Category Archives: Socratic Dialogues

Punishment

A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

 

Background

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Socrates is walking through the streets of Western Heights, a small town in the country of New Zealand. Feeling rather hungry, he decides to visit a café for food and coffee. As he is about to enter, he bumps into his old friend Greg, the owner of the café.

Persons of the dialog

Socrates
Greg

 

Socrates: It is good to see you Greg. It has been too long, my friend.

Greg: Two years I think.

Socrates: I remember last time we talked, you told me about your interest in opening your own café. Did you go ahead with this?

Greg: Yes indeed. This is my place. I have been running this café for nearly a year. It’s been hard work, but I think I’m now on top of things.

Socrates: I hear there are long hours involved in running cafés and other such businesses.

Greg: It is a seven-day a week job.

Socrates: If that is the case, it is no surprise that you say it is hard work. You surely deserve to take some time off. Do you employ staff?

Greg: Yes, I have a few part-time employees.

Socrates: Well, perhaps they can take care of business while you have a day off. You can turn a seven-day a week job into a six-day a week job.

Greg: I wish I could, but I can’t rely on the staff. I have had a bad run with employees. On more than one occasion I have caught them stealing from me.

Socrates: I am sorry to hear that, my friend. To suffer an injustice can be a troubling experience. May I ask, what was your response?

Greg: I sacked them. I was very angry. The legal system didn’t give them nearly the punishment they deserved. People get off lightly these days.

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Philosophy in Schools

A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

Click here to download the PDF for reading in a page-by-page format

 

Background

Over recent years there has been a growing movement pushing for the inclusion of Philosophy in schools.[1]

As a subject, Philosophy is broad. It can be separated into many sub-disciplines such as Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mind, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science, to name a few. These sub-disciplines reduce back to three broad pillars of Philosophy: Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Axiology.

Regardless of where one’s philosophical interest sits, the essential skill set remains the same. This is the ability to reason. Philosophers produce rationally convincing arguments and critically assess the arguments of others.

In this fictional dialogue Socrates meets with Allison Fells, the Principal of Western Heights School, to discuss the inclusion of Philosophy in the school curriculum. Socrates has been running a successful Philosophy club at school and believes that students would benefit through the extension of the club into the regular school curriculum. Socrates argues that Philosophy equips students with the skill set needed to live the good life.

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On Education

A short Socratic dialog
By BRENT SILBY

Background

Socrates has been invited to run a philosophy discussion group at Western Heights school. The discussion group is part of a social sciences class. During the discussion a student interrupts to question its importance, given that it does not contribute to course assessment.
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Rebecca Goldstein vs Steven Pinker

A Socratic Dialogue

In this Socratic Dialogue, Rebecca Goldstein persuades Steven Pinker that reason is the driver of moral progress.

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Computers in the Classroom

A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

(It can be a challenge to read long articles online. Here is a link to the PDF version, which is in a page-by-page format)


Background

Socrates is visiting Western Heights School with a view to setting up a philosophy club. Western Heights School incorporates intermediate and secondary level students. Students are aged 11 to 18 years. The school’s Principal, Allison Fells, is open to the idea of a philosophy club and is meeting with Socrates to discuss his proposal.

The school’s receptionist has delivered Socrates to the Principal’s office.
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The Atheist and the Agnostic

A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

Background
Walking through a small green space near the center of Western Heights town, Socrates comes across Paul, who is taking his lunch break in the sun, reading an article by the atheist writer Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens strongly argues that religion is the root cause of many of the world’s problems. In his writings and live debates, Hitchens argues that belief in God is irrational. Paul agrees with Hitchens and tries to convince Socrates that because God doesn’t exist, believing in him is crazy. Through the following dialogue, Paul finds that agnosticism is a more rational position than hard atheism.
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Opinion or Truth

A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

Background
Through this dialogue we see the problem that arises when we take a relativist stance to truth. Many people have taken a liking to relativism; perhaps because it seems so wonderfully democratic. However, the further one goes down the relativist road, the more difficult it becomes to answer fairly straightforward questions. It is almost as if the relativist tries to use logic to argue that logic doesn’t work.
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Moral Relativism

A Socratic Dialogue

By BRENT SILBY

Background

As he walks through the theater district in Western Heights town, Socrates comes across John leaving a movie theater. Through a series of questions, Socrates reveals the problem with moral relativism. This dialogue serves as an introduction to moral relativism.

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Sugar and Hyperactivity in Children

A Modern Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY
2014

Background
In this hypothetical dialogue, Socrates has targeted a parent’s belief that sugar makes children hyperactive. Through the discussion, the parent comes to understand that correlation does not entail causation.

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