Writing from Different Viewpoints: Ethics and the Future

Writing from Different Viewpoints: Ethics and the Future

Want to be able to debate like a pro? It starts with being able to fully explain different viewpoints, and that starts with truly digging in and understanding people who disagree with you.

In classical rhetoric, a tool to practice this incredibly important skill is the dissoi logoi. (Read more about by clicking here to see a link on ThoughtCo.). Basically, the dissoi logoi presents two (or more) sides of a specific issue from the voice of a single speaker, demonstrating with style and clarity how the perspectives inform one another. The writer — of course — likely has their own perspective on the topic, but the goal of the dissoi logoi is to not reveal their own viewpoint. It is to reveal that they understand viewpoints other than their own.

In this class, we will read a series of essays on the topic of the future contained in the book Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments. Then we will craft a dissoi logoi using one of those topics.

Upon enrollment, you will receive a form to fill out. This will allow access to our classroom (in Canvas).

Class Full

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Class Duration: August 31-October 25

Class Size: 3-8 learners

Age Range: 14+

Total Price: $180

Want to be able to debate like a pro? It starts with being able to fully explain different viewpoints, and that starts with truly digging in and understanding people who disagree with you.

In classical rhetoric, a tool to practice this incredibly important skill is the dissoi logoi. (Read more about by clicking here to see a link on ThoughtCo.). Basically, the dissoi logoi presents two (or more) sides of a specific issue from the voice of a single speaker, demonstrating with style and clarity how the perspectives inform one another. The writer — of course — likely has their own perspective on the topic, but the goal of the dissoi logoi is to not reveal their own viewpoint. It is to reveal that they understand viewpoints other than their own.

In this class, we will read a series of essays on the topic of the future contained in the book Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments. Then we will craft a dissoi logoi using one of those topics.

This class is a hybrid, which means there are some live meetings and some weeks in which learners work independently using materials posted online. Basically, we come together every few weeks to share progress.

The final class meeting will give learners an opportunity to present their dissoi logoi to the class. They can do so in whatever format works best for them. They could simply read it aloud. They could record audio of themselves reading it. They could create a video with a voice over. They could craft a written document (like a magazine-style article) and share that with the group.

This class is very feedback-heavy. Learners will receive individual guidance directly from the instructor throughout the class, building up to the final project through a series of smaller assignments with guidance along the way.

This is also a collaborative class. Students will begin the class by completing a collaborative rubric that helps them set their own goals. The instructor will use these student-created documents in giving feedback and guiding progress through assignments.

Upon enrollment, you will receive a form to fill out. This will allow access to our classroom (in Canvas).

We will meet live as a group on the following Mondays from 10-11am Central: August 31, September 21, October 19. There will also be some opportunities to meet individually with the instructor as needed.

Texts: A copy of Peter Catapano and Simon Critchley’s edited collection Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments (a used copy is fine; a library copy can be used, but the class is easier if learners can write in their books) (Please note: this instructor is planning several writing classes using this book, so it could be used for multiple classes). 

To interact in class: Live sessions will be best experienced with a camera and microphone. Class takes place on Canvas, so a stable internet connection is necessary. Many materials are in PDF form, so a PDF reader is needed. 

For assignments: Written work can be submitted through Microsoft Word or through Google Docs. If learners choose to create a multimodal final presentation, they can use whatever tools they’d like (for example PowerPoint, video editing software, etc.)

Usually 3-5 hours per week of work; length may vary based on reading/writing speed

Some writing skills (ability to craft 4-5 paragraphs on a single topic)

Some reading skills (ability to decode unfamiliar words through context, ability to make connections between ideas over multiple chapters, ability to take meaningful notes on a reading)

Development of rhetorical skills foundational to argument and debate

Ability to craft an essay with nuance

Practice taking perspectives different from one’s own

Note taking and using outside sources to craft papers

Revising writing over multiple drafts

Synthesizing ideas from multiple sources and mediums

The individual support is really the cornerstone of this class. While the basic assignment is the same for every learner (write a dissoi logoi using the essays we read from the book), what that looks like will be different for each person. The instructor will work closely with students to create their own goals and to give feedback and guidance that helps reach those individual goals. In this way, learners at different skill levels can all find challenge and success in the class.

Families and learners are welcome to share any information about their individual learning preferences and needs and instructor will make accommodations that are helpful to the class.

Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments is an edited collection of essays organized into a variety of topics. For this class, we will be reading the section titled “On the Future,” which includes the following essays:

-“Is Humanity Getting Better?” by Leif Wenar

-“Should This Be the Last Generation” by Peter Singer

-“What Do We Owe the Future?” Patricia I. Viera and Michael Marder

-“The Importance of the Afterlife, Seriously” by Samuel Scheffler

-“Accepting the Past, Facing the Future” by Todd May

The instructor may also point individual learners to supplemental resources or guide them through independent research to find other sources depending on their topics and interests.

This is a mature but professional book on ethics. Religion may be mentioned in some essays but will never be presented as fact. Learners will always be able to steer their individual work to less sensitive topics as desired.

See this teacher’s policies on things like refunds, missing class, and behavioral expectations. (Click here to see the policies.)

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