Questions: Philosophy for Young People

Volume 12, Summer 2012

Tim Fisher
Pages 12-14

Cogito ergo sum rectam (I think therefore I am right)
A Student Misconception about Philosophy

Tim Fisher examines a troubling misconception about philosophy that he noticed his high school students possessed: that when it comes to philosophy, you can never be wrong. He expected incoming philosophy students to hold this belief, but was surprised to learn that even after completing his course, students still held the belief that philosophy had no wrong answers—that all views are equally reasonable. Fisher began to wonder where he went wrong. To rectify this misconception, Fisher details an exercise that he developed for second graders that forces students to justify their beliefs and teaches them to examine why one claim is more or less reasonable than another; the exercise is equally appropriate for high school students. The key to this exercise is to teach students to detach personal opinions from their reasoning.