Nature vs. Nurture These Discussion Forums are an opportunity for us to be “doing”philosophy. The first time an individual tries to argue about issues heor she has rarely or never before discussed, the result may be awkward,clumsy, and frustrating. That is OK. Often we think that we donot have a particular view on a subject, but once we state our positionand begin to discuss it, we realize that we have a very definite view.But, we still may not have good reasons for believing it. The wayto explore your views and make them genuinely your own is by workingwith your views through reflection, stating them, publicly defendingthem, and committing yourself to them. That is the point behind philosophical discussions in general; they to teach us how to think about, articulate, and argue for the things we have come to believe in,to clarify and perhaps revise our views, and to present them in a clear and convincing manner to other people.Veryoften, therefore, philosophy proceeds through disagreement, as when twophilosophers or philosophy students argue with one another. But, politedifferences of opinion are a good thing in the Discussion Forums. Thekey, however, is using politeness to cool down a discussion before itbecomes over-heated. Someone else may offer an argument whichcauses you to rethink your position and possibly even change your mind.Or, you may find that you have better reasons for being committed toyour view than you originally thought and can share your new evidencewith classmates who still are not sure about their own positions. As we are ”doing” philosophy here in the Discussion Forums, the practical aspect is that we will learn more about ourselves and what we believe. Some important rules to follow: Therewill be no Ad hominems (attacks against the person); not following thisrule may result in failure of the assignment. You can disagree with aperson’s opinions, but you may not attack other people. You may,however, disagree with the ideas of others, but do so in a constructivemanner. For example, you can say, ‘I don’t agree with your post. I thinkinstead that . . . ‘ But, you cannot say, “You’re an idiot” or even“That’s just plain stupid.” Academia requires a diversity of opinionsbut presented politely; after all, ethics is part of Philosophy.Avoidmaking statements meant to be absolute (such as, ‘There is no other wayto think about this’). Instead of asking closed-ended questions lookingfor a “yes” or “no” or the “right” answer, ask open-ended questions(such as, “Have you thought about . . . ?”)Try to connect thecurrent discussion to topics from other lessons. Remember that all ofthe Philosophers wrote about more than a single topic and the way theythink about one area of Philosophy probably affects other areas as well.For example, it might be extremely useful to mention John Stuart Mill’sethical theories from an earlier lesson during a later discussion ofhis support for women’s rights and equality.Rather than simplyreacting to the readings and the responses of your classmates, thinkabout the arguments being made. Really consider the effectiveness ofthese arguments. “I agree” responses are not useful to the discussionand will not receive credit.Give some seriousconsideration to the topic or scenario before answering; and, then,using the questions below as a guide, write a 75-100 word initialresponse about the issue being discussed. Next, please take the time torespond to at least two of your classmates. Respond Whichaspects of your self (or self-identity) do you attribute directly toyour upbringing in a particular family, in a particular society, or in aparticular neighborhood, city, or other environment?Which do you attribute to “nature” (that is, to instincts and inherited characteristics)?Whichaspects of your self (if any) would you say are entirely your own,independent of other people and your biological nature? How do you knowthey were not influenced by something else?Explain whether you identify your “self” with your Mind-only or with a Mind/Body combination.This is a discussion post – Initial post must be between 75 to 150 words, but may go longer depending on the topic.
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