What to expect



The classic Socratic form as adapted from Peter Kreeft’s “Socratic Logic”:

  • 1. Defining the question and ambiguous terms.
  • 2. Questioning rather than giving one’s opinion.
  • 3. Examining beliefs for false premises and logical fallacies.
  • 4. Tracing premises back toward more foundational worldviews.
  • 5. Drawing out consequences of the beliefs


  • What do you believe about this issue?
  • How did you come to your position?
  • What are the best arguments against your position?
  • What broader philosophical questions support your position?
  • What are the personal and societal implications of your view?

EXPECTATIONS for all participants: Excerpt from “How To Have Productive Philosophical Conversations ,” by Scott Hughes (http://onlinephilosophyclub.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=289)

  •  Listen – Listen as well as you can to the other people in the discussion. Ironically, if you talk too much, you will have a lot of trouble expressing yourself. If you listen well, you can express yourself better because you can tailor your response to what the person has already said. Additionally, if you listen to others intently, they will likely return the favor.
  •  Ask Questions – The Socratic Method can come in great use in discussions of philosophy. Asking questions will help you better understand the other speakers, and it will cause them to express their contentions more clearly to you. That will greatly reduce misunderstandings. Additionally, asking questions makes you seem genuinely interested in the other person’s ideas.
  •  Speak Clearly – Many people instead try to show off or make their ideas seem stronger by using more complex language. However, you will have most productive conversation by having the least misunderstandings, which you can do by expressing yourself as clearly as possible. Using concise, simple, and specific phrasing will usually help you express yourself clearly.
  •  Speak Nicely and Politely – If the conversation turns into a contest, or if any of the speakers feel angry or offended, it will greatly reduce the philosophical productivity of the discussion. The other person will listen to you more if they feel more comfortable and respected.  Speak as nicely, respectfully, and politely as you can. Avoid insults, name-calling, or offensiveness as much as possible. Also, especially if you disagree, try thanking the other person for discussing the topic with you.