Education Archives



January 15, 2011

Validly Affirming the Consequent

I'm grading some logic exercises from an intro class today. The students were supposed to give examples of valid and invalid arguments, with true and false premises and conclusions, and so forth. One student turned in the following fantastic example (I have edited it to remove some ambiguities):
(P1) If P1, then C
(P2) C
:. (C) P1
The student, understandably, thought the argument was invalid, since it has the form of affirming the consequent. However, due to the self-reference, the argument is valid. The student just wrote 'the premise' and 'the conclusion', so I'm not sure if this is the intended interpretation, but still pretty clever.
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March 29, 2009

Moving to USC

Today I accepted an offer of admission (with funding) from the University of Southern California School of Philosophy. As those who have been following this blog for a while know, USC was one of my top choices last year. I was encouraged to reapply by one of the professors there after very nearly making the cut last year. In addition to being very strong in my areas of interest and having an excellent placement record, USC will massively decrease my commute, offered me better funding, and will mean no longer depending on the unpredictable California state budget. All of these are good...
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February 17, 2009

On Christian Higher Education

There is an argument raging on Leiter Reports about the APA's non-discrimination statement and the policies of certain Christian colleges and universities. Wheaton College, Azusa Pacific University, Belmont University, Calvin College, Malone College, and Pepperdine University are listed as institutions that allegedly violate the APA's non-discrimination statements with their policies about homosexuality. A pair of posts on The Prosblogion offer some helpful reflections. What I want to try to do here is analyze in light of this issue the question of what Christian higher education ought to look like. To start with, let me distinguish three types of goals...
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November 11, 2008

Does Philosophy 'Trickle Down'?

One of the interesting things about George Berkeley as a historical figure is that he labors under the peculiar belief that he is writing philosophy out of pastoral concerns. I like to illustrate Berkeley's purposes by reference to the subtitles he gave to his works. The Treatise on the Principles of Human Knowledge is subtitled, "wherein the Chief Causes of Error and Difficulty in the Sciences, with the Grounds of Scepticism, Atheism, and Irreligion, are inquired into." Berkeley thinks he has discovered two philosophical doctrines which are indeed "the Chief Causes of Error and Difficulty in the Sciences" and also "the Grounds of Scepticism, Atheism, and Irreligion." These are the epistemic/linguistic doctrine of abstraction, and the metaphysical doctrine of corporeal substance...
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May 3, 2008

Quote of the Day: Plato on Knowing that You Don't Know

THEAETETUS: Well, do you see what we're looking for?
VISITOR: I think I see a large, difficult type of ignorance marked off from the others and overshadowing all of them.
THEAETETUS: What's it like?
VISITOR: Not knowing, but thinking that you know. That's what probably causes all the mistakes we make when we think.
THEAETETUS: That's true.
VISITOR: And furthermore it's the only kind of ignorance that's called lack of learning.
THEAETETUS: Certainly.
VISITOR: Well then, what should we call the part of teaching that gets rid of it?
THEAETETUS: The other part consists in the teaching of crafts, I think, but here in Athens we call this one education...
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April 18, 2008

Reflections on the Philosophy Graduate Admissions Process

Well, I'm glad that's over. On Wednesday, I accepted an offer of almost full funding from the UC Irvine philosophy department. By "almost" I mean that I was waitlisted for funding and the spot I got was actually a California resident spot, so what would have been my stipend is being used to pay for the out of state tuition. This only affects the first year, since it only takes a year to establish residency in California. When I was applying and waiting anxiously and so forth, I wasn't able to find many resources online that were helpful, so I thought that I would post what I have learned...
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January 7, 2008

Hyper-Reformation Theology

I am increasingly of the belief that one of the biggest problems - and the root of many other problems - with contemporary Evangelicalism is what I call "hyper-Reformation theology." I don't mean hyper-Calvinism. I use the term "Reformation theology" to refer to five points which are far more fundamental to the Reformation that the points of Calvinism: namely, the five solas. By the term "hyper-Reformation theology," I mean a collection of exaggerated caricatures of these essential doctrines which are currently popular among Evangelicals. The most visible of these is "hyper-sola scriptura", which I have discussed before...
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December 3, 2007

Cincinnatus for President!

An op-ed in today's New York Times bemoans the fact that none of the leading presidential candidates read Latin. (Well, Giuliani apparently studied it briefly in his Catholic high school.) In all of US history, there have only been 9 presidents who have not studied Latin. Apparently James Garfield even taught both Greek and Latin at the college level before becoming president. Even George W. Bush has a moderately extensive background in Latin. This marks a shift not only in our education system, but in our political system: whereas it was once the case that many (at the beginning of US history, all) of our politicians...
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May 17, 2006

How to be a Christian Philosophy Professor

Douglas Groothuis, a philosophy professor at Denver Seminary has some interesting thoughts on Christianity, philosophy, and education in his article A Christian Philosophy of Education on his blog, The Constructive Curmudgeon. An excerpt: the necessary and sufficient conditions for being a philosopher are a strong and lived-out inclination to pursue truth about philosophical matters through the rigorous use of human reasoning, and the ability to do so with some intellectual facility. By �philosophical matters� I mean the enduring questions of life�s meaning, purpose, and value as they relate to all the major divisions of philosophy (primarily ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics)....
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March 3, 2006

John Stossel on Education and the Free Market

Syndicated columnist and ABC news reported John Stossel has an editorial at TownHall.com (HT: WorldMagBlog) on the benefits of introducting free market competition to the primary/secondary education system through a voucher-type system. Most of the points he makes are obvious - as economists say, idealized free markets lead to Pareto-optimal states, and competition brings a system that much closer to the idealized free market - but the article is nevertheless worth a read. In short, under the competitive system "Bad schools will close and better schools will open. And the better schools won't all be the same." Stossel points out...
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January 20, 2006

On Public Education

In the comments to this post on recent attempts to insert intelligent design into public high schools as philosophy, Ed Darrell and I have been having a discussion about more general questions of public education. I thought it would be a good idea to write a piece about my general view of this subject here, since the discussion is looking like its about to get quite long and detailed. As I see it, there are two issues here: the government's use of tax money to fund education, and the government's exercise of power over how education is done. Furthermore, there...
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January 13, 2006

Can High School Students Handle Philosophy?

Brian Leiter, a philosophy professor at the University of Texas Austin, points to an LA Times article about a lawsuit against a California public school district over an attempt to introduce an elective course entitled "philosophy of design." The suit charges that the course is about promoting a particular religion, rather than looking at the issue in the sort of balanced way a permissible "comparative relgion" course would. Now, if the charge is true and the course teaches only one viewpoint and seeks to convince students of that viewpoint, then it is a bad philosophy class (the constitutional issue is,...
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