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Syracuse University Virtue Ethics Discussion

Reading Response Guidelines

A Reading Responses (RR) is an opportunity for students to individually reflect on what we read in class.
Understanding, questioning, and writing about texts is part of the work of a philosopher. RRs are also
opportunities for students to prepare to talk about texts in class. A thoughtful RR translates to a prepared
and robust classroom discussion.

Each RR should be one full page, as best you can. You should also try to do the following three things: (1)
understand the author’s perspective, (2) support your interpretation of this perspective, and (3) engage
with it with your own experience and opinions. This follows a straightforward three-paragraph structure.

First paragraph:
What is the author’s perspective when considering the text as a whole? You should try to restate
the text into your own words, but this is different from merely restating each paragraph from
beginning to end. How would you explain this perspective to a reasonably intelligent friend? How
about a parent, who thinks taking philosophy classes is a waste of time? When doing this, it’s
important to keep in mind something called the principle of charity. This is the idea that we should
try to make as much sense of another’s argument as we can before we criticize it. When a
charitable listener hears something that doesn’t make sense to them, they work to figure out how
the other person might have arrived at that idea.

Second paragraph:
What evidence from the text supports your interpretation of the author’s perspective? How did
you arrive at this particular interpretation of the text? Here you’re quoting specific sentences and
relating them to your interpretation in the first paragraph. Please provide page numbers so others
can more easily follow your thinking.

Third paragraph:
What do you think about what the author is saying? You can respond in any number of ways. You
might argue that the author’s reasons they give don’t support their conclusion. You might provide
additional examples or counterexamples, tell a story, refer to another relevant text, ask questions,
or reframe the discussion to suggest another way to see the problem


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