Assignment 3: Socratic Dialogue
For this assignment you will create a Socratic dialogue. The dialogue will be completed in two parts. The first part will be 1–2 pages of notes to help you generate the arguments and analysis that will become a part of your dialogue in Part II.
- Identify a belief. This can be a religious belief, an ethical belief, political belief, or any other one about which reasonable minds can disagree. Beliefs that are held by the vast majority of people (such as a widely accepted scientific fact) are not good choices for this assignment). A good topic will have reasonable evidence and reasoning supporting both sides.
- Consider other points of view, or counter-arguments. Think about what you find persuasive about these counter-arguments, as well as how you might argue against them. Try to keep an open mind. Remember, we are engaging in philosophical dialogue, not trying to win an argument.
- Examine the multiple points-of-view and weigh the evidence. Identify any unsupported assumptions or holes in the argument.
- Consider the consequences of the beliefs presented. Philosophical thinking is an ongoing process, so it is important to identify questions for further thinking and to wonder about factors and circumstances that might change your view about a particular question.
Using the analysis from Part I, write a 2-page dialogue between Socrates and a person of your choosing (i.e., the Interlocutor) that examines the belief.
- Have the Interlocutor present the belief and reasons you identified in step 1 of Part I.
- Have Socrates pose questions that encourage the Interlocutor to consider other points-of-view as well as any problems with their argument, drawing upon the multiple points-of-view you identified in steps 2 and 3 of Part I, as well as the potential consequences of a given position as identified in step 4 of Part I.
- Make sure your dialogue arrives at a conclusion. Keep in mind that it may be different from the belief or point of view you started with, and could be somewhat open-ended. As you searched for reasons that support your belief or point of view, you may have also come across reasons that challenge your beliefs. Don’t hide from these challenges. Remember, philosophy requires us to examine and even question our beliefs. If you find yourself more persuaded by the other points of view, don’t despair! Unlike a formal debate, the kinds of arguments we make while engaging in philosophical thinking are open to revision.