I will be taking my first philosophy class soon although my major is not

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I will be taking my first philosophy class soon although my major is not philosophy. I already know the basics of philosophy and the philosophical positions of my professor so I can anticipate what kind of essays I will be writing. I know for a fact that my philosophical views are radically different from both his and society in general so should I just argue for the sake of arguing or should I take the safe route and agree with what I think his views are so that I can be judged to lesser standard and get a higher mark? Just how biased are philosopher professors really?

Addressing your last question first: Although some of my colleagues will probably disagree, I think that on the whole philosophers tend to be (by training and disposition) quite adept at distancing themselves from their own convictions and are pretty good (sometimes excellent, sometimes just so-so) at seeing any given issue from multiple points of view. No philosopher can possibly only work from the standpoint of her or his preferred position (argument or framework) because, historically and today, we all know that (for example) a Kantian approach to ethics or metaphysics is not the only viable alternative or that Wittgenstein has said the last word on philosophical methodology or .... There are some exceptions to the vast majority of philosophy professors who are aware the diversity of reasonable positions worthy of deep consideration on almost every topic. I met a recent graduate from a Ph.D. program who roared with self-confident laughter when I mentioned the possibility that human persons have free agency (libertarian freedom). This is highly unusual. Most philosophers realize that there are reasonable determinists, reasonable compatabilists, etc... I have heaps of philosophical convictions but I do not think any of them are obviously right, nor do I think that those who disagree are unreasonable (or deserve derisive laughter!). In my own classes, I tend to give extra-credit to those who disagree with what they think is my position insofar as they display independence of thought and insightful criticism.

I encourage you to be true to your convictions and argue the points you deem most convincing. When you refer to "arguing for the sake of arguing," I suppose you might have to use some practical wisdom. In a class in which no student challenges a professor you might be facing a rather boring enterprise, but you will need to use your own judgment about when you or others are only "arguing for the sake of arguing" or you and your peers are raising important objections and counter-arguments.

As to the worry about whether marks or grades will be a function of a student's agreement with the professor's point of view, I suggest you send your professor a link to our exchange on askphilosopher and ask him or her for a response. After all, the submission of your question / issue is anonymous, and the professor will not have any way of knowing it was you who submitted the question. If you do this, I would be fascinated to get an email from you on your professor's response.

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