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From the PLATO Philosopher's Toolkit


On the Beautiful and the Sublime

On the Beautiful and the Sublime…Aesthetics as Subjective Experience One of the longstanding questions that’s been debated in the field of aesthetics involves the nature of Beauty; one question in this area asks us where Beauty lies, in the object

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Truth, Lies and Bullshit

Part 1: What is the difference between Truth, a Lie and Bullshit? Students should begin by writing brief definitions of these words –> WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?  TRUTH, LIE, SATIRE/ JOKE, FICTION, MISTAKE, BULLSHIT (or, politely, BS) After 10 minutes, discuss how these concepts overlap

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Nagel’s What is it like to be a bat?

In his article, “What is it like to be a bat?” Thomas Nagel argues that there are facts about the conscious experience that are subjective and can only be known from that subjective perspective. Even if we know all the

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Searle’s Chinese Room: Do computers think?

Can a computer think? John Searle’s Chinese Room argument can be used to argue that computers do not “think,” that computers do not understand the symbols that they process. For example, if you’re typing an email to your friend on

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God: All-Good or All-Evil…is there any Difference?

A Topic Concerning the Question of Evil A long-simmering debate in theology involves the status of the classical definition of God.  Traditionally, one area of agreement between Theists and Atheists has been in the definition of God; without this agreement,

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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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The Problem of Evil

In the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions, one of the major problems for theists [those who believe that there is a God] is the “Problem of Evil.”  It runs like this: If God is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, how can there be evil

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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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Justice and Utopia

Materials needed Description of the story of the Ring of Gyges Handout on the characteristics of Rammeka (a fictional society) Worksheet for small-group discussion and individual reflection   Description Begin with an explanation of Plato’s goals in The Republic. Explain

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Social Contract Theory: Creating a Cooperative Learning Environment

Materials needed John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, chapters two and eight. An alternative is James Rachels’ The Elements of Moral Philosophy, chapter eleven, “The Idea of a Social Contract” (see full citations below) A questionnaire (see below) Poster board

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