Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Critical Thinking concepts

I did a quick informal survey of philosophy instructors to see what "critical thinking" concepts they thought were most important or "fallacies" (in short, bad ways of thinking!) they thought are most common or most important that people be familiar with. Here's that list, with some vague ranking, and a quick explanation of what this error in thinking is:

  • "begging the question" - this is to assume what you are trying to argue for: your reason for your conclusion is a claim that someone would accept only if they already accept your conclusion. This is a type of circular reasoning. (Here are some question-begging arguments on abortion, for examples). 
  • "straw person" AKA "straw man" - to "straw person" a position is to present it in a weak form; it's to not present the strongest, most plausible version of the position or view in question.
  • "principle of charity" or "failing to employ the principle of charity" - this is to not attempt to interpret someone's claim(s) in the most plausible ways they can be understood, to not try to help someone clarify their ideas (when they can be clarified), to not help someone state the strongest version of their position that they can: this is all being uncharitable. 
  • "ad hominem" - this is to respond to some argument or reasoning with an irrelevant personal attack on the person making the argument, instead of engaging with the argument. 
  • "genetic fallacy" - this is to respond to some argument or reasoning with something irrelevant about the source of the argument (its genesis), instead of engaging with the argument itself.
    • A related popular version of the genetic fallacy is something of a combination of it and maybe an ad hominem, where someone's position is rejected or objected to not on the basis of the position or the arguments given but the identity of the person who gives it: so, instead of discussing the argument, it's observed that someone of this race and/or sex and/or class and/or political background is advocating the argument. This is usually irrelevant because that all has nothing to do with whether the premises are true or not and different people are often able to empathize with other people, even if they can't fully or perfectly understand someone else's experience or perspective
  •  the "Tu quoque" fallacy, or an objection from hypocrisy - this is to respond to someone's argument with the claim that they are somehow a hypocrite in making the argument: whether they are or not is irrelevant to whether the reasons they give are true claims that support their conclusion or not, or whether the argument is good or not.  
  • "slippery slope" - this is to claim that one thing will lead to something else that is problematic and that that's a reason to not accept the initial thing. This objection is problematic when it's doubtful that A will lead to B and/or it's doubtful that B is indeed bad, at least. (E.g., "Thinking that it's wrong to make fur coats puts us on a slippery slope to thinking that it's wrong to eat meat!" Yes, it should!)
  • "Red herring" - this is to make some distracting and irrelevant claims to throw people off from focusing on whatever issue they should be focusing on.
  • "Confirmation bias" - this is to only seek out and notice evidence that confirms your previously held point of view and ignore or reject anything contrary, for no good reason. A new related idea is that of an "epistemic bubble." 
  • "false dichotomy" - this is to see only two (or some limited number) of options, when there really are many. "We can do A or B, and that's it" when we really could do C, or D, or E, or F... 
  • "anecdotal fallacy" - "I saw this one time, or a few times, so it's probably always that way." Sometimes - often - limited experiences, anecdotes, don't justify believing any generalizations.
  • "Is/ought & the naturalistic fallacy" - "Things are this way, or have been this way, so they ought to be this way." "This is natural - it is this way - so it ought to be this way."
  • "legality and morality" - Assuming "this is legal, so it must be moral." No: morality and law are different. 
  • "fallacy of equivocation" - using a word one way, with one meaning, and then switching to a different meaning, resulting in reasoning where the premises don't really lead to the conclusion. 
  1. "reductio ad absurdum" : show that someone's position leads somewhere (absurdly) false, which might show that the position is false. (Very much related to the modus tollens argument pattern also). 
  2. Concerns about credible sources.
  3. evaluating moral explanations; inference to the best (moral) explanation
  4. finding counterexamples to general or universal premises and claims. VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT. 
  5. valid patterns: modus ponens and modus tollens and syllogisms
  6. invalid argument patterns: affirming the consequent, denying the antecedent
  7. the concepts of "validity" and "soundness" regarding arguments. VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT. 
  8. Isolating necessary/sufficient conditions 
  9. theoretical virtues (simplicity, coherence, power, etc.): intellectual virtues and vices


"Responding to Morally Flawed Historical Philosophers and Philosophies"

Cédric Eyssette created this graphic that presents my and Victor Fabian Abundez-Guerra's short 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology article "Responding to Morally Flawed Historical Philosophers and Philosophies." The text is in French, so I don't know what it says, but this seems pretty cool to me! Thanks, Cédric!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Spring 2020 classes

Intro to Philosophical Ethics - 43875 - HPHI 302G - 01
Associated Term: Spring 2020
Registration Dates: Nov 04, 2019 to Jan 24, 2020
Levels: Undergraduate

Morehouse College Campus
Lecture Schedule Type
3.000 Credits
View Catalog Entry
Bookstore(change me)

Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class10:00 am - 10:50 amMWFSale Hall 105Jan 15, 2020 - May 08, 2020LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail

Intro to Philosophical Ethics - 43876 - HPHI 302G - 02
Associated Term: Spring 2020
Registration Dates: Nov 04, 2019 to Jan 24, 2020
Levels: Undergraduate

Morehouse College Campus
Lecture Schedule Type
3.000 Credits
View Catalog Entry
Bookstore(change me)

Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class11:00 am - 11:50 amMWFSale Hall 105Jan 15, 2020 - May 08, 2020LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail

Intro to Phil. Ethics ONLINE - 48562 - HPHI 302G - 07
Associated Term: Spring 2020
Registration Dates: Nov 04, 2019 to Jan 24, 2020
Levels: Undergraduate

Morehouse College Campus
Lecture Schedule Type
Online Instructional Method
3.000 Credits
View Catalog Entry
Bookstore(change me)

Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
ClassTBA ONLINEJan 15, 2020 - May 08, 2020LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail

Modern Political Theory - 48401 - HPHI 462 - 1
Associated Term: Spring 2020
Registration Dates: Nov 04, 2019 to Jan 24, 2020
Levels: Undergraduate

Morehouse College Campus
Lecture Schedule Type
3.000 Credits
View Catalog Entry
Bookstore(change me)

Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class1:00 pm - 1:50 pmMWFSale Hall 110Jan 15, 2020 - May 08, 2020LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail

Monday, October 14, 2019

Midterm Self-Assessment

Here is a midterm reflection assignment, due by the Friday after the break (to Blackboard, using the template, in a word-processed file; include the questions below so it is obvious to the reader what you are responding to, please):
1. What is your Tigernet/Banner midterm grade?
2. What is your Blackboard midterm grade, your earned points or percentage of total points? (If there are any errors or omissions or misunderstandings in grading, please let the instructor know). 
3. How are you doing in this class? (Optional: how are you doing in other classes?)
4. What are you doing well? *Why* are you doing well at these things?
5. What are you not doing well at? *Why* are you not doing well at these things? What do you want to change? *Why* do you want to change?
6. What, if anything, should you change about what you do before class? What, if anything, should you change about what you do during class? What, if anything, should you change about what you do after class?
7. What can the instructor do to better help you?
8. What other thoughts and/or feelings do you have concerning your performance in this class (and any other classes), or anything else relevant?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ethics, Left and Right: The Moral Issues That Divide Us

 

Ethics, Left and Right

The Moral Issues That Divide Us

Bob Fischer

  • Provides a model of civil dialogue for contentious moral issues--one that students can appreciate and emulate--through a series of commissioned essays on twenty contentious debates, written expressly with undergraduate students in mind
  • Engages students in moral philosophy by examining highly relevant issues that students encounter in our current social and political landscape
  • Presents two position pieces on each issue--one left-leaning, one right--followed by a reply from each author, giving you and your students the opportunity to engage in in-depth discussions of serious issues
  • Prepares students to think philosophically and critically with an introductory chapter on ethical theory, moral reasoning, and arguments
  • Includes case studies at the end of every main contribution to encourage students to examine related problems and/or delve deeper into the current issue
  • An Ancillary Resource Center (ARC) contains an Instructor's Manual, a Computerized Test Bank, and PowerPoint lecture slides
  • A Companion Website offers student resources including self-quizzes and web links

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fall Classes

Intro to Philosophical Ethics - 44370 - HPHI 302G - 01

Syllabus!

TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class10:00 am - 10:50 amMWFSale Hall 105Aug 21, 2019 - Dec 13, 2019LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail

Intro to Philosophical Ethics - 44371 - HPHI 302G - 02

Syllabus!
Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class11:00 am - 11:50 amMWFSale Hall 105Aug 21, 2019 - Dec 13, 2019LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail

Modern Philosophy - 46023 - HPHI 311 - 01
Syllabus!

TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class1:00 pm - 1:50 pmMWFSale Hall 110Aug 21, 2019 - Dec 13, 2019LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail

Special Top: Bioethics - 46241 - HPHI 475 - 01
Associated Term: Fall 2019
Registration Dates: Apr 01, 2019 to Aug 30, 2019
Levels: Undergraduate

Syllabus!
Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class9:00 am - 9:50 amMWFSale Hall 110Aug 21, 2019 - Dec 13, 2019LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail

Friday, July 26, 2019

Abortion and Soundbites

New! "Abortion and Soundbites: Why Pro-Choice Arguments Are Harder to Make" in Areo Magazine!



Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thinking Critically About Abortion

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Open Access (OER) Ethics Textbook

Here's a new open-access ethics textbook with three essays by, me and me and a co-author, in it.



UNIT ONE: INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY ETHICS: TECHNOLOGY, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, AND IMMIGRATION
1 The “Trolley Problem” and Self-Driving Cars: Your Car’s Moral Settings (Noah Levin)
2 What is Ethics and What Makes Something a Problem for Morality? (David Svolba)
3 Letter from the Birmingham City Jail (Martin Luther King, Jr)
4 A Defense of Affirmative Action (Noah Levin)
5 The Moral Issues of Immigration (B.M. Wooldridge)
6 The Ethics of our Digital Selves (Noah Levin)

UNIT TWO: TORTURE, DEATH, AND THE “GREATER GOOD”
7 The Ethics of Torture (Martine Berenpas)
8 What Moral Obligations do we have (or not have) to Impoverished Peoples? (B.M. Wooldridge)
9 Euthanasia, or Mercy Killing (Nathan Nobis)
10 An Argument Against Capital Punishment (Noah Levin)
11 Common Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob)
12 Better (Philosophical) Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob)

UNIT THREE: PERSONS, AUTONOMY, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND RIGHTS
13 Animal Rights (Eduardo Salazar)
14 John Rawls and the “Veil of Ignorance” (Ben Davies)
15 Environmental Ethics: Climate Change (Jonathan Spelman)
16 Rape, Date Rape, and the “Affirmative Consent” Law in California (Noah Levin)
17 The Ethics of Pornography: Deliberating on a Modern Harm (Eduardo Salazar)
18 The Social Contract (Thomas Hobbes)

UNIT FOUR: HAPPINESS
19 Is Pleasure all that Matters? Thoughts on the “Experience Machine” (Prabhpal Singh)
20 Utilitarianism (J.S. Mill)
21 Utilitarianism: Pros and Cons (B.M. Wooldridge)
22 Existentialism, Genetic Engineering, and the Meaning of Life: The Fifths (Noah Levin)
23 The Solitude of the Self (Elizabeth Cady Stanton)
24 Game Theory, the Nash Equilibrium, and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (Douglas E. Hill)

UNIT FIVE: RELIGION, LAW, AND ABSOLUTE MORALITY
25 The Myth of Gyges and The Crito (Plato)
26 God, Morality, and Religion (Kristin Seemuth Whaley)
27 The Categorical Imperative (Immanuel Kant)
28 The Virtues (Aristotle)
29 Beyond Good and Evil (Friedrich Nietzsche)
30 Other Moral Theories: Subjectivism, Relativism, Emotivism, Intuitionism, etc. (Jan F. Jacko)
https://www.ngefarpress.com/2019/05/introduction-to-ethics-open-educational.html  

Monday, May 27, 2019

Summer Morehouse Classes

Syllabus


Intro to Philosophical Ethics - 42527 - HPHI 302G - 01
Associated Term: Summer 2019
Levels: Undergraduate

Morehouse College Campus
Lecture Schedule Type
3.000 Credits
View Catalog Entry
Bookstore(change me)

Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class10:30 am - 11:50 amMTWRFSale Hall 110Jun 04, 2019 - Jul 05, 2019LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail

Intro to Phil Ethics-Online - 42664 - HPHI 302G - 2
Associated Term: Summer 2019
Levels: Undergraduate

Morehouse College Campus
Lecture Schedule Type
3.000 Credits
View Catalog Entry
Bookstore(change me)

Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
ClassTBAMTWRFTBAJun 04, 2019 - Jul 12, 2019LectureNathan M. Nobis (P)E-mail