Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Teaching Experiences of Asserting as Arguing

This semester has been a tremendous joy to lead a tutorial group in a basic introduction to metaphysics and epistemology. Currently, I am reading papers, and the course supervisor and the TAs (including myself) have went through great pains to teach philosophy as a dialectical enterprise. However, I've said this many times over and over, philosophical argumentation doesn't equal Group or Author X claims A while Group or Author Y claims B. The language of claim-making is what they are taking the exchange to be about. Students aren't moving to the level of finding out reasons why these groups or authors endorse their claims.

I'm wondering if other people have this experience. Certainly, a range of philosophy students "get it" over others that see arguments as just making assertions. I'm wondering though if there are pedagogical strategies that reach beyond repeated demonstrations through examples and concepts in lecture that this is not the case.

I'm looking for contributions to this thread that provide favorite examples of teaching philosophy as a dialectical enterprise. Also include your favorite assertions qua arguments that students typically make. Several semesters ago, I had a student claim that God exists because supernatural powers stemming from Sikh meditation prove that God exists.

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