Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Revised Conversion Collaborative Activity

Description of Activity: The concept 'natural' and its close relative 'unnatural' appear in many arguments for and against the use of various foods, health supplements, technological interventions, agricultural methods, and medical interventions. Hence, an important skill for both the bioethicist and the environmental ethicist is to be able to discern when being 'unnatural' or 'natural' is morally significant. The purpose of this activity is to get you (my medical ethics and environmental ethics students) to understand the nuances of meaning that are associated with the words 'natural' and 'unnatural' so that you can discern the conditions under which the fact that an object or process is unnatural has moral significance. This will help you distinguish legitimate arguments from mere rhetoric that appeals to the secondary connotations that these concepts have.

Step 1: Students in each class will be divided into groups in order to generate a list of sentences and/or phrases that contain the words 'natural', 'unnatural', or close relatives such as 'artificial'.

Step 2: Students in these groups will then analyze each example that the group has come up with in order to discern the meaning of these words on each occasion of use. This will be followed by a class discussion of these issues.

Step 3. For homework, students will then find examples of the use of these terms online in articles, speeches, and advertising that have to do with either promoting or resisting the use of a product or process because it is either 'natural and 'unnatural'. They will analyze these examples in a two-page essay on their own blogs.

Step 4. Finally, every student from each class will be paired with one other student from the other. They will read each other's examples and analysis and offer critical feedback on that analysis.

Objectives from Radio James:

At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

* (Analysis Level) discriminate between different senses of word 'natural' .

* (Analysis Level) explain the conditions under which these senses of the word 'natural' have moral significance.

* (Evaluation Level) appraise whether or not an author has legitimately employed these terms in a rationally persuasive argument or has merely appealed to the secondary connotations that surround these words.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! Is there any way we can get more detail on the kinds of things you will be asking the students to critique in other students' responses?