York University Meeting a Date Model Case

Step 1. Model Case

a) – provide a concrete case that would make one say Yes to the question, i.e., a clear, uncontroversial case

– a concrete case is a specific, particular case, no general statements, one that we can visualize

– needs to be a short paragraph – DO NOT WRITE A SHORT STORY

– if it contains persons, NAME only the person you want us to focus on, since when you name more it becomes confusing

– e.g., Are animals crazy?

b) why is this a good example of a model case?

– here you should merely state the obvious (do not add new elements to the case)

– if you can’t say why it’s a good case, then you should come up with another example

c) Rorschach lists (picture the concrete case in your mind)

– for each concept, write down (list) words or phrases that come to you—do not censor them

– the idea is very similar to the Rorschach (inkblot) test in psychology

– in fact we will call these “Rorschach lists”

animalscrazy

Step 2. Contrary Case

a) provide a clear concrete case in which one would answer No to the question

b) why is this a good example of a contrary case?

c) Rorschach lists

animalscrazy

Conceptual Lecture 2

Step. 3 Borderline Case

a) provide a concrete case in which people will feel pulled simultaneously toward both Yes and No to the conceptual question.

E.g. for Are emotions irrational?, you need a particular case of emotions that in one way is irrational and in another way is not.

b) why is this a good example of a borderline case?

– say why it pulls to Yes

– say why it pulls to No

c) Rorschach lists

emotions irrational

Step 4: Related Concept

– concepts are related to, and depend on, other concepts (not just as synonyms)

– e.g. the concept of punishment is related to e.g. the concept of crime

a) Name a concept related to one or both of the original concepts

– it must not be an example or type or kind or meaning of either of the original concepts or a synonym of either of them

– play it safe: don’t take a chance with a concept that is partly an example/type/kind/meaning of either of the original concepts

b) why is this a good related concept?

– you should make clear that it is not an example/type/kind/meaning of either of the original concepts or a synonym of them

– then, you should state at least one way the related concept is related to one or both of the original concepts

– e.g., love is an example/type/kind/meaning of emotion, so we can’t use it

– e.g., violence is not an example/type/kind/meaning of emotion or of irrational or a synonym, so we can use it; and it’s clearly related to both concepts as emotions sometimes lead to violence and violence is sometimes called irrational

c) create a new conceptual question using the related concept and one (or both) of the concepts in question (without changing any of them in the slightest)

– it must not be a question of fact (cause, require, etc.)

nor a moral/value question (good, wrong, etc.)

– it has got to be grammatically correct and not a nonsense question

– it has to be an open question, not a question that obviously answers yes or no

– play it safe, try not to use connector terms between the two concepts

– then do a complete Step 1 (a, b, c) and Step 2 (a, b, c), using the original concepts for your Rorschach list headings

Step 5: Invented Case

a) beginning with the words Imagine a world where, describe a world in specific respects where things are very different from the real world

b) why is this a good example of an invented case?

– you need to explain, by applying the 7 criteria below:

(i) – it’s got to be invented (not from real life)

(ii) – it cannot mirror or parallel the real world (e.g. space aliens who live on Saturn and move to one of its moon for a better life—this mirrors people who live in Toronto and move to Florida for a better life)

(iii) – it’s got to be relevant to the concepts (“Imagine a world where people don’t have emotions” cannot possibly help us with the question Are emotions irrational”)

(iv) – it shouldn’t be crazy crazy

(v) – we should be able to visualize the case

(vi) – it should not be true of some people (the min. for “some” is one)

(vii) – it shouldn’t try to obviously answer the question

c) Rorschach lists

Conceptual Lecture 3

Step 6. Social Context (objective, third person)

a) Who would ask this question, under what circumstances would they ask it, and why would they ask it?

use observational language only

– need an plausible bridge and have the person you are focusing on explicitly ask the conceptual question

don’t use professors in class etc. (they ask all sorts of conceptual questions) or someone in a debate—use everyday people

Are emotions irrational?

b) Why is this a good context to place the question in? (justification)

= what difference would it make to the questioner if that person concluded yes, and if no?

Y= ?

N = ?

c) Rorschach lists

emotions

irrational

Step 7. Emotional Context (subjective, first person)

– closely connected to social context, and sometimes they overlap, so try to use examples/cases that are different

– here the context is emotional (subjective), not social (objective)

a) State immediately: What sort of feeling or worry of yours would cause you to ask this question, specify the context, then state why would you ask it?

– you need to role play here (to use acting language)

– you need a plausible bridge and have them ask the conceptual question

b) Why is this a good context to place the question in? (justification)

= what difference would it make to you if you concluded yes, concluded no?

c) Rorschach lists

Step 8. Practical Results

– all about consequences

– whether or not we like the answer is irrelevant

a) What would the real world be like if the answer to the question is Yes?

– range over lots of categories, one or two sentences for each

– some, if not obvious, will need a brief because

b) What would the real world be like if the answer to the question is No?

– give lots of categories, one or two sentences for each

c) Which one of these worlds is closer to our own world (here in Toronto)? (brief why, focusing on a few of the categories)

d) Rorschach lists based on c)

Conceptual Lecture 4

Step 9. Results

a) Total Rorschach Lists: one list for the primary concept, one for the secondary concept

– simply copy and paste from your Steps 1-8

b) Long list of Meanings:

– looking repeatedly through your Total Rorschach lists, draw out the different meanings (explicit or implicit) for your two concepts giving each a brief label (a word or phrase)

– meanings are from ordinary language and answer the question, What do you mean by x?

– then briefly define (sentence) each meaning (using an example only if needed) – an itemized list

Note: meanings are NOT related concepts or features

– you have to figure out whether you have an actual meaning

– ask yourself questions in contexts of ordinary usage

Note: the purpose of this exercise is NOT to bring out all the meanings of the two terms, ONLY the meanings that come out of your own personal Rorschach lists

– hence DO NOT consult dictionaries or email classmates to see what they got

c) Short list of Meanings: For each label in your long list, give a brief rationale for why that meaning makes it into the short list or not

– i.e., you have to plug it into the conceptual question, one label at a time

– then, you have to specifically tell me why it makes sense or does not make sense

– a question that makes sense is one that people would tend to answer rather than look at you like you’re nuts

nonsense questions do not make sense, people are not going to try to answer yes or no

– e.g., “Is money irrational?” Money is not the sort of thing that can be rational or irrational, so money does not make it to the shortlist

– do not accept grammatically incorrect questions, e.g., “Is educated irrational?”

– but if the problem is caused merely because of your label, then go back and alter your label so that the question reads grammatically correct

– e.g., “Is educated irrational?” → “Is education irrational?”

d) Conditionals + Ultimate Answer to the Conceptual Question (Yes, No, or Qualified)

– begin with a quick tally of short list labels

– then use only your short list meanings to make conditionals

– suppose you have “Is X Y?”

X is the primary concept, Y is the secondary concept

– you are comparing all possible combinations between X and Y

X Y 2 x 3 makes 6 conditionals

a m

b n

c

each conditional should read “If by [primary concept] you mean [use the label] and if by [secondary concept] you mean [use the label], then yes, X is Y, because …. [explain using only the definitions]

– the because must follow solely from the meanings in 9 b) and you have to tell me so

– what is true of the world, e.g. of individual people or statistically, is totally irrelevant when answering a conditional

– you have to ask yourself whether the second meaning necessarily follows from, or is necessarily connected with, the first meaning

– What ifs? are totally irrelevant

– some (extremely rare few) will be Y and N, then Yes because…., No because….

– then you give your ultimate answer to the conceptual question

– either a Yes (when all the conditionals are yes), No (when all the conditionals are no), or Qualified (when you have any mixture), followed by a because

e.g., “Are human rights anti-democratic?”

a) pretend list

b) Long List

Human Rights

natural rights: moral claims and entitlements that all humans are born with, e.g., the right to own property

Anti-Democratic

contrary to voting: being against or trying to undermine a popular vote.

c) Short List

Human Rights

“Are natural rights anti-democratic?” Natural rights makes it to the shortlist because it makes sense in the conceptual question. The answer could be either yes or no, and I think most people would say no.

Anti-Democractic

“Are human rights contrary to voting?” Contrary to voting makes it to the shortlist because it makes sense in the conceptual question. The answer could be either yes or no, and I think most people would say no.

d) Conditionals

Human Rights Anti-Democratic

natural rightscontrary to voting

1×1 = 1 conditional

If by human rights one means natural rights and if by anti-democratic one means contrary to voting, then no, human rights are not anti-democratic, because moral claims and entitlements that all humans are born with does not mean that one must be against voting or try to undermine a popular vote.

the ultimate answer is no, because I have only one conditional and it is a no.

Conceptual Lecture 5

– the essay involves no external sources whatsoever (including dictionaries); it should all be your own work

Staple + Cover Page (typed) + Steps 1–9 (typed) + Essay (starts on separate page, typed, dbl. space, 12-pt font, Times New Roman or Garamond, no extra space between paragraphs)

– no folders or binders

Opening Paragraph

– state your conceptual question

– state how many long list meanings you have for each concept (nothing more)

– state your ultimate answer to the conceptual question

– do nothing more (avoid flourishes etc.)

– you may use first person

indented paragraphs (no extra space between paragraphs)

Body of the Essay

– begin with a guide line, saying that you are now going to turn to the meanings of the concepts

never refer to your Steps 1–9 or any of your cases

never use bold or underlining in your essay; to refer to a concept, use italics

– in the essay we are only dealing with the results of our steps

(i) provide a separate paragraph for each meaning in your long list

– in each paragraph, provide the label and the definition you gave in 9b and the rationale for whether it makes it into the short list that you gave in 9c

– at the end of this section of the essay, provide a summary of how many short list meanings you have for each concept

(ii) begin with a guide line, saying you are now turning to your conditionals

– these will be the same as in your Step 9

each conditional gets its own separate paragraph

– the process of explanation

– your goal is to make things clear and concise (and use an example if it helps)

– but you must be clear in your own mind to begin with

– then you have to check your writing to see if it really says what you meant to say

Concluding Paragraph

– Start with “In sum,” or “In conclusion,”

– then state how many short list meanings you had for each concept

– then state how many of your conditional were Yes and how many were No

– then state what your ultimate conclusion to the conceptual question is (Yes, No, or Qualified)

– do absolutely nothing more!

Note

– do not email me (or anyone else) questions about your assignment

– this is not an Internet course

– the teaching is over

– you are to fly alone, you are not to collaborate with anyone

– using a dictionary will result in a zero grade for Step 9

– do not email me your assignment, not even for verification

– the course kit tells you where to take late assignments

– computer excuses will not be accepted

Essay (suppose now I have more than one meaning for each concept)

The conceptual question I am doing is, “Are human rights anti-democratic?” I have three longlist meanings for human rights and two longlist meanings for anti-democratic. My ultimate answer to the conceptual question is qualified.

Starting with human rights, the first meaning I have is . …

The second meaning I have is natural rights. By natural rights I mean moral claims and entitlements that all human are born with, such as the right to own property. Natural rights makes it to the shortlist because it makes sense to ask, “Are natural rights anti-democratic?” I think most people would answer no to that question.

The third and last meaning I have for human rights is .…

Turning now to anti-democratic, the first of the two meanings I have is contrary to voting. By contrary to voting I mean ….

The second and last meaning I have for anti-democratic is ….

I have now finished with the meanings of the concepts. I have three shortlist meanings for natural rights and two shortlist meanings for anti-democratic. I therefore have six conditionals.

If by human rights one means natural rights, and if by anti-democratic one means contrary to voting, then …

If by

If by

If by

If by

If by

In conclusion, I have three shortlist meanings for human rights and two shortlist meanings for anti-democratic. Of the six conditionals, four were yes and two were no. My ultimate answer to the conceptual question is therefore qualified.

Conceptual Analysis Assignment

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