal Identity I ask students to bring their baby or early childhood pictures to class. After they try matching names with images of their classmates, I ask a question about their own picture: Are you the same person today

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Activity: What’s Your Reason?

This game involves students writing down claims supported by reasons and then guessing each others’ claims after listening only to the reasons.   Hand out four note cards (or note-card sized pieces of paper) to each student. Ask them to

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Activity: Keep the Question Going

This game involves students generating questions collaboratively. The exercise runs easily for about ten minutes and can go for a half hour or more with discussion. It is often a good exercise to use early in the year, as it

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Big Questions and How We Answer Them

This activity begins by grouping students into groups of three or four. Each student is handed a blank index card and each group is handed an index card on which is written one of the following questions: Do you have

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James Joyce’s “Araby”: Coming out of the Cave

“Araby” is one of the most widely taught short stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners. Told in the first person from the perspective of a boy in his early teens who has an infatuation with a neighborhood girl (Mangan’s sister), “Araby”

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