Sunday, September 27, 2015

Do you love your Children? Teach them Philosophy...

All too often, students and parents alike question the value and purpose of a philosophical education.  They think that philosophy is either too theoretical or impractical, and believe falsely that it does not provide people with realistic skills for the changing job market.

However, a report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities on Liberal Arts Majors and Employment explains that employers give hiring preferences to college graduates that are innovative, can think critically, have strong written and verbal communication skills, can solve complex problems, and have good ethical judgment.  Studying philosophy can offer you these skills, and more.

 For the full report, click [HERE].

Further, these critical thinking skills should be developed much earlier in life.  The recently released year long study by the Education Endowment Foundation found that children practicing philosophy saw an improvement in their reading, writing and math skills: (

Whether you're a teacher or a parent, you can begin teaching your children thinking strategies with Peter Worley's book "40 Lesson to Get Children Thinking"!  It's rich new resource with step-by-step lesson plans any teacher can implement straight away. Due for a October release, you can now pre-order a copy from Bloomsbury Publishing for 30% less than the RRP! Also available for pre-order through Amazon:

For more information on teaching philosophy to children, you can find a wide variety of resources, studies, articles, and advice from the Philosophy Foundation, both on Facebook and the Web.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fall Philosophy Lecture!

The Department of Philosophy, AU Philosophy Club, and phi sigma tau proudly sponsor the following presentation:

Understanding Knowing How

Dr. Evan Riley
Department of Philosophy
College of Wooster

Friday, September 25, 2015 at 3 pm
                   in the Ronk Lecture Hall (138), COE

In recent years, the philosopher Jason Stanley has been defending a doctrine of intellectualism about knowledge how. The basic thought is that knowing how to f is fundamentally knowing a proposition; it is as propositional as any other kind of knowledge that. This doctrine is of course contrary to Gilbert Ryle’s view (with which many still have sympathy) that there is a basic distinction of kind: knowing how to f (on the one hand) and knowing that p (on the other). Here, I consider an argument against Stanley’s intellectualism. The argument hinges on appeal to the nature of skilled performance, and comes in two stages. Stage one is an elementary objection, which I expect Stanley’s defender to answer by appeal to the concept of a practical mode of presentation (or practical way of thinking). In stage two, I submit this appeal to critical scrutiny and find it wanting. The lesson I draw is that knowing how to f should not be construed as the Stanley-style intellectualist would have it.

Evan Riley is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at The College of Wooster, where he teaches such subjects as ethical theory, logic, political philosophy, biomedical ethics, and the philosophy of mind. He is a generalist by temperament and was educated at the Universities of Louisville and of Pittsburgh. Evan has published on the self-defeating character of libertarianism and on the poverty of Amartya Sen’s criticisms of Rawls.

If you have a mind, you should attend!  Please join us for an enlightening discussion!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Platonic Forms and Sandwiches

Do you know what a sandwich is?  Really?  If so, then Socrates would like to have a word with you.

In the full article, Dr. M. Richey discusses her friend "Mike" and his constant fights about what objective qualities can be said to constitute a "sandwich". 

Click the link HERE and read the full article.  Meanwhile, enjoy the following dialogue:

Euthyphro and Socrates: The Sandwich

— Well, Socrates, I am happy to tell you what a sandwich is, as I have great knowledge of these things as you know.
— Thank you, Euthyphro, I will be glad to listen to you, for you are a learned man and I am just a poor beggar. So tell me, please, how can we know that which is a sandwich, apart from those things that are not sandwiches?
— Socrates, it could not be more simple. A sandwich is anything edible held in a container that is also edible.
— I see; that is very clear indeed. So this taco is a sandwich.
— No Socrates, that is a taco. A sandwich is something quite different, as you may quickly see by noting that they are called by different names.
— And yet, Euthyphro, here we have some soy ground beef—surely this is edible—and as you see, it is held in this container, which is a fried tortilla, and which I eat along with the material inside. Surely this is a sandwich!
— Well, Socrates, that is not quite right. I will try to be more clear: a sandwich is that which is edible, held in a container made of bread, surely.
— So then this hot dog, of course, is a sandwich. Thank you, Euthyphro!
— Well Socrates… a hot dog is something very like a sandwich, and yet it does not seem to me to be exactly a sandwich either, somehow. I see where you have misunderstood—let me clarify. A sandwich consists of some edible material, in between TWO pieces of bread, which must be separate from one another.
— I see; that is very clear indeed. So this pizza placed face down atop this other pizza, this is a sandwich.
— No, Socrates, I see that you do not understand at all. That is nothing like a sandwich.
— Now Euthyphro, how can this be? For truly here I see edible items—those are cheese, tomato sauce, and vegan pepperoni—and they are indeed to be found in between two pieces of bread—that is the pizza crust. How can this not be a sandwich, then?
— Well, Socrates, you have twisted my words around somehow. I did not mean ANY edible items in between ANY type of bread; I meant something rather more specific.
— Now Euthyphro, you are teasing a poor old man. You told me you would explain what a sandwich was, so that I might learn from your wisdom, yet now you seem to have told me nothing at all.
— Socrates, I will try to explain so that you might understand. A sandwich must be easily held in the hands, whereas two pizzas atop one another, as I’m sure you can see, are quite impossible to hold easily in the hands, as the whole is much too large and floppy.
— Ah, thank you Euthyphro, now I feel we are getting somewhere. Truly, now I think I understand. If a sandwich is something edible in between two pieces of bread, with the whole composed in such a way as to be easily held within the two hands, then obviously three pieces of bread, held together in the hands, is a sandwich.
— I do not see what you mean, Socrates. Surely a stack of pieces of bread is simply a loaf of bread, as any man knows.
— Now Euthyphro, you seem to be teasing me again, for look, here is a piece of edible bread, placed in between two other pieces of bread, the whole of which, you must agree, I hold quite easily in my hands, withered and shaking though they may be.
— Well Socrates, it is true, now that I think on it, that these three pieces of bread do in fact ascribe to my earlier definition. And yet, anyone could tell you that this is not a sandwich.
— Then Euthyphro I think you must start over, if you are ever to help me understand. Come now, don’t keep an old man waiting. Surely one as learned as you should easily be able to explain what a sandwich is to a poor old fool such as myself. Please begin again, and this time try to be more clear.
— Socrates I really must go, I will be late for my appointment.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Theory of Jerkdom

Are you a jerk?  Would you even know it if you were?

Picture the world through the eyes of the jerk. The line of people in the post office is a mass of unimportant fools; it’s a felt injustice that you must wait while they bumble with their requests. The flight attendant is not a potentially interesting person with her own cares and struggles but instead the most available face of a corporation that stupidly insists you shut your phone. Custodians and secretaries are lazy complainers who rightly get the scut work. The person who disagrees with you at the staff meeting is an idiot to be shot down. Entering a subway is an exercise in nudging past the dumb schmoes. 

We need a theory of jerks.

Surprisingly enough, philosophers have thought about this.  Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of philosophy at University of California, Riverside, has a theory, and is willing to tell us about it.

Read the full article HERE.