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Creating Philosophy Club Presentations

After putting the foundations of a philosophy club together, it is important to focus on the content of club meetings. Normally, philosophy clubs center around group discussion relating to a specific philosophical topic. These topics can be areas of study (e.g. metaphysics, political theory, epistemology) or broad philosophical questions (e.g. What is reality?, Is it possible to achieve world peace?, How do we know what we know?).


However, each club needs a person to create and guide these discussions. Here are some reasons why you might consider presenting:






How a philosophy club picks a presenter and presentation is up to the group, but if you find yourself given the chance to lead a club meeting, you might use this section to help guide the creation of your presentation.

You have an idea that you want to run by a group of people.

You have a particular interest in an area of philosophy you have not had the opportunity to discuss elsewhere.

You enjoy teaching and leading or moderating group discussions.

Types of Philosophy Club Presentations

As with all disciplines, philosophy can be presented in many ways. The following is a list of modes of presenting philosophical content and ideas that you may want to use:​

PowerPoint: PowerPoints are easy to create and act as discussion guides for you and your classmates. Perhaps you have a complex topic that you need to explain before you discuss it. You can use a PowerPoint to get the idea across and refer back to slides later in the discussion. Always remember to put as few words on a slide as possible. It might be helpful to use bullet points rather than complete sentences. Essentially, consider your PowerPoint as an outline for discussion, not an essay that you are reading aloud.

Open Discussion: Presenting like this can be fun and informal. It can also be a guided discussion based on a given topic. For these types of presentations, you may consider having a handout listing important questions, facts, or definitions for everyone to refer back to and to keep conversation on track.

Small Groups: Presentations that involve small groups are a great way to make sure that everyone participates in discussion. This style of presenting can be used as a philosophical “warm-up.” For example, if Sandy is presenting on the philosophy behind ancient Japanese monks and Karate, she may split the club into small groups and have them ask the question, “What do you know about Japanese religions?” Then, she can ask, “Can Karate be a religious experience?” At the end of the short conversation, she can group everyone together and have a brief reflection. Essentially, you may consider using this style of presentation if your presentation calls for asking a lot of questions.

It is important to note that these are not the only styles of presenting philosophy. You can also combine any of these together with any other presentation style. Never be afraid to be creative with how you present philosophy!

Additionally, there are many types of topics that you may want to discuss in your club. Because virtually everything can be discussed in a philosophical manner, it is important to create a presentation that is just as engaging as the topic of discussion. The following is a sample list of types of philosophy topics along with a suitable way to present them:

1. Presentation based on books or articles: If you are presenting on a specific book or article that you find

interesting, try to find notable passages to discuss. These passages should represent the thesis, important

points the author used to prove the thesis, things that you have questions about, or points that

you find particularly interesting. As you are preparing for the discussion, you might find it helpful

to annotate the passages you want to present and form your own opinions about them. If the

article or passages are short enough, consider providing handouts for the rest of the club so

that they can follow along. If you want to save paper, you can put passages on a PowerPoint slide.

2. Generalized Discussion Based on a Topic or Question: If you are a part of a small club and like a more laid-back setting, you can opt to pose a general question as your discussion topic. This type of presentation may wander a bit more than other presentations because broad questions can be answered in many ways. The presenter could act as the moderator for a discussion.

3. Philosopher Biography: Some philosophers write about so many different topics that 

entire subsections of philosophy are about them. If you want to do a presentation on a specific philosopher, it may be easiest to use a PowerPoint. Talk about the life of the philosopher, their body of work, and their overall contribution to philosophy. It is also fun to hear about why you like them or what insights reading this philosopher has given you.

4. Fiction or Pop Culture Presentations: Art and media in all forms can be philosophical. If you are presenting on your favorite show or song or painting, make sure to have a visual or auditory sample to give context

for what you are discussing. Even if no one has seen or heard about what you are presenting,

you can still discuss what philosophical insights the work has given you! For example, Dib

and Iggins have never head of Gaz’s favorite video game for the Game Slave 2 (even though

it has a great story, and everyone should totally play it). Gaz can discuss the overall story of

the game for context, and then talk about how her favorite parts relate to Kantian Ethics as a

critique of Utilitarianism. Even though Dib and Iggins have never played the game, they can still

engage based on the brief context and Gaz’s arguments.

5. Games: Philosophy games and activities are fun if you want to switch things up! The following is a list of activities you might want to try.

Philosophy does not just belong in the halls and classrooms of the academic world. It is to be applied to almost every facet of our lives as a way of explaining things that occur within them.

i. Philosophical Pictionary: Have people write topics, philosophers, and books on cards. Draw what you pick on the board and see if people can guess what you are drawing. Pictionary is a great review game at the end of the year. Because it is casual, it is a good game to play at an end of the year party.

ii. If I Were a Dog: Split up in groups of three. Each person in the group is assigned a different perspective – an animal, a god, or a person. Answer basic philosophical questions from these views by starting each point with “If I were a god/animal/other person...” Make sure to switch perspectives every so often for the best experience! This acts an exercise in understanding different perspectives, even if you normally have a different opinion on something.

iii. Kahoot!: Kahoot! is an online quiz engine for educators and students. Create a fun quiz or survey for the class to take. Specifically, you can create a survey asking controversial questions to see the general stance everyone has on a given issue. Question submissions are completely anonymous. All you see are the amount of people who chose a specific answer. This is a great activity to discuss group positions, biases, etc.

Tips for the Presenter

While philosophy is fun, presenting can be scary. The following are a few tips to make sure your presentation runs smoothly:

Be prepared, but do not worry if discussion heads in a different direction.

Philosophical discussion can be riddled with tangents. While it is important to make sure that the general topic of presentation is maintained, do not worry if there is heavy discussion on something that is not in your presentation.

Say Jimmy is presenting on Philosophy of Science, specifically regarding space. Jimmy’s friend, Carl, wonders what place llamas have in the universe, especially since they might have a different level of societal contribution as people (even though Carl thinks this is debatable). Carl’s contribution to the discussion might deviate slightly from Jimmy’s presentation, but still connects to the main topic and inspires fun and insightful conversation.

Jimmy’s other friend, Sheen, adds that his favorite super hero, Ultralord, lives in space and is the ruler of the galaxy in his favorite comic book. While this statement is fun, it is ultimately tangential. Jimmy might reel the conversation back in by posing a different question, or making a different point based on what Carl said or Sheen said.

Make sure that there is room for discussion.

Remember that philosophy is meant to be a collaborative effort. Thus, everyone should get the chance to participate. This can sometimes be tricky when using a PowerPoint or giving a philosopher’s bio. If you are presenting on a topic that needs a lot of background info, try to ask questions throughout your explanation to let people participate.

For example, Denzel is giving a fairly odd and complex presentation on political theory. Instead of lecturing about his topic for the duration of the club meeting, he should stop after each point and answer questions, or ask questions that lead him into the next topic. This way, Timmy, AJ, and Chester also get to participate. Denzel will also get new insights on his topic.

Never assume that no one will be interested in your topic.

Philosophy can be and is about everything. If you play your cards right, you can lead a philosophical conversation about practically anything. Say that Danny is really interested in the afterlife and ghosts, but they are worried that his friends, Tuck and Sam, will not be interested in his topic. Even if Tuck and Sam are not usually interested in those topics, perhaps Danny will bring up an interesting point or line of reasoning Sam and Tuck had never considered.

You never know what people will respond to. Maybe your presentation inspires other people in your club to do research on the topic as well. As long as you create an engaging presentation, people will engage in your topic.

Other Resources

For materials containing interesting presentation topics and thought experiments, please check out the following books:

a. The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher by Julian Baggini

b. What If...: Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy by Peg Tittle
c. Wittgenstein's Beetle and Other Classic Thought Experiments by Martin Cohen

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