Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Philosophy poster for schools - free to teachers

If you are a teacher and would like an A2 poster that has "Why Study Philosophy?" on one side and "What is Philosophy?" on the other, written by myself and produced by Heythrop College University of London, do get in touch (assuming you have not had one sent to you already).

I would need your name and school postal address (and email, plus idea of what you teach would be useful). Here's some text from the "What is Philosophy?" side of the poster.

Three Philosophy Puzzles

Philosophy addresses some of the deepest and most fascinating and questions. Philosophers try to use their intelligence - their powers of reason - to find the answers, much like a detective does when trying to solve a crime.

Philosophers don’t always succeed in figuring out the answer. But sometimes they do. And often they can at least show out that certain answers are wrong.

Here are three famous philosophy puzzles for you to think about.

Could a machine think?

Suppose technologically advanced aliens build a machine that looks just like a human being. The machine looks, talks, walks and sounds just like one of us. It replicates human behaviour perfectly down to the last detail. We are completely taken in by their alien creation. But the truth is, what we are looking at is not another flesh and blood human, but a complex piece of alien technology.

Would such a machine have a mind? Would it really feel pain when we drop something on its toe and it says “Ow!”. Would it really enjoy the taste of an ice-cream when it took lick with its mechanical mouth?

Of course, being designed to act like a human, this machine behaves as if it has a mind. It even says it has a mind. But does it really have a mind? Or does it lack any real thoughts and feelings?

If you think this machine really has a mind, try to explain why.

If you think this machine merely simulates a mind, can you explain how you know that real thoughts and feelings are missing?

IMAGE 1: SOMEONE SAYING TO US “I’M A MACHINE THAT BEHAVES LIKE A HUMAN. I’M DESIGNED TO WALK, TALK LIKE A HUMAN. I EVEN BLEED FAKE BLOOD. I SAY I HAVE A MIND. BUT DO I? HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT YOU AREN’T A MACHINE LIKE ME? PERHAPS YOU ARE!

Should I eat meat?

We suppose it’s wrong to kill and eat humans. Many of us think it’s OK to kill and eat other sorts of creature, though, such as pigs and chickens.

But why is it wrong to kill and eat humans, but not wrong to kill and eat other animals?

Is it just because other animals aren’t as intelligent as us? If that were the right explanation, it would be OK to kill and eat very stupid humans. But surely that would be wrong?.

Is it just because animals are bred for the dinner table that it’s OK to kill and eat them? But then what if bred humans to be killed and eaten? Would it then be OK to kill and eat them?

If you think it is wrong to kill and eat humans, but OK to kill and eat pigs and chickens, can you explain why you are justified in treating humans so differently? Could our attitude to other species be just another form of prejudice, like racism or sexism? Are we guilty of speciesism?!

This is a very controversial issue in philosophy. What do you think?

IMAGE 2: CHILDREN BEING LED OFF TO BUILDING MARKED “ABATTOIR”. ONLOOKER SAYS TO FRIEND – “DON’T WORRY, THEY WERE BRED TO BE EATEN”.

How Can I Know This is All Real?

How do you know you’re not a disembodied brain floating in a vat, hooked up to a supercomputer that’s generating a virtual world for you? In thee film The Matrix, Neo discovers that his whole life had been lived inside such a virtual reality. How do you know that you aren’t also living inside a similar illusory world?

But if you don’t know that the world you seem to see around you is real, how can you know anything about the world outside your own mind? How can you know that you have two hands, for example? Maybe your hands are just part of the illusion? How can you know that the Earth goes round the Sun, or that Paris is the Capital of France, or that your parents really exist?

Perhaps you can’t. Of course we think we know these things, don’t we? But do we really? What do you think?

IMAGE 3: … BRAIN FLOATING IN GLASS VAT OF LIQUID HOOKED UP TO SUPERCOMPUTER MARKED “EARTH SIMULATOR”. IN PANEL IT SAYS “LOCATION: AIRPORT”. ONE ALIEN SAYS TO OTHER HANDING OVER MONEY) “OK YOU WIN, HE REALLY IS DUMB ENOUGH TO BELIEVE A JUMBO JET CAN FLY”.

22 comments:

Matthew Wills said...

I would love a poster. My name is Matthew Wills. I am the Head of Philosophy and Ethics at Hale School
Address
Hale School
Hale Rd
Wembley Downs
Perth
Western Australia 6019

my email address is ;
mpw@hale.wa.edu.au

Douglas Shaver said...

I can't put the poster to any good use, but I have a comment on the section about eating meat. Whenever I see this issue discussed, I notice the dig at "speciesism." Apparently, if we are committing speciesism, we are doing something morally wrong. However, I cannot recall ever seeing a logical demonstration that this is so.

Stephen Law said...

Hi Douglas

If unjustified discrimination is morally wrong, and speciesism is unjustified discrimination, then speciesism is morally wrong. You can deny the antecedent of course, but most of us sign up to it and indeed it has played a pivotal role in arguments for the wrongness of sexism and racism for example.

Stephen Law said...

Matthew - will see if we can send one to you....

Helen said...

Stephen: do you have an electronic version of the poster? I'll move house soon and have to consider carefully what to take and not to take, so if I could have it printed...

Stephen Law said...

will check Helen

shah said...

I need more articles and blogs please post soon.springfield attorneys

Paul P. Mealing said...

We are meat-eaters, as are many other species, so I don't think that's intrinsically immoral. However, I think if people had to kill their own meat they may have a different view of it. I have to admit I don't feel guilty about eating meat and could never be a vegetarian. I've lived on a farm where we did kill our own meat, but it was many years ago.

Regards, Paul.

Sam Redmond said...

If anyone if interested in discussing religion and atheism please check out my blog and post some comments!

http://reasonable-disbelief.blogspot.com/

townleystreet said...

I realize I might have left this a bit late, but I could certainly use a poster. I might not fit the target audience though - I'm in the English department at a university in Japan. Although the poster topics are exactly the type of thing for my writing classes, postage for an A2 poster to Japan might be prohibitive, particularly when I'm not in the philosophy department.

Anyway, if you would be able to spare one (or even an electronic version I can print out here) please let me know! I'd rather not post my postal address on the internet but I can be reached at:

townley.street@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

"Philosophy addresses some of the deepest and most fascinating and questions" -> "Philosophy addresses some of the deepest and most fascinating questions"

"much like a detective does " -> "much as a detective does"

Chris Cooney said...

Hi Stephen,
I took my 6th Form pupils to see you speak at Stoke 6th Form recently, they all very much enjoyed it!
Could I also request a couple of posters to display around school?

Thank You!

Chris Cooney
Head of RE and Philosophy
Brine Leas School,
Audlem Road,
Nantwich,
Cheshire
CW5 7DY.

christopher.cooney@brineleas.co.uk

Anonymous said...

I would love a poster, I am Head of Sixth form. Interested subjects Philosophy and Ethics and Sociology.
Mr S.Wakefield
Charles Dickens School
Broadstairs Road
Broadstairs
Kent
CT11 2RL
stuart_Wakefield@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

I know it's very late, but I would like a poster.

Religious Studies Department
Worksop College
S80 3AP

Jay Smajda said...

I am a high school US History teacher. I have just (two weeks ago) been assigned the Philosophy course at my school. I love Philosophy, but it has been a long while since it's been my focus. I would love a poster for my classroom and any other advice you have for teaching philosophy at the HS level.
Jason Smajda
Blue Valley North HS
12200 Lamar O.P. KS 66219
jsmajda@bluevalleyk12.org

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I would love a poster please. I teach R.E at a middle school in Windsor.

Address - R.E department, Trevelyan Middle School, Wood Close, Windsor, Berkshire. SL4

email - elisa.jones@outlook.com

Thanks,

Educator said...

Hi

My name is Noor Jehan and I'd love to have a poster. I teach Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at the Watford Grammar School for Boys.

Address: Watford Grammar School for Boys, Rickmansworth Road - Watford - WD18 7JF

email: jehann@watfordboys.org

Anonymous said...

Hi

I would love a poster! I teach Philosophy and Ethics at KS4 and 5 at Taverham High School in Norfolk

Camilla Skarin
Head of RE
Taverham High School
Beach Avenue
taverham
NR8 6HP

camillaskarin@hotmail.com

Many Thanks
Camilla

Stephen Law said...

posters on their way

Gemma Swain said...

Hi Stephen,

I would love a poster for classroom, I am hoping to start A level RS or philosophy at my school next year, so it would be a great hook.

Details: Gemma Greenwood, Sir Herbert Leon Academy, Fern Grove, Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, MK2 3HQ.

Thank you very much,

Gemma

simon said...

Hi,

Is it too late for a poster? We'd love one here.

Simon Drew
Philosophy and Religious Studies Department
Headington School
Oxford
OX3 7TD

We teach IB Philosophy and A Level Religious Studies.

Many thanks

Simon

Stephen Law said...

Will sort it Simon...