Serious concept fun

Click on the map for dynamic links.

Last Friday’s edition of Trouw – a Dutch newspaper – had an article on Rik Peels, a young Dutch philosopher who had just successfully defended his PhD thesis “Believing responsibly” on the epistemological requirements for justifying faith, beliefs, or convictions. While reading the article I lost track of the argument and decided to draw a little concept map, first in pencil and later using the free Cmap Tools.  Concept maps did what they usually do: clarifying the argument, encouraging learning by raising additional questions (e.g. what other intellectual virtues are there?), and preserving an overview for future use. What the article said was that ethics do not only apply to our actions, but also to important convictions, such as religious convictions or faith. Openness to objections to our convictions is a necessary condition for critical reflection on the validity of our convictions. Rik Peels believes that Anders Breivik was intellectually dishonest in excluding certain external sources of information or criticism from his reflections on Islam. In contrast, Rik Peels displayed the important intellectual virtue of openness to dialogue by doing his PhD under the guidance of the avowed atheist professor Philipse. On the other hand, he needed the confrontation to build his argument in the footsteps of Alvin Plantinga. The reverse was probably true for Herman Philipse.


About Sjon van ’t Hof

Development professional who worked in rural development, tropical agriculture, and irrigation development in Chad, Zambia, Mali, Ghana, Mauritania, Israel, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the Netherlands in capacities ranging from project design and management to information management. Conducted missions to India, China, Kenya, and Bangladesh. Experience in the development and delivery of trainings in irrigation equipment selection, information literacy, Internet searching and database searching. Explores systems thinking in relation to international development, education, and management, with an ever stronger focus on the systems approach of C. West Churchman. Knowledgeable in tropical agriculture, project design and development economics, agricultural mechanization, irrigation, plant pathology, environmental degradation and protection, rural development. Co-authored "Wicked Solutions: a systems approach to complex problems", a book written by Bob Williams and Sjon van 't Hof. It was published in June 2014 and provides a practical way of dealing with wicked problems. Wicked problems are complex, ill-structured, human problem situations. This book will help you design an inquiry and intervention in such messy, wicked situations. It does so by guiding you through the steps and stages of a systemic process that addresses your own wicked problem. For more information, see or
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