Over time, I have noticed one thing: students (well, people in general, obviously) like to "collect" conclusions like some people like to collect stamps or coins. What I mean is this: when you go through an argument for X in class, you can tell that some people who were disposed towards X in the first place now feel as if X, which they had already in the past "collected," was now authenticated because an argument exists for it. The argument could be awful, but that's fine with them, because all they were looking to do in the first place was collect X (or legitimate it) and put it in their "belief sack" and continue on their way.
This is fairly typical behavior, and there's nothing shocking or unusual about it. But in philosophy I always think that what we're trying to do is get people past that. Just because it's natural to do it doesn't mean we ought to embrace the practice. As I tell my students: if you like X, great. But you really shouldn't like X if there isn't a good argument for it. And if someone presents you with a really good argument against X, it should bother you, because now your belief in X should be shaken to some degree. You shouldn't just dismiss the argument without even trying to analyze it critically because you've already previously collected X and no one is going to take it from you. In other words, part of philosophy is about training people to appreciate the importance of attending to arguments for and against one's position. We don't just collect conclusions (which sounds more like the business of subjectivism) -- we assess arguments. The conclusions we end up with are the ones that stand up best over time.
Which brings me to my point: I don't think many philosophy students are all that different about the desire to collect conclusions than anyone else. I see this all the time, but noticed it specifically the other day in Modern Philosophy. After presenting Descartes' ontological proof in Meditation 5, my students were left without a clue as to how to critique the argument. But yet they (many of them, anyway) seemed entirely unmoved by the conclusion -- that God necessarily exists. I don't mean that I expected them to leave the room religious, but rather that I know many of them are not religious, or are at least skeptical that a proof can establish a deity. So I do expect them to be bothered by the argument and really try to figure out what's wrong with it. Instead, it seems to me that they had already "collected" the conclusion that God doesn't exist, or at least that no argument could establish it, and no one was going to rob them of that. But if this is true, then the only thing that makes a philosophy student different from everyone else is this: philosophy students collect stranger conclusions. But they'd still be belief collectors, just like just about everyone else.
Does everyone else experience this as well in their philosophy classes? Note please that I'm not trying to be overly critical of my students here. We all do this to some degree. But when someone points out to me that I've shrugged off an argument because it doesn't mesh with a "collected" conclusion I prize, I'm embarrassed about it. I'm not sure I sense that embarrassment in all of my philosophy students (some, but not all).
Any stories of your own? How do we get them to stop "collecting conclusions" without a sense of shame about it?