Dialectic: Thinking by weighing alternative views by proposing reasons pro and con. The verdict or judgment or conclusion depends on the weight of the evidence.

Some types of possible evidence (1, 2, and 4 have the greatest weight):

(1) Fact(s) derived from experience of particular cases. (induction -- basing conclusion on repetition of similar experiences).
(2) Other views (tested, examined, and solid) that one already holds that are consistent with the opinion being examined. (deduction -- basing conclusion on agreed upon general principles).
(3) Statements by experts or authorities (be careful of this one).
(4) Favorable consequences that result from believing the opinion at issue; in other words, so believing enhances and improves thought and/or action.
(5) Emotional need to believe (be careful here).
(6) Consensus: the majority hold the same opinion (be careful).


(1) State opinion.
(2) State alternative.
(3) List supporting evidence for each side.
(4) Evaluate quantity and quality of evidence.
(5) Conclude (choose one of the alternatives).

Debate the following opinions in a dialectical way, by following the procedure above. Produce as much evidence pro and con as you can. Even if you do not agree with the opinion or its alternatives, try for the sake of argument to come up with possible reasons for so believing.

1. We cannot help the way we are; we are products of our environment.
(Possible alternative: We are free beings; we possess free will.)

2. The unexamined life is not worth living.

3. Morality is subjective; right and wrong depend on one's point of view.

4. Conflict is necessary for life.

5. Hell is other people. (Sartre)

6. No person is an island.

7. Self-deception is necessary for life.

8. Time heals all.

9. No wars are just.

Some More Opinions

1. Human beings are born selfish.

2. Human beings are determined by genetic and environmental conditions.

3. The purpose of human life is to seek pleasure and to avoid pain.

4. The purpose of human life is to obtain fame and fortune.

5. The world was created by God.

6. God exists.

7. What is good for big corporations is good for the country.

8. What is good for the individual is the same as what is good for society.

9. Capitalism means the same as democracy.

10. Whatever a person believes is right is right.

11. A statement is true if the majority of people believe it is true.

12. Studying Philosophy is a waste of time.

13. Philosophy is necessary for life.

14. If you work hard, you will succeed.

15. Everything comes out all right in the end.

16. All human beings are equal.

17. We must accept things as they are.

18. The unexamined life is not worth living.

19. Human beings continue to exist after they die.

20. Killing poeple is always wrong.

21. It is wrong to torture animals.

22. Human beings evolved from apes.