Nature vs. Nurture
These Discussion Forums are an opportunity for us to be “doing”
philosophy. The first time an individual tries to argue about issues he
or she has rarely or never before discussed, the result may be awkward,
clumsy, and frustrating. That is OK.
Often we think that we do
not have a particular view on a subject, but once we state our position
and begin to discuss it, we realize that we have a very definite view.
But, we still may not have good reasons for believing it.
to explore your views and make them genuinely your own is by working
with your views through reflection, stating them, publicly defending
them, and committing yourself to them.
That is the point behind philosophical discussions in general; they to teach us how
- to think about, articulate, and argue for the things we have come to believe in,
- to clarify and perhaps revise our views, and
- to present them in a clear and convincing manner to other people.
often, therefore, philosophy proceeds through disagreement, as when two
philosophers or philosophy students argue with one another. But, polite
differences of opinion are a good thing in the Discussion Forums. The
key, however, is using politeness to cool down a discussion before it
Someone else may offer an argument which
causes you to rethink your position and possibly even change your mind.
Or, you may find that you have better reasons for being committed to
your view than you originally thought and can share your new evidence
with classmates who still are not sure about their own positions.
As we are ”doing” philosophy here in the Discussion Forums, the practical aspect is that we will learn more about ourselves and what we believe.
Some important rules to follow:
will be no Ad hominems (attacks against the person); not following this
rule may result in failure of the assignment. You can disagree with a
person’s opinions, but you may not attack other people. You may,
however, disagree with the ideas of others, but do so in a constructive
manner. For example, you can say, “I don’t agree with your post. I think
instead that . . . ” But, you cannot say, “You’re an idiot” or even
“That’s just plain stupid.” Academia requires a diversity of opinions
but presented politely; after all, ethics is part of Philosophy.
making statements meant to be absolute (such as, “There is no other way
to think about this”). Instead of asking closed-ended questions looking
for a “yes” or “no” or the “right” answer, ask open-ended questions
(such as, “Have you thought about . . . ?”)
- Try to connect the
current discussion to topics from other lessons. Remember that all of
the Philosophers wrote about more than a single topic and the way they
think about one area of Philosophy probably affects other areas as well.
For example, it might be extremely useful to mention John Stuart Mill’s
ethical theories from an earlier lesson during a later discussion of
his support for women’s rights and equality.
- Rather than simply
reacting to the readings and the responses of your classmates, think
about the arguments being made. Really consider the effectiveness of
these arguments. “I agree” responses are not useful to the discussion
and will not receive credit.
Give some serious
consideration to the topic or scenario before answering; and, then,
using the questions below as a guide, write a 75-100 word initial
response about the issue being discussed. Next, please take the time to
respond to at least two of your classmates.
aspects of your self (or self-identity) do you attribute directly to
your upbringing in a particular family, in a particular society, or in a
particular neighborhood, city, or other environment?
- Which do you attribute to “nature” (that is, to instincts and inherited characteristics)?
aspects of your self (if any) would you say are entirely your own,
independent of other people and your biological nature? How do you know
they were not influenced by something else?
- Explain whether you identify your “self” with your Mind-only or with a Mind/Body combination.
This is a discussion post – Initial post must be between 75 to 150 words, but may go longer depending on the topic.