This paper examines how slippery slope arguments are used, and misused, in many public policy debates -- especially in the area of bioethics. I divide the various kinds of slippery slope arguments into the following categories: 1) the logical form vs the conceptual form, and 2) the theoretical context vs the practical context. While all these various types of slippery slope arguments are found wanting, I nonetheless find a valuable role for slippery slope arguments in public debate. In that they (...) give expression to certain of our moral emotions, slippery slope arguments should not be dismissed out of hand by philosophers. (shrink)
In order the combat the growing apathy, cynicism, and indifference observed among students, the author developed a course designed to make the study of philosophy relevant, applicable, and personal for students. This paper is a detailed exposition of the structure and content of this course. Build around the theme “Exploring Moral Character,” this course focuses on the role of moral character in ethical decision making and the nature of students’ own moral character. The course is divided into four units. Designed (...) as a voyage of personal discovery for students, each unit concludes with a non-traditional writing assignment (the moral reasoning unit, for example, concludes with students writing letters to the Admiralty as witnesses to the conviction and sentencing of Billy Budd). The author discusses why the course structure and paper assignments facilitate students’ ability to make explicit and to reflect on their own moral values. Appended to the article is a list of the course’s non-traditional paper assignments. (shrink)
How should we react to philosophical skepticism? Whitman answers this question by examining analytic and post-analytic responses to the problem. He tests analytic theories of knowledge and the post-analytic responses of Donald Davidson and Richard Rorty against skeptical arguments. Whitman concludes that embracing a theoretical version of philosophical skepticism has advantages over post-analytic responses—both in the realm of philosophical inquiry and in everyday life.
Drawing upon almost twenty years of teaching philosophy as a physically disabled person in a wheelchair, I explore the “learning moments” afforded to me in the classroom as a disabled teacher. Focusing primarily on the teaching of ethics, and how my experience and the experiences of other disabled students in a class can enhance the education of everybody, I attempt to demonstrate to other philosophy teachers that disability in the classroom can and should be viewed not as a burden but (...) more as an opportunity for teaching enrichment. (shrink)