These discussion boardshave been designed to explore controversial philosophical topics. Someof the questions are designed to solicit very personal responses andopinions, and these debates have the potential to become heated. In theact of creating ideas, heat can be a good thing, but not at the expenseof hurt feelings or frustration. Remember that the practical aspect pfphilosophy asks us to examine and perhaps even change something aboutourselves. Hopefully, we will be challenged by others with a differentopinion, but we need to remember that a challenge to our beliefs is not athreat. To the contrary, it should be regarded as an opportunity tore-evaluate and understand why we hold these beliefs.
Some important rules to follow:
- Therewill be no Ad hominems (attacks against the person); not following thisrule may result in failure of the assignment. You can disagree with aperson’s opinions, but you may not attack other people. You may,however, disagree with the ideas of others, but do so in a constructivemanner. For example, you can say, “I don’t agree with your post. I thinkinstead that . . . ” But, you cannot say, “You’re an idiot” or even“That’s just plain stupid.” Academia requires a diversity of opinionsbut presented politely; after all, ethics is part of Philosophy.
- Avoidmaking statements meant to be absolute (such as, “There is no other wayto think about this”). Instead of asking closed-ended questions lookingfor a “yes” or “no” or the “right” answer, ask open-ended questions(such as, “Have you thought about . . . ?”)
- Try to connect thecurrent discussion to topics from other lessons. Remember that all ofthe Philosophers wrote about more than a single topic and the way theythink about one area of Philosophy probably affects other areas as well.For example, it might be extremely useful to mention John Stuart Mill’sethical theories from an earlier lesson during a later discussion ofhis support for women’s rights and equality.
- Rather than simplyreacting to the readings and the responses of your classmates, thinkabout the arguments being made. Really consider the effectiveness ofthese arguments. “I agree” responses are not useful to the discussionand will not receive credit.
Give some seriousconsideration to the topic or scenario before answering; and, then,using the questions below as a guide, write a 75-100 word initialresponse about the issue being discussed.Next, please take the time torespond to at least two of your classmates.
- Ifyou and several hundred other people were about to form a new society(let’s say, as you plunged into space to populate a newly discoveredplanet), what principles of justice would you propose to your peers?
- Whatsort of principles (if any) do you think would gain general agreement?(Examples: “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” “Everyone shares whatthey’ve got equally with others.” “No one should be punished under anycircumstances.” “Anyone who breaks even the smallest law is exiled tospace.”) Include at least three principles or laws that everyone wouldhave to follow.
- Who would be in charge of enforcing the laws and why?
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