Topic: knowledge

Noises in the Night

A NOTE FOR TEACHERS: I’m interested in helping young people think skeptically and philosophically about concepts like knowledge, belief, evidence, fact, and theory. I developed the Vinland Map exercise for this purpose (in a philosophy of science class for gifted teens); I then wrote Noises in the Night as a way of starting similar conversations Noises in the Night

The Vinland Map Exercise

I developed this exercise in a series of Critical Thinking and Philosophy of Science classes. It can raise a huge range of issues about knowledge; testing and confirmation bias; skepticism and how not to be gullible; the relationship between scientific and historical and common sense thinking; the relationship between key concepts like fact, belief, theory, The Vinland Map Exercise

What do you know? An Exercise about What Knowledge Is

The full lesson plan is available as a PDF in the Lesson Attachment area above. Our whole education is organized around “buckets” of knowledge: “2+2 = 4” (math bucket); “Hydrogen is an element but water isn’t” (chemistry bucket); “Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809” (history bucket). But philosophy (and especially epistemology, the study of knowledge) What do you know? An Exercise about What Knowledge Is

Animal Minds: puzzling over Puppies and Parrots

parrot perched raising wings

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 continued to think of animals in this way but added humans to the mix.  “Mind” Animal Minds: puzzling over Puppies and Parrots

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 that you were at the moment captured in your photo? Students readily admit that their physical Personal Identity in Memento

What Do You Know?

Materials needed: Piece of paper and writing utensil Description: Note: this session operates as a good follow-up to a lesson plan on beliefs and evidence more generally. Ask the students for some things that they know. Put a few examples on the board. Tell the students the following story. It’s important that, for most of the What Do You Know?