Friday, July 30, 2010

Alexandra Bradner, Chris Weigl & Emily Esch, "Pedagogical Issues in Experimental Philosophy"

“Clickers and experimental philosophy”


Sample survey


What experimental philosophy is.

Empirical philosophy: Any philosophy where people use empirical work, generally from other disciplines. People have been doing this for ever. John Doris Lack of Character

Experimental philosophy: Philosophers who run their own experiments.

Negative project vs. positive progress

Negative: Bashing conceptual analysis. Intuitions are suspect, subject to framing effects, etc.

Positive: Finding out what folk concepts people actually have. Useful work on personal identity and free will. Sean Nichols on agency.

Knobe (2006). [Josh Knobe founding father of movement.)

Environmental question: chairman of the board intentionally harmed the environment but not intentionally helped.


What unique discussions can experimental philosophy bring to a class?

Nahmias and Nadelhoffer “Polling in teaching philosophy” in teaching philosophy.

Guy goes off on whether these should be called “thought experiments” or “hypotheticals”

Why does this matter?

How can we best integrate experimental philosophy with traditional texts?

Intro level: In the background while talking about thought experiments
Upper level: As an explicit metaphilosophical issue.

What special challenges does teaching experimental philosophy face?


Introduction to philosophy with experimental philosophy
Units covered: Morality, personality Identity, Epistemology, Free Will, God

Thought experiments covered: Trolley, transplant, experience machine, ship of Theseus, soul switching, eletransporter, Gettier, truetemp, trapped conversationalist, drug addict, Pascal’s wager

She used the thought experiment at the intro with no background. Surveys on pencil and paper. Tabulated by prof.


Comprehension: Its worse than you thought. People don’t understand the thought experiments


Variation: increased rigor makes the variation in intuitions more salient.

Justification: leads people to justify their answers.


Paper version of original survey. “Always have a plan B when you are working with technology”

Turningpoint Anywhere. With Response XR clicker.

Her recommended system:

Bioethics guy has a turning point ppt on the turning point website. This si very good.

Use cell phones or laptops

Disadvantage: It just draws attention to people who are lower income.


Best for research. Lets you do branching surveys. Easy to print from.


Coolest clicker ever.
Higher ed unfriendly.
Great metrics.


Namias, et al., Nichols and Knobe. Good articles using x-phi in the free will area.

Stephen Finn “Creating in class exercises to hone philosophy skills”

Stephen Finn “Creating in class exercises to hone philosophy skills”

He’s under contract to create an exercise book—this is part of the writing of it. Send him an email if you want to use any of his exercises.

[Kinds of exercises:
Arguments/critical thinking
Intuition listing
Looking carefully over schemes/lists
Close reading
Decision making/question answering.]

Today the agenda is to develop a list of philosophy skills and exercises that work those skills.

What are the skills students need to succeed in a philosophy course?]

Critical reading for philosophy
Finding an argument.
Identifying intent
Indentifying larger conversation.
Analysing arguments
Writing skills
Reflective equilibrium.
Rauhut’s quizzes
How to ask a question.
Socratic prompts from  good
Engaging other views.
Oral presentation.
“understanding the question to which their reading is the answer”
Dealing with thought experiments
“Distinguishing fact and opinion claims” (AARGH why would a philosopher use this distinction.)

He hands out some exercises.

We do Skill #3 analyzing philosophical texts: What is the au doing—claiming, arguing, questioning, informing, defining, etc.

Group one on skill one
• Group response: “We got hung up on just what you meant by the instructions.”
• “I like to emphasize re-reading. Have them read it. Say what they think. And then read it again.
• Use one sheet per group to force group interaction.
• “what did you learn new on the third reading”

Group two and three: Skill three
• You need background on what these things are.
• Write numbers next to sentences. Let students write multiple numbers.
• Annotate text on a smart board. Give them your own annotated text with you system.

Group four on skill 9
• Group response: “We got hung up on just what you meant by the instructions.”

“Are there uniquely philosophical skills?”
“No. what we are doing is reinforcing skill sets across disciples. Right now, the way the university is compartmentalized, students compartmentalize not just their knowledge, but their skills. Philosophy breaks that down.”

Small groups again

• State elaborate exemplify: Reading exercises. For each passage state the point, elaborate on it, exemplify it. “Do you add evaluation later” “Not that this stage.”
• Analytical outline for their own writing. You’ve got a draft, try to figure out what it actually says. “Does this carry over into other texts?”
• Have two students attempt to summarize the same paragraph. See if they match.
• Powerpoint arguments with blanks.

“I think the more structure the better with introductory students.”

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Understanding Bakugon

Joey is obsessed (for this week at least) with Bakugon, so I thought I'd make an effort to understand the game underlying the product line. Joey doesn't understand it either, but I thought if one of us did, we could have more fun.

Right away, I am perplexed by things that I imagine kids just blow right over. The video says "Bakugon represent six important attributes," and then list six funny made up names. How do you "represent" an "attribute"? Based on other things Joey watched, I think they mean that there are six kinds of Bakugon. But they might mean that each Bakugon has six properties that you need to keep track of. Why is this so ambiguous? For all the fancy animation, did they not bother to get a good translation of the original game instructions?

Other comments: I don't want to show Joey these instructional videos, because he's going to want to buy too many things. Also, he will want to simply watch the video repeatedly with me. And then he'll want another movie. And then he'll want to spend the day watching Youtube videos.

At least the don't insist that the kid who wins the game gets to keep the other kid's toys.

So what is the smallest amount of money I can spend and still have enough plastic crap to sit down and play a game of Bakugon with my son?

Bakucoin? There is a Bakucoin? What does that do?

Ok, if you buy a Bakutriad pack you get 3 Bakugon, three gate cards, and three ability cards, which is enough for one side of a Bakugon battle. If we purchased two of these, we'd have enough for a game. Next question: If we scoured the house and sorted through all the plastic crap would we find this much Bakugon paraphernalia?

Baku = explode
Gan = sphere.

And again, it is hard to tell what exactly you are purchasing, if you try to buy the product on Ebay.

If we went to Target or Toys 'r' us to get Bakugon, we could make it a fun expedition what would get the kids out of Mom's hair for several hours. But we'd probably wind up buying more crap than we wanted.

Do we even want to go down this route? The game is designed to encourage you to buy more crap.