Checklist for Thinking About a Philosophical Issue

  1. List all subissues. Divide the cluster of issues into individual questions.

  2. Eliminate the factual (scientific and quantifiable) questions and issues. Remember Russell's point that it is not a philosophical question if a factual answer is possible. (See Debatable and Nondebatable Statements)

  3. Choose one question to address. It is impossible to deal rationally with an entire cluster of issues at one time.

  4. Inquire. Seek evidence about the issue. Sources can be your own experience, history of the issue, legal precedents, information and stories from other people, newspaper and magazine articles, radio and television stories, books, and many others.

  5. Interpret the evidence. Consider the status and authority of the sources, people's possible motives and vested interests, possible bias of sources, and the way the evidence was presented. Ask these questions:

  6. Has enough evidence been gathered? If you are not sure, it might be wiser to suspend judgment at this point.

  7. Analyze and weigh the positions (viewpoints). Follow these steps (based on Ruggiero):

  8. Form a jugment.

by Colby Glass, MLIS.

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