Choose 3 journal responses :
1. Socrates compared himself to a gadfly. Identify a gadfly in our culture and discuss how he or she exhibits behavior that resembles a gadfly (not biting like a fly does a cow, but persistently criticizing and questioning for the purpose of instigating and stimulating debate.) This requires a little research.
Chapter Two: Logic and Reasoning – Philosophical Tools
2. What is the difference between deductive and inductive arguments? Give an example of each to illustrate.
3. Fallacies are not sound due to errors in reasoning. The media is a great place to find examples of how your thinking is manipulated and influenced by fallacious reasoning. Advertisers, politicians, networks, televangelists, etc. You name it. Identify an example of a fallacy in the media and write an analysis of how the source is using fallacious reasoning to influencing your thinking and behavior.
Chapter Three: Reality versus Perception – What Do We Know?
5. Read Gettier case. (text p. 47 ) Journal Response: Investigate an example of a Gettier case in literature. Discuss how the example of the Gettier case you researched is a challenge to the classical definition of knowledge.
6. Read Oliver Sacks essay – “The Mind’s Eye” from The New Yorker and read essay “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. Journal Response: Write a thoughtful response to the question: how does one know what is real? Use excerpts from the reading(s) to support your ideas.
Chapter 7 – Does God Exist?
7. Discuss the problem of evil. If God is all- good (omnibenevolent), why does he/she allow evil to exist in the world? Why do children suffer? (See the discussion of theodicies on page 192 of your text.) You may want to use a recent news story to explain your answer.
8. Pascal was once a gambler. He wagered on the existence of God: if God exists, then the consequences of believing is eternal bliss, but the result of not believing if God does actually exist is eternal damnation. So, it is better to believe. Discuss the pros and cons of Pascal’s Wager (see resources on the classroom webpage for arguments if you need ideas).
9. Take a look at the film Contact (1997) in which a scientist (Jodi Foster) discovers a signal being broadcast from space, which she believes is a sign of intelligent life. She proposes a means to make contact with this other life form. Even though she does not establish proof for its existence, her discovery challenges the belief system of many people. Where do beliefs come from? Is faith compatible with reason? (Also, the idea of Occam’s Razor is introduced in this movie. Comment on this.)
10. Read “The Twirler “by Jane Martin (on the classroom webpage) and discuss the concept of divine revelation as it relates to this story.
Chapter 4 – The Problem of Free Will
11. Discuss how civil disobedience is a viable alternative to violent confrontation and can be an effective agent of change. Discuss in terms of the contribution of Thoreau, Gandhi, King, or someone you research (How about Cesar Chavez?). Give concrete evidence and explanation.
12. If you believe in something strongly, do you have a responsibility to act, especially in situations that clearly violate your sense of justice? Or, does it take a hero?
13. Where is the line between justice and vengeance? (Discuss the rationale of the death penalty as vengeance, punishment, or deterrent.)
14. Do you think that the way Americans eat reveals anything about our national character and broader shared values? How are Pollan’s or Singer’s writings a statement not only about American diet but about American culture and life?
15. Role models play an important role in ethical thinking. From the list of people on page 251 of your text (or you may come up with your own suggestion), which, in your opinion, is the best role model? Give specific evidence. Which one is not?