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Philosophy Podcast Playlists

Selections for an introduction to philosophy course, curated by Rani Lill Anjum

An experiment in a podcast-based syllabus for an introduction-to-philosophy course at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. More information.

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#Series  Episode
1. podcast imageEpisode #003 ... Socrates and the Sophists
40 minutes
This week we talk about the prosperity of athens and how it led to the rise and ideas of a group of philosopher teachers called the Sophists, we tied up some loose ends and helped put all that we've learned in the last two episodes into context with a...
2. podcast imageRelativism
28 minutes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss relativism, a philosophy of shifting sands. "Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of educating is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own 'ego'." Pope Benedict XVI, in a speech gi...
3. podcast imagePaul Boghossian on Moral Relativism
17 minutes
Are moral judgements simply relative to culture? Are moral relativists in the grip of a fundamental confusion, or is that just the view of a philosophical subculture? Paul Boghossian suggests that moral relativism is an untenable position in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast. Philosophy Bites is made in association with the Institute of Philosophy.
4. podcast imageProf Lisa Tessman - When Doing the Right Thing Is Impossible
When Doing the Right Thing Is Impossible - Professor Lisa Tessman discusses how and why do human beings construct morality, and how is it that sometimes moral wrongdoing is just unavoidable also the situation that occurred with Cyclone Katrina and the moral decisions that had to be made.
5. podcast imageM.M. McCabe on Socratic Method
13 minutes
Philosophy began in earnest with Socrates. He asked impertinent questions. In this interview with M.M. McCabe, Philosophy Bites explores the nature of Socratic Method and Socrates' claim that the unexamined life is not worth living.
6. podcast imageHoP 026 - Ain't No Sunshine - The Cave Allegory of Plato's Republic
20 minutes
The Divided Line, Form of the Good, and Cave in Plato's Republic
7. podcast imageEpisode #004 ... Plato
45 minutes
In this week's episode, we learn about Plato's "Symposium", which you might think of as philosophy's version of fan fiction. We also learn about Plato's "Theory of Forms" and ask ourselves what makes a tree, well, a tree. This leads to discussion of...
8. podcast imagePlato's Republic
49 minutes
Is it always better to be just than unjust? That is the central question of Plato's Republic, discussed here by Melvyn Bragg and guests. Writing in c380BC, Plato applied this question both to the individual and the city-state, considering earlier and current forms of government in Athens and potential forms, in which the ideal city might be ruled by philosophers. The Republic is arguably Plato's best known and greatest work, a dialogue between Socrates and his companions, featuring the allegory of the cave ...
9. podcast imageEpisode 1, Plato's Cave
64 minutes
Welcome to Episode 1 of the Panpsycast, Plato’s Cave. The voices in this episode are owned by Jack Symes, Andrew Horton and Ollie Marley.
10. podcast imageHypatia
8 minutes
Meet Hypatia, the world's first known female mathematician AND the world's first known female philosopher. She was also the greatest mathematician and greatest philosopher of her time, which is a title that no other woman in history can claim. Hypatia was an extraordinarily talented and accomplished scholar in Alexandria at an extremely tense time. Scholars of all faiths came from far and wide just for the opportunity to learn from her. Today, Hypatia is heralded as one of the world's first feminist icons, ...
11. podcast imageYanis Varoufakis on Hypatia
27 minutes
The Greek politician and economist takes us back to ancient Alexandria and the life of the first woman to make her name as a mathematician. But Hypatia is best known now for being brutally murdered. Yanis Varoufakis makes the case for her as a philosopher and mathematician, and explores how her story has been interpreted and misinterpreted in the centuries after her death. He's joined by the writer and broadcaster, Professor Edith Hall. Presented by Matthew Parris and produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Ch...
12. podcast imageEpisode 20, Plato's Political Philosophy (Part I)
57 minutes
Welcome to Episode 20 (Part I of II) on Plato’s Political Philosophy. This week in Part I, we'll be talking about the Socratic Dialogues in Gorgias and The Republic, as well as looking at Plato's utopian city state in The Republic.
13. podcast imagePlato's conception of the Good
25 minutes
Professor Rachel Barneyanswers the questions, would you be able to define what good is? I suppose the opposite to good is bad or evil, would you have a definition of evil? and would you say that the good is something that everybody desires?
14. podcast imageHoP 025 - Soul and The City - Plato's Political Philosophy
21 minutes
Plato's Republic defends and defines justice at the level of the ideal city and the person
15. podcast imageMelissa Lane on Plato and Sustainability
15 minutes
What can Plato teach us about sustainability? According to Princeton's Melissa Lane, author of Eco-Republic, quite a lot. Melissa discusses this topic with Nigel Warburton in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast. Philosophy Bites is made in association with the Institute of Philosophy.
16. podcast imageEpisode 2, Aristotle's Basic Philosophies
67 minutes
Welcome to Episode 2 of The Panpsycast, Aristotle's Basic Philosophies. The voices in this episode are owned by Jack Symes, Andrew Horton and Ollie Marley.
17. podcast imageHoP 038 - Down To Earth - Aristotle on Substance
21 minutes
Aristotle's critique of Platonic Forms and defense of his own metaphysics
18. podcast imageJulia Annas on What is Virtue Ethics For?
15 minutes
Julia Annas explains what Virtue Ethics is for and how it differs from other approaches to the question of how we should live in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast.
19. podcast imageEpisode 57: Julia Annas discusses virtue ethics
39 minutes
In this episode, Julia Annas introduces us to the ancient Greek conception of ethics.
20. podcast imageVirtue
42 minutes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of virtue. When Socrates asked the question ‘How should man live?’ Plato and Aristotle answered that man should live a life of virtue. Plato claimed there were four great virtues - Temperance, Justice, Prudence and Courage and the Christian Church added three more - Faith, Hope and Love. But where does the motivation for virtue come from? Do we need rules to tell us how to behave or can we rely on our feelings of compassion and empathy towards other human beings? ...
21. podcast imageAssociate Professor Jennifer Baker - Virtue Ethics
Associate Professor Jennifer Baker speaks about virtue ethics and the reform of US policing - the connection between norms and virtual ethics and how virtual ethics are applied to law enforcement.
22. podcast imageA.C. Grayling on Descartes' Cogito
13 minutes
A.C. Grayling, author of a recent biography of René Descartes, explores Descartes' Cogito argument, the pivotal argument of the Meditations, in conversation with Nigel Warburton in this episode of Philosophy Bites.
23. podcast imageColin McGinn on Descartes on Innate Knowledge
15 minutes
Descartes believed that we can have knowledge that was independent of experience. In this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast Colin McGinn makes a case for there being some such knowledge. Philosophy Bites is made in association with the Institute of Philosophy.
24. podcast imageThe Very Basics of Consciousness: What is a Mind?
18 minutes
Descartes and Princess Elisabeth. Name a more iconic duo. Is dualism of the mind and body the answer? Or is the mind-body problem insurmountable? Will physicists be able to tell us what consciousness is? I don't have answers, only more questions. Also, what is it like to be a bat? Just curious.
25. podcast imageMary Astell
52 minutes
The philosopher Mary Astell (1666 – 1731) has been described as “the first English feminist”. Born in Newcastle in relatively poor circumstances in the aftermath of the upheaval of the English Civil War and the restoration of the monarchy, she moved to London as a young woman and became part of an extraordinary circle of intellectual and aristocratic women. In her pioneering publications, she argued that women’s education should be expanded, that men and women’s minds were the same and that no woman should ...
26. podcast imageDr Jacqueline Broad - Mary Astell
Speaking with Dr Jacqueline Broad, who is writing a book about Mary Astell, a 17th century English feminist and philosopher, who was quite famous in her time, but whose influence and notoriety has dissipated considerably since.
27. podcast imageDavid Hume
42 minutes
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the work of the philosopher David Hume. A key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, Hume was an empiricist who believed that humans can only have knowledge of things they have themselves experienced. Hume made a number of significant contributions to philosophy. He saw human nature as a manifestation of the natural world, rather than something above and beyond it. He gave a sceptical account of religion, which caused many to suspect him of atheis...
28. podcast imagePeter Millican on Hume's Significance
15 minutes
David Hume is probably the greatest English-speaking philosopher to date. In this interview for Philosophy Bites. Peter Millican, a Hume specialist, explains why his philosophy was so important.
29. podcast imageEpisode #051 ... David Hume pt. 1
30 minutes
On this episode of the podcast, we talk about David Hume! First, we learn about Hume’s ‘is’ versus ‘ought’ distinction and how not being mindful of this pitfall can lead us down a dangerous path. Next, we discuss the limitations of science...
30. podcast imageInduction
28 minutes
Pints and Philosophical Problems with Matthew Sweet. This week, the problem of induction: are we justified in predicting the future on the basis of what's happened in the past? How do we know that the sun will rise tomorrow? In the snug with Matthew is philosopher Helen Beebee, discussing a conundrum which faces all of us in our daily life - and which raises profound questions about the nature of science. Producer: Luke Mulhall.
31. podcast imageMary Wollstonecraft
42 minutes
Melvyn Bragg and guests John Mullan, Karen O'Brien and Barbara Taylor discuss the life and ideas of the pioneering British Enlightenment thinker Mary Wollstonecraft.Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 1759 into a middle-class family whose status steadily sank as her inept, brutal, drunken father frittered away the family fortune. She did what she could to protect her mother from his aggression; meanwhile, her brother was slated to inherit much of the remaining fortune, while she was to receive nothing.From this...
32. podcast imageMary Wollstonecraft
26 minutes
Dr Sandrine Berges discusses Mary Wollstonecraft's views on children's rights and animal ethics, opinions on inequality respect and love and her approaches to motherhood.
33. podcast imageAdrian Moore on Kant's Metaphysics
20 minutes
Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is a notoriously difficult work. In this interview for Philosophy Bites A.W. Moore of Oxford University gives a succinct account of this complex and influential attempt to clarify the limits of human understanding.
34. podcast imageEpisode #057 ... Kant pt. 2 - The Actual Introduction
26 minutes
On this episode of the podcast we continue our discussion of Kant, this time focusing on his contributions to the debate between rationalism and empiricism . We begin by reviewing the major points of contention between the rationalists and empiricists...
35. podcast imageEmilie du Chatelet a free-spirited physicist
40 minutes
Emilie du Chatelet was esteemed in 18th-century France as a brilliant physicist, mathematician, thinker and linguist whose pioneering ideas and formidable translations were known all across Europe. Du Chatelet's insights into kinetic energy foreshadowed Einstein's famous equation and her suggestions for experiments with the different colours of light would only be carried out half-a-century after shed written about them. Bridget Kendall discusses du Chatelet's life and work with history professor Judith Zin...
36. podcast imageKant's Categorical Imperative
49 minutes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how, in the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) sought to define the difference between right and wrong by applying reason, looking at the intention behind actions rather than at consequences. He was inspired to find moral laws by natural philosophers such as Newton and Leibniz, who had used reason rather than emotion to analyse the world around them and had identified laws of nature. Kant argued that when someone was doing the right thing, that person was doing what was...
37. podcast imageEpisode 6, Kantian Ethics (Part II)
48 minutes
Welcome to Part II of Episode 6 on Kantian Ethics. The voices in this episode are owned by Jack Symes, Andrew Horton and Ollie Marley.
38. podcast imageUtilitarianism
44 minutes
A moral theory that emphasises ends over means, Utilitarianism holds that a good act is one that increases pleasure in the world and decreases pain. The tradition flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, and has antecedents in ancient philosophy. According to Bentham, happiness is the means for assessing the utility of an act, declaring "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong." Mill and others went on ...
39. podcast imageEpisode 5, Utilitarianism (Part II)
72 minutes
Welcome to Part II of Episode 5 on Utilitarianism. The voices in this episode are owned by Jack Symes, Andrew Horton and Ollie Marley.
40. podcast imagePeter Singer on Human Use of Animals
17 minutes
In this bonus episode produced in association with the Open University as part of the Ethics Bites series, Peter Singer, perhaps the world's best known living philosopher, discusses how we treat animals. A transcript of this episode is available from www.open2.net/ethicsbites/
41. podcast imageHannah Arendt
47 minutes
In a programme first broadcast in 2017, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the political philosophy of Hannah Arendt. She developed many of her ideas in response to the rise of totalitarianism in the C20th, partly informed by her own experience as a Jew in Nazi Germany before her escape to France and then America. She wanted to understand how politics had taken such a disastrous turn and, drawing on ideas of Greek philosophers as well as her peers, what might be done to create a better political life. Often un...
42. podcast imageA Prof Serena Parekh - Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt - Associate Professor Serena Parekh tells us about some of the tensions and paradoxes within the modern concept of human rights, which Arendt brings to light, and the “the banality of evil”
43. podcast imageEpisode #136 ... Hannah Arendt - The Banality of Evil
29 minutes
Today we discuss the work of Hannah Arendt.
44. podcast imageSamantha Rose Hill on Hannah Arendt on Pluralism
21 minutes
Hannah Arendt's experience of the Eichmann trial in 1961 led her to reflect on the nature of politics, truth, and plurality. Samantha Rose Hill, author of a biography of Arendt, discusses the context for this, and the key features of Arendt's views. We are grateful for support for this episode from St John's College - for more information about the college, including online options, go to sjc.edu/podcast
45. podcast imageScientific disagreement and philosophy
9 minutes
Elena Rocca and her colleague piloted a new philosophy course in June 2020. Their course examines how expert disagreement in science research might find resolutions in philosophy. Elena discusses the importance of modern philosophical thinking and its ramifications for how students and professional scientists can think about their research. She explains how science cannot avoid making assumptions of a philosophical nature, what they call philosophical bias in science. Such philosophical biases are often sou...
46. podcast imagePhysics, reality, and lost in math
66 minutes
Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder talks about her book Lost in Math with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hossenfelder argues that the latest theories in physics have failed to find empirical confirmation. Particles that were predicted to be discovered by the mathematics have failed to show up. Whether or not there is a multiverse has no observable consequences. Hossenfelder argues that physicists have become overly enamored with the elegance and aesthetics of their theories and that using beauty to evaluate a model...
47. podcast imageSilvio Funtowitcz: On the rhetoric of sustainability
40 minutes
When discussing sustainability, terms such as science advice and the science-policy interface have become all the rage. What is this all about? In this talk, professor Silvio Funtowicz takes a critical look at the sustainability concept, sharing his experiences on how researchers can provide advice to policy-makers in the context of scientific uncertainty and value conflicts.
48. podcast imageThe Scientific Method
42 minutes
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Scientific Method, the systematic and analytical approach to scientific discovery.
49. podcast imageBaconian Science
42 minutes
Patricia Fara, Stephen Pumfrey and Rhodri Lewis join Melvyn Bragg to discuss the Jacobean lawyer, political fixer and alleged founder of modern science Francis Bacon.In the introduction to Thomas Spratt's History of the Royal Society, there is a poem about man called Francis Bacon which declares 'Bacon, like Moses, led us forth at last, The barren wilderness he past, Did on the very border stand Of the blest promis'd land, And from the mountain's top of his exalted wit, Saw it himself, and shew'd us it'.Fra...
50. podcast imagePopper
42 minutes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, Karl Popper whose ideas about science and politics robustly challenged the accepted ideas of the day. He strongly resisted the prevailing empiricist consensus that scientists' theories could be proved true.Popper wrote: “The more we learn about the world and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our ignorance”. He believed t...
51. podcast imageThomas Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
14 minutes
An introduction to Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published in 1962, and itself a revolutionary approach to the philosophy of science. The book was both influential and controversial.
52. podcast imageImre Lakatos Science and pseudoscience
18 minutes
This is Lakatos's most succinct public summary of his philosophy of science. In this talk he outlines his view of the importance of the demarcation problem in the philosophy and history of science, namely the problem of distinguishing between science and pseudo-science, and of why its solution is not merely an issue of armchair philosophy, but also one of vital social and political significance, and even of life and death itself. It reviews what he saw as the inadequacies of previous attempted solutions, su...
53. podcast imageThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn
24 minutes
Reviewed by Brad Harris, Historian
54. podcast image#218 Sabina Leonelli: Science In The World of Big Data
54 minutes
Dr. Sabina Leonelli is Professor of Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Exeter. She pursues an approach to philosophy of science that is grounded on the empirical study of scientific practices, as informed by historical research, ethnographic methods used in the social and anthropological studies of science and technology, and collaboration with practicing scientists. She has a strong interest in topics like Data-Intensive Science and Practices of Data Sharing and Re-Use, Open Science and...
55. podcast image27/4/2020: Nancy Cartwright asks Why Trust Science?
45 minutes
Nancy Cartwright is a methodologist and philosopher of the natural and human sciences, with special focus on causation, evidence and modelling. Her recent work has been on scientific evidence, objectivity and how to put theory to work. She is a Professor of Philosophy at Durham University and the University of California San Diego, having worked previously at Stanford University and the London School of Economics. Professor Cartwright is a former MacArthur fellow, a fellow of the British Academy and the Aca...
56. podcast imageProf. Alessandra Tanesini - Feminist Epistemology
Feminist epistemology - Prof. Alessandra Tanesini explains about the different varieties of feminist epistemology, the importance of standpoint in feminism and how power is relevant to knowledge.
57. podcast imageSandra Harding:
72 minutes
Sandra Harding's book Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research (2015) raises new questions about two central concepts in STS (science and technology in society): objectivity and diversity. In doing so it allows us to animate them in new kinds of relationships and shows that objectivity and certain forms of diversity can be mutually supportive. Harding does this in two major ways: by considering specific cases where science has been shaped by social values and interests and drawing con...
58. podcast imageScience and technology in society
54 minutes
Technological science exerts a pervasive influence on contemporary life. It determines much of what we do, and almost all of how we do it. Yet science and technology lie almost completely outside the realm of political decision. No electorate ever voted to split atoms or splice genes; no legislature ever authorized the iPod or the internet. Our civilization, consequently, is caught in a profound paradox: we glorify freedom and choice, but submit to the transformation of our culture by technoscience as a vir...
59. podcast imageSpeaking Truth to Power
30 minutes
In his fifth lecture, Edward Said examines the role of the intellectual questioning authority, and asks what constitutes truth.