Socratic Encounters (25 pts)
- Choose a partner with whom you will have a conversation. [Tips: Make sure this person is not inclined to violent outbursts or angry fits of rage. It also helps to choose someone with whom you are already acquainted, so that you have a plan on which to formulate your questions.]
- Choose a topic about which you wish to discuss. [Tips: For examples of possible topics, see the following website: http://www.iep.utm.edu/ethics/#H3. Think about the topic well in advance of your conversation. It helps to pick a topic that you have thought a lot about. If you have not thought about any of the topics, do your best to think about the topic as well ahead of time as possible.]
- Do not inform your partner about the goal of the assignment. The goal of the assignment is to challenge your interlocutor to think, and this is best achieved by leading your partner to a contradiction by asking them questions. For example, if your partner says that ‘all abortion is wrong’, yet also admits that ‘in at least one case abortion is not wrong’, you have arrived at a contradiction. You may only ask your partner questions, and your partner may only answer them. They cannot ask you questions in response, except ‘please repeat that’ or ‘I don’t understand, could you please re-phrase your question?’ [Tips: In order to plan out your conversation, make sure to plan out ahead of time how to lead your interlocutor to a contradiction. In order to do this, you must think about what questions to ask your interlocutor and how you expect him/her to answer them. Make sure to have questions to ask in the case your partner does not answer the way you expect!]
- The end goal of these assignment is to help cultivate and strengthen an attitude fundamental to the Socratic Ethic, both in yourself and others. This project should foster our commitment to living an examined life in our private and public lives. We cannot become good people without inquiring into what the good life is, and we cannot do this unless we abolish our pretense! Thoughtlessness is so banal, yet also the source of much wrongdoing!
- Please turn in the following items: 1) A recording of the conversation, 2) a short 1-2 page reflection on the assignment, and 3) a signed consent form which states that both you and your partner have agreed to participate in the recorded Socratic Encounter, and that you have acted honorably in its execution. In order to complete the assignment, you must turn in all three items, though the first is of the most importance.
- In order to succeed you do not necessarily need to generate a contradiction. But, in order to receive full credit, a contradiction will be necessary. For grading purposes, consider the following rubric. 1. Is the student respectful of the interlocutor? (5 pts) 2. Is a contradiction generated? (5 pts) 3. Are the questions thoughtful and well planned? (15 pts)