Tools for Philosophy Teachers: A Logic Inventory

So you’ve started your philosophy course with high hopes of getting your students to analyze the intricacies of Aristotle’s potency and act, Aquinas’ being and essence, and Kant’s Critique of something or other. And already you find your expectations stumped by the fact that your students–fresh from high school–are having trouble figuring the difference between a definition and an example!

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.

This activity [Download!] can come in very handy at the beginning of a course that will be heavy in the use of various basic conceptual operations. Through it, students get to exercise the following:

  • Definitions (etymological, semantic, explanatory and classical, i.e., genus + specific difference)
  • Describing
  • Characterizing
  • Enumerating properties
  • Exemplifying
  • Formulating
  • Stating vs. Explaining
  • Paraphrasing
Each of these operations is given a brief explanation, after which students are asked to define/characterize, etc. such words as “whisky,” “to run” and “New Yorker.” (Feel free to modify it to your taste).
Recommended use: 
Use it in one of your first classes, and ask students to work in groups first. This will get them talking to each other. Then share with the class. This will get them talking to you!
The document is in old Word format, 5 pages long. It works better if each student has their own copy. 
You can find it here.  [Document will open in a new window.]
Enjoy!
Alf the Red