My teaching

As of 2015, I have taught 50+ philosophy courses over the past 8 years at several different higher education institutions.
I love teaching, I love philosophy, and I love my job... Here are some of my general ideas and approaches.

If you are also a teacher/philosopher in higher education and you want to read my teaching
narrative plus other additional details about my professional development and accomplishments, please click here.

Ideas that inform my teaching

-Everyone has something to gain from studying philosophy
-Most people have misconceptions about what academic philosophy is
-There are many real-life applications and benefits of being a good critical thinker
-Society benefits when individuals think critically and have open minds
-We have many irrational tendencies to overcome
-We have an obligation to be well-informed individuals
-I should constantly strive to improve the way I teach
-Students are impressive and inspiring and it is a privilege to teach them

Reasoning & Argumentation
 
RA 101 is the course I teach the most- by far.  One of the best things about RA 101 is that there are students from many backgrounds- most who are first-time philosophy students and most who are non-philosophy majors.  I truly enjoy introducing them to what philosophy has to offer.  Here is the course description that you will likely see on my RA 101 syllabus…

 What is worth arguing for and how exactly do you argue for it? This course will explore this question and more about the nature of reasoning and argumentation.  We will cover the basics of how to analyze, evaluate, and construct arguments so that you can develop the philosophical skill of thinking critically.  Some of the specific things we will learn include- structures of arguments, different types of arguments, fallacies, and formal logic. We will use as many practical activities as possible so that you can see how the things we learn are relevant to making rationally supported decisions in your daily life. Along the way, you may discover some issues that you are passionate about… and the goal of this course is for you to be equipped to effectively defend what you want to argue for.
 
One of my favorite RA 101 textbooks is How to Think Logically but in recent years I have been experimenting with other textbooks (such as Intellectual Empathy which you can read about here). I am obsessed with documentary films and over the years I have increasingly utilized documentaries as a part of my course schedule.  Documentaries are an interesting starting point for various contemporary issues. We analyze the arguments being made, think through counterarguments, and construct our own positions on the topics. I am also very interested in helping students counteract the various tendencies we have for being irrational. At the very least, I hope my students are able to recognize both the internal and external limitations we face and as well as many strategies that we can use to fight against these limitations. At the very most, I hope my students will be inspired to actively pursue an issue that they are passionate about and be willing to fight for it with reason.
 
My final thought to anyone who ever took my RA 101 course is this... keep analyzing arguments- accept the good ones and reject the bad ones!


Introduction to Philosophy

We’ll almost certainly read my favorite introductory philosophy book which is Ultimate Questions: Thinking About Philosophy.  We will identify the major leading positions and theories on several of the biggest philosophical questions of all time- literally.  At the end of the day (and the course), it is up to you to decide which answers you will accept and which you will reject.  Perhaps you will contemplate some answer that has not yet been discovered…

Ethics

Ethics is probably the most rewarding course I have taught.  It can be fun, it can be thought-provoking, it can be engaging, it can be sad, it can be difficult, it can be enriching, and it can be surprising. We’ll first gain an understanding of some major theories of morality.  After that, we’ll explore some contemporary issues (such as famine relief, animal rights, environment, business, etc.) and work on applying the theories of morality to the modern and complex dilemmas within these issues.

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Business Ethics/Business & Society

Oftentimes, business ethics is not given as much attention as other areas of applied ethics.  In my opinion, it has a far-reaching (though sometimes obscure) scope and should be taught universally and with philosophical rigor.  We will first gain an understanding of some major theories of morality and then we will examine many case studies that highlight everything from “typical” business decision-making to extraordinary headline scandals to everyday workplace dilemmas.  We will also consider some concepts distinctive to business ethics (such as group morality, monetary value, etc.) and a lot of time will be spent on the debate over whether businesses should operate socially responsible.

SIUE Student Academic Code

SIUE students should know their rights and responsibilities.  For more information, you can read the code here.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by SIUE.