Socratic questions Techniques > Questioning > Socratic questions Conceptual | Assumptions | Rationale | Viewpoint | Implications | Question | See also Socrates

was one of the greatest educators who taught by asking questions and thus drawing out (as 'ex duco', meaning to 'lead out', which is the root of 'education') answers from his pupils. Sadly, he martyred himself by drinking hemlock rather than compromise his principles. Bold, but not a good survival strategy. But then he lived very frugally and was known for his eccentricity. His pupils, by the way, include Plato and Aristotle. Plato wrote up much what we know of him. Here are the six types of questions that Socrates asked his pupils. Probably often to their initial annoyance but more often to their ultimate delight. He was a man of remarkable integrity and his story makes for marvelous reading. The overall purpose, by the way, is to challenge accuracy and completeness of thinking in a way that acts to move people towards their ultimate goal. Don't waste time by doing it for your own gratification. Get your kicks vicariously, from the movement you create. Conceptual clarification questions Get them to think more about what exactly they are asking or thinking about. Prove the concepts behind their argument. Basic 'tell me more' questions that get them to go deeper. • • • • • • • • Why are you saying that? What exactly does this mean? How does this relate to what we have been talking about? What is the nature of ...? What do we already know about this? Can you give me an example? Are you saying ... or ... ? Can you rephrase that, please?

Probing assumptions Probing of assumptions makes them think about the presuppositions and unquestioned beliefs on which they are founding their argument. This is shaking the bedrock and should get them really going! • • • • • • • What else could we assume? You seem to be assuming ... ? How did you choose those assumptions? Please explain why/how ... ? How can you verify or disprove that assumption? What would happen if ... ? Do you agree or disagree with ... ?

Probing rationale, reasons and evidence When they give a rationale for their arguments, dig into that reasoning rather than assuming it is a given. People often use un-thought-through or weakly understood supports for their arguments. • Why is that happening?

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... turning the question in on itself....... fit with what we learned before? Why is . Do these make sense? Are they desirable? • • • • • • • • Then what would happen? What are the consequences of that assumption? How could ...? What are the strengths and weaknesses of..... Use their attack against themselves... ? What is the nature of this? Are these reasons good enough? Would it stand up in court? How might it be refuted? How can I be sure of what you are saying? Why is .. happening? Why? (keep asking it -.. important? What is the best . similar? What would .. necessary? Who benefits from this? What is the difference between.. ? How could you look another way at this? Probe implications and consequences The argument that they give may have logical implications that can be forecast.... ? Can you give me an example of that? What do you think causes .... Show that there are other. be used to . viewpoints..doc 2 Printed 07/03/11 14:32 ..? Why is it better than . and .? How are .• • • • • • • • • • • • • How do you know this? Show me ... say about it? What if you compared . ? Why? Questions about the question And you can also get reflexive about the whole thing... affect . ? How does . and . Bounce the ball back into their court. ? What are the implications of .. does this seem reasonable? What alternative ways of looking at this are there? Why it is ..... etc. So attack the position..you'll never get past a few times) What evidence is there to support what you are saying? On what authority are you basing your argument? Questioning viewpoints and perspectives Most arguments are given from a particular position. equally valid. • • • What was the point of asking that question? Why do you think I asked this question? What does that mean? /opt/scribd/conversion/tmp/scratch16979/53755584.. and.... • • • • • • • • • • • Another way of looking at this is . ? How does ...

to determine their consistency with other beliefs. These subsequent questions can take a few forms. an antithesis which contradicts or negates the thesis. in that better hypotheses are found by identifying and eliminating those which lead to contradictions. Socratic method is widely used in contemporary legal education by many law schools in the United States. The Socratic method is considered to be a negative method of hypotheses elimination. giving rise to its reaction. that uses cross-examination of someone's claims and premises in order to reveal out a contradiction or internal inconsistency among them. Hegel's dialectic. The term Socratic Questioning is also used to describe the kind of questioning. with which an original question was responded to as if it were an answer. which he usually presented in a threefold manner. which may subconsciously shape one's opinion. and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis. either in understanding a rule of law or a particular case. The primary goal of Socratic method in law schools is not to answer usually unanswerable questions. Aristotle attributed to Socrates the discovery of the method of definition and induction.softpanorama. assumptions. The law of the negation of the negation The Socratic questioning involves asking a series of questions surrounding a central issue. no clear answer at all. Hegel rarely used these terms himself: this model is not Hegelian but Fichtean.org/Social/Toxic_managers/Communication/s ocratic_questions.From changingminds.shtml) Socratic Method is a dialectic method of inquiry. and more often. In a typical class setting. The method of Socrates is a search for the underlying hypotheses. Further questions can also be designed to move a student toward greater specificity. and to make them the subject of scrutiny. but to explore the contours of often difficult legal issues and to teach students the critical thinking skills /opt/scribd/conversion/tmp/scratch16979/53755584. One hallmark of Socratic questioning is that typically there is more than one "correct" answer. and answering questions of the others involved. The law of the passage of quantitative changes into qualitative changes. was vulgarized by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus as comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis. This in turn forces the person who asked the question to reformulate it in the light of the new facts or evidence. The idea is expose the opponents contradictions in such a way that proves the inquirer's own point. which he regarded as the essence of the scientific method. the professor asks a question and calls on a student who may or may not have volunteered an answer.org Introduction (from: http://www. Sometimes they seek to challenge the assumptions upon which the student based the previous answer until it breaks. The professor either then continues to ask the student questions or moves on to another student. The three laws of dialectics are: • • • The law of the unity and conflict of opposites.doc 3 Printed 07/03/11 14:32 . or axioms. Finally professors use the Socratic method to allow students to come to legal principles on their own through carefully worded questions that spur a particular train of thought. The teacher then typically plays Devil's advocate. The teacher may attempt to propose a hypothetical situation in which the student's assertion would seem to demand an exception. seeking to characterize the general characteristics shared by various particular instances. The basic form is a series of questions formulated as tests of logic and fact intended to help a person or group discover their beliefs about some topic. trying to force the student to defend his or her position by rebutting arguments against it.

? Do you agree or disagree with . prove if those are fact are fiction. ? How did you choose those assumptions? Please explain why/how . 3. Here are some useful examples: • • • • • Why are you saying that? What exactly does this mean? What do we already know about this? Can you give me an example? Are you saying . 2.they will need as lawyers. or . Dig into that reasoning rather than assuming it is a given. evidence.. if properly used. Here are some useful examples: • • • • • • • What else could we assume? You seem to be assuming .. Prove the concepts behind their argument.. and conclusions that are the subject of legitimate argument. People often use un-thought-through or weakly understood supports for their arguments. Facts are stubborn things. ? Probing the evidence When they desribe the evidence behind the arguments. 6.. ? How can you verify or disprove that assumption? What would happen if . implications/consequences. This is often done by altering the facts of a particular case to tease out how the result might be different.. simplifying. 4. People often use weak. underling position and the question itself. 5. we can distinguish the following six types of Socratic questions: 1. refutable evidence to support for their arguments. Six Types of Socratic Questions The taxonomy of Socratic questions was created by Richard Paul.. belief.. This method encourages students to go beyond memorizing the facts of a case and instead focus on application of legal rules to fungible fact patterns. Probing underling concepts Probing Assumptions Probing evidence Probe implications and consequences Questioning underling position Questions about the question They probe six distinct but interconnected areas: concepts. the Socratic method.. Basic 'tell me more' questions that get them to go deeper.doc 4 Printed 07/03/11 14:32 . While it is not a hierarchy in the traditional sense and the categories build upon each other.. assumptions. Probing underling concepts Get them to think more about what exactly they are asking or thinking about. As the assigned texts are typically case law.. can display that judges' decisions are usually conscientiously made but are based on certain premises.. ? Probing assumptions Probing of assumptions makes them think about the presuppositions and unquestioned beliefs on which they are founding their argument.. /opt/scribd/conversion/tmp/scratch16979/53755584.

... ? What is the nature of this? Are these reasons good enough? How can I be sure of what you are saying? Why is . ? How could you look another way at this? Probe implications and consequences The argument that they give may have logical implications/consequences that can be predicted...... Here are some useful examples: • • • • • • • • • Does this approach is reasonable. important? Why this approach is considered to be the best ..? What are similarities between . Do these make sense? Are they desirable?... justifiable? What alternative ways of looking at this are there? Why it is . ? What are the implications of .Here are some useful examples: • • • • • • • • • • • Why is that happening? How do you know this? Show me .. and . viewpoints..... It is important that there might be other. turning the question in on itself.. ? What are differences between .the position on which they are explicitly or implicitly based. fit with what we learned before? Why is . necessary? Who benefits from this? Why is it better than .. ? Can you give me an example of that? What do you think causes . Here are some useful examples: • • • • • • • Then what would happen? What are the consequences of that assumption? How could ....... ? Questions about the question Sometimes it is useful to become reflexive about the whole thing. be used to .. Here are some useful examples: • • • What was the point of asking that question? Why do you think I asked this question? What does that mean? /opt/scribd/conversion/tmp/scratch16979/53755584. happening? What evidence is there to support what you are saying? On what authority are you basing your argument? Questioning underling position If arguments are given from a particular position you can try not attack the arguments directly but attack the underling foundation -. ? How does ....? What are the strengths and weaknesses of.doc 5 Printed 07/03/11 14:32 ... equally valid. and ...

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