Week 3 Discussion – What Would Convince You

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What Would Convince You?

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.

The way 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
becomes over-heated.

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:

  1. There
    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.
  2. Avoid
    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 . . . ?”)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


  1. Whether
    or not you believe in God, what are the characteristics that God has
    (or that God would need to have) in order to be considered “God”? For
    example, would God have to be all-knowing and/or benevolent and so
    forth? Explain why these features are necessary for God to be considered
  2. If you don’t believe in God, what would convince you that
    God does exist? If you do believe in God, what would convince you that
    God does not exist?
  3. Explain your answer to this continued conundrum: Assuming God is all-powerful, can God create a rock too heavy for God to lift?

Initial post must be between 75 to 150 words, but may go longer depending on the topic. Please cite any outside sources.

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