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Teaching Philosophy

The World Consensus GameTM

David W. Felder
Florida A & M

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ABSTRACT: The World Consensus GameTM allows anyone to contribute to the creation of a world consensus on issues that divide people. Participants can look up positions that have been taken on contious topics and contribute to the discussion. Participation is easy. Once you identify a question that interests you, a map is provided that shows the positions previously taken along with definitions of these various positions. You can examine arguments in favor of a given position, including the argument judged best by philosophers and the argument most favored by the general public. You can also express your own position as well as contribute new positions, new arguments, and criticisms of other individual's arguments. The World Consensus GameTM is like a huge symposium of the world's people with you as a participant, and can be used in a classroom setting or by computer.

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The World Consensus GameTM allows anyone to contribute to the creation of a world consensus on issues that divide people. Participants can look up positions that have been taken on topics that people disagree on and can contribute to the discussion of these topics. Participation is easy to do. Once you identify a question that interests you, a map is provided that shows the positions that have been taken on that question along with definitions of positions. You can examine arguments that have been provided for a position, including the argument judged best by philosophers and the argument favored by the general public, and you can express your judgment on positions and arguments. Finally, you can contribute new positions, new arguments, and criticisms of other individual's arguments. The world consensus game is like a huge symposium of the world's people with you as a participant. The World Consensus GameTM can be used in a classroom setting, a conference setting, by Fax, or by computer.

Signing in to using the World Consensus GameTM

After accessing the World Consensus Game through "Peacegames.com" participants are asked to sign in. This is necessary if participants want to vote or make comments, so that their vote or comments are recorded as the vote of a philosophy student, a professional philosopher, or a member of the general public. Groups can have individuals sign in b according to any identity typed in such as member of an organization, etc.

Professional Philosopher
Philosophy student
Public voting for

First Choose an Issue A, B, C

A The first thing you do is identify the area you want to examine.

Areas include the traditional areas of Philosophy (Moral , Social Philosophy, 1etc..) in addition to issues relating to world order, protection of the environment, and any other types of issues anyone wants to discuss. Just click on the issue that interests you. The current World Consensus Game is problems oriented, but could be redesigned to include a historical perspective.

World Order Issues
Global Survival Issues
Moral Philosophy, Maps, Definitions, Simulation
Social Philosophy, Map and Simulations
Political Philosophy Map
The Criminal Justice System
Theory of Knowledge
Philosophy of Religion
World Order Issues
Global Survival Issues

As soon as one of the topics is chosen the subdivisions under that title appear. Suppose that moral philosophy had been selected. The choices would look like this.

Moral Philosophy, Maps, Definitions, Simulation

1. Can we know right from wrong?
Challenge: We cannot know right from wrong.
2. Why should we do the right thing?
Challenge: There is no reason to do the right thing.
3. Can we hold people responsible for actions?
Challenge: No-one is ever responsible.

B. You next indicate that question that you want to explore.

Click on the question you want you want to examine within the area you indicated.

Once you have indicated the question, a list of positions that have been taken on that question appears. This might be simply listed or might appear on a map. A book that lists all the maps and definitions of positions is available from Wellington Press. You next indicate what position you want to explore. The positions are listed and they also appear on a map that shows the relationship between the positions. Utilitarianism, for example is a type of consequentialism. (An example of the map the viewer would see on the screen is provided in the appendix that accompanies this paper. People would see materials in the appendix on the computer screen)

C. You next indicate the position that you want to explore by clicking either on the box representing that position or on the name in the list.

Examining Positions

Now that you have identified a position you want to explore you can examine the position in many different ways. There are four menus you might notice.

Definitions    Arguments     Voting    Tally    Contribution


You can find the definition of the highlighted position by clicking on the definition button.


You can set the menu to indicate the type of argument you want to see.

You can indicate what type of argument you want to see using the follow choices:

  1. Professional Philosophers for view
  2. Professional Philosophers against view
  3. Student of Philosophy for view
  4. Students of Philosophy against view
  5. Conventional argument for
  6. Conventional argument against

"Conventional" argument means arguments that may be popular among people who have not examined all viewpoints on the issue. Anyone who has taken the time to consider arguments for opposing viewpoints is considered a "student of philosophy."

Whatever you indicated the last time you used this will be the default for the next time.

Choosing A Particular Argument

After you have indicated the type of argument you want to see, all the available arguments will appear with numbers next to each. Each number indicates a particular argument. The arguments are listed with the most recent last. You can identify the latest arguments for or against a position.

Voting on arguments

The sixth number allows you to vote your opinion. When you logged on you indicated your background using the choices that are repeated below. Your vote will be recorded.


You can see how a particular viewpoint is being accepted or rejected by a particular group by clicking on the group. Custom groups, such as students enrolled in a particular course can be listed. People can be listed before and after they have studied the positions and arguments.

Professional Philosopher
Philosophy student
Public voting for

Contributing to the discussion

By clicking on the contribution button you indicate whether you want to add a position, argument, or a criticism of another person's argument.

If you indicated that you do want to make a new contribution to the world consensus discussion, in addition to voting on other's arguments, you can type in text at this point. You indicate where the addition should be made, using the locator code.

Simulation Exercises, Discussion Questions, Quizzes, Bibliography

You can indicate that you want to see a simulation exercise, have discussion questions, see a quiz, or see a bibliography for further research by typing the numbers to indicate an area of interest, a question within an area, a position or an argument and typing 00 to the right of the last number, and then indicating one of the following:

D. Definitions
S. Simulation Exercise
T. Test Questions
B. Bibliography

World Consensus GameTM and the Teaching of Philosophy

Everyone has a viewpoint. Our viewpoints determine in part our actions. To change our actions and those of others we need to examine viewpoints. The study of philosophy helps people learn more about their own viewpoints and also about how other people view the world.

Philosophy is the viewing of viewpoints. It is thinking about our thinking, not thinking for the sake of thinking, but thinking that helps us do a better job of making the decisions that all of us make. One assumption is that we can make better decisions if we make them consciously, rather than unconsciously. If we know what we are doing, then we can do it better. By making our thought processes explicit, we can examine the thinking behind our decisions.

The divisions of philosophy correspond to the issues that are discussed. Views on what makes actions right or wrong are included in Moral Philosophy. Views on political systems are in Political Philosophy, and so on. A more dignified name for viewpoints that have been elaborated by philosophers is philosophical positions.

The World Consensus GameTM will force you to consciously choose between viewpoints or philosophical positions.. You will be faced with decisions that must be made in choosing positions. Each position has its own problems. We will be examining positions and their problems. The usual pattern in philosophy is for one person to advocate a position and to then have another person challenge that position. The goal is to formulate defensible positions — positions that can withstand challenges.

The World Consensus GameTM tries to overcome several problems that are found in introductions to philosophy textbooks. First, textbooks do not make it clear that philosophy is an interactive activity. The World Consensus GameTM presents a model that has holders of viewpoints battling with those who challenge their views. Second, philosophy requires its own vocabulary and other texts do not include the vocabulary in a readily accessible form. This text presents definitions in a straightforward manner and has exercises to reinforce the learning of vocabulary. Third, other texts confuse instruction in philosophy with indoctrination because the authors of texts and anthologies decide what viewpoints the students will learn about. This text allows students to change the order of presentation and even the text itself.

First, philosophy is an interactive activity. One person proposes a view, another challenges that view, and then the original proponent or someone else responds by revising the original view. Textbooks in philosophy are either anthologies that do not attempt to illustrate the combative nature of philosophy or they are books written by one author who tries to include the views of many people. The latter confuse students because it is difficult to know whether a view expressed in the text is that of the book's author, or of the first, second, or third philosopher mentioned. It is very easy for the student using the World Consensus GameTM to see that the views expressed belong to different people.

Secondly, philosophy requires the learning of definitions and also the ability to contrast sets of concepts. A person studying philosophy should increase his or her vocabulary. The World Consensus GameTM presents definitions directly and includes exercises to insure that definitions are understood.

Thirdly, instruction in philosophy must be clearly different than indoctrination. Instruction shows all the possible viewpoints with no bias, along with the challenges that have been raised against each viewpoint and the reasons holders of views have given for holding their views. The goal is to have people come up with their own views. In contrast, indoctrination presents views so that the students are led to accept the indoctrinator's viewpoint. The goal of instruction in philosophy is to have a value free method for presenting viewpoints. To provide a value free method of inquiry, the order of presentation might be determined by either the teacher or the student. Any views that may have been omitted can easily be added.

The World Consensus GameTM is designed to keep you from getting lost in philosophy. The maps present a way to organize philosophical materials so that you can understand what is going on. It presents a schema that can be used to categorize the thousands of writings in philosophy. This might be used to help you understand the readings in another text or anthology, and it can also be used as the basis for an on line computer discussion of philosophical viewpoints. In any case it will help you follow the discussion that is philosophy.

Areas of Philosophy

The World Consensus GameTM follows the traditional division of areas of philosophy into Moral Philosophy, Social Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Theory of Knowledge, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion in addition to examining the Criminal Justice System.

The Ingredients of Philosophy

All the following are ingredients in the doing of philosophy. The World Consensus GameTM will help you identify what is going on at each stage. The first three ingredients are needed in order to understand what someone is saying when they express a viewpoint.


Under each area of philosophy different questions are asked. In a unit on moral philosophy we ask "How can we tell what we ethically ought to do? Why do the right thing, especially if the wrong thing is more profitable? What are the necessary conditions for moral responsibility? Who or what can be held morally responsible? Do organizations have social responsibilities?" In a unit on social philosophy we discuss "Are any inequalities in the distribution of goods just? What kind of economic system should we have?" When covering political philosophy we ask "Are we obligated to obey the law? Why do we punish those who break the law?"


In most areas of philosophy there is one view that challenges all the others, and all the other positions are worked out to respond to the challenge. In Ethics the challenge to answer the people who say that there is no way to tell right from wrong, or that there is no reasons to be moral. In Political Philosophy, the challenge is to answer those who way that no government is legitimate, and in Philosophy of Religion the challenge is to argue against those who say there is no God.


The Maps will provide you with a convenient way to see all the alternative responses to a philosophical question.


The definitions define the positions shown on the maps.

Exercises on Definitions

The exercises on definitions test whether the definitions of positions are understood.


The purpose of the World Consensus GameTM is to help you understand and organize readings in philosophy, any readings. Any reading either presents a viewpoint, is an objection to a viewpoint, an argument for a view that tries to overcome objections, or a criticism of an argument. The readings are listed alphabetically by viewpoint, and then according to whether they are representations of a view, objections, arguments, or criticisms.

The end result we want after learning about all the alternative views, objections, arguments, and criticisms, is to form our own views. The on line computer service allows people to indicate whether they agree or disagree with each view, and to add viewpoints, objections, arguments, and criticisms. It includes thousands of readings and allows users to examine each other's comments. The very structure of the World Consensus GameTM demonstrates that philosophy is an ongoing activity and you can participate in this activity.

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