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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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Crash: An Ethical Obstacle Course

Crash, directed by Paul Haggis, weaves together the lives of several characters from multiple backgrounds who collide in the  busy, often chaotic city of Los Angeles.   The movie revolves around a dozen or so characters from various ethnic, racial, and

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In-Class Ethics Bowl

Materials needed: Prior to Bowl: A useful general description of ethics designed for High School Ethics Bowls – to use as supplement to in-class teaching (see Supplemental Materials below) Copies of cases (given to students to prepare) from the National

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On Friendship

Materials needed Index cards Whiteboard and several different colored dry erase markers   Description Pass out one index card to each student. Instruct the students to draw, without using representations of people (including stick figures, faces, and the like), a

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Stereotyping

Materials needed Plenty of paper Several sets of 5 different colored pencils or markers Timer   Introduction Ask your students to think about how they define a stereotype. Work in small groups to come up with a basic definition. Have

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Fair or Equal?

Materials needed List of roles and responsibilities (see below) A bag of candy   Description Begin the exercise by holding up the bag of candy (make sure you have enough for at least one piece for every student) and ask,

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Who Is Right?: Values, Norms, and Rules in Different Cultures

This is a discussion guide with optional readings and exercises, on the topic of Values, Norms, and Rules in Different Cultures. Philosophers debate whether or not there are universal values across different cultures, for if we cannot claim that there

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How Do We Decide Who Should Decide?

Medical Ethics and the State   The role of the state (government) in Medical Ethics can be quite complex.  In these two articles, two perspectives are explored.  The famous Baby Theresa case involves a situation where the state prevents parents

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Should Driverless Cars Kill Their Passengers?

The new technology of driverless cards has opened up a real-world corollary to the 65 year old tradition of Trolley Problems.  The basic question here involved how the cars should be programmed: to protect their passengers or others out on

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Can We be Authentic in Everyday Life?

“Republic of Silence,” by Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Sartre came to define post-war Existentialism.  In this prominent editorial published shortly after the occupation ended, Sartre articulates both the context to his views and the suggestion that everyday life may present even

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