“Marc’s performance was as if Socrates was reincarnated with Robin Williams. It is hard to get a class engaged right off the bat, but he did.”
(Anonymous student, from the 2020 Dean of Arts Teaching Award nomination)

Format-wise, I have done quite a bit of work on diagrammatic reasoning (see here, here, here, here, here, and here), so naturally I use a lot of visuals when I teach. Content-wise, I believe that academia exists to enhance quality and rigor, not to police ideological conformity. So, in keeping with this idea that inquiry requires heterodoxy, I believe that reasoners must be left free to experiment playfully with concepts and arguments, without the burden of commitment or the fear of reprimand.

The general outline of our class time is always prepared in advance. But, so long as we cover what is on that daily menu, I purposely let the collective exercise unfold in an unscripted manner that leaves room for spontaneity, productive mistakes, and discoveries.

My goal is to get students involved in a genuine deliberative process. “You feel strongly about an idea or cause?,” I ask them. “Great. But, many honest people besides yourself likely champion opposite ideas or causes that they also deem worthy. So, a sense of conviction will not amount to much unless we can get clear on the pros and cons of the various reasons. That requires hard work and proper tools.” When, in the course of learning those tools and putting in that hard work, it (slowly or suddenly) dawns on individual students that respect for reason and evidence holds real promise for the resolution of conflict and uncertainty, I feel I have made a lasting impact.

I thus aspire to be a “tattoo artist” of the mind: I want our classes to hurt a bit while they are happening, yet leave a permanent trace once they are over.

Courses taught:

Thinking Philosophically about Technology by Watching Films
Philosophy of Mind: Consciousness
Philosophy of Emotion

Topics in Metaphysics: Metametaphysics
Advanced Topics in Metaphysics and Epistemology
Seminar in Pragmatism
Free Will and Determinism
Confronting Moral Issues: Introduction to Ethics
Business Ethics
Early Modern Philosophy
Love and Desire
Philosophy of Sport and Recreation
Philosophy of Law
Sustainability: Analysis and Ethics
Great Philosophers of the Twentieth Century: Peirce
Introduction to Formal Logic
Advanced Formal Logic
Critical Thinking
Introduction to Philosophy

Super Prof