Ad Misericordiam and Machine Gun Preacher

ImageOne of my favorite elements of teaching Logic is finding good and bad reasoning out “in the wild” as I like to say. Looking at argument forms or fallacies in the classroom is not unlike looking at pathogens or organisms in a lab. Finding them in their native environment is, for academics like me, something of a thrill. I just finished teaching a module on common logical fallacies (argumentation that contains characteristic errors) and, as usual, found myself staring at the real thing. The fallacy is Argumentum ad Misericordiam – the appeal to pity.

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Gamification and the Classroom

I’m just old enough to remember video gaming in its infancy, and just young enough not to be mired in nostalgia for the good old days. I still play the new stuff (and some of it is quite good). There is a special kind of fun discovering a hidden level, beating the final boss, and watching a digital protagonist “level up.” It’s so fun, there is now a cottage industry focused on using the unique rewards and punishments employed in the game world to solve real world problems. Reworking an activity as a game is now called “gamification.”

As a professional educator, I am always looking for a new edge for my classes. Next semester, I’m gamifying my Logic class.

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The Epictetus Wake-up Call

Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher, is valuable reading for anyone trying to understand the meaning of life and our place in it. Whether you agree with him or not, his writing is clear and elegant, and his ideas are challenging and insightful. I had the great honor of being able to teach his book this semester and when I read through it this time, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before. Tucked away at the end of his Enchiridion, his own summary of his philosophy, is this gem:

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