What Happens During Office Hours?

What Happens Before a Session

When you schedule office hours, there is a text box to say what topic you would like help clarifying and developing an argument for. Perhaps you want to discuss concepts like:

  • Equality
  • Morality
  • Justice

Or perhaps you have a specific claim you want to discuss, such as:

  • Should I be a vegetarian?
  • Should marijuana be legalized?
  • What does a just immigration policy look like?

If you also have an argument regarding that topic, e-mail that to us as well. The more information you provide about the topic and any potential arguments will make your office hours visit that much more productive.

What Happens During a Session

Thinking About Concepts and Claims

Our session will start by taking your topic and trying to clarify the concepts involved:

  • If you come in with a concept you want to discuss, we’ll work together to come up with examples for which the concept applies and examples in which this doesn’t. This gives us a concrete starting point to work from.
  • Once that is done, we can work to develop principles which correctly say which examples the concept does and doesn’t apply to.
  • With some principles in mind, we can start hunting for counter examples. We’ll look for new situations in which we think the concept applies but which the principles discussed don’t cover.
  • Once you’re confident with a set of principles for your concept, we can start to formulate more specific claims with that concept. If your concept is justice, we can help you develop claims as to whether specific societies, policies, or actions are just.
  • If you come to office hours with a claim already in mind, we will make sure to distinguish your claim from similar claims. If you think some action is impermissible, for example, we will want to distinguish the claim that it is immoral from the claim that it should be illegal. This will help us when it comes to developing arguments.

Thinking About Arguments

  • Don’t yet have an argument for your claim? No problem! We can help you come up with ideas to back it up. Perhaps you just have a vague sense of an argument, we can help you turn in it to a full fledged one.
  • Whether you come to office hours with an argument or we develop one during the session, we will translate it into logical notation so we can determine if it is valid.
  • Then we will look at the premises and try to see if they are true and what evidence can be used to back them up.
  • The next step Is that your TA will come up with counter examples; situations in which all your premises are true but the conclusion is false. With these counter examples in mind, we can help you think through the best way to go about diffusing them.

What Happens After a Session

  • Based on the information you sent to us before your session, your TA will have further reading prepared so you can do more work on your own to further develop your ideas.
  • The session itself will help your TA determine which research is most relevant to your argument as developed in the session

If you have any questions about this process, please don’t hesitate to contact us!