Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Ethical Board Notes 12.02.13

Ethics Unit Intro

No scribes were injured in the transcribing of these notes.

 

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Discussable Object Blog Introduction

Discussable Object Blog Introduction

The Prompts

Use the above prompts to develop your contribution to next week’s Discussable Object.

 

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Scientific Philosophy Round Up

Soaring into the eye of the gods

Image courtesy of Gardner Campbell (and the Romans)

I thought it might be helpful to round up the Scientific Philosophy posts here so that we might be able to more easily delve into their contents in the future.

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 1.11.57 PMHeather & Andrea’s Instrumentalism Prezi

Logical Positivism is an outdated, radical idea that started in the Vienna Circle as far back as the early 1800s. The main view that logical positivists held is that no statement is legitimate or meaningful until it can be proven true or false. In the minds of logical positivists, personal opinions and values only warps science, and it can only be objective through the scientific method. During or class discussion, with the help of a spectrum of ideologies such as instrumentalism and postmodernism, the majority of the class came to the conclusion that science is not objective. This agreement was based on the idea that science is about the process of which we come to a conclusion, rather than the conclusion itself. Logical positivists would disagree with this analogy, as they believe that science is about coming to a proven legitimate conclusion rather than the process.

Ashley, Jessica & Sophie on Logical Positivism

As a byproduct of the horrors of the Holocaust, a lost outlook on art, literature, and science arose rampant. From the works of Kurt Vonnegut to Jackson Pollock, a taste for confusion and abstract perspectives is obvious. After the war, in debt and longing for war, the ambiance was rather angsty… skeptical if you will.

The whole objective of science is to create an objective method to find an objective truth. However, how can one be continued objective in this world of context and personal bias. In the post modernist view, the world should be objective, looking and searching for a single truth… or a set of certain truths. But science is a way of thinking, in which no one can be objective. We have a set of lenses in which we choose what to search for. What can we tolerate? What do we need to discover?

Julie on Postmodernists’ Science

In science, a paradigm is a theory or set of thoughts that is widely accepted and practiced as the truth at that time. A paradigm shift is a total change in your set of view about a particular paradigm and it is most closely related to scientific progress but you could use it as a way to describe your own personal beliefs. We all exist in our own different paradigms. We all have our own personal beliefs on certain things and our outlook on the world is affected by those beliefs. And we can experience paradigm shifts in our own lives where our views on certain things are turned upside down. And as well, the scientific community and society exists in certain paradigms through out history at all. For example, right now we exist in the paradigm that landmasses are being moved constantly by continental plates. This is different from the old theory that the continents were always where they are. Thomas Kuhn believed that there are so many different paradigms going around, and that all the time they are changing, that there is no way that science can just settle on one of them. The existence of paradigms and paradigm shifts make it so that science isn’t just based on one total truth, but instead many different ideas of the truth.

Dylan, Katherine & Aidan on Kuhn’s Paradigms

Karl Popper stated very simply that science can only get as true as long as one cannot deem it false. This is his theory of falsification, regarding that in science, one can never reach 100% objectivity; that a scientific theory will infinitely approach this asymptotic mark we call truth. For example, Galileo disproving that our planet is the center of our solar system and Einstein redefining the method of which we consider the gravitational pulls among interstellar masses from Newtons original gravitational theory.

Although Popper nicely answers our question, which I do mostly agree with, I still remain persistent and a little disagreeing with the concept of science being nonobjective. With that, I went and searched for the definition of science, which states:  knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation (Note: this is only one definition, there are many, however they all float around the same vicinity). The thing about science is that it is used to create facts, with the least subjectivity as possible, and to distinguish these facts with the most accuracy as possible. In the out come, a fact is only one element, meaning, that even though many different people can view and consider the function of a box in many different ways, in the end, it is still cubic object and that doesn’t change. It will be the same shape for everyone, the only difference is other’s may name it differently and use it differently.

Lazar and Deven on Karl Popper & Scientific Objectivity

In one of my reports I was writing for Quebec called: La Condition postmoderne: Rapport sur le savoir (The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge) I simplify narratives of narratives that are called meta-narratives which are essentially big, universal theories and philosophies. The one I will be discussing is the meta-narrative of the knowability of everything by science.

The first question I have is why is this theory putting all of us under the same category? People in developing nations don’t have access to learning about science or performing science, or what we perceive to be science.  They survive and know how to survive, not by science, but by the need to live. This leads to the question: isn’t needing to survive a primal instinct? Isn’t it science? Well yes, but is it an objective truth? Do we know what the earliest humans were thinking? How do we really know what primal instincts are for everyone? There different for people in countries in African and they’re different for people living in Canada. I’m sure we could all come up with ideas and words that were said by the earliest humans, but we don’t know. However what we do know is that every word or idea we think is different than what another person thinks.

Aman’s Ghost Report 

Quine in lesser words basically said that it’s hard to find an exact definition of a word, so it becomes impossible to use as a basis for a hypothesis or a theory. Every word has a definition, but the it’s hard to know the exact definition of the word. For example,  a definition of a word is someone’s opinion and everyone’s opinion is unique; therefore there are many types of definitions for every word. The definitions are not correct nor incorrect because its an opinion and opinions vary for every individual.

Van Ormine Quine by Imtiaz, Leon & Tyler

Dear readers. My name Martin Heidegger and my work as a philosopher was instrumental in understanding postmodernism and their views on science. My book, Being and Time, is considered one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century and my work is said to have played a crucial role in the development of existentialism, hermeneutics, deconstruction, postmodernism, and continental philosophy.

Is science objective: No, of course it is not.

Emily’s look at Martin Heidegger

I will update this post with quotes and links to both the Feminists’ view on Scientific Objectivity, as well as the Anarchistic Epistemologists, when they are posted.

 

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What is Metaphysics?

Image courtesy of Kahfi Wisdom

Read the following post, and the attached comments posted on the blog Talking Philosophy for class Tuesday:

“What is metaphysics? In the Western tradition, metaphysics concerns the nature and description of an Ultimate Reality that stands behind the world of appearances. One dominant strand holds that we can somehow come to know a world that exists undetected by our sense perceptions and unexplained by the natural operation of causes and effects. Unfortunately, our powers of sensation and perception reveal to us only a partial survey of the contingent universe unfolding around us and within us. We are part of that unfolding process, no doubt, but we have profound limitations in what we can do and what we can know. We are radically limited in our contact with the universe, and it is hard to see how, in our embodied state, we can overcome these limitations. Despite all that our sciences have done to inform us of realities unknown to sense perception or naïve common sense, we are unable, using the normal touchstones of truth, to argue convincingly for the character of Ultimate Reality or for Beings that exist in a supersensible or supernatural world.”

 

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Ethics Blogging Assignment and Readings

Image from the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Image from the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Having crested the mid-point of the semester’s study of Philosophy 12, the face to face participants in the course have taken a brief respite from the class blog and focused on classroom-based activities and assignments.

As a synthesis of collaborative learning and knowledge-construction, two weeks ago the group delivered an hourlong, four-part lecture on Epistemology. This last week saw the class split into groups to prepare creative lessons / resources on Ethics to be shared with middle school students sometime next week. As these projects move forward with filming, songwriting, and illustration, this week will include a few different discussions of ethical questions and issues, both in class and on the blog.

Each of the for-credit participants will be asked to submit a post introducing and summarizing a moden ethical issue. These posts should roughly respond to the following criteria:

      • Describe the context, stakeholders, and ramifications of different outcomes of the debate. 
      • Summarize the key questions involved in processing the issue. 
      • Explore ways in which the debate could be framed in a larger context or conversation (eg. what is the essential question at stake?)
      • Outline past philosophers’ attempts to answer questions involved with this issue, and whether their wisdom can be applied to contemporary times. 

In addition to the standing invitation for our open online participants to join in the various discussions that these posts will likely illicit, and to ask questions, push back, or explore these issues and debates alongside our for-credit students, we would also welcome posts you might like to share with us outlining events or questions we might be overlooking.

If you haven’t yet, you can still drop your details in the course signup form and be added as an author on the blog. Also be sure to join us on Twitter by following the class hashtag at #philosophy12.

Some suggested areas of inquiry in the coming week:

Lying, Cheating and Stealing

Survey finds less cheating in high schools
““Changes in children’s behavior of this magnitude suggest a major shift in parenting and school involvement in issues of honesty and character,” Josephson said in a statement.

“Brian Jacob, a professor of education policy at the University of Michigan, said providing students with more information is one way to help curb cheating in schools. For instance, Jacob, who has looked at plagiarism in college, said research shows that you can help students understand, through tools such as an online tutorial, what constitutes plagiarism and strategies to avoid it.”

Freedom of Expression & Censorship

Bradley Manning: a tale of liberty lost in America
“Whatever one thinks of Manning’s alleged acts, he appears the classic whistleblower. This information could have been sold for substantial sums to a foreign government or a terror group. Instead he apparently knowingly risked his liberty to show them to the world because – he said when he believed he was speaking in private – he wanted to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”.

War

Rethinking the Just War
“Can war be justified? Is there such a thing as morally proper conduct in war?

“With Veterans’ Day upon us and, with the Obama administration preparing to face another four years of geopolitical choices in unstable regions, The Stone is featuring recent work by Jeff McMahan, a philosopher and professor at Rutgers University, on “just war theory” — a set of ethical principles pertaining to violent conflict, whose origins can be traced back to Augustine, that still influence the politics and morality of war today. The work will be published in two parts on consecutive days — the first dealing with the background and history of the traditional just war theory, and second consisting of the author’s critique of that theory.”

Euthanasia

Appeal Court upholds exemption from doctor-assisted suicide ban
“Gloria Taylor’s right to avoid a “frightening and repugnant” death in the clutches of Lou Gehrig’s disease shouldn’t be sacrificed because the courts have yet to decide the fate of Canada’s doctor-assisted suicide ban, a judge ruled Friday as she upheld the British Columbia woman’s personal exemption from the law.

“The woman from West Kelowna, B.C., who was diagnosed with ALS three years ago and whose health continues to deteriorate, was among the plaintiffs in a landmark case that saw the B.C. Supreme Court strike down Canada’s ban on doctor-assisted suicide as unconstitutional.

“While the court suspended its decision, Taylor was granted an immediate exemption, making her the only person in Canada who can legally die with the help of a doctor.”

Genetics

Human Evolution Enters an Exciting New Phase
“Most of the mutations that we found arose in the last 200 generations or so. There hasn’t been much time for random change or deterministic change through natural selection,” said geneticist Joshua Akey of the University of Washington, co-author of the Nov. 28 Nature study. “We have a repository of all this new variation for humanity to use as a substrate. In a way, we’re more evolvable now than at any time in our history.”

Conservation & Preservation of the Environment

What is Education for? by David Orr
We are accustomed to thinking of learning as good in and of itself. But as environmental educator David Orr reminds us, our education up till now has in some ways created a monster. This essay is adapted from his commencement address to the graduating class of 1990 at Arkansas College. It prompted many in our office to wonder why such speeches are made at the end, rather than the beginning, of the collegiate experience.”

Treatment of Non-Human Animals

Animals Can Tell Right from Wrong
“Until recently, humans were thought to be the only species to experience complex emotions and have a sense of morality.

“But Prof Marc Bekoff, an ecologist at University of Colorado, Boulder, believes that morals are “hard-wired” into the brains of all mammals and provide the “social glue” that allow often aggressive and competitive animals to live together in groups.”

New Science Emboldens Long Shot Bid for Dolphin, Whale Rights
“Just a few decades ago, cetacean rights would have been considered a purely sentimental rather than scientifically supportable idea. But scientifically if not yet legally, evidence is overwhelming that cetaceans are special.

“At a purely neuroanatomical level, their brains are as complex as our own. Their brains are also big — and not simply because cetaceans are large. Dolphins and whales have brains that are exceptional for their size, second only to modern humans in being larger than one would expect. They also possess neurological structures that, in humans, are linked to high-level social and intellectual function.”

Intellectual Property

Remix, Aggregation, Plagiarism, Oh My
“Remixing is the 4th most nefarious form of plagarism, and mashups are #7…at least according to these 900 teachers and instructors. This saddens me because I happen to consider these two activities some of the most creative and original cultural actshappening today. And to think there are 900 some instructors and teachers out there who do not recognize the creative value  and sheer amount of work it takes to create something new and original out of what existed before.”

Ethics in Business

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Business Ethics
“This entry focuses generally on academic business ethics, more particularly on the philosophically-informed part of business ethics, and most particularly on the constellation of philosophically-relevant questions that inform the main conversation and ongoing disagreement among academic business ethicists. It covers: (1) the history of business ethics as an academic endeavor; (2) the focus on the corporation in academic business ethics; (3) the treatment of the employment relation in academic business ethics; (4) the treatment of transnational issues in academic business ethics; and (5) criticism of the focus and implicit methodology of academic business ethics.”

Advertising

Rogers Misleading Advertising Case: Truth-In-Advertising Laws Violate Our Rights, Telecom Giant Says
“Telecom giant Rogers is arguing before an Ontario court that truth-in-advertising rules are a violation of its right to freedom of expression, according to a news report.

“Postmedia’s Sarah Schmidt reports that Rogers is challenging a $10-million fine levied on it for misleading advertising by the federal Competition Bureau by arguing that being forced to test its products before making claims about them is a violation of freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

 

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Introduction to Logic Blogging Assignments

Click the image above to access a Prezi Introduction to Logic corresponding to our reading this week.

Blogging Assignment for Logic Chapters

For credit participants: Submit three different responses to the posts outlined below on the class blog.

Open-online participants: Evaluate examples provided for Truth, Soundness, Validity and Reliability, comment, post examples of your own. Or lurk. That’s cool, too.

Syllogism
Create an original syllogism and identify its middle term, predicate term, and subject term. Examine your syllogism for Truth, Validity and Soundness.

Example of Logic
Present and deconstruct a logical argument in philosophy, literature, journalism, comedy, musical or other example, describing the effect created by the author’s use of logic (including Validity, Truth and Soundness).

Inductive / Abductive Reasoning
Summarize and analyze a piece of journalism, scholarship, political rhetoric or criticism which employs inductive or abductive reasoning. Evaluate the reliability of the evidence involved.

Logical Fallacies
Provide and summarize an example of an argument guilty of committing a logical fallacy: characterize the type of fallacy at work and (if possible) refute the argument with a contrary logical proposition.

Be sure to categorize these posts as Logic and Scientific Philosophy, and tag them corresponding to which of the above prompts they are responding to. For credit participants are expected to have their posts on the blog by this Friday, October 5th

 

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Sticky Posts for the Week of September 24th – 28th

Visitors to the class blog this week.

It’s been a busy week shaping up on the Philosophy 12 course blog, with comments and posts covering topics from morality to education, literature and the existence of good and evil. Threads of conversation and comments leading off in countless directions. Upon some conversation in class and reference to some of the blogs analytic – tracking, there are a few posts that we decided could be gathered as a sort of week-in-review to hopefully foster further conversation around the themes that are arising:

  • Nature? What Nature? 
    Liam’s post on good and evil has garnered much conversation about the existence of morality, and the social constructions surrounding our ideas of good, evil, and all that lies between. Seven comments and counting.
  • Ignorance is not Bliss
    While Mariana wasn’t the only Philosophy 12 participant  to mine this terrain, her post has served something of a hub around the conversation about learning and the discomfort it brings about, but also the rewards of growth. Five comments and counting.

  • Polar Bears, Planets and Believing in Knowledge
    Kelly’s post concerns learning as well, but addresses the shifting terrain of truth and the difficulty of “knowability.” Three comments and counting. 

I’ve collected these posts and links here in the hopes that aggregating these various conversations might allow us to take them to a new place and understanding. Don’t feel obligated to continue the thread in the comments section for the posts if you want to synthesize and regroup what you are reading and take it to the ‘next’ place – start a new post and link to the thread that preceded it: make the connections for your audience, and take us with you!

 
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