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Podcast Profile: Philosophy Talk Starters

podcast imageTwitter: @philtalkradio (followed by 320 philosophers)
Site: www.philosophytalk.org
500 episodes
2015 to present
Average episode: 10 minutes
Open in Apple PodcastsRSS

Categories: Broadcast Radio Programs • Interview-Style • Three+ Hosts

Podcaster's summary: Podcast by Philosophy Talk Starters

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List Updated: 2022-Aug-10 11:32 UTC. Episodes: 500. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

Episodes
2022-Aug-07 • 17 minutes
542: The 2022 Dionysus Awards
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/2022-dionysus-awards. What... movies of the past year challenged our assumptions and made us think about things in new ways? Josh and guest co-host Jeremy Sabol present our annual Dionysus Awards for the most thought-provoking films of 2021, including: • Best Attempt to Redeem 80+ Years of Questionable Ethics • Best Film about Complicated Mothers Telling Uncomfortable Truths • Best Adapted Novel about Trauma, Marginalization, Self-Deception AND the Gap Between ...
2022-Jul-31 • 11 minutes
449: James Baldwin and Social Justice
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/james-baldwin. Sometimes,... we struggle to tell the truth -- especially when it's the truth about ourselves. Why did James Baldwin, a prominent Civil Rights-era intellectual and novelist, believe that telling the truth about ourselves is not only difficult but can also be dangerous? How can truth deeply unsettle our assumptions about ourselves and our relations to others? And why did Baldwin think that this abstract concept of truth could play a concrete role in social...
2022-Jul-22 • 10 minutes
549: Is Optimism Rational?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/optimism-rational. When... the odds are against you, believing in yourself can be a source of strength—but it seems to require a cavalier disregard for the evidence. So is optimism a rational way to improve your life, or an irrational kind of wishful thinking? Will hope now just lead to disappointment later? Where should we set our expectations, and where should we teach our children to set theirs? Josh and Ray tackle their hopes and fears with Jennifer Morton f...
2022-Jul-17 • 9 minutes
505: Walter Benjamin and the Re-Enchanted World
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/walter-benjamin. Walter... Benjamin was a German Jewish critical theorist, essayist, and philosopher who died tragically during the Second World War. His thoughts about modernity, history, art, disenchantment, and re-enchantment are still discussed today. So who was Benjamin, and what is his intellectual legacy? Why did he believe that Enlightenment values, such as rationality and modernization, brought about disenchantment in the world? Did he think there was a...
2022-Jul-10 • 17 minutes
548: Summer Reading List – Banned Books Edition
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-banned-books-edition. ... American Library Association reports that last year 1,597 books were challenged or removed from libraries, schools, and universities, a record high number (compared to 273 books in 2020). Most of the challenged or removed books deal with themes relating to race or sexuality and gender, and challenges come from both the right and the left. What are the implications for your thought-provoking summer reading? Josh and R...
2022-Jul-03 • 11 minutes
494: Comedy and the Culture Wars
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/comedy-and-culture-wars. Comedy... can often give offense, especially when it concerns such sensitive topics as race, gender, and sexuality. Should comedy like that be shunned, boycotted, even banned? Can it be enjoyed without danger? Or could it even, at its best, be the road to a better society? Could it somehow help us all to live together, and to come to terms with intractable social issues we’ll never fully put behind us? The Philosophers have a laugh with Jeff Isr...
2022-Jun-19 • 12 minutes
547: The Changing Face of Antisemitism
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/changing-face-antisemitism. Antisemitism... is an old problem with roots that reach back to medieval Europe. While earlier forms focused more on religious bigotry, antisemitism in the modern period became increasingly racialized and politicized. So what is the connection between older ideas about Jews and Judaism, and contemporary antisemitic tropes and stereotypes? How are conspiratorial fears about Jewish invisibility and global control related to the emergenc...
2022-Jun-12 • 11 minutes
396: Jean-Paul Sartre
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/sartre. Jean-Paul... Sartre was one of the first global public intellectuals, famous for his popular existentialist philosophy, his works of fiction, and his rivalry with Albert Camus. His existentialism was also adopted by Simone de Beauvoir, who used it as a foundation for modern theoretical feminism. So what exactly is existentialism? How is man condemned to be free, as Sartre claimed? And what’s so hellish about other people? John and Ken speak in good faith with Th...
2022-Jun-05 • 10 minutes
490: Conscious Machiness
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/conscious-machines. Computers... have already surpassed us in their ability to perform certain cognitive tasks. Perhaps it won’t be long till every household has a super intelligent robot who can outperform us in almost every domain. While future AI might be excellent at appearing conscious, could AI ever actually become conscious? Would forcing conscious robots to work for us be akin to slavery? And could we design AI that specifically lacks consciousness, or is consci...
2022-May-30 • 11 minutes
546: The Scandalous Truth About Memoir
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/scandalous-truth-about-memoir. A... memoir is a personal narrative written about a pivotal time in the author’s life. While the story is told from a particular perspective, the events recounted are supposed to be fact, not fiction. But what exactly counts as truth in memoir? Is the distinction between “literal truth” and “emotional truth” just a way of shirking responsibility for fabricating falsehoods? What other ethical responsibilities does the memoirist have...
2022-May-22 • 11 minutes
489: The Allure of Authoritarianism
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/allure-authoritarianism. In... George Orwell’s 1984, the party’s “final, most essential command” was “to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.” Authoritarian regimes call on us to accept as fact whatever they tell us; or worse, as Hannah Arendt says, they get us to a point where we no longer know—or care about—the difference between fiction and reality. So why are so many so willing to reject the evidence of their senses and deny basic, confirmable truths? Is there...
2022-May-15 • 12 minutes
482: J.S. Mill and the Good Life
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/mill-and-good-life. John... Stuart Mill was one of the most important British philosophers of the 19th century. As a liberal, he thought that individuals are generally the best judges of their own welfare. But Mill was also a utilitarian who thought that there were objectively lower and higher pleasures and that the good life was one which maximized higher pleasures. So is there a way to reconcile Mill’s liberal project with his utilitarianism? Is the good life ...
2022-May-06 • 11 minutes
545: What Is Ideology?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-ideology. Political... polarization seems to be deepening, both in the U.S. and around the globe. Some believe that the rise of ideology is to blame for growing polarization. But can increased polarization really be attributed to ideology? What is exactly is ideology, and how is it different from dogma? Is ideology a kind of political or philosophical thinking? And how might our understanding of ideology affect how we practice politics? Josh and Ray ideate ...
2022-May-01 • 12 minutes
492: Sanctuary Cities
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/sanctuary-cities. In... the U.S. there are over 500 sanctuary cities—municipalities that limit their cooperation with the federal government’s immigration law enforcement. Although opponents portray sanctuary cities as besieged by crime, empirical data does not bear out such claims. But what actually justifies sanctuary policies in the first place? Do appeals to public health or safety warrant these measures? Or should lack of cooperation be seen as an act of resistance...
2022-Apr-24 • 11 minutes
488: Explanation at Its Best
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/explanation-its-best. In... both everyday life and science, we often feel the pull of simpler, more elegant, or more beautiful explanations. For example, you notice the street is wet and infer the best explanation is that it rained earlier. But are we justified in assuming these tidy explanations are most likely to be true? What makes an explanation “simple” or “elegant” in the first place? And can the “loveliness” of an explanation ever be a good guide to its “...
2022-Apr-17 • 11 minutes
544: What Would Kant Do?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-would-kant-do. German... idealist and moral philosopher Immanuel Kant is probably best known for his "Categorical Imperative," which says that you should act following moral rules you could rationally support as universal law. In other words, do only what you would have everyone else do. But are Kant's rules really a good guide to action? Does he have anything to say about things people confront in everyday life, like friendship, manners, or gossip? Is Kant...
2022-Apr-10 • 11 minutes
543: Why Poetry Matters
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/why-poetry-matters. Some... people say they find poetry impenetrable. Yet readership is increasing: in a 2017 survey, the National Endowment for the Arts found that nearly 12% of adults in the US had read poetry in the last year. So what explains the enduring appeal of poetry as an art form? Are there any limits to who counts as a poet, or what counts as poetry? And what makes a poem good anyway? Josh and Ray wax lyrical with Nobel Prize-winning poet Louise Glüc...
2022-Apr-03 • 10 minutes
485: The Doomsday Doctrine
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/doomsday-doctrine. The... doctrine of mutually assured destruction is supposed to deter both sides in a war from launching the first nuclear strike. However, the strategy of the US, NATO, and other super powers has been to plan the destruction of nearly all life on Earth. If near total annihilation would be monstrous, ethically speaking, then what should we say about preparing for and planning it? Can there be any moral justification for plausibly threatening a ...
2022-Mar-27 • 11 minutes
487: Changing Minds on Climate Change
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/changing-minds-climate-change. There... is consensus among scientists that global warming is real and that it’s caused by human activity. Despite the overwhelming evidence and the urgency to act, there are still many who are skeptical of or flat-out deny climate change. Are these climate deniers simply impervious to scientific evidence? Or have they just not been exposed to the right kind of information? When it comes to ideologically driven views, is it possi...
2022-Mar-13 • 10 minutes
486: Reading the Troubled Past
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/reading-troubled-past. Nigerian... writer Chinua Achebe lambasted Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness as a deeply racist work that should be removed from the Western canon. Defenders of Conrad say the novel is simply an expression of its time and not an endorsement of the racist attitudes it represents. So how do we judge the moral legitimacy of older works of literature and philosophy? Should we shun writers for holding racist or sexist views? Or is it impo...
2022-Mar-07 • 9 minutes
541: #MeToo: Retribution, Accountability, and Justice
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/metoo-retribution-accountability-and-justic... #MeToo movement exposed how pervasive sexual harassment and abuse are, and how rare it is for perpetrators to be held accountable. Although some recent high profile cases have resulted in convictions, more often punishment is meted out by public shaming. So why is it so difficult to hold sexual abusers legally responsible for their actions? Is social retribution a way to achieve some form of justice in lieu of crimin...
2022-Feb-27 • 9 minutes
484: Is Postmodernism Really to Blame for Post-Truth?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/postmodernism-really-blame. Postmodernism... is often characterized by its rejection of concepts championed by the Enlightenment, like meaning, truth, reason, and knowledge. Some philosophers blame postmodernism for making cynicism about truth and facts now respectable in political debate. So is postmodernism responsible for “fake news” and “alternative facts”? Or does it simply provide the tools to describe popular distrust of traditional authorities, like scie...
2022-Feb-20 • 10 minutes
532: Akan Philosophy and Personhood
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/akan-philosophy. The... Akan people of West Africa have developed a system of metaphysics, epistemology, and moral philosophy with a special focus on personhood. For the Akan, their conception of a person is not just a matter of theoretical interest—it has far reaching practical implications for their social institutions and communal practices. So what exactly is the Akan notion of personhood, and how is it rooted in Akan traditional culture? How does the Akan e...
2022-Feb-13 • 10 minutes
437: Polyamory
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/polyamory. In... most if not all modern Western societies, monogamy is the dominant form of romantic relationship. In polyamorous or "open" relationships, however, each person is free to love multiple partners at once. Just as our friendships are non-exclusive, advocates of polyamory believe our romantic relationship should be too. So why do so many people find polyamory distacteful, or even despicable? Is it immoral to love more than one person at a time? Or is...
2022-Feb-06 • 10 minutes
540: Righteous Rage
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/righteous-rage. Stoic... philosopher Seneca wrote that anger is a form of madness. Other philosophers share this suspicion, viewing anger as a destructive emotion that leads to cruel and vengeful acts. But don't certain kinds of injustice, like the murders of black and brown people in the US, deserve our rage? What's the difference between righteous indignation and a destructive urge for revenge? And how can activists channel their anger toward political good? J...
2022-Jan-31 • 10 minutes
539: Marcus Aurelius
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/marcus-aurelius. Marcus... Aurelius was a 2nd century Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher. He is most famous for his Meditations, which was written as a private guide to himself on how to live a life where virtue is the only good and vice the only evil. So how do we figure out how to live a truly Stoic life? What’s the relationship between the wellbeing of an individual and the interest of the larger community? And what can we learn from Marcus about developing ...
2022-Jan-23 • 10 minutes
477: Hacking the Brain – Beyond the Five Senses
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/hacking-brain. Humans... evolved to have a variety of senses—smell, sight, touch, etc.—that provide information about the world around us. Our brains use this sensory information to construct a particular picture of reality. But what if it were technologically possible to hack our brains and create new senses for humans, such as echolocation or magnetoception? How would our brains integrate this new kind of information? What would it be like to perceive the worl...
2022-Jan-17 • 11 minutes
371: The Art of Non-Violence
More at philosophytalk.org/shows/art-non-violenc... all hope for peace. Yet in the face of violence, it often seems the only recourse is more violence. Advocates of non-violence claim it’s not necessary to respond to war in kind, and that responding violently, even in self-defense, just perpetuates the cycle of violence. So how can we practice non-violence under the direct threat of violence? Can non-violent acts be spread to stop aggression and war? And are there times when violence is, in fact, necessary?...
2022-Jan-07 • 9 minutes
538: Could Robots Be Persons?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/could-robots-be-persons. As... we approach the advent of autonomous robots, we must decide how we will determine culpability for their actions. Some propose creating a new legal category of “electronic personhood” for any sufficiently advanced robot that can learn and make decisions by itself. But do we really want to assign artificial intelligence legal—or moral—rights and responsibilities? Would it be ethical to produce and sell something with the status of a ...
2021-Dec-27 • 16 minutes
537: The Examined Year – 2021
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/examined-year-2021. What... happened over the past 12 months that challenged our assumptions and made us think about things in new ways? • The Year in Political Insurrection with former co-host and current Stanford Dean Debra Satz • The Year in Space Tourism with Brian Green from Santa Clara University, author of "Space Ethics" • The Year in the Post-Pandemic Workplace with Quill Kukla from Georgetown University, author of "City Living: How Urban Spaces and U...
2021-Dec-19 • 11 minutes
481: The Limits of Tolerance
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/limits-tolerance. In... order to reach compromise, people try to be tolerant of others with different beliefs. Despite its value, there are numerous factors that may hinder our exercise of tolerance. As the schisms between our beliefs grow larger, what happens when our moral and political ideals put us deeply at odds with your fellow citizens? Do we begrudgingly tolerate them by agree to live and let live? Do we shun them and their benighted views as beyond the ...
2021-Dec-12 • 10 minutes
536: What Can Virtual Reality (Actually) Do?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-can-virtual-reality-actually-do. VR... transports users into all kinds of different realities, some modeled on the real world, others completely invented. Though still in its infancy, the technology has become so sophisticated, it can trick the brain into treating the virtual experience as real and unmediated. So what is the most prudent way to employ this cutting edge technology going forward? Could VR help solve real world problems, like implicit bias or ...
2021-Dec-05 • 12 minutes
480: What Is Religious Belief?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-religious-belief. Many... people profess to believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent God. Yet psychological data shows that people often think and reason about God in ways contrary to their professed religious beliefs. So, are these so-called religious beliefs genuinely held? Or are “believers” just playing an elaborate game of pretense? Is there a difference between ordinary factual belief and religious belief? And what role do people's religiou...
2021-Nov-29 • 10 minutes
535: Should All Ages Be Equal?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/should-all-ages-be-equal. Age... determines a lot about your position in society—what activities you can do, what benefits you can access, and what rights and responsibilities you have. While it seems appropriate to treat people at different stages of life differently, we also consider certain kinds of unequal treatment unjust. So when should we treat people of different ages differently? And when does it become ageism or age discrimination? When does a disadvan...
2021-Nov-21 • 12 minutes
479: Is Philanthropy Bad for Democracy?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philanthropy-bad-democracy. In... a liberal democracy, individuals should have the freedom to give money to charities of their choice. But there’s a difference between charitable giving from ordinary individuals and philanthropic giving from extremely wealthy individuals. Whose interests are served when the wealthy give? Should the state continue to encourage big philanthropy with massive tax breaks for the rich? Or should it focus more on taxing extreme wealth?...
2021-Nov-12 • 10 minutes
534: The Social Lives of Robots
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/social-lives-robots. Machines... might surpass humans in terms of computational intelligence, but when it comes to social intelligence, they’re not very sophisticated. They have difficulty reading subtle cues—like body language, eye gaze, or facial expression—that we pick up on automatically. As robots integrate more and more into human life, how will they figure out the codes for appropriate behavior in different contexts? Can social intelligence be learned via...
2021-Nov-07 • 10 minutes
533: Frege and the Language of Reason
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/frege-and-language-reason. At... the end of the 19th Century, the German philosopher Gottlob Frege invented a new language, based on mathematics, designed to help people reason more logically. His ideas have had a lasting impact on philosophy, math, computer science, and the study of artificial intelligence. And many of the questions that influenced his thinking are still hotly debated today: How much does language influence the thoughts you can think? Could the...
2021-Oct-31 • 10 minutes
237: The Occult Philosophy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/occult-philosophy. The... occult is routinely dismissed in our times as the province of quacks, the irrational, and the superstitious. But during the Renaissance, many of the best minds in Europe studied the philosophy and science of the occult. The period witnessed an outpouring of systematic philosophical and scientific treatises on the occult. References to the occult pervade the works of Shakespeare and other literary writers of the time. Many scholars believe th...
2021-Oct-17 • 12 minutes
417: John Dewey and the Ideal of Democracy
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/john-dewey. John... Dewey is regarded by some as the American philosopher. In the first half of the 20th century, he stood as the most prominent public intellectual whose influence reached into intellectual movements in China, Japan, and India. Although we hear less of Dewey nowadays, his pragmatic political philosophy has influenced the likes of Richard Rorty and other political thinkers. What were the basic ideas in his philosophy of democracy? Does America ha...
2021-Oct-12 • 10 minutes
531: The Mysterious Timelessness of Math
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/mysterious-timelessness-math. Math... is a really useful subject—at least, that's what your parents and teachers told you. But math also leads to scenarios, like Zeno's paradoxes, that seem to inspire skepticism. So why do we believe in math and rely on it to build bridges and spaceships? How can anyone discover the secrets of the universe by simply scribbling numbers on a piece of paper? Is math some kind of magic, or does it have a more ordinary explanation? A...
2021-Oct-03 • 11 minutes
476: Immigration and Multiculturalism
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/immigration-and-multiculturalism. Whether... for economic reasons or to flee violence and persecution, immigration rates continue to climb globally. At the same time, opposition to immigration and intolerance of multiculturalism is also growing. Should cultural or ethnic identity ever be a factor in immigration policy? Do immigrants have an obligation to assimilate to the dominant culture? Or should we make cultural accommodations for immigrants who don’t share ...
2021-Sep-26 • 11 minutes
177: Gandhi as a Philosopher
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/gandhi-philosopher. Gandhi... is famous as the leader of the movement for Indian independence, which he based on his philosophy of non-violence, an important influence on Martin Luther King Jr. Gandhi's ideas and the effects of his leadership continue to influence the world and its leaders. What was the philosophical basis these ideas? Is non-violence a strategy for a certain purpose, or the basis for a way of life? Ken and John welcome Akeel Bilgrami, Director of...
2021-Sep-19 • 12 minutes
474: What Do We Owe Future Generations?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-do-we-owe-future-generations. We... talk about owing future generations a better world. We might also think that we should do things for future generations even if our actions might not benefit present-day people. But is it possible to have obligations to people who are not yet born? Can people who do not exist be said to have rights that we should respect? And if they do, what do we do if our rights and theirs conflict? Josh and Ken are obliged to welcome ...
2021-Sep-12 • 11 minutes
478: Authority and Resistance
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/authority-and-resistance. Authority... can refer to people or institutions that have the political power to make decisions, give orders, and enforce rules. It can also refer to a certain kind of expertise or knowledge that we might defer to. Sometimes we respect authority, and sometimes we resist it or even revolt against it. But where exactly does authority come from, and when, if ever, ought we defer to it? How do we challenge authority? What makes an authorit...
2021-Sep-05 • 16 minutes
526: (End of) Summer Reading List 2021
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2021. As... some parts of our lives return to some kind of normal, Josh and Ray ask authors and philosophers about what's been on their summer reading lists. • Cory Doctorow on "Making Hay," his short story in "Make Shift: Dispatches from the Post-Pandemic Future" • Helen De Cruz from Saint Louis University, co-editor of "Philosophy Through Science Fiction Stories: Exploring the Boundaries of the Possible" Plus Michaela Bronstein from the ...
2021-Aug-29 • 10 minutes
530: The Ethics of Awesomeness
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/ethics-awesomeness. The... word “awesome” once meant inspiring extreme fear or dread. Nowadays it’s mostly used as a general purpose exclamation of approval. So when we describe a person as awesome, are we saying that they exemplify some general form of excellence? Or are awesome people those who break specific social norms to generate moments of creative expression and social connection? Would the world be a better place if we all aimed to be more awesome and l...
2021-Aug-22 • 11 minutes
473: Envy – Vice or Virtue?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/envy-vice-or-virtue. Bertrand... Russell said that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness, and it's well known as one of the seven deadly sins. But is envy always a bad thing? Is it simply a petty emotion we should try to avoid, or could envy help us understand ourselves more? Is envy rooted in unhealthy comparison with others, or does it come from our own vision of excellence? Could envy even be used to improve ourselves? Josh and Ken consider wh...
2021-Aug-15 • 11 minutes
529: Microaggressions
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/microaggressions. Microaggressions... are small comments or questions that may be insulting or hurtful to another person because of their race, gender, sexuality, and so on. Some people consider microaggressions to be a phantom symptom of political correctness and a further sign that society has become “soft,” while others see them as a problematic way of normalizing bigotry. So how do microagressions compare to other types of moral harms? Do they add up to stru...
2021-Aug-08 • 10 minutes
469: The Creative Life
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/creative-life. Parents... and students alike often think that a college major defines possible career options. Yet what distinguishes today's work world from bygone times is that it's quite common for adults to have a variety of different careers in a single lifetime. So what can students do now to ensure happiness and fulfillment in all possible future careers? Are there some majors that cultivate greater creativity in our career choices? And what unique life s...
2021-Aug-01 • 17 minutes
521: The 2021 Dionysus Awards
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/2021-dionysus-awards. After... a year in which "entertainment" took on a whole new meaning, what were the movies that challenged our assumptions and made us think about things in new ways? Josh and guest co-host Jeremy Sabol talk to philosophers and listeners as they present our eighth annual Dionysus Awards for the most thoughtful films of the past year, including: • Best Film Painting a World Without Men • Best Picture That Packs All of American History Into ...
2021-Jul-27 • 10 minutes
528: Referring to the World — Ken's Final Work
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/referring-world. On... December 2, 2019, Ken Taylor announced that he finally had “an almost complete draft” of a book he had been writing for years. “I think I'll pour a glass of wine to mark the occasion, before plunging back into the work that is still to be done,” he wrote. Tragically and unexpectedly, he died later that same day. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of some colleagues, his book, "Referring to the World: An Opinionated Introduction to the ...
2021-Jul-18 • 11 minutes
471: Foreign Aid – or Injury?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/foreign-aid-or-injury. Many... of us might think that developed nations should lead the effort to end global poverty. But decades of foreign aid—from governments and non-governmental organizations—has failed to produce sustainable growth in the developing world. How can we empower local actors to become self-sufficient rather than dependent on foreign aid? Is there a way to help those in the developing world without inadvertently giving more power to corrupt dic...
2021-Jul-09 • 10 minutes
527: Your Brain on Literature
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/your-brain-literature. Cognitive... science has revolutionized our understanding of the brain and how it functions. Researchers have even used fMRI to detect differences in the way people engage with literature. But can contemporary science really teach us anything about how novels, poems, and movies work? Do new understandings of the unconscious help us appreciate the brilliant magic tricks that writers pull off? And could a better picture of mental imagery i...
2021-Jul-04 • 12 minutes
470: Foucault and Power
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/foucault-and-power. Michel... Foucault was a 20th century philosopher known for his work concerning power and knowledge. Foucault is often cited for his theory of knowledge and power, which are inextricably linked. But what exactly is Foucault's philosophy of power? Is it a universal theory intended to be applied in any context, or was Foucault simply responding to the specific power dynamics of his time? Josh and Ken take power from Gary Gutting from the Univer...
2021-Jun-27 • 11 minutes
468: Does Reputation Matter?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/does-reputation-matter. We... think about about our own reputation all the time, and we constantly reference the reputations of the people we meet and interact with. But why do we care so much about reputation? Is it rational for us to rely on reputation so heavily in our day-to-day lives? Are judgments about reputation just a handy social screening mechanism or something much more nefarious? Josh and Ken manage their reputations with Gloria Origgi from the Inst...
2021-Jun-13 • 12 minutes
467: Can Reason Save Us?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/can-reason-save-us. To... an optimist, things are constantly getting better: disease and extreme poverty are down; life expectancy, literacy, and equality are up; and it’s all thanks to the glory of human reason. But a pessimist would point to the continuing presence of injustice, oppression, and war, and the dangers of global warming and nuclear annihilation. So who's right? Are we really living in an age of progress? And can reason really save us? Josh and Ken...
2021-Jun-06 • 11 minutes
525: Nonduality and the Oneness of Being
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/nonduality-and-oneness-being. Some... branches of Hindu philosophy propose that reality is nondual in nature. Such schools of thought—called advaita schools, from a Sanskrit word meaning “not two”—see the material world either as an aspect of ultimate reality (“Brahman”) or as a mere illusion. So how do we make sense of the appearance of variety in a metaphysics of oneness? Is there room for individual selves within advaita philosophy? What can be known? And wha...
2021-May-30 • 10 minutes
465: The Psychology of Cruelty
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/psychology-cruelty. Throughout... history, people have committed all kinds of cruel, degrading, and evil acts toward other people. Many believe that for evil acts like genocide to be even possible, the victims must first be dehumanized by the perpetrators, starting with dehumanizing language or propaganda. But is this lack of empathy always at the heart of human cruelty? When we call others “vermin,” “roaches,” or “animals” are we thereby denying their humanity?...
2021-May-24 • 9 minutes
524: The Lives and Ideas of the Vienna Circle
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/vienna-circle. The... Vienna Circle was a group of early twentieth-century philosophers, mathematicians, logicians, and scientists, best known for developing the theory of scientific knowledge called logical positivism. Although positivism as a project has been largely abandoned, the group's ideas continue to have profound influence on contemporary philosophy of science. So what philosophical theories were proposed by the Vienna Circle? How might the socio-polit...
2021-May-16 • 10 minutes
464: The Athlete as Philosopher
More as https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/athlete-philosopher. For... the ancient Greeks, sport was an integral part of education. Athletic programs remain in schools today, but there is a growing gap between the modern sports experience and enduring educational values such as self-discovery, responsibility, respect, and citizenship. Is there a way to bridge this gap? Can sports be a means to teach values such as these? Josh and Ken try out with Heather Reid from Morningside College, author of "The Phil...
2021-May-07 • 9 minutes
523: Disinformation and the Future of Democracy
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/disinformation-and-future-democracy. The... 2020 election and startling events that followed show that the US is as polarized as ever. Not only is there fundamental disagreement over values and goals, but people can’t seem to agree on the most basic, easily verifiable facts, like who actually won. With so many seemingly living in an alternative reality, how do we continue the business of democracy together? Should we adopt paternalistic policies towards fellow c...
2021-May-02 • 11 minutes
461: Radical Markets - Solutions for a Gilded Age?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/radical-markets. Many... people think that growing inequality, the rise of populism and nativism, and the decay of democratic institutions all have the same cause—the overreach of markets. The solution, they believe, is to limit the market through regulation. But what if rather than shrinking the market, the answer lies in expanding the market? Is it possible that we haven't let markets go far enough? Do our current regulations lead to too many monopolies? And c...
2021-Apr-25 • 10 minutes
522: Montaigne and the Art of the Essay
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/montaigne-and-art-essay. French... thinker Michel de Montaigne invented a whole new genre in which to do philosophy: the essay. But in his use of that form, Montaigne repeatedly digresses and contradicts himself. So why did he think the essay was a good medium for philosophy? What impact did Montaigne’s invention have on his own philosophical work, and on the centuries of thought that followed? Are there particular forms of writing that help us live a more philo...
2021-Apr-18 • 11 minutes
463: The Ethics of Algorithms
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/morality-algorithms. Recent... years have seen the rise of machine learning algorithms surrounding us in our homes and back pockets. They're increasingly used in everything from recommending movies to guiding sentencing in criminal courts, thanks to their being perceived as unbiased and fair. But can algorithms really be objective when they are created by biased human programmers? Are such biased algorithms inherently immoral? And is there a way to resist immora...
2021-Apr-04 • 11 minutes
462: Does Science Over-reach?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/does-science-over-reach. We've... all heard the phrase, "You can't argue with science." Appealing to scientific fact as a way to settle a question makes sense given the amazing advancements science has brought us in understanding how the world works. But should we take the accomplishments of science as evidence for scientism—the view that science is the best and only way to acquire genuine knowledge? Does faith in science require that we disregard all non-scient...
2021-Mar-28 • 12 minutes
458: Repugnant Markets – Should Everything Be For Sale?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/repugnant-markets. We... might ban buying or selling horse meat in the US not for the protection of horses, but because we find it morally repugnant. Yet this moral repugnance is clearly not universal, and on some level may even be arbitrary, given France's attitude toward horse meat. What role, if any, should moral repugnance play in determining the rules of our marketplaces? Even if we want to eliminate the influence of moral repugnance, can we? Debra and Ken ...
2021-Mar-21 • 9 minutes
520: What Is Masculinity?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-masculinity. Strong,... in control, and stoic—these are traits of the ideal masculine man. Men who fail to conform to this ideal are often penalized, particularly if they are men of color, queer men, working-class men, or men with disabilities. So how do we create different visions of masculinity that make room for all kinds of men? Should we abandon the idea of masculinity altogether, or would that be throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Which models ...
2021-Mar-14 • 11 minutes
451: Misogyny and Gender Inequality
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/misogyny. With... the recent #MeToo viral campaign, along with the wave of prominent male figures toppled for being serial sexual harassers or worse, the topic of misogyny has come into sharp focus. But what exactly is misogyny? And how does it differ from sexism? What set of beliefs or attitudes makes someone a misogynist? And why does misogyny persist despite the fact that traditional gender roles are being abandoned more and more? Ken and Debra explore the tr...
2021-Mar-06 • 11 minutes
459: The Value of Care — Feminism and Ethics
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/value-care. We... sometimes think of the domains of ethics and morality as divorced from feeling and emotion. You keep your promises because it maximizes good. But what if care were thought of as the bedrock of morality? While we know that more care work is performed by women, would a care-based approach to ethics be feminist, or merely feminine? What would it look like for us to build our institutions around the goal of promoting care? Debra and Ken take care to welcom...
2021-Mar-01 • 11 minutes
519: What Has Replaced Freud?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-has-replaced-freud. Although... the concept that we can have thoughts and desires hidden from consciousness can be traced back to antiquity, it was Freud who truly popularized it in the twentieth century. Now Freud’s theory of the unconscious mind has mostly been abandoned for being unscientific and lacking in empirical evidence. So what has replaced it? Are newer theories that reference “automatic systems” or “implicit attitudes” any more scientific than F...
2021-Feb-21 • 10 minutes
180: John Rawls
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/john-rawls. John... Rawls was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. In his book "A Theory of Justice" he articulated a concept of justice as fairness, which won many fans among liberals, and provoked important responses from thoughtful libertarians such as Robert Nozick. Ken and John explore Rawls' ideas with one of his students, Joshua Cohen from UC Berkeley (formerly of Stanford University).
2021-Feb-14 • 10 minutes
280: What Is Love?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-love. It... may seem doubtful that philosophers have much to tell us about love (beyond their love of wisdom). Surely it is the poets who have the market cornered when it comes to deep reflection on the nature of love. John and Ken question the notion that love cannot be captured by the light of reason by turning their attention to the philosophy of love with philosopher-poet Troy Jollimore from CSU Chico. Troy is the author of "Love’s Vision," as well as two co...
2021-Feb-06 • 9 minutes
80: W.E.B. Du Bois
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/web-du-bois. Sociologist,... historian, philosopher, editor, writer, and activist, W.E.B. DuBois was one of the most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century. The first African-American Ph.D. from Harvard University, DuBois died in Ghana after having renounced his American citizenship. In between he co-founded the NAACP and wrote "The Souls of Black Folk" (1903) as well as a number of other influential books that had a decisive impact on the development of ...
2021-Jan-27 • 11 minutes
518: The Rhetoric of Big Tech
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/rhetoric-big-tech. Big... Tech is known for its "disruption" of established industries and changing fundamental aspects of our lives from shopping and delivery to communication and transit. While many welcome these changes, there are also worries about privacy, fairness, and deregulation. So how do tech companies think about what it is they are doing and what justifies it? Who are their philosophical sources, and do they use them responsibly? What role does New ...
2021-Jan-24 • 11 minutes
455: Trolling, Bullying, and Flame Wars - Humility and Online Discourse
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/trolling-bullying-and-flame-wars. Open... up any online comments section and you’ll find them: internet trolls, from the mildly inflammatory to the viciously bullying. It seems that the ease of posting online leads many to abandon any semblance of intellectual humility. So can we have intellectual humility on an anonymous forum with little oversight and accountability? Does current online behavior portend the end of humility in the public domain? How do we encou...
2021-Jan-13 • 10 minutes
517: Democracy By Numbers
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/democracy-numbers. The... United States prides itself on being “the world’s greatest democracy,” which adheres to the principle, “one person, one vote.” Despite this, its elections are often highly contentious—presidents can be elected after losing the popular vote, there is widespread gerrymandering and voter purging, and not everyone has equal representation in the Senate. So what can we do to make elections in the US more fair? And how do we decide what count...
2021-Jan-10 • 14 minutes
502: Comforting Conversations (Part 2)
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/comforting-conversations-pt2. In... troubling, uncertain times, the arts and humanities are more important than ever. Engaging with works of literature can provide both much needed insight into our current struggles and a sense of perspective in a crisis. In what ways do novels or plays help us come to terms with human suffering? Can fictional narratives about past pandemics shed light on our current situation? And how can storytelling or music help bring us together in...
2021-Jan-03 • 13 minutes
501: Comforting Coversations (Part 1)
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/comforting-conversations-pt1. In... troubling, uncertain times, the arts and humanities are more important than ever. Engaging with works of literature can provide both much needed insight into our current struggles and a sense of perspective in a crisis. In what ways do novels or plays help us come to terms with human suffering? Can fictional narratives about past pandemics shed light on our current situation? And how can storytelling or music help bring us together in...
2020-Dec-26 • 19 minutes
516: The Examined Year – 2020
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/examined-year-2020....
2020-Dec-20 • 12 minutes
457: Faith and Humiity
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/faith-and-humility. Some... would argue that faith requires that one blindly—rather than rationally— believe. Faith in one ‘true’ religion often entails rejection of all others. Given this, can there ever be humility when it comes to religious faith? How unwavering should the faithful be when it comes to their religious convictions, attitudes, and actions? Should we encourage religious humility, or would it taint the very concept of faith? Can religious faith an...
2020-Dec-10 • 10 minutes
515: Minds and Matter
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/minds-and-matter. Everything... that seems to have a mind also has a body made of flesh and blood. But if we look at the diversity of animals found in the world, we find a huge variety of species that perceive and interact with the world in very different ways. Is there something all these species have in common? Are neurons and ganglia required, or can evolution generate consciousness in different ways? What can the study of evolutionary biology tell us about t...
2020-Dec-06 • 12 minutes
456: Are We Alone?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/are-we-alone. News... that life might exist or have existed on Mars or somewhere else in our universe excites many. But should we really be happy to hear that news? What are the philosophical implications of the possibility of extraterrestrial life? If life can blossom in our own cosmic backyard, then that means that the universe is most likely saturated with life forms. And if that’s the case, why haven’t we found any evidence of other civilizations? Is it beca...
2020-Nov-26 • 11 minutes
514: The Arts For All?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/arts-all. When... we think of “real” art, we often think of expensive, highbrow pieces that are displayed in museums and galleries, and critiqued by the elite. In fact, people commonly lament that they don’t know enough about art to truly understand or appreciate the works that they encounter. So should art aim to be accessible to everyone? Or is it ever okay to sacrifice accessibility for other competing aims that art can pursue? Do artists have a duty to make ...
2020-Nov-22 • 12 minutes
389: Spinoza
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/spinoza. Baruch... Spinoza was a 17th century Dutch philosopher who laid the foundations for the Enlightenment. He made the controversial claim that there is only one substance in the universe, which led him to the pantheistic belief in an abstract, impersonal God. What effect did Spinoza have on Enlightenment thinkers? What are the philosophical – and religious – consequences of believing that there is only one substance in the universe? And why do scientists t...
2020-Nov-15 • 10 minutes
513: Are We All to Blame?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/are-we-all-blame. It’s... easy to identify the pressing issues facing our world today, but it’s much more difficult to assign responsibility for them. Often the blame is placed on collectives — on entire governments, nations, and societies. But does the responsibility truly all fall to them? How can we identify precisely whose fault it is, for example, that we are experiencing climate change, or that hate crimes occur, or that there is a gender wage gap? Or do w...
2020-Nov-01 • 11 minutes
454: Monstrous Technologies?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/monstrous-technologies. Mary... Shelley’s Frankenstein raises powerful questions about the responsibilities of scientists to consider the impact of their inventions on the world. Are these questions as relevant now as they were 200 years ago? What insights, if any, should today’s technologists and disrupters glean from Shelley's story? What does it mean to take responsibility for one’s scientific or technological innovations? And what role should university educ...
2020-Oct-23 • 12 minutes
512: What's in a Game?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/whats-game. Games... have been an integral part of human society since the earliest civilizations. They are played around the world by people at every rank and station, at every stage of life, from childhood to old age. Why do we love games so much? Are they just a pleasant way of whiling away some empty hours or escaping the daily grind? Or do we play games to form social bonds and build important life skills? Are there some games we should never play? And what...
2020-Oct-18 • 9 minutes
511: Why We Hate
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/why-we-hate. The... Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the number of hate groups operating in the U.S. has risen to a record high. There has also been a corresponding increase in hate crime violence. So where does all this hate come from? Do we hate others because we feel a deeper sense of alienation or fear towards them? Is hating always the wrong response, or is there an appropriate kind of hate? Can we love and hate at the same time? And what's the diff...
2020-Oct-11 • 10 minutes
164: Hannah Arendt
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/hannah-arendt. Hannah... Arendt was one of the most original and influential philosophers of the 20th century. Her work considered historical and contemporary political events, such as the rise and fall of Nazism, and drew conclusions about the relation between the individual and society. John and Ken tackle Arendt'eyla Benhabib from Yale University, editor of "Politics in Dark Times: Encounters with Hannah Arendt."
2020-Sep-30 • 10 minutes
510: Science and Skepticism
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/science-and-skepticism. In... recent decades, we’ve witnessed intense cultural wars waged on scientifically established phenomena, such as climate change and the benefit of vaccines. Of course, we might agree that some degree of skepticism about the world around us is good—it would be impractical and even dangerous for us to blindly accept everything we are told as fact. But is skepticism always healthy? Or is there a point at which one’s skepticism regarding a ...
2020-Sep-26 • 12 minutes
452: How to Humbly Disagree
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/how-humbly-disagree. People... like to argue, especially Philosophy Talk listeners! But no matter how hard we try to resolve disputes through rational discourse, sometimes we may still disagree about important issues. One response to this predicament is simply to agree to disagree. But should the mere fact of disagreement lower our confidence in our views? Should we change how we judge our own beliefs when we realize that other people disagree? Or do we only hav...
2020-Sep-20 • 11 minutes
378: Heidegger
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/heidegger. Best... known for his work "Being and Time," Martin Heidegger has been hailed by many as the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century. He has also been criticized for being both nearly unreadable and a Nazi. Yet there is no disputing his seminal place in the history of Western thought. So what did Heidegger mean when he wrote about world, being, and time? What significance does he still hold as a thinker today, especially as a philosopher of mode...
2020-Sep-13 • 11 minutes
509: Citizenship and Justice
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/citizenship-and-justice. Securing... citizenship to a developed country could guarantee people enormous privileges and opportunities. Some condemn those who try illegally to reap the benefits that come with such citizenship. But are our ways of determining who gets to enter borders arbitrary and unfair? Should we grant border access to people born in a nation’s territories, or also on people whose parents were citizens? Or should we favor the highly skilled who ...
2020-Sep-06 • 12 minutes
453: Adorno and the Culture Industry
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/culture-industry. What's... your favorite movie? Did you watch that season finale last night? No spoilers! Popular cultures pervades modern life. But what if pop culture was actually more pernicious than we ordinarily think? Could it be systematically deceiving us—eroding our ability to think for ourselves and fight for change? That's what the 20th century German philosopher Theodor Adorno thought. The Philosophers get cultured on Adorno's life and thought with Adrian D...
2020-Aug-27 • 10 minutes
508: The Merits of Meritocracy
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/merits-meritocracy. For... centuries, the promise of the “American Dream” has been that as long as someone buckles down and works hard, she can achieve her goals. In other words, we’ve perpetuated the meritocratic notion that the more effort one puts in and the more ability one possesses, the more success one can attain. But is this really the case? Given the historical and societal disadvantages that certain groups of people face, it may appear that a strict me...
2020-Aug-22 • 17 minutes
500: (There's Still) Time for Summer Reading
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/time-summer-reading. When... John and Ken began shopping around their idea for a philosophy-on-the-radio show nearly 20 years ago, many believed it would never work, let alone stay on the air. Nearly two decades later, the program that questions everything (except your intelligence) has hit 500 episodes -- just in time for current co-hosts Josh and Ray to spend our annual summer reading special thinking about time and books about time. • Physicist Carlo Rovelli...
2020-Aug-09 • 10 minutes
507: Can Streets Disciminate?
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/can-streets-discriminate. City... streets play an important role in our everyday lives. We commute to work, walk our dogs, meet our friends, and stage protests on city streets. In theory, streets are open for anyone to physically access. But do streets, by their design, actually discriminate against certain people? If so, who has less access to city streets? Is the design of our cities a political matter? Can we even talk about cities as being just or unjust by design? ...
2020-Jul-24 • 11 minutes
506: The Ethical Jerk
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/ethical-jerk. Ethics... philosophers are more ethical than the average person — right? Well, maybe not. Studies show that philosophy professors are just as biased as the rest of us, and no more generous in their charitable giving. So does that mean they’re not any more ethical too? What’s the point of doing moral philosophy if it’s not to make ourselves more ethical? How can we make ourselves better people? Or are we doomed to moral mediocrity, despite our best efforts ...
2020-Jul-19 • 11 minutes
448: Frantz Fanon and the Violence of Colonialism
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/frantz-fanon. Frantz... Fanon is a thinker who has inspired radical liberation movements in places ranging from Palestine to South Africa to the United States. Most famous for his work "The Wretched of the Earth," Fanon is often understood as a proponent of revolutionary violence. But is this a fair characterization of Fanon, or is it an oversimplification of a deeper and richer body of work? What exactly is Fanon’s philosophy of violence, and how does it relate...
2020-Jun-26 • 9 minutes
504: Pet Ethics
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/pet-ethics. Many... of us, even the staunchest animal activists, usually take it for granted that keeping a pet is morally acceptable. But regardless of how well we treat our animal “companions,” by keeping pets we are declaring ownership and paternal authority over other living creatures, and confining them to our homes. Is there any good moral justification for the keeping of pets? What makes some, if any, animals suitable as pets but not others? Do we have a special ...
2020-Jun-06 • 11 minutes
397: White Privilege and Racial Injustice
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/white-privilege-and-racial-injustice. “White... privilege” has become a buzzword in discussions about racial inequality and racial justice. The call to “check your privilege” appeals to those privileged to acknowledge the various ways they receive special treatment that others don’t. But when white people explicitly acknowledge their privilege, does this do anything to further racial equality? Is talking about “white privilege” just a way to assuage white liberal guilt?...
2020-May-31 • 9 minutes
503: Covid Conundrums and Moral Dilemmas
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/covid-conundrums. In... just months the world changed radically, and we have all had to adjust our lifestyles to stop the spread of Covid-19. Those working on the frontlines are taking on great personal risk while the rest of us are required to socially distance. But even if you follow all the guidelines, you may still face moral dilemmas. Is it ethical to order non-essential goods online, putting low wage workers at risk for your own comfort? What should you do if your...
2020-May-03 • 11 minutes
354: Machiavelli
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/machiavelli. Niccolò... Machiavelli is best known for arguing that people in power should use deception, force, and manipulation if those tactics are necessary to achieve their ends. In an age of unscrupulous politics and ruthless business practice, shouldn't we be encouraging a move away from Machiavellian thinking? Then again, are we even sure that those "Machiavellian" views were really Machiavelli's? If not, what did he really think, and what might we learn from him...
2020-Apr-27 • 10 minutes
499: (Why) Money Matters
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/why-money-matters. Money,... they say, does not buy happiness; but having none can make life extraordinarily hard. Whether we have a little or a lot, we are all familiar with how much money matters in our daily lives. But what exactly is money? Is it a commodity that evolved spontaneously from systems of barter? Or is it purely an invention of government, used as a means to pay off tax liability? What difference would the answer make to things like job creation, inflati...
2020-Apr-19 • 11 minutes
278: Poetry as a Way of Knowing
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/poetry-way-knowing. What... is poetry? Mere word play? A pretty, or at any rate striking, way of expressing thought and emotion? Or does great poetry involve an approach to the world that provides insight and information not available in other ways? Ken and John explore how poetry can illuminate what we know with award-winning poet Jane Hirshfield, author of "Come, Thief" and other poetic works of philosophical richness.
2020-Apr-12 • 9 minutes
498: Philosophy and the Superhero
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-superhero. Philosophy... is replete with thought experiments featuring characters like Descartes’ “Evil Genius” and Davidson’s “Swampman.” Some of the scenarios philosophers conjure up seem like they could’ve been plucked from a superhero comic. Or is it the other way around? Why do philosophy and superhero comics employ such similar thought experiments? Is there something about the comic book—a medium that is both visual and lexical—that particularly len...
2020-Apr-05 • 10 minutes
447: Fractured Identities
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/fractured-identities. Despite... tremendous strides made towards civil and political rights in the United States, discrimination and exclusion based on race, class, gender, and sexuality are still pervasive. As a result, individuals seen as "the other" often experience a painful inner fracturing W.E.B. Du Bois called "double consciousness." So, how does one shape a coherent identity in a world where one is considered "other"? What effects do micro aggressions have on th...
2020-Mar-29 • 9 minutes
446: Philosophy of Retirement
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-retirement. Many... of us look forward to retirement, that time in life when we stop working for a living. But what exactly is retirement and why do we retire? Does retirement always mean an end to work, or can it sometimes just mean a shift to a different kind of work? Ought we retire for purely selfish reasons, such as to give ourselves more leisure time? Or ought we retire for the public good, to give younger people greater opportunities for employment? In...
2020-Mar-22 • 11 minutes
444: Can Speech Kill?
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/can-speech-kill. Free... speech is one of the core tenets of our democracy. We’re inclined to think that more speech is always better. Although the Supreme Court has outlined some minor restrictions to our right to free speech, the most courts are willing to admit is that speech can lead to violence—it cannot itself do violence. But is it possible for speech to do both? If hate speech is used against a marginalized group, couldn’t the speech act literally do harm? And h...
2020-Mar-16 • 15 minutes
497: The 2020 Dionysus Awards
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/2020-dionysus-awards. What... movies of the past year challenged our assumptions and made us think about things in new ways? Josh and guest co-host Jeremy Sabol talk to philosophers and listeners as they present their seventh (mostly) annual Dionysus Awards for the most thoughtful films of the past year. • Most Stimulating and Stressful Vision of today's America • Most Morally Enthralling and/or Desensitizing Film • Dopest Doctored Documentary
2020-Mar-08 • 10 minutes
443: Midlife and Meaning
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/midlife-and-meaning. At... some point or another, the midlife crisis comes for us all. But what is it really about? Is it a sense of our mortality, the fear of not achieving what we hoped to, or the sinking feeling that we’ve been spending our whole adult lives chasing our tails? And what is the solution: a new car, a new life goal, or the choice to give up goals altogether? Ken and Josh entertain the possibilities with Kieran Setiya from MIT, author of "Midlife: A Phil...
2020-Feb-29 • 10 minutes
442: Philosophy of Trash
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-trash. "One... man's trash is another man's treasure," or so the saying goes. But what makes something trash to begin with? The word can be used to describe disposable objects, pieces of culture, or even people. Underlying each of these uses, however, are feelings of indifference, disdain, or disgust. How do the things that we call trash reflect our values, as individuals, and as a society? What can we learn about ourselves by examining the things we deem wor...
2020-Feb-24 • 11 minutes
496: Is the Self an Illusion?
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/self-illusion. Most... of us think it’s obvious that we have a self, but famously, both Buddhism and British philosopher David Hume are skeptical that such a thing exists. What in the world could it mean to deny that the self exists? Could ‘the self’ just refer to a series of perceptions and feelings we have over time? If so, then whose perceptions and feelings are they? Is there any way Buddhism could have influenced Hume’s thinking on the illusory nature of the self? ...
2020-Feb-16 • 11 minutes
440: The Internet of Things
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/internet-things. Smart... TVs, refrigerators, cars, and houses—the internet of things refers to the networking of all the devices in our lives, as they gather data and interact with one another, apparently to make our lives easier. How will this augmented connectivity affect the way we live? If government agencies or hackers can potentially access the data our devices gather, what will become of privacy? Josh and Ken get smart with renowned computer scientist Carl Hewit...
2020-Feb-09 • 10 minutes
439: A World Without Work
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/world-without-work. Work:... a lot lot of people do it, and a lot of people don’t seem to like it very much. But as computers and artificial intelligence get increasingly sophisticated, more and more of our workers will lose their jobs to technology. Should we view this inevitability with hope or with despair? Without the order and purpose that meaningful work provides in our lives, would we end up bored and restless? What obligations does government have to deal with t...
2020-Feb-02 • 11 minutes
441: Race Matters
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/race-matters. Started... in the wake of George Zimmerman's 2013 acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has become a powerful campaign demanding redress for the mistreatment of African-Americans by law enforcement in the United States. But it has also inspired deep antipathy from those who claim it overemphasizes racial issues. So how much does – and should – race matter? Does #BlackLivesMatter speak for all black people? How should we r...
2020-Jan-27 • 9 minutes
495: Death of the Sentence
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/death-sentence. A... child’s first sentence is a pivotal moment in her development when she is recognized as now capable of communicating complete thoughts. But in the twenty-first century, thoughts have become increasingly mediated by technology, and language more careless and informal as a result. Are texts, emails, tweets, and emojis responsible for the decline of the formal, grammatical sentence? Are our writing standards getting worse, or are they simply changing w...
2020-Jan-18 • 12 minutes
438: Post-Truth Politics
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/post-truth-politics. You've... probably heard about the dangerous effects of fake news, and the spread of sensational and targeted falsities. But what about "legitimate" news, one might still ask? Well, do you want the "liberal truth" or the "conservative truth"? Just stick to the facts? What if my "facts" differ from yours? Listen to science? Those scientists are all in someone's pocket, you know. Can we know anything anymore in this age of epistemic nihilism? Have we ...
2019-Dec-30 • 52 minutes
493: Ken Taylor Tribute
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/ken-taylor-tribute. The... Philosophy Talk team was deeply saddened by Ken Taylor's untimely passing earlier this month. Ken was the show's co-founder, longtime co-host, chief cheerleader, and guiding light. In this special episode, co-hosts Josh Landy and Debra Satz, along with host emeritus and co-creator John Perry, remember their colleague and friend. They also hear from past guests, former students, and others touched by Ken's life and work. We're also touched and...
2019-Dec-20 • 11 minutes
436: Could the Laws of Physics Ever Change?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/could-laws-physics-change. From... airplanes flying overhead to the cellular activity inside us, all events that take place in the world obey the laws of physics. Physicists seem to be getting closer and closer to understanding the physical laws that govern our universe. But what if our physical laws changed? Could that even be possible? How might changing of physical laws affect us? Or is just that what we take to be laws changes over time? Should we still call...
2019-Dec-14 • 11 minutes
434: Cognitive Bias
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/cognitive-bias. Aristotle... thought that rationality was the faculty that distinguished humans from other animals. However, psychological research shows that our judgments are plagued by systematic, irrational, unconscious errors known as ‘cognitive biases.’ In light of this research, can we really be confident in the superiority of human rationality? How much should we trust our own judgments when we are aware of our susceptibility to bias and error? And does our awar...
2019-Dec-07 • 12 minutes
435: Driverless Cars at the Moral Crossroads
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/driverless-cars-moral-crossroads. Autonomous... vehicles are quickly emerging as the next innovation that will change society in radical ways. Champions of this new technology say that driverless cars, which are programed to obey the law and avoid collisions, will be safer than human controlled vehicles. But how do we program these vehicles to act ethically? Should we trust computer programmers to determine the most ethical response to all possible scenarios the vehicle...
2019-Dec-01 • 11 minutes
432: Habermas and Democracy
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/habermas-and-democracy. Jürgen... Habermas is regarded as one of the last great public intellectuals of Europe and a major contributor to the philosophy of democracy. A member of the Frankfurt School, Habermas argues that humans can have rational communication that will lead to the democratization of society and consensus. But should we be so optimistic? Why does Habermas have faith in our ability to establish this so-called rational communication and to reach c...
2019-Nov-24 • 12 minutes
431: Nonhuman Rights
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/nonhuman-rights. Human... rights—like freedom from discrimination and slavery— are fundamental rights and freedoms that every person enjoys simply because they're human. But what about other animals, like monkeys, elephants, and dolphins? Should they enjoy similar fundamental rights? If we can extend the legal notion of personhood to inanimate, abstract objects like corporations, then shouldn’t we also extend it to other sentient creatures? How should we understand the ...
2019-Nov-10 • 10 minutes
430: Should Beliefs Aim at Truth?
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/should-beliefs-aim-truth. If... beliefs can be described as having a goal or purpose, then surely that is something like aiming at the truth. Yet we all hold many false beliefs too. Do these false beliefs fail to meet their goal? Or are there some things we believe simply because they make us feel good? Could the goal of beliefs sometimes be to provide comfort? Or must all beliefs—unlike, say, desires and wishes—be based on some kind of justification or evidence? Josh a...
2019-Nov-04 • 11 minutes
491: Hobbes and the Ideal Citizen
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/hobbes-and-ideal-citizen. Seventeenth... century philosopher Thomas Hobbes believed that without government to control our worst impulses, life would be 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.' Consequently, he thought that absolute monarchy is the best form of government. So is Hobbes’ ideal citizen simply someone who is willing to submit to absolute authority, or are there other features the ideal citizen must have? What flaws would make a subject bad, or worse, a...
2019-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
429: The Limits of Medical Consent
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/limits-medical-consent. In... our healthcare system, parents normally make medical decisions for their kids because, we think, children are not competent to make such decisions for themselves. Similarly, we permit doctors to violate or defer consent for mentally incompetent adults. But where do we draw the line for what constitutes ‘incompetence’? Should severely depressed patients, for example, have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want tr...
2019-Oct-11 • 12 minutes
427: The Space-Time Continuum
More at https://philosophytalk.org/shows/space-time-continuum. Strange... things are said about time: that it's illusory, that it has no direction. But what about space, or the space-time continuum? What exactly is space-time? Are space and time fundamental features of the world? How do Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity change our understanding of space-time? Is there a distinction to be made between space and time, or must the two concepts be united into a single interwoven continuum? ...
2019-Sep-23 • 10 minutes
426: Knowing What We Know (And What We Don't)
More at https://philosophytalk.org/shows/knowing-what-we-know. It... seems like we know many facts about ourselves and the world around us, even if there vastly many others we know that we don’t know. But how do we know if what we believe to be true is really knowledge? Can our beliefs be both justified and true, yet still not count as genuine knowledge? If so, then how much confidence should we really have in our beliefs? Is there a way to strike a balance between paralyzing skepticism, on the one hand, a...
2019-Sep-16 • 10 minutes
425: Queerness
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual… it is safe to say that new ideas of gender and sexuality have broken into mainstream consciousness within the past few decades. What underlies each of these identities, however, is the notion of Queerness. But what defines what it means to be queer? Is it as much a political identity as it is a sexual or gender identity? How does ‘queerness’ subvert or challenge our notions of gender and sexuality? John and Ken welcome Susan Stryker from the University of Ar...
2019-Sep-01 • 15 minutes
483: Summer Reading (and Misreading)
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-and-misreading. What... should you be reading this summer—and how should you be reading it? We’re often told that fiction offers us entertainment, moral examples, and lessons about life. But are we getting too quick to dismiss complicated fiction—the kind that doesn’t have straightforward heroes and happy endings? Josh and Ken talk to writers and philosophers about reading and misreading for your summer pleasure. • Maryanne Wolf from UCLA on the ...
2019-Aug-26 • 11 minutes
424: Freedom of Speech on Campus
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/freedom-speech-campus. In... the last few years, conservatives and liberals alike have accused activists on college campuses of silencing contrary opinions. Many have argued—quite vociferously—that activists’ unwillingness to hear from people with opposing opinions endangers freedom of speech in higher education. But is there really an Orwellian threat to free speech on college campuses? Are activists’ demands for respect actually quashing freedom of thought? An...
2019-Aug-19 • 11 minutes
423: Philosophy Behind Bars
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-behind-bars. In... 1994, Congress eliminated federal funding for college education in prisons. It was, they argued, unjust for prisoners to be eligible for Pell grants when ordinary citizens could not afford higher education. However, research suggests that education in prisons has positive consequences, such as lower recidivism rates and an improved prison environment. So should we have education programs in prisons? Or is the point of prison to puni...
2019-Jul-29 • 12 minutes
419: The Mystery of the Multiverse
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/mystery-multiverse. At... the foundation of modern theoretical physics lie the equations that define our universe, telling us of its beginnings, evolution, and future. Make even minor adjustments to the fundamental laws of the universe, and life as we know it would not exist. How do we explain this extraordinary fact that our universe is so uniquely fine-tuned for life? Could our universe may be just one of infinitely many in a vast multiverse? Does it make sense to tal...
2019-Jul-22 • 10 minutes
416: Magical Thinking
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/magical-thinking. Have... you ever avoided stepping on a crack, just in case you might break your mother’s back? Every day, people make decisions and act based on completely unfounded ideas and superstitions – even when they acknowledge that there is no evidence to support their reasoning. Why do we so often engage in this kind of magical thinking? What could cause otherwise rational people to believe outlandish things? Are we as rationally motivated as we might...
2019-Jun-30 • 11 minutes
422: Reparations
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/reparations. The... United States brutally enslaved African Americans for its first hundred or so years of existence. For the next hundred years, black Americans were lynched, deprived of basic rights, and widely discriminated against. Now, while there are still certainly racial injustices to deal with, how are we to respond to the racial injustices of the past? Does time really heal all wounds? Could it ever be legitimate to compensate the descendants of slaves...
2019-Jun-17 • 11 minutes
421: The Value of a College Education
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/value-college-education. With... 43.3 million Americans burdened with a total of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, high school students thinking about attending college are faced with a daunting decision. Should they risk joining the ranks of the indebted in order to get a college degree? The answer depends on the value of a college education. Are college graduates happier, or better prepared for life? Is it the government’s job to ensure that investing in col...
2019-Jun-03 • 10 minutes
418: Matter and Energy: The Dark Side
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/matter-and-energy-dark-side. All... the matter we have ever observed accounts for less than 5% of the universe. The rest? Dark energy and dark matter: mysterious entities that we only know about from their interactions with other matter. We infer their existence to satisfy our laws—but are we justified in making conclusions about what we cannot directly measure? How far can we trust our scientific laws? Where do we cross the line from theoretical science to meta...
2019-May-20 • 12 minutes
414: This Is Your Brain on Art
More at philosophytalk.org/shows/your-brain-art.... actively seek to create and consume art, and the philosophical branch of aesthetics has long investigated its fundamental questions: What is beauty? What is art? What is good taste? Now researchers are applying the tools of neuroscience in an attempt to find answers to these questions. But can the scientific method truly be applied to the study of art? Can brain scans help address the questions of aesthetics, or is the matter simply too abstract? John and ...
2019-May-13 • 11 minutes
413: The Big Bang – Before and After
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/big-bang-before-and-after. The... Big Bang theory is the prevailing theory about the “birth” of the universe. It posits a singularity, or super high density state from which the entire universe expanded and continues to expand. But what exactly is the Big Bang, and what’s the evidence that it took place? How do we account for the “Big Bang state”? Was there something before the Big Bang? What does the theory posit about the future of the universe? And what role ...
2019-Apr-08 • 11 minutes
412: More Than Pun and Games
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/more-pun-and-games. Puns... have been called both the highest and lowest form of humor. There is something about them that is at once painful and pleasurable, capable of causing either a cringe or a chuckle. But what exactly is it about word play that we find humorous? Is there something in particular about puns that makes them especially cringe-worthy? How does the humor of a pun compare to other types of jokes? We may know why the chicken crossed the road – bu...
2019-Apr-01 • 11 minutes
409: Radical Democracy
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/radical-democracy. Liberal... democracy has its problems, including the fact that in trying to build consensus, it often ends up oppressing minorities or those who dissent. Radical democracy, on the other hand, tries to build consensus around difference, and challenge oppressive power relationships. But what are the risks of radical democracy? Is it really possible to have a democratic nation state without social conformity? How do we ensure both freedom and equ...
2019-Mar-25 • 11 minutes
411: The Mystery of Music
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/mystery-music-0....
2019-Mar-18 • 10 minutes
407: Philosophy of Sleep
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-sleep. "Blessed... are the sleepy ones," writes Nietzsche, "for they shall soon drop off." Sleep is an extraordinarily, albeit profoundly odd, phenomenon, yet we seem to accept prolonged nightly blackouts without question. Still, sleep has played a major role in philosophical thought, with the likes of Aristotle, Locke, and Leibniz putting forth theories about just what exactly sleep and dreams are. So what is the purpose of sleeping and dreaming? How...
2019-Mar-04 • 11 minutes
406: Altered States
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/altered-states. Aldous... Huxley explains his conception of the brain as a "reducing valve" of consciousness in his provocative book, The Doors of Perception. His famous experiment with the psychedelic substance mescaline was an attempt to open this valve and expand his capacity for knowledge. However, many drugs and psychedelics today are seen as simply tools for pleasure or the source of bad habits. Do drugs possess the capability to expand our consciousness a...
2019-Feb-25 • 10 minutes
408: The Philanthropy Trap
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philanthropy-trap. Many... of us generally admire people who donate large sums of money to charity. Yet people donate for all sorts of reasons – some selfless, some not so much. Should we consider philanthropy as mere ego expression for the wealthy, or is it genuinely altruistic behavior? If philanthropists are so concerned with having an impact on society, how should we think about "measuring" this impact? Are there better ways than philanthropy to achieve posi...
2019-Feb-18 • 7 minutes
475: The 2019 Dionysus Awards
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/2019-dionysus-awards. What... movies of the past year challenged our assumptions and made us think about things in new ways? Josh and Ken talk to philosophers, film critics, and listeners as they present their sixth (mostly) annual Dionysus Awards for the most thoughtful films of the past year, including: • Least Superficial Superhero Movie • Best Thought Experiment in the Possibility of Racial Justice • Most Profound Existentialist Cowboy Movie
2019-Feb-04 • 12 minutes
410: Identity Politics
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/identity-politics-0. The... notion of identity has become so hugely important in contemporary political discourse that no conversation on social issues would be complete without it. Identity politics typically focuses on how to empower individuals from marginalized groups so that they can achieve greater equality and representation. But why should anyone mobilize behind a banner of identity rather than ideology? Why is it important have a diversity of identities...
2019-Jan-21 • 11 minutes
405: Affirmative Action – Too Little or Too Much?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/affirmative-action-too-little-or-too-much. ... our nation’s history of racial injustice can be a truly backbreaking endeavor. Race-based affirmative action is usually thought of as one such effort, and colleges and universities often use it in their admissions process. However, affirmative action does seem to lower standards for certain under-represented minorities like Blacks and Hispanics. Should we think of affirmative action as patronizing those minorities, o...
2019-Jan-14 • 11 minutes
404: One Child Too Many
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/one-child-too-many. The... United Nations predicts human population growth will surpass 9 billion around 2050. We know the consequences of overpopulation have the potential to be catastrophic in terms of our continued existence on the planet, with negative environmental effects already visible. Limiting the number of children we have seems like one obvious way to tackle the problem. But is there a moral imperative to limit reproduction? Is having multiple children a rig...
2019-Jan-07 • 11 minutes
403: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/why-something. The... old metaphysical question – why anything exists at all – has perplexed and intrigued humankind for ages. It has long been a question reserved for philosophers, but now some physicists claim to have answered it. Yet these attempts have raised questions of their own: is this even a meaningful question in the first place? Can it be answered by science alone, or is philosophy necessary? And what will answering the question mean for us? John and...
2018-Dec-31 • 15 minutes
472: The Examined Year – 2018
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/examined-year-2018. A... new year offers an opportunity to reflect on the significant events of the previous year. So what happened over the past twelve months that challenged our assumptions and made us think about things in new ways? Join the Philosophers as they celebrate the examined year with a philosophical look back at the year that was 2018. • The Year in Climate Consciousness with Greg Dalton, Founder and Host of Climate One at the Commonwealth Club • ...
2018-Dec-24 • 12 minutes
399: The Ancient Cosmos – When the Earth Stood Still
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/ancient-cosmos. Even... in ancient Greek society, philosopher-scientists engaged in heated debate about the origin, composition, and structure of our universe. Tracking our understanding of cosmology from then until now shows monumental shifts in thinking. So what did the Ancients think was the fundamental nature of the cosmos, and what kind of evidence did they use to support their theories? How did Copernicus provoke such a radical shift in cosmology? And what...
2018-Dec-10 • 11 minutes
402: Extreme Altruism
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/extreme-altruism. We... can all agree that helping others is great, a deed worth doing. But devoting too much to helping others – too much time, too many resources – may get you labelled an oddity, a freak. How much can morality demand of us? Is it good to live as moral a life as possible, or do we lose something – devotion to one’s family, for example – by adhering to extreme moral principles? Can somebody be both fully rational and also a saintly type? John an...
2018-Nov-19 • 13 minutes
400: The Science of Happiness
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/science-happiness. Positive... psychology is an emerging science that investigates the qualities, attitudes, and practices that enable people to thrive and be happy. So what does this research reveal about human happiness? Are some of us just born with happier dispositions than others? How (if at all) do health, wealth, family relations, and community ties affect our happiness? Do happy people have a better or worse grip on reality than unhappy people? And is ha...
2018-Nov-05 • 11 minutes
401: Gun Control
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/gun-control. The... right to bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment, is at once both distinctly American and highly controversial. Incidents such as the Sandy Hook school shooting force the nation to think hard about how the law should balance gun ownership with the risk these deadly weapons present to society. What kind of right is the right to bear arms, if it is a right at all? What responsibilities ought to come with gun ownership? And what can phi...
2018-Oct-29 • 7 minutes
415: Election Special
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/election-special. In... this re-broadcast of our special episode ahead of the 2016 election, John and Ken look beyond the horse races at some of the bigger questions raised by our electoral process. • Do we always have a duty to vote? with Stanford political scientist Emilee Chapman • Can our democracy survive the amount of money in politics? with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich • How do we justify the two-party system? with Elaine Kamarck from the Brooking...
2018-Oct-15 • 11 minutes
398: The Ethics of Debt
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/ethics-debt. According... to a report from the Jubilee Debt Campaign, there are currently 24 countries facing a full-blown debt crisis, with 14 more on the verge. Globally, there is about $200 trillion of debt on the books. Although the poor and disenfranchised of the world play no role in negotiating these loans, in debt crises they usually end up paying the price. So when a country borrows money, who or what is the “economic agent” responsible for taking on th...
2018-Oct-01 • 6 minutes
466: The New Golden Age of Television
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/new-golden-age-television. They... called it a “vast wasteland” in the 1960s, but TV is very different today. Freedom from the broadcast schedule means TV makers can create longer, more complex, more philosophical stories, while binge-watching and on-demand viewing have changed the way we see those stories. Josh and Ken talk to philosophers and others about television's new golden age.
2018-Sep-10 • 12 minutes
391: Your Lying Eyes - Perception, Memory, and justice
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/your-lying-eyes. The... criminal justice system often relies on the testimony of eyewitnesses to get convictions. Yet more and more, psychological science demonstrates how unreliable eyewitness reports can be. Moreover, jurors have all kinds of cognitive biases and unconscious influences, and they rely on dubious folk psychological theories when assessing evidence. So, how should psychological science be used to improve our justice system? Is there a way to figu...
2018-Aug-20 • 8 minutes
460: Summer Reading List 2018
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2018. Summer... is here – what philosophers, philosophies, or philosophical issues do you want to read up on? Heidegger's Being and Time may not be the obvious choice to take on vacation, but there are lots of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your summer reading. Host emeritus John Perry joins Debra and Ken to think about which classics of political philosophy to dig into this summer, and Josh a...
2018-Aug-06 • 11 minutes
390: Will Innovation Kill Us?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/will-innovation-kill-us. Innovation,... be it social, economic, or technological, is often hailed as the panacea for all our troubles. Our obsession with innovation leads us to constantly want new things and to want them now. But past innovations are arguably the main reason for many of our current predicaments, which in turn creates a further need to innovate to solve those problems. So is innovation – and our obsession with it – ultimately a force for good or ...
2018-Jul-30 • 7 minutes
450: The 2018 Dionysus Awards
more at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/dionysus-2018. Josh... and Ken talk to philosophers, film critics, and listeners in presenting their fifth (mostly) annual Dionysus Awards for the most philosophically compelling movies of the past year. Categories include: • Most Searing Depiction of Humankind's Propensity to Dehumanize the Other • Most Philosophically Absurdist and Cinematically Transgressive Film • Richest Investigation of the Drivers of History
2018-Jun-25 • 10 minutes
388: Living On Through Others
https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/living-through-others. Imagine... that the world will end in thirty days. Would your life have meaning anymore? Would anyone’s? It seems that there would no longer be any point to making technological or medical advances, developing new forms of art, or even taking good care of ourselves. Imagining the doomsday scenario shows that there is something particularly disturbing about the prospect that not only we, but also everyone else, will die. Why is this? Would our live...
2018-Jun-18 • 12 minutes
386: The Logic of Regret
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/logic-regret. A... teenager decides, on a whim, to conceive a child. Even though we might say that this decision was irrational, she cannot regret it later, because raising the child eventually becomes the most important part of her life. Cases like this show how complicated regret is: that an action was irrational or wrong doesn’t necessarily imply that we should regret it. When, then, should we regret? For that matter, why should we regret anything at all? Doe...
2018-May-28 • 11 minutes
383: The Ethics of Drone Warfare
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/ethics-drone-warfare. The... Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, aka ‘drone,’ is increasingly the weapon of choice in America's military operations. Many laud its ability to maintain our global power while reducing human and financial costs. By the same token, however, this safe and secretive weapon may in turn cause civilians to disengage ever more from the politics of war. What are the responsibilities of civilians in the face of this 'Revolution in Military Affairs'? An...
2018-May-18 • 12 minutes
380: Neuroscience and Free Will
More at philosophytalk.org/shows/neuroscience-an... like to think of ourselves as rational agents who exercise conscious control over most of our actions and decisions. Yet in recent years, neuroscientists have claimed to prove that free will is simply an illusion, that our brains decide for us before our conscious minds even become aware. But what kind of evidence do these scientists rely on to support their sweeping conclusions? Is the "free will" they talk about the same kind of free will that philosophe...
2018-May-14 • 12 minutes
387: In Praise of Love – Plato's Symposium Meets Bernstein's Serenade
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/praise-love-platos-symposium-meets-bernstei... Symposium is arguably the most memorable philosophical work ever written on the subject of love. It is also the inspiration for Leonard Bernstein’s gorgeous violin concerto, the Serenade. What would Plato think of Bernstein’s Serenade, especially given his criticism of art and poetry? Is Bernstein more interested in what one of Plato’s drunken characters calls “vulgar love”? Or is he inspired by Platonic love – the h...
2017-Dec-27 • 7 minutes
445: The Examined Year - 2017
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/examined-year-2017. What... ideas and events took shape over the past twelve months that challenged our assumptions and made us think about things in new ways? Join Ken and Josh as they celebrate the examined year with a philosophical look back at the year that was 2017, featuring a roundtable discussion with host emeritus John Perry, as well as conversations with special guests: • The Year in Gender Relations with Laura Kipnis from Northwestern University, a...
2017-Dec-25 • 11 minutes
363: What's Next? Death and the Afterlife
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/whats-next-death-and-afterlife. The... question of what happens to us after we die remains as mysterious now as it always was. Some think that death amounts to total annihilation of the self; others adhere to certain religious traditions, which teach that the immaterial soul (and, in some traditions, the resurrected body) can ultimately survive death. So how are we to judge between these radically different views of what happens to us in death? What would it mea...
2017-Nov-20 • 10 minutes
368: Diseases of the Mind - Philosophy of Psychiatry
More https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/diseases-mind-philosophy-psychiatry. The... Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is the primary reference catalog for mental health illnesses. But whereas a medical textbook will show you the picture of a broken bone or a tumor, leaf through the DSM and you will find just one thing: lists of symptoms. Who creates these lists, and based on what criteria? Do such lists really capture the nature of a mental illness? What does it mean to be a disease of the mind versus a ...
2017-Nov-13 • 11 minutes
369: Democracy in Crisis
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/democracy-crisis. Democratic... systems of government are supposed to reflect the interests of ordinary citizens, and not some shadowy political elite. But more and more, we see the influence of big money and special interest groups in so-called democratic politics, while income inequality and voter suppression grow. With millions convinced that politicians don’t speak for them, is there a "crisis of representation" in the US? Are these problems a result of poli...
2017-Jul-05 • 8 minutes
433: Summer Reading List 2017
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2017. Summer... is the perfect time to dig in to deep reading. Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism may be a bit much for the beach, but there are lots of readable classics and new titles that could make your summer reading a transformative experience. • Stanford literature professor Josh Landy on Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon • Philosophy Talk's film blogger, #FrancisOnFilm (aka Leslie Francis from the University of Utah), on Ma...
2017-Jun-19 • 11 minutes
356: Racial Profiling and Implicit Bias
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/racial-profiling-and-implicit-bias. Whethe... for counterterrorism measures, street level crime, or immigration, racial profiling of minorities occurs frequently. However, racial profiling is illegal under many jurisdictions and many might say ineffective. Is racial profiling ever moral or is it always an unjustified form of racism? Is there any evidence that certain races or ethnic groups have a tendency to behave in particular ways? Or is racial stereotyping a...
2017-May-22 • 11 minutes
353: Babies and the Birth of Morality
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/babies-and-birth-morality. Doing... the right thing is often an extremely difficult task. Yet psychological research indicates that infants as young as 21 months old have a crude sense of what is right and wrong. This capacity is reflected by infants' decisions to reward or punish characters in social scenarios. But surely a genuine, robust, mature moral compass is much more complicated than that. So what can babies tell us about adult morality? How much of mora...
2017-Apr-24 • 9 minutes
428: The Phenomenology of Lived Experience
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/phenomenology-lived-experience. Phenomenol... is the philosophical study of experience and consciousness, performed by philosophers ranging from Sartre and Heidegger to contemporary analytic philosophers of mind. But what methods do phenomenologists use to study the mind and experience in general? How can phenomenology help us understand a range of human experiences from agency to awe? And why does neuroscience and cognitive science need phenomenology? John and ...
2017-Apr-17 • 11 minutes
351: Remixing Reality – Art & Literature for the 21st Century
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/remixing-reality. For... decades, literary critics have been questioning the relevance of the novel as a literary form, with some going so far as to declare its death. But if the novel is dead, it’s not clear what new form can take its place. Should we treat the popularity of the memoir as a sign that what readers want is more truth, less fiction? Or is the memoir, like ‘reality TV,’ mostly just fiction dressed up as fact? In these fragmented times, when everyth...
2017-Apr-10 • 10 minutes
350: Captivity
More at https://philosophytalk.org/shows/captivity. Whether... it's people incarcerated in prisons, or animals confined in zoos, aquariums, laboratories, farms, and in our own homes, millions of upon millions of sentient creatures live in captivity. To be held captive, some might say, is to be denied basic rights of autonomy. But physical captivity, others might say, can have significant social benefits. So under what conditions could it be morally justified to hold a creature in captivity? Should we think...
2017-Jan-09 • 5 minutes
420: The Examined Year - 2016
More at https://philosophytalk.org/shows/examined-year-2016. The... annus horrbilis that was 2016 is over. But what ideas and events took shape over the past year that challenged our assumptions and made us think about things in new ways? Join John and Ken as they celebrate the examined year with a philosophical look back at a year of triumph and defeat in sports, politics, and technology with journalist David Johnson, philosopher Debra Satz, and political scientist Margaret Levi.
2017-Jan-01 • 10 minutes
343: The Reality of Time
More at philosophytalk.org/shows/reality-time. ... Augustine suggested that when we try to grasp the idea of time, it seems to evade us: "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know." So is time real or merely an artificial construct? Is time a fundamental or emergent property of our universe or a part of our cognitive apparatus? Do we live in a continuum with a definite past and present, or do we live in a succession of ‘Nows’, and if the...
2016-Dec-16 • 11 minutes
342: What Is Color?
More at https://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-color. Is... the red you see indeed the very same red that anyone else does? What is the redness of red even like? These sorts of questions are not just amusing, if worn-out, popular philosophical ponderings. Thinkers in the philosophy of perception take such questions as serious windows into the nature of the world and of the mind. Although we are constantly surrounded by colors, the experience of perceiving them – what it is like to see red, for example - rem...
2016-Nov-29 • 12 minutes
336: Science and Gender
More at https://philosophytalk.org/shows/science-and-gender. What... does gender have to do with science? The obvious answer is ‘nothing.’ Science is the epitome of an objective, rational, and disinterested enterprise. But given the history of systemic under-representation of women in science, what does it mean that science answers almost exclusively to the methodologies of men? Has male domination contributed certain unfounded assumptions or cognitive biases to the ‘objectivity’ of scientific inquiry? Is ...
2016-Oct-31 • 10 minutes
334: Memory and the Self
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/memory-and-self. Ever... since John Locke, philosophers have wondered about memory and its connection to the self. Locke believed that a continuity of consciousness and memory establish a "self" over time. Now psychology is weighing in with new research suggesting that the relationship between memory and the self is even more complicated than that. But what's the connection between memory and the self? Can the self be explained strictly in terms of memory? Or might t...
2016-Aug-29 • 12 minutes
329: Dangerous Demographics - The Challenges of an Aging Population
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/dangerous-demographics. All... over the world, people are living longer and having fewer children than ever before. In less than two decades, one fifth of the US population will be over 65 years old. So what do these radically changed demographics mean for how we re-imagine the shape of a human life? Should we think of the rapidly increasing older population as a blessing or a burden? And what kinds of changes should we make – both individually and as a society – to ...
2016-Jul-11 • 10 minutes
326: An Eye for an Eye - The Morality of Revenge
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/eye-eye-morality-revenge-1. We... are often taught that vengeance is a reprehensible or unworthy motivation and that, as a result, pursuing revenge should not be the method of choice when meting out punishment for crimes. Incarceration and other penalties, according to this view, can only be justified in as much as they protect society, rehabilitate criminals, or deter further crime. But are these approaches to punishment really more just than the retributive or veng...
2016-Jun-27 • 11 minutes
325: The Limits of Self-Knowledge
More at philosophytalk.org/shows/limits-self-kno... considered the mind to be fully self-transparent; that is, he thought that we need only introspect to know what goes on inside our own minds. More recently, social psychology has shown that a great deal of high-level cognition takes place at an unconscious level, inaccessible to introspection. How then do we gain insight into ourselves? How reliable are the narratives that we construct about ourselves and our internal lives? Are there other reliable routes...
2016-Jun-06 • 11 minutes
320: Life as a Work of Art
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/life-work-art. We... know what it means for a painting to be beautiful. But what about a life? Like great works of art, great people exhibit style, originality, and creativity. Maybe, then, to live well is just to practice an ART of living. But what do the values that are important to a good life – happiness, moral goodness, or friendship, for example – have to do with aesthetic beauty? Aren’t the qualities that make a work of art good different from the qualities th...
2016-May-31 • 10 minutes
323: The Moral Lives of Animals
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/moral-lives-animals. From... Aristotle and Kant to Hume and Darwin, philosophers and scientists have long denied the idea that animals are capable of acting for moral reasons. Yet empirical evidence suggests that many animals have rich emotional lives, and some even demonstrate distinctly altruistic or empathetic behavior. So how should we interpret this behavior? Do the moral feelings of animals suggest they are capable of responding to moral reasons? Or do they lac...
2016-May-16 • 11 minutes
327: When Is It Wrong to Save a Life? Lessons from the Trolley Problem
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/when-it-wrong-save-life-lessons-trolley-problem.... trolley is approaching a track junction, and you happen to be standing by the switch. If you do nothing, the trolley will kill a number of innocent children playing on the tracks. If you throw the switch, it will kill only one fat man, who is sleeping on the tracks. The so-called Trolley Problem sheds light on many claims in moral philosophy: utilitarian positions (doing what's best for the greatest number), the diff...
2016-Apr-26 • 12 minutes
321: Memes - Viruses of the Mind?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/memes-viruses-mind. Gangnam... style, Lolcats, and Chuck Norris’ superhuman feats are all memes – units of cultural transmission – that spread through the internet. But when the term was originally coined, memes were posited as vehicles of a kind of evolution, similar to genes and biological evolution. So are the memes that colonize our brains simply those that survive natural selection? Don’t we get any say in the viruses that populate our minds? What happens if the...
2016-Apr-18 • 11 minutes
317: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/ancient-wisdom-modern-times. If... the Ancients found themselves transported to the modern world, they would have much to learn about science, technology, and human thinking. But is there something the Ancients can still teach us about how to live a good life? What relevance do the virtues – wisdom, courage, prudence, justice, and so on – have for our modern times? Could these ancient values help solve some of the most challenging problems of contemporary life? ...
2016-Mar-07 • 10 minutes
337: Simone de Beauvoir
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/simone-de-beauvoir.... Simone de Beauvoir is often cast as only a novelist or a mere echo of Jean-Paul Sartre. But she authored many philosophical texts beyond The Second Sex, and the letters between her and Sartre reveal that both were equally concerned with existentialist questions of radical ontological freedom, the issue of self-deception, and the dynamics of desire. This episode explores the evolution of de Beauvoir's existential-ethical thinking. In what sens...
2016-Feb-22 • 10 minutes
319: Finding Meaning in a Material World
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/finding-meaning-material-world. All... there is in the world is physical stuff. That is the fundamental assumption of the materialist standpoint, and the picture given to us by science. But if there is no immaterial soul that survives the death of the body, no other realm to bestow meaning on our lives, how can we avoid despairing in light of this apparent pointlessness? Is there any way we can build meaning from the naturalistic building blocks that science provides...
2016-Feb-09 • 10 minutes
318: Freedom and Free Enterprise
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/freedom-and-free-enterprise “Freedom”... means the human capacity to choose among options, based on one’s own preferences and reasoning. It also stands for the political status to exercise such freedom on matters of conscience and to express opinions without interference from the state. Enlightenment thinkers also included the right to buy and sell property in an open market with minimal government interference. So is the justification for our free-enterprise system ...
2016-Feb-02 • 12 minutes
312: Faith, Reason, and the Art of Living
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/faith-reason-and-art-living. It... sounds plausible to require that all our beliefs be based on evidence and sound reasoning. Yet some people's most cherished beliefs, like their belief in a deity, are based on faith alone. Does that make those beliefs fundamentally irrational, or could there be some rational justification for such faith? And what about reason itself—are there limits to what can be known rationally? Does our reliance on reason demand a kind of faith ...
2016-Jan-27 • 11 minutes
316: Nations and Borders
More at philosophytalk.org/shows/nations-and-bor... and immigration control restrict people from going where they want to pursue a better life. On the one hand there is the state’s need for security, self-determination, and a functioning economy. But why should arbitrary boundaries, based on past thefts of territory, limit a person's opportunities? Are borders essential to nationhood, or do they form an exclusive club that unfairly keeps certain people from pursuing a better life? John and Ken lift the gate...
2016-Jan-11 • 10 minutes
395 - Dignity Denied: Life and Death in Prison
According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, there are more people living with mental illness in prisons than in psychiatric hospitals across the country. Despite the fact that prisoners can have significant medical needs, healthcare services are often woefully inadequate, which can turn a minor sentence into a death sentence. And for those dying in prison, few receive any hospice or palliative care. So what kinds of patients’ rights should prisoners have? Could improved healthcare in prisons actually reduce...
2015-Dec-31 • 6 minutes
394 - The Examined Year: 2015
What ideas and events took shape over the past year that prompt us to question our assumptions and to think about things in new ways? What significant events – in politics, in science, and in philosophy itself – have called into question our most deeply-held beliefs? Join John, Ken, and their special guests as they reflect on the past twelve months with a philosophical look at the Year in Refugees and Migration, the Year in Campus Culture Wars, and the Year in Science and Climate Change. More at http://phi...
2015-Dec-14 • 11 minutes
393: Taoism – Following the Way
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/taoism-following-way. Taoism... (sometimes Daoism) is one of the great philosophical traditions of China. Lao-Tzu, commonly regarded as its founder, said that “Those who know, do not speak; those who speak, do not know.” The arguments that Taoist texts offer for skepticism may seem surprisingly modern. Yet these same texts also offer recommendations for certain ways of life over others. So what exactly is Taoism, and what are its main tenets? Is it a religion, a phil...
2015-Dec-07 • 11 minutes
392: Self and Self-Presentation
We craft personal brands or images to accompany or represent ourselves in various situations. These personas are malleable – how we portray ourselves online differs from how we act at an event, which differs from the workplace or in the privacy of the home. Social media and the possibility of creating an online 'self' exacerbate this situation. We may wonder: who is the true self if we have the power change selves given various circumstances? Is there such a thing as 'one true self', or is the self merely a...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
295: The Evolution of Storytelling
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/evolution-storytelling. Humans... are unique as the only creatures on this planet who tell stories. Whether it be fiction, history, mythology, gossip, daydreams, news, or personal narrative - stories permeate every aspect of our lives. But how did we evolve into such creatures? Are there any possible evolutionary advantages that storytelling might give us? How do stories shape who we are, both as individuals and as a species? John and Ken swap stories with Jonat...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
294: Forbidden Words
Some words, like n****r, ch*nk, and c*nt, are so forbidden that we won't even spell them out here. Decent people simply don't use these words to refer to others; they are intrinsically disrespectful. But aren't words just strings of sounds or letters? Words have life because they express ideas. But in a free society, how can we prohibit the expression of ideas? How can we forbid words? Where does the strange power of curses, epithets, and scatological terms come from? John and Ken avoid mincing words with C...
2015-Nov-02 • 13 minutes
293: Prostitution and the Sex Trade
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/prostitution-and-sex-trade. Some... consider the commodification of sexual services inherently wrong, something that ought to be abolished outright. Others claim that prostitution is a legitimate form of commerce and that changing its legal status would reduce or eliminate most harms to sex workers. So in a just society, are there any conditions under which buying and selling sex are morally acceptable? Does the sex trade inevitably involve coercion of some kind, or ...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
292: Regulating Bodies
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/regulating-bodies. Most... countries allow their citizens to smoke cigarettes, get intoxicated, and eat unhealthy food – despite the harms that such behaviors may bring to the individual's health and to the social and economic interests of the state. Yet taking certain narcotics, selling one's organs, and driving without a seat-belt are often prohibited by law. Is this an arbitrary distinction, or is there a principled reason for these diverging attitudes? What can g...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
291: Why Be Moral
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/why-be-moral. Morality... tells us how we ought to behave, if we want to do the right thing. But is there a reason why we ought to be moral in the first place? Both Plato and Kant believed that morality is dictated by reason and so a fully rational person is automatically a moral person too. But how can we derive morality from reason? Isn’t it possible to be a rational but amoral or even immoral person? John and Ken walk the line with James Sterba from the University...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
290: The Nature of Wilderness
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/nature-wilderness. Nowadays... we think of wilderness as a fully natural environment that contrasts sharply with the designed and constructed environments in which we normally move. But does that vision of wilderness really exist anymore? What is natural and what is artificial about wilderness? Should humans be understood as a part of nature or distinct from it? And how should we approach conservation efforts so that we balance the needs of a growing world population...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
289: The Moral Costs of Climate Change
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/moral-costs-climate-change. Global... climate change confronts us not only with well-known pragmatic challenges, but also with less commonly acknowledged moral challenges. Who is responsible for responding to environmental catastrophes around the world? What kind of help does the industrialized world owe developing nations? What values should we hold onto, and which must we discard, in response to the changing climate? John and Ken survey the moral landscape with All...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
288: Neuroscience and the Law
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/neuroscience-and-law. Recent... advances in neuroscience have revealed that certain neurological disorders, like a brain tumor, can cause an otherwise normal person to behave in criminally deviant ways. Would knowing that an underlying neurological condition had caused criminal behavior change the way we assign moral responsibility and mete out justice? Should it? Is committing a crime with a "normal" biology fundamentally different from doing so with an identifiable...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
287: Gut Feelings and the Art of Decision-Making
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/gut-feelings-and-art-decision-making. We... may think of ourselves as rational decision-makers, but we often base even high-stakes decisions on intuitions or "gut feelings" rather than explicit reasoning. Decisions based on intuition are not highly esteemed in business, politics, or medicine – which may lead decision-makers to construct elaborate post facto rationalizations to explain their intuitive choices. What place should intuitions have in important decision-ma...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
286: Hypocrisy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/hypocrisy. Hypocrites... believe one thing, but do another. Jefferson opposed slavery, but owned slaves. Jesus professed universal love, but cursed an innocent fig tree. Jerry Brown opposes the death penalty, but as governor of California will be responsible for executions. Hypocrites all ­ - but vile hypocrites? Surely it was better that Jefferson was a hypocrite, and articulated the case against slavery, than not opposing it at all. Does it take courage to defend a...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
285: Identities Lost and Found in a Global Age
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/identities-lost-found-global-age. Throughout... human history, people have tended to live and die in the place they're born. Place is an important part of identity. But what happens when people are deprived of this sense of place? What psychological effects do emigrants, exiles, and expatriates endure? What happens to the importance of place when community membership can be based on common interests among people linked by email and facebook? John and Ken situate them...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
284: Corporations and the Future of Democracy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/corporations-and-future-democracy. The... US prides itself on the strength of its democratic institutions and considers itself a leader in the promotion of democratic values around the globe. But can we consistently maintain this self-image in the face of the growing power of corporations? How are capitalism and globalization subverting the interests of democracy at home and abroad? Does the problem stem from fundamental inconsistencies between global capitalism and ...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
283: What Might Have Been
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-might-have-been When... we make claims about things that could have been—what philosophers call counterfactual statements—we are, in some sense, sliding between different worlds. We all use counterfactual statements frequently. But what would make our speculations about what might have been in a different scenario true or false? When I say things could have gone differently than they did, I am speaking of a possible world in which things did, in fact, go differe...
2015-Nov-02 • 6 minutes
282: Summer Reading List 2012
Summer is the perfect time to dig in to deep reading. Plato's Collected Dialogues may be a bit much to take on vacation, but there are lots of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your summer reading. Not to mention new and classic fiction books with a philosophical bent. John and Ken share some of the philosophically-minded titles on their reading list and take suggestions from listeners and special guests. More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
281: Freedom, Blame, and Resentment
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/freedom-blame-and-resentment When... someone acts without regard for our feelings or needs, a natural response is to feel resentment toward that person. But is that a rational response? What if there's no such thing as free will? Is blame still appropriate in a deterministic universe? Or are we simply genetically programmed to respond emotionally to perceived injuries? John and Ken talk freely with Pamela Hieronymi from UCLA, author of "The Will as Reason."
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
279: What Are Leaders Made of?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-are-leaders-made. There... seems to be a paradox in leadership: the qualities of ruthlessness and opportunism necessary to attain power and become a leader are not necessarily the qualities of morality and a sense of justice that make for a good leader. Do the traits that make it likely that someone will become a leader correlate positively or negatively with the traits that make a good and effective leader? Do our democratic institutions lead to better leaders ...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
277: Epicurus and the Good Life
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/epicurus-and-good-life. Though... his name is often misleadingly associated with indulgence in sensual pleasures, the philosopher Epicurus developed a far-reaching system of thought that incorporated an empiricist theory of knowledge, a description of nature based on atomistic materialism, and views about the importance of friendship and both mental and physical pleasures for leading “the good life.” These notions of what constitutes a good life have preserved the re...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
276: Pantheism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/pantheism. Pantheism... is the doctrine that the world is either identical with God or an expression of His nature. Pantheistic ideas appear in many schools of Buddhism and Hinduism, and in the Tao-te-Ching. Pantheism also has had defenders in Western philosophy, including Heraclitus, Spinoza, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Many of the Romantic poets, like Shelley, Keats, and Wordsworth, were considered pantheists. In modern times, the ecological movement has led to n...
2015-Nov-02 • 9 minutes
275: The 2012 Dionysus Awards
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/2012-dionysus-awards. Movies... play a large role in modern life. We enjoy watching them; we idolize the actors and actresses who appear in them; we analyze the directors. But how well do movies tackle bigger philosophical questions? With the help of listeners and special guests, John and Ken turn a philosophical eye to the past year's cinematic offerings, and present their 4th annual Dionysus Awards for the most philosophically-rich films of the past year.
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
274: Black Solidarity
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/black-solidarity. From... the abolition of slavery to the Black Power movement, black unity has been considered a powerful method to achieve freedom and equality. But does black solidarity still make sense in a supposedly post-racial era? Or should we be moving past all racial identities and identity politics? And how should we think about racial solidarity versus class or gender solidarity? In celebration of Black History Month, John and Ken join forces with Tommie ...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
273: The Right to Privacy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/right-privacy. Is... the right to privacy – the right to be left alone and to control one’s personal information – really a right? Is privacy just a privilege that can be revoked any time it conflicts with other more important needs, like the need to protect our security? Who has the right to infringe upon our privacy and for what particular purposes? How much public surveillance do we really need to stay safe and does that count as an infringement on our privacy? ...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
272: Is Democracy a Universal Value?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/democracy-universal-value. Americans... value democracy, and expect others to value it. But is it a universal value? Does God, or rationality, or something very basic about human sensibility, dictate that states should be organized democratically? What if there were empirical evidence that some non-democratic form of government is more likely to produce human happiness, cultural achievement, and sound money? John and Ken consider the universality of democratic values...
2015-Nov-02 • 5 minutes
271: The Examined Year - 2011
A new year offers an opportunity to reflect on significant moments of the past twelve months. But what ideas and events that took shape over the past year have prompted us to question our assumptions and to think about things in new ways? What significant events – in politics, in science, and in philosophy itself – have called into question our most deeply-held beliefs? Join John, Ken, and their special guests as they celebrate the examined year with a philosophical look back at 2011. More at http://phi...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
270: Forgive and Forget
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/forgive-and-forget. At... least forgive OR forget. Get things behind you. All good advice for those who don't want their life dominated by the bad things that have happened to them at the hands of others. This advice has also been applied to aggrieved populations following liberating reforms and revolutions, as in South Africa. But what is forgiveness? What are its limits? Does it make sense to forgive those who attempt genocide, for example? Does forgiveness e...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
269: The Military – What Is It Good For?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/military-what-it-good. Is... the military draft a natural expression of democratic values, or a challenge to our most basic concepts of individual rights and liberties? Are the values that make for an effective military consistent with the values that make for a free and democratic republic? If the government must have the power to defend the nation, does it follow that it must have the power to control events around the entire world? John and Ken enlist themselves...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
268: Is Nothing Sacred Anymore
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/nothing-sacred-anymore. Tribal... societies lived in a world of the sacred and profane, ritual and taboo. Is there anything left of this structure in the modern world? Is anything really taboo, or are things just inadvisable, problematic, unhealthy, unwise, and less than optimal under the circumstances? John and Ken consider what, if anything, is still sacred with Cora Diamond from the University of Virginia.
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
267: Miracles
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/miracles. Religions... rely on miracles to demonstrate the authenticity of figures thought to have supernatural powers. Many people feel that key events in their lives were literally miracles. Many even claim to have witnessed miracles. But what counts as a miracle? Is it true, as Hume argued, that it is always more rational to disbelieve the testimony of a miracle than to believe in the miracle itself? John and Ken explore what miracles are, and what would cons...
2015-Nov-02 • 8 minutes
266: Thinking Inside the Box
More at philosophytalk.org/shows/thinking-inside... to the National Association of Broadcasters in May 1961, FCC Chairman Newton Minow famously introduced the characterization of television as a “vast wasteland.” And that wasteland has only become vaster – though occasionally a flower will bloom, from “The Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek” to “South Park” and “Lost.” With help from listeners, critics, and past guests, John and Ken try to tease out the thoughtful from the mindless for a thinking person's guide ...
2015-Nov-02 • 11 minutes
265: Cooperation and Conflict
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/cooperation-and-conflict. The... Prisoner’s Dilemma is a problem studied in game theory that shows how two people might not cooperate even if it is in both their best interests to do so. It highlights the inherent tension between individual interests and a larger society. Should you pick up your trash at the lunch table? Should you push in your chair after getting up? Should you take performance-enhancing drugs? Should you preserve the earth for the next generat...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
264: Morality and the Self
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/morality-and-self. Social... psychologists have discovered that our self-images play a surprising role in our thinking about everyday moral matters. People who feel they have already proven themselves to be morally good feel less pressure to do the right thing than someone whose moral credentials are still in question. And people often resent, rather than applaud, the morally admirable actions of others if those actions threaten their own sense of moral adequacy. ...
2015-Nov-02 • 9 minutes
263: Wisdom
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/wisdom. Philosophy... is the love of wisdom – or is it? Is this traditional definition outmoded? Is wisdom an anachronism, an elitist concept deployed by old learned people with nothing of practical value to say? Do the professors of philosophy around the world (or on this program) love wisdom any more or less than anyone else? John and Ken wise up with Valerie Tiberius from the University of Minnesota, author of "The Reflective Life: Living Wisely With Our Limit...
2015-Nov-02 • 9 minutes
262: Latin-American Philosophy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/latin-american-philosophy. Latin... American Philosophy began centuries before anything of much philosophical consequence happened in North America. Yet in our own time, Latin American Philosophy is undergoing a protracted identity crisis. Is it just transplanted European philosophy? A reaction to analytical philosophy? A reflection of the themes of liberation theology? John and Ken explore Latin America's philosophical traditions with Joseph Orosco from Oregon ...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
261: Deconstructing the College Admissions Rat Race
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/deconstructing-college-admissions-rat-race. Ame... elite colleges and universities spend millions of dollars to generate thousands of applicants, the vast majority of whom they reject. High school students – and their parents – work hard to gain entry to such institutions, and can be devastated by the rejection. Is there a purpose to this rat race? What values are implicit in the American college admissions process? John and Ken offer admission to Mitchell Stevens...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
260: Time, Space, and Quantum Mechanics
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/time-space-and-quantum-mechanics. Quantum... physics is regarded by many as the most powerful predictive theory science has produced. But there is no interpretation of what the theory means that all knowledgeable scientists and philosophers agree on. For example, quantum mechanics delivers no very clear message about the difference between past, present and future. What are the implications for our everyday experience of space and time? John and Ken welcome back J...
2015-Nov-02 • 10 minutes
259: The State of Public Philosophy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/state-public-philosophy. In... the 18th and 19th Century, philosophers and intellectuals were immersed in politics and popular culture. Even in the early 20th Century some of the leading academic figures of the time, like Bertrand Russell, also wrote for a broader public. Where have the public philosophers and public intellectuals gone? Can philosophers and intellectuals still speak to a broad public? If they speak will the public listen? Or is the public intelle...
2015-Nov-02 • 9 minutes
258: Philosophy and Everyday Life
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-everyday-life. Philosophy... isn't just about cosmic issues. Every day is full of events that raise philosophical questions: why do we eat the things we eat, work the way we work, go to the places we go? What ideas underlie our most basic activities? John and Ken look for depth in the daily grind with Robert Rowland Smith, author of "Breakfast With Socrates: An Extraordinary (Philosophical) Journey Through Your Ordinary Day."
2015-Nov-02 • 9 minutes
257: The Psychology of Evil
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/psychology-evil. True... evil seems easy to recognize: the killing of innocent children; assigning whole populations to death by gassing, or napalm, or aerial bombing. These acts go beyond the criminal, the mean, the bad. But what is the psychology of evil-doers? Are they monsters among us just like the rest of us, with one screw a little loose, or are they radically unlike us? John and Ken probe the evil mind with Simon Baron Cohen from Cambridge University, aut...
2015-Nov-01 • 12 minutes
256: Atheism and the Well-Lived Life
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/atheism-and-well-lived-life. Atheists... don't believe in God – does that mean they don't find life meaningful? Are atheists doomed to be grouchy nihilists, finding meaning only in criticizing theists? Or does a world without God offer its own meanings and values to structure a well-lived life? John and Ken search for a meaningful atheism with Louise Antony from UMass Amherst, editor of "Philosophers Without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life."
2015-Nov-01 • 11 minutes
255: Whodunit - The Language of Responsibility
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/whodunit-language-responsibility. Who... is responsible for the broken vase in the foyer? How harshly should criminals be punished for their crimes? Did Justin Timberlake mean to disrobe Janet Jackson during her infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’? Cognitive scientists have recently discovered some surprising ways in which the language we use influences how we think about responsibility and agency. John and Ken are joined by Stanford psychologist Lera Boroditsky for a pr...
2015-Nov-01 • 10 minutes
254: Gay Pride & Prejudice
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/gay-pride-prejudice. The... question of gay rights has become a hot button issue, with opposition taking on the air of a moral panic and support taking on the air of a righteous crusade. John and Ken attempt to dispassionately examine the competing scientific, religious, and philosophical visions of the nature of gayness. They explore the consequences of those competing arguments for and against gay rights with cultural and psychological anthropologist Gilbert Herd...
2015-Nov-01 • 9 minutes
253: Summer Reading List 2011
Summer's just around the corner – what philosophers, philosophies, or philosophical issues do you want to read up on? Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" may not be the obvious choice to take on vacation, but there are lots of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your summer reading. Not to mention new and classic fiction books with a philosophical bent. John and Ken share some of the philosophically-minded titles on their reading list and take suggestions from li...
2015-Nov-01 • 9 minutes
252: Cities, Gentrification, and Inequality
More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/cities-gentrification-and-inequality. In... the 1960s, as many American cities burst and burned, the upper and middle classes fled to the suburbs, leaving behind a decaying infrastructure and a socially isolated urban underclass. In more recent times, many urban centers have undergone re-gentrification, and with it the return of the upper classes, safer neighborhoods, and better services. But gentrification often drives poor and working class people from the very ...
2015-Nov-01 • 10 minutes
251: Should Marriage Be Abolished?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/should-marriage-be-abolished. State-sanctioned... marriage has long been regarded as one of the bedrocks of a stable society. But in recent times, this venerable institution has become the focus of intense debate, as those long denied the right to marry clamor to be let in and those determined to keep marriage the way it's always been threaten to amend the constitution in “defense” of marriage. In the heat of battle, few have stopped to ask whether the state should b...
2015-Nov-01 • 11 minutes
250: The Extended Mind
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/extended-mind. An... increasing number of psychologists and philosophers believe that to understand how the mind really works, we must understand it as both embedded in a body and as situated in an environment. According to some, in fact, the body and the environment do not just house the mind, but are an essential part of the mind in the sense that workings of the mind depend upon and exploit the body and the environment. John and Ken probe the extended mind, embo...
2015-Nov-01 • 10 minutes
249: What Is an Adult?
In the Middle Ages, people married, had children, went off to war and took on all the traditional trappings of adulthood by their early teens. But today many people put off those trappings until well into their thirties. Some have even suggested that we need a new vocabulary to describe the variety of life stages experienced by 21st century humans. John and Ken explore the new adulthood with Ethan Watters, author of "Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and Commitment." More at: http...
2015-Nov-01 • 11 minutes
248: Is It All Relative?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/it-all-relative. We've... all heard a disenchanted teenager claim that everything is relative and that there is no absolute morality or truth. Of course, there seems to be something wrong with that; isn't the relativity of everything then an absolute? Relativism has appeared throughout philosophy since the ancient Greek Sophists. Proponents of relativism argue that some central element of thought, experience, evaluation, or even reality is somehow relative to some...
2015-Nov-01 • 8 minutes
247: John Locke
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/john-locke. Thomas... Jefferson identified John Locke as one of “the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception.” Many debates in modern political theory have their roots in the writings of John Locke, and Locke’s work on other philosophical issues, particularly identity and selfhood, have also influenced generations of philosophers. What was Locke’s influence on contemporary political theory and our understanding of the purpose of government? Jo...
2015-Nov-01 • 7 minutes
246: The 2011 Dionysus Awards
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/movie-show-2011. It's... the third annual Philosophy Talk Dionysus Awards show! With the help of listeners and special guests, John and Ken turn a philosophical eye to the past year's cinematic offerings, and present their Dionysus Awards for the most philosophically-rich films of the past year.
2015-Nov-01 • 9 minutes
245: Procrastination
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/procrastination. Everyone... procrastinates – academics are especially prone to it. But why do we procrastinate? Is it lack of will-power? Or is procrastination more like a disease, something that might be cured? Can we structure our priorities in such a way so as to accomplish more even while procrastinating? John and Ken can no longer put off the discussion with Tim Pychyl, Director of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University and author of "Th...
2015-Nov-01 • 10 minutes
244: Derrida and Deconstruction
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/derrida-and-deconstruction. Jacques... Derrida was one of the most influential and also one of the most polarizing philosophers of the twentieth century. With his method of "deconstruction," Derrida provided critiques not only of literary trends and philosophical ideas but also political institutions. He won many followers among humanists, but analytical philosophers tended to be skeptical that Deconstructionism was anything more than a fancy name for a mélange of ...
2015-Nov-01 • 12 minutes
243: Abortion
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/abortion. Nothing... stirs up controversy like abortion. To some, it carries the steep moral cost of destroying human life, while to others, it represents an inviolable bastion of women’s rights over their own bodies. Despite the polarizing nature of the debate, it covers broad philosophical ground, and touches on religious, political, social and moral considerations. Ken and John seek a dispassionate and rational discussion of abortion with UC Berkeley Journalism...
2015-Nov-01 • 10 minutes
242: The Moral Costs of Free Markets
More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/moral-costs-free-markets. We... live in a market-driven society – our day-to-day lives consist of buying and selling goods and services, and to some, our ability to do so without government regulation is the underpinning of democratic freedom itself. Everything has a price, and pretty much everything is for sale, from concert tickets to political influence. But should it be this way? Ken and John explore the moral costs of free markets with Stanford philosopher D...
2015-Oct-31 • 9 minutes
241: Philosophy for Children
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-children. Because... of their innocent approach to things, do children make good philosophers? Or do they lack the equipment for clear-thinking? Is exposure to philosophy good for children? Or will it undermine their sense of security? John and Ken welcome Jana Mohr Lone, founder and director of the Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children at the University of Washington. Together they'll put some classic philosophical questions about Mind/Body, Perso...
2015-Oct-31 • 8 minutes
240: The Power of Thought
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/power-thought. Human... thought is an amazing thing. It has given us not only science, literature, and morality, but also superstition, slavery, and war. Thought has the power to uncover the deepest mysteries of the universe. Or to create new realities – social realities. But what makes human thought so powerful? John and Ken put this question and more to renowned cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, author of the best-selling "The Language Instinct: How the Mind C...
2015-Oct-31 • 11 minutes
239: Disagreement
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/disagreement. Sometimes... people who seem to be your epistemic peers – that is, people as experienced, as well trained, as thoughtful, and as intelligent as you – disagree with you. Should this shake your confidence in your own beliefs? When, how much, and under what conditions? Ken and John search for common ground with Jennifer Lackey from Northwestern University, author of "Learning From Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge."
2015-Oct-31 • 10 minutes
238: Reading, Narrative, and the Self
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/reading-narrative-and-self. Reading... is a lot of fun, especially narrative fiction – everyone loves a good story. But maybe there's more to it than that. Maybe everyone is, or at least tries to be, a good story themselves. Perhaps our very personal identities rest on narratives we form about ourselves, narratives that give our lives meaning, continuity, and coherence. Will the younger generation fashion lives based on the chaos and violence-based levels of computer...
2015-Oct-31 • 9 minutes
236: Bargaining with the Devil
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/bargaining-devil. Compromise... is the condition of peace and progress. But there are times when we should not compromise – when compromise would undermine integrity and amount to cooperating with evil. How do we distinguish between when are we 'bargaining with the devil' and when are we simply trying to be tolerant of alternative lifestyles and political positions? Is it OK to 'bargain with the devil' in the name of peace? When we refuse to compromise on moral groun...
2015-Oct-31 • 8 minutes
235: Philosophy and the Alma Mater
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-alma-mater. Scholars... from Berkeley and from Stanford have played a big role on Philosophy Talk. Sure, John and Ken are from Stanford, but many of our most frequent and most brilliant guests are from Berkeley: Alison Gopnik, John Searle, Geoff Nunberg, George Lakoff, and many others. But who supports KALW more, Berkeley or Stanford? We'll rely on our Stanford- and Berkeley-connected guests to charge up the Cardinal and Bears in the audience, and see ...
2015-Oct-31 • 10 minutes
234: Meaning and the Revolution
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/meaning-and-revolution. The... American Revolution was saturated with meaning and ambiguity, from the words of the Declaration of Independence, to the beliefs of the founding fathers, to the vagueness, hedges, and contradictions of the Constitution on which the possibility of union between slave and free states rested. Ken and John examine the personalities, philosophies, and documents of the American Revolution with Pulitzer Prize winning Stanford historian Jack Rak...
2015-Oct-31 • 10 minutes
233: Philosophy for the Young – Corrupting or Empowering?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-young-corrupting-or-empowering. Socr... was executed for corrupting the youth. In America, youth below college age are usually not exposed to philosophy in the classroom. Is philosophy all that dangerous? Should it be taught to teenagers? Or would this lead to a generation of self-absorbed and skeptical young people, shirking their duties in order to worry about the meaning of life? Ken and John are joined by Jack Bowen, author of "The Dream Weaver" and "I...
2015-Oct-31 • 9 minutes
232: Self-Deception
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/self-deception. Self-deception... sounds like a contradiction: intentionally convincing yourself of something you know to be untrue. But it is a pervasive aspect of human nature. What is the nature of self-deception, and what are its main patterns? Does it serve any purpose? Ken and John confront the truths of self-deception with Neil Van Leeuwen from the University of Johannesburg.
2015-Oct-31 • 10 minutes
231: Humanism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/humanism. Humanism... as a movement arose with the Renaissance. It took powerful expression with the Enlightenment, and deeply influenced the founding of the United States. But now "secular humanism" is widely decried and even derided. What was Humanism, and what has it become? In an age of appreciating the interconnectedness of all nature, is the Humanist enterprise out of date? Ken and John are joined by Jennifer Bardi, editor of "The Humanist" magazine, for a prog...
2015-Oct-30 • 10 minutes
230: Social Reality
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/social-reality. Few... things affect our lives as much as the fact that we are citizens of one country rather than another. The government of, the economy of, and the rights recognized and opportunities provided by the country we live in shape our lives. But how real are any of these facts and things? Without human beliefs, and societies of humans, there would be no states, no facts of citizenship, no money, and few opportunities. Are our lives built on ontologic...
2015-Oct-30 • 10 minutes
229: Loyalty
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/loyalty. Loyalty... is usually reckoned to be an important virtue; even loyalty to lost causes is often admired. But loyalty to evil causes is no virtue. To whom and what should one be loyal? When is loyalty a virtue? When is it wrong? And when is it stupid? Ken and John welcome back poet and philosopher Troy Jollimore, author of "Friendship and Agent-Relative Morality."
2015-Oct-30 • 11 minutes
228: Democracy and the Press
More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/democracy-and-press. Our... founding fathers believed that a free press would serve democracy by promoting unfettered political debate and expose the actions of the government to the harsh scrutiny of an informed and engaged populace. Today, however, large media conglomerates have become part of the entrenched power structure and are driven as much by profit as by a sense of public mission. Is it still possible to believe that the press lives up to the lofty ideals ...
2015-Oct-30 • 10 minutes
227: What Are Human Rights?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-are-human-rights. According... to the Declaration of Independence, the basic human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are God-given. Whatever the role of God, rights must be recognized by the society in which one lives to be of any use. Are rights universal? God given? Philosophically justified? Or a matter of custom and culture? John and Ken welcome back Helen Stacy, author of "Human Rights For the 21st Century: Sovereignty, Civil Society, C...
2015-Oct-30 • 11 minutes
226: The Corporation as Person
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/corporation-person. The... Supreme Court recently decided that corporations had the right of free speech under the U.S. Constitution, since they are persons. But what does it mean to say corporations are persons? Why should they have rights? If they have free speech, should they have the vote? What sorts of duties do they have? Where did the idea of a corporation as a person come from, and should it be retired? Ken and John examine the philosophical bases of corporat...
2015-Oct-30 • 6 minutes
224: Live Highlights
More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-talk-live-highlights. It's... a Philosophy Talk highlight reel for the membership drive! In this special episode, John and Ken relive some favorite moments from Philosophy Talk episodes recorded in front of live audiences around the country. We start at the Marsh theatre in San Francisco with psychologist Alison Gopnik and political philosopher Judith Butler, followed by philosopher-poet Troy Jollimore in Portland, pop culture philosopher Richard Hanley a...
2015-Oct-30 • 9 minutes
223: Mental Illness and Culture
More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/mental-illness-and-culture. Paranoia,... depression, schizophrenia, bipolarity, and all the other ways Americans have discovered to be crazy – are they universal phenomena, rooted in human biology? Or are they cultural kinks, rooted in one society's peculiar pressures and institutions? Are Americans inducing the rest of the world to be crazy like us, so we can market the appropriate cures? Ken and John maintain their sanity with Ethan Watters, author of "Crazy Li...
2015-Oct-30 • 10 minutes
222: Faces, Feelings, and Lies
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/faces-feelings-and-lies. According... to Proverbs, lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. But lies on human lips are as common as fleas on a dog. What is a lie? Are all untruths lies? Is lying always immoral? Do our faces inevitably betray our lies? Join the hosts as they uncover the concept, practice, and detection of lies with pioneering psychologist Paul Ekman, author of "Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage" and scien...
2015-Oct-30 • 10 minutes
221: The Ethics of Torture
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/ethics-torture. According... to former Vice President Cheney, practices widely regarded as torture prevented further attack on America after 9/11. The facts are in dispute. But suppose he is correct – can torture be justified on such utilitarian grounds? What is the philosophical basis of our aversion to using torture? Is the moral principle not to torture absolute or circumstantial? Ken and John consider the ethics of torture with Nancy Sherman from Georgetown ...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
220: What Is a Wife?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-wife. The... concept of a wife has been embedded in cultures, religious practices, social customs and economic patterns of wildly different sorts. Is there a core concept of what it is to be a wife? Is it a good concept, or one that deserves to be thrown on the trash heap of intellectual history because it perpetrates corrosive stereotypes of women? What conceptions of being a wife do Americans have today? John and Ken discuss the topic with Marilyn Yalom, auth...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
219: Fear
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/fear. Fear... is an emotion, but it is one with a long history in both political theory and politics in the real world. In many versions of social contract theory, it is a fear of the state of nature that leads to government in the first place. From McCarthy to post-9/11 politics, fear has played a leading role in American public discourse. Ken and John examine fear as theme in politics and political philosophy with Corey Robin from the City University of New York, a...
2015-Oct-29 • 9 minutes
218: What Is 'Normal'?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-normal. What... does it mean to be normal? And abnormal? Who gets to decide, and what are the repercussions? When do we applaud deviations from the norm, when do we condemn them, and why? John and Ken take a look at the uses and abuses of making judgments about normality with Charles Scott from Vanderbilt University, author of "Living With Indifference" and "The Language of Difference."
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
216: Mind Reading
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/mind-reading. We... base many decisions every day not only on the belief that other people have minds, but on detailed beliefs about what is going on in those minds: what these other people believe, feel, hope, and fear. The basis of our ability to "read" the minds of others is a lively area of research in psychology and the philosophy of psychology. Ken and John discuss mind-reading with Shaun Nichols from the University of Arizona, author of "Mindreading: An Integr...
2015-Oct-29 • 9 minutes
215: Philosophy in Fiction
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-fiction. Philosophers... think a lot about fiction. But do novelists think about philosophy? Do philosophers make good fictional characters? Can good stories be built around philosophical problems? When awarding its Genius prize to philosopher-novelist Rebecca Goldstein, the MacArthur Foundation said "[her] writings emerge as brilliant arguments for the belief that fiction in our time may be the best vehicle for involving readers in questions of morality a...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
214: Nihilism and Meaning
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/nihilism-and-meaning. The... ancients believed in an enchanted universe – a universe suffused with meaning and purpose. But with the dawn of modernity, philosophy and science conspired together to disenchant the universe, to reveal it as entirely devoid of meaning and purpose. Must any rational and reflective person living in the 21st century accept such nihilism? Or is there a way to re-infuse the disenchanted universe with meaning and purpose? Join John and Ken for...
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
213: Søren Kierkegaard
More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/kierkegaard. Philosophy... usually suggests a striving for rationality and objectivity. But the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard advocated subjectivity and the leap of faith – his conception of how an individual would believe in God or act in love. Kierkegaard, whose best-known work is "Fear and Trembling," is often considered the father of Existentialism. Ken and John explore the life and thought of this passionate philosopher with Lanier Anderson from Stanford...
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
212: Is It Wrong to Wreck the Earth?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/it-wrong-wreck-earth. There... are too many people, doing too much damage to the ecosystem, essentially guaranteeing that future generations will have a damaged Earth, and will have to invest incredible amounts of time, money and labor to repairing what can be repaired. But future generations are made up of people who don't yet exist – what obligations do we have to them? And what obligations, if any, do we have to our fellow fauna and the flora we all depend on? Ken...
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
210: The Philosophical Legacy of Darwin
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/darwin. Charles... Darwin was born 200 years ago. His theory of evolution continues to shape our thinking, not only in biology, but also in psychology, economics, and all other attempts to understand human beings including philosophy. Ken and John delve into Darwin's theory and its implications for philosophy with Daniel Dennett of Tufts University, author of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea."
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
209: From the Minds of Babies
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/minds-babies. Consciousness,... morality, meaning and truth have perplexed and puzzled generations upon generations of philosophers. But could it be that we have been looking in all the wrong places to solve these imponderable mysteries? Could the minds of babies hold the key to philosophical progress? John and Ken are joined by renowned developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, author of The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell us about Truth, Love, and th...
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
207: Healthcare – Right or Privilege?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/health-care-right-or-privilege. Do... we have a right to healthcare, and to good high quality healthcare, in any precise and defensible sense? Or is the "right to healthcare" just a nice way to say it would be very nice if everyone had healthcare? John and Ken take a philosophical lens to the alleged right to healthcare and health insurance with Laurence Baker from the Center for Health Policy at Stanford University.
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
206: Schizophrenia and the Mind
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/schizophrenia-and-mind. To... be human, philosophers have often said, is to be rational. But many people, for biological reasons, are clearly not rational. Schizophrenia is not only a malady, it is also a window on how the human mind works, and what it means to be human. Ken and John examine schizophrenia and its lessons for philosophers with John Campbell from UC Berkeley, author of "Reference and Consciousness."
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
205: War, Sacrifice, and the Media
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/war-sacrifice-and-media. The... media often present a sanitized and one sided narrative of war, torture and other forms of violence that blots out the faces and silences the voices of many of the main victims: the refugees, the victims of unjust imprisonment and torture, and the immigrants virtually enslaved by their starvation and legal disenfranchisement. John and Ken probe the limits of the media representations of war and other forms of violence with renowned UC ...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
204: What Are Words Worth?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-are-words-worth. How... do words shape our minds? Do the French suffer because they have no word for berry or cozy? Do we suffer because we have no word for schadenfreude? Why do we adopt new words, or give old words new meaning? Can we eliminate a concept by renaming it, or eliminating the word for it? Ken and John welcome back Geoff Nunberg, author of "The Years of Talking Dangerously."
2015-Oct-29 • 9 minutes
203: Philosophy Talk Highlights
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-talk-highlights. It's... a Philosophy Talk highlight reel for the membership drive. In this special episode, John and Ken relive some favorite moments from the Philosophy Talk archives. Listen to cognitive scientist Margaret Boden on creativity, computers, and the emotions, Stanford University's Kara Dansky on the nature of crime and punishment, Georgetown Provost James O'Donnell on the contemporary relevance of Saint Augustine, Stanford's Michele Elam on ...
2015-Oct-29 • 8 minutes
202: The Postmodern Family
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/postmodern-family. What... is a family, and what distinguishes it from other kinds of associations? Is the traditional role of the family merely grounded in custom and habit, or is there a deeper philosophical justification for it? How has the structure of families changed over the ages, and how does it differ across cultures? John and Ken examine the structure and function of the family in relation to morality, values, and evolution with Stanford sociologist Mich...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
201: Pornography
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/pornography. Is... pornography an art form, or simply anything that depicts genitals in action? Where does mere eroticism end and pornography begin? In the internet age, pornography appears to have become not only more accessible but also more acceptable in American society – is this a welcome loosening up of a conservative tradition, or is it the path to moral degradation? John and Ken probe the philosophical implications of pornography with Rae Langton, author o...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
200: Money and Morality
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/money-and-morality. Does... our system of credit and money make upward social mobility possible for anyone willing to work hard? Or is it just a big Ponzi scheme? Are corporations the essential structures necessary to harness the capital, energy, intelligence, and leadership on a scale large enough to make and market the inventions that define modern life? Or are they just devices for evading responsibility and rewarding greed? Ken and John put these questions a...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
199: The Prison System
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/prison-system. As... of June 30, 2007, the prisons and jails in the land of the free held 2,299,116 inmates; one in every 31 American adults is in prison, on parole, or on probation. The state of California has more people in jail than China does, and this year expects to spend more on prisons than on higher education. Is something wrong with this picture? John and Ken explore the nature of incarceration and rehabilitation with Kara Dansky, Executive Director of t...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
198: Social Networking
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/social-networking. From... online bulletin boards at the dawn of the internet to the modern mammoths of Facebook and MySpace, people have used communications technology to associate in innovative ways. How do our old-fashioned values fit in to our new digital playgrounds? John and Ken network with Malcolm Parks from the University of Washington, author of "Personal Relationships and Personal Networks."
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
197: Summer Reading List 2009
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2009. Even... if you're not going to Biarritz for the summer as usual, you can relax in the sun and read. There are a lot of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your Summer Reading. Join Ken and John to share some of the philosophically-minded reading on your list for this summer.
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
196: The Mind and the World
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/mind-and-world. What... kinds of contact can the mind have with the world? Can we know how the world is in itself, or can we only know shadows of the world in our own minds? Are we trapped behind a veil of our own mental states? Is there a world outside my mind – or our minds – at all? John and Ken tackle the big questions of perception, the external world, and the nature of reality, with Howard Robinson from the Central European University, author of "Perception...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
195: Lincoln as a Philosopher
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/lincoln. More... than any other President, Abraham Lincoln is known for his words, from the Lincoln-Douglass debates to the second inaugural address, as well as his deeds. What was Lincoln's basic philosophy, and did it change over the course of his Presidency? Ken and John welcome back Chicago Public Radio's Resident Philosopher, Al Gini, to celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln, the man and his ideas.
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
194: Worship
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/worship. Worship... is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for something. The attitude of worship towards God or gods or ancestors is a universal of human culture. But why do we worship? Do objects of worship need to fulfill certain criteria? Does worship play a positive or negative role in human culture? Is it clear that a perfect, omnipotent and omniscient God truly wants to be worshipped? Some pagan religions worship the earth, or the aspects...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
193: Beliefs Gone Wild
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/beliefs-gone-wild. Our... brains evolved on the African savannah, but are now expected to deal with complex statistical information and other intricate concepts every day. The result: beliefs gone wild. Ken and John reveal the traps that the mismatch between our brains and the world we live in pose for ordinary mortals with their guest, The Undercover Philosopher, Michael Philips.
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
192: Desire
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/desire. There... are two ways to have your desires fulfilled: you can either get what you want (if you're lucky enough) or change your desires. If we can fit our desires to what we have, we're likely to be a lot happier. So why do we desire things that are out of reach? Why do we have desires that make us unhappy? And what can we do about it? John and Ken explore the relationship between desire and happiness with William Irvine, author of "On Desire: Why We Want...
2015-Oct-29 • 10 minutes
191: Too Much Information
More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/too-much-information. “We’re... just never going to catch up,” writes David Weinberger in "Everything Is Miscellaneous." That is, we're never going to catch up with the flood of information that is thrown at us by modern technology, especially the internet. We can never get all of our email filed, our digital pictures labeled, our calendars updated, our computers organized. Is the problem too much information, or out-of-date expectations about how information should...
2015-Oct-29 • 9 minutes
190: The Root of All Evil?
Money makes the world go around. But what sort of thing is money? Bits of paper and metal? An elaborate set of IOUs to be redeemed with more IOUs? An abstract accounting tool? If money is real, how can billions disappear on the stock market? And where does it go? Ken and John follow the money – its nature, its utility, and whether it is the root of all evil – with Stanford Economist Alex Gould. More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/root-all-evil...
2015-Oct-29 • 6 minutes
189: The Copyright Wars
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/copyright-wars. Today... there is an entire generation of people who have never paid for music. From Napster to YouTube, some of our most innovative and inventive young people have been the targets of lawsuits by entertainment industry lawyers for violating copyright laws. What are the ideas behind copyright protection? What is the philosophical and practical basis of copyright? Can rethinking the issues suggest the form of a truce between generations? Ken and J...
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
188: Challenges to Free Will
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/challenges-free-will. We... seem to be able to decide our behavior for ourselves – what we do is up to us. But if everything that we do can be explained by physics, does this leave room for freedom? Are all of our actions pre-determined? Are we slaves to fate? Is freedom compatible with determinism, or does science teach us that we're nothing but complex machines, following out a complicated program that a good enough physicist could have predicted centuries ago?...
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
187: Bi-racial Identities
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/bi-racial-identities. Many... people identify strongly with the ethnic or racial group to which they belong – as Jews, or African-Americans, or Latinos. But to which groups does a person truly belong? President Obama has a white mother from Kansas and an African father from Kenya. Why is he seen as our first African-American President, rather than our forty-fourth white president? How does racial identity work? Is such identification a positive or a negative fac...
2015-Oct-29 • 11 minutes
186: Different Cultures, Different Selves
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/different-cultures-different-selves. Why... do we do what we do? To please others? To live up to what culture expects? Or for our own reasons –- as "autonomous agents"? Americans tend to admire (at least in theory) the autonomous individual, the person who knows what he wants, and sets out to get it, no matter what the world might think. Is this true of all cultures? John and Ken are joined by Stanford Psychologist Hazel Markus to explore differences in motivation an...
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
185: The Movie Show
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/movie-show. Movies... play a large role in modern life. We enjoy watching them; we idolize the actors and actresses who appear in them; we analyze the directors. What is special about cinema as an art form, a mode of learning, a technique of propaganda? Do movies pose special problems for aesthetics? With the Oscars coming, Ken and John discuss the most philosophically-oriented films of this and past years, announcing the recipients of Philosophy Talk's first annu...
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
183: Civil Disobedience
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/civil-disobedience. Thoreau,... Gandhi, and Martin Luther King all engaged in civil disobedience, and are widely admired for doing so. But how can democratic society function if each person's conscience has to be satisfied for a law to be obeyed? When is civil disobedience justified? When is it required? How does the concept fit with the great ethical and political philosophies? John and Ken discuss the ethics of protest and punishment with Kimberley Brownlee fr...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
182: Philosophy of History
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-history. Is... history just a series of events, or an interpretation of those events? Is there progress in history? Can history be objective, or is it, as Napoleon said, just the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon? Ken and John delve into the past and its meaning with Daniel Little, Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and author of "History's Pathways" and "Varieties of Social Explanation."
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
181: The Idea of the University
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/idea-university. Is... a university a research institute with students, or and educational institution with research around the edges – or something in between? To whom does the university answer – the trustees? The administration? The faculty? The students? Or something more abstract, like knowledge and wisdom? John and Ken examine the very idea of a university with Stanford Provost John Etchemendy.
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
179: Bodies For Sale
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/bodies-sale. I... can sell my house, the things I make, and the services I provide. So why can't I sell one of my kidneys? What is the philosophical basis for the taboo against selling parts of our bodies? There is an (illegal) market in body parts; shouldn't we trust the wisdom of the market and make it legitimate? Or would doing so undermine the very dignity of persons and human life? Ken and John dissect the issues with Stanford Philosopher Debra Satz, author...
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
178: Levels of Reality
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/levels-reality. Are... there levels of reality, with each level emerging from the other in a way that provides a truly new aspect of reality? The concept of emergence has been seen as an alternative to mere reducibility in discussion of the relation of the physical world to the biological world, consciousness, the social world, and God. Ken and John probe the nature of reality with Tim O'Connor, Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University and author of "Theism an...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
176: William James
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/william-james. William... James is a great figure, historically important as a philosopher (pragmatism and radical empiricism), a student of religion (author of the monumental "Varieties of Religious Experience"), and psychology. Ken and John examine the life and ideas of this towering figure with Russell Goodman, a leading scholar of Pragmatism and author of Wittgenstein and William James.
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
175: Making Decisions
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/making-decisions. When... we make decisions we think we're in control, making rational choices. But are we? This is the central question posed by Dan Ariely, Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University, in his book "Predictably Irrational." Ken and John discuss irrationality, its dangers, and perhaps also its benefits, with this philosophical and fascinating economist.
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
174: Digital Selves
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/digital-selves. Second... Life and dozens of other online adventures involve creating digital selves, and millions of users are taking advantage of the opportunity to develop new personas. Cyberpunk literature, like William Gibson's Neuromancer, describes worlds in which the line between digital selves and real selves is hard to draw. What makes your digital self you? What does your choice of digital selves show about you? And what makes onscreen representation mo...
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
173: Overcoming the Terror of Death
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/overcoming-terror-death. To... many death is terrifying. But why? As David Hume pointed out, all the years we didn't exist before we were born seemed painless enough. Why worry about future non-existence? Is the real worry that we will continue to exist? Ken and John confront mortality with psychiatrist and novelist Irv Yalom, author of "Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death."
2015-Oct-28 • 8 minutes
172: The Morality of Food
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/morality-food. Veganism,... freeganism, organic, sustainability, simplicity, biofuel, animal rights, worker's rights, nutrition, preventing hunger, reducing waste and protecting the environment. What obligations do we have when it comes to buying, eating and producing food? How should we balance moral and practical concerns? John and Ken chew on these questions with Michael Pollan from the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "I...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
171: Utilitarianism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/utilitarianism Can... morality be quantified? Can the good be calculated? Utilitarianism says the right action is the one which leads to the most overall happiness -– a deceptively simple theory, but not without its detractors. Is utilitarianism compatible with the idea that people have inalienable rights? Should we be so focused on the consequences of our actions? John and Ken welcome Wayne Sumner from the University of Toronto, author of "The Hateful and the O...
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
170: Global Justice and Human Rights
More at philosophytalk.org/shows/global-justice-... constitutes a just society? What are the obligations of liberal democracies to ensure the rights and well-being of the citizens of other countries? What kinds of interventions and institutions are most suitable to the task of preventing war, disease, and poverty in the world today? John and Ken discuss the requirements of justice with Helen Stacy from Stanford Law School.
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
169: Dualism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/dualism. What... is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Monists believe that there is only one substance or property in the Universe, be it physical (Materialists) or mental (Idealists). But Dualists, like the 17th Century French philosopher Rene Descartes, hold that mental stuff exists side by side with physical stuff. Can this view be defended, in light of modern science? John and Ken probe the mind-body with David Rosenthal from City University of...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
168: Philosophy and Pop Culture
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-pop-culture. From... Star Trek and the Grateful Dead to South Park and Stephen Colbert, philosophical questions are everywhere in popular culture: Is time travel possible? Can a person survive being disintegrated and reassembled? Does humor enable the expression of deep truths, political or otherwise? John and Ken look at the Big Questions in pop culture with Richard Hanley from the University of Delaware, author of "South Park and Philosophy."
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
167: Giving and Keeping
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/giving-and-keeping. How... should people allocate their assets – however modest or grand – ethically and effectively? What kinds of giving should the government encourage through tax incentives and other measures? Is providing for loved ones more worthy than self-expression through philanthropy? John and Ken are joined by Rob Reich, Professor of Political Science and Ethics in Society at Stanford University.
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
166: The Luck of the Draw
More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/luck-draw. Sometimes... it isn't possible to distribute goods evenly. When this happens, we often leave it up to randomness – in the form of lotteries – to decide who gets what. Is this just? Or is it merely the best we can do? What distinguishes fair systems of randomization from unfair ones? John and Ken take their chances with Peter Stone, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
165: Altruism
More athttp://philosophytalk.org/shows/altrui... people genuinely altruistic, or is altruism just a type of selfish-behavior? Are other animals altruistic? Should we strive to be altruistic, or is selfishness a higher virtue? John and Ken take the moral high ground with their guest Jeff Schloss, Professor and Chair of Biology at Westmont College and co-editor of "Altruism and Altruistic Love: Science, Philosophy, and Religion in Dialogue."
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
163: The Problem of Evil
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/problem-evil. Many... religions tell us that God is perfect: all-knowing, all-powerful, and beneficent. Why then do bad things happen? John and Ken discuss the problem of evil with their guest, Michael Tooley from the University of Colorado at Boulder, co-author of "Knowledge of God."
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
162: Summer Reading List 2008
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2008. Summer's... just around the corner – what books are you going to pack with your Speedo? John and Ken leaf through some of this summer's philosophy, fiction, and non-fiction reading with Danielle Marshall from Powell's City of Books.
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
161: Promises
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/promises. What... is a promise: a prediction? A statement of intention? Is promising rational? Does it create an obligation? John and Ken promise to raise these issues and more with Sir Neil MacCormick from the University of Edinburgh, author of "Rhetoric and the Rule of Law."
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
160: Experimental Philosophy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/experimental-philosophy. Philosophical... reasoning relies on intuitions. John Rawls called this method "reflective equilibrium.” But where do we get our data about "intuitions"? John and Ken welcome back Anthony Appiah from Princeton University, author of "Experiments in Ethics." They discuss psychological experiments that determine what people really think.
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
159: Varieties of Love
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/varieties-love. Is... love a single thing, or just a word we use to express any number of unrelated emotions? Is love intrinsically irrational? What have philosophers said about love? Did they know what they were talking about? John and Ken lovingly welcome Christopher Phillips, author of "Socrates in Love."
2015-Oct-28 • 8 minutes
158: Politics and Cognitive Science
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/politics-and-cognitive-science. Can... cognitive science explain the difference between liberals and conservatives? Do we elect our presidents on the basis of stale metaphors and the manipulations of pernicious language mavens? We put these questions to George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley and author of "Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision."
2015-Oct-28 • 9 minutes
157: Philosophy of Wine
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-wine. The... discriminating wine palate: bouquet, nose, great vintages, genius vintners. Are these just myths perpetrated by winemakers and taken up by snobs with too much money to spend? John and Ken raise a philosophical glass with Barry Smith from the University of London, editor of "Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine."
2015-Oct-28 • 9 minutes
156: Apologizing
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/apologizing. Can... you be sorry without intending to change your behavior in the future? Without being ashamed? Do other cultures have different concepts of sorrow and guilt? John and Ken unapologetically explore the language and philosophy of contrition with Nick Smith from the University of New Hampshire, author of "I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies."
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
155: Science vs. Pseudoscience
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/science-vs-pseudo-science. Astronomy... is science; Astrology is pseudo-science. Evolutionary Biology is science; Creationism is pseudo-science. How about cultural anthropology, abstract economics, string-theory, and evolutionary psychology – science or pseudo-science? Is pseudo-science just politically incorrect science? Or is there an objective difference? John and Ken tackle these questions with Stuart Vyse from Connecticut College, author of "Believing in Magic: ...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
154: Infinity
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/infinity. Infinity... is a puzzling concept. Mathematicians say there are as many odd numbers as there are numbers altogether. That seems like saying there are as many men as there are people altogether – which we know is untrue. And if you subtract infinity from infinity, you are still left with infinity – but which infinity? Some infinities are larger than others – how can this be? John and Ken unravel the paradoxes of infinity with Rudy Rucker, Professor Emeritus ...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
153: Connectionism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/connectionism. Does... the human mind work like a computer? If so, what kind of computer? A theory known as connectionism offers a revolutionary perspective on these issues. Ken and John delve into cutting-edge cognitive science with Jay McClelland from Stanford University, an architect of the connectionist view.
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
152: Paradoxes
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/paradoxes. A... paradox is a persuasive argument that something, which we judge must be false, is true. Zeno's Paradox, for example, is a convincing argument that it's impossible to move. Paradoxes are valuable in philosophy because they help us become aware of forms of argument that are deceptively convincing yet logically fallacious. John and Ken are joined by Roy Sorensen from Dartmouth College, author of "A Brief History of the Paradox," to consider what we can l...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
151: Saint Augustine
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/st-augustine. The... philosopher Saint Augustine of Hippo is one of the most important figures in the history of Christianity. His efforts against the Manichean, Arian and Pelagain heresies shaped the fundamentals of Christian doctrine. His Confessions tells the story of his own conversion from Manicheanism to Christianity. His philosophical ideas anticipated Saint Thomas Aquinas and Descartes. His three-volume City of God remains a classic of Christian apologetics. ...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
150: Persons, Selves, Souls, and Loops
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/persons-selves-souls-and-loops. Can... a self, a consciousness, an "I" arise out of mere matter? If it cannot, then how can you or I be here? And if it can, how does THAT work? These and other questions of identity are central to I Am A Strange Loop, the latest book by Indiana University Philosopher Douglas Hofstadter, author of the acclaimed Godel, Escher, Bach. He joins John and Ken for a probing discussion of the self, the soul, and the strange loop that binds the...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
149: Why Music Matters
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/why-music-matters. There... is something deeply mysterious about music. Why does it affect us so powerfully? Is it like a language, telling us something? A subtle form of communication? Are there universal interpretations of the emotions that various pieces of music expresses? Or does one need to be part of a music "community" in order to appreciate musical expression? John and Ken explore how music matters with musician and founding member of the Kronos Quartet Davi...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
147: Personal Identity
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/personal-identity. What... is necessary for a person to survive over time? Is it the continued existence of the living body? Or is it just the living brain? Or is it one's psychology, which might persist even without one's original brain in a computer or in an entirely new brain? How important are questions of personal identity for ethics and rationality? John and Ken are joined by Raymond Martin, Professor of Philosophy at Union College and co-author of "The Ris...
2015-Oct-28 • 9 minutes
146: The Concept of God
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/concept-god. What... does "God" mean? Is God a concrete thing like a chair or a human; or is it an abstract thing, like love or goodness? Is there something that all concepts of God have in common, some feature that all cultures attribute to God? Richard Swinburne, Emeritus Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at the University of Oxford, joins John and Ken to explore the many ways in which people across the world conceive of the divine.
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
145: Political Correctness
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/political-correctness. What... is political correctness? Has it always existed? What's "political" about it? Some people think that concerns over being PC lead to censorship and the stifling of free debate. Others think the label "politically correct" is nothing but a demeaning term for values we should espouse anyway, like appropriateness, politeness, fairness, and respectfulness. Is "politically correct" just a nasty label used to diminish and belittle social ...
2015-Oct-28 • 9 minutes
144: Islamic Philosophy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/islamic-philosophy. Some... of the many topics discussed in Islamic philosophy are the Qur'an, knowledge, dreams, justice, poetry, reality, prophethood, peace, and the State. How has Islamic philosophy interacted historically with other philosophical traditions? How has philosophy influenced the popular practice and interpretation of Islam? When has Islamic philosophy melded with or clashed with Islam's religious teachings? John and Ken are joined by Mashhad Al-Al...
2015-Oct-28 • 11 minutes
143: Immigration and Citizenship
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/immigration-and-citizenship. What... are the effects of immigration on culture in America? Does it promote homogenization, diversity, or both? Cultural enrichment, or assimilation? What challenges does immigration raise? What immigration policies should the American government adopt, with respect to economics, culture, and ethics? How can we justify denying privileges and protections to people based simply upon where they were born? What, if any, restrictions on...
2015-Oct-28 • 9 minutes
142 Philosophy and Literature
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-literature. What... can we learn from studying philosophy? What can we learn from reading great (or not-so-great) literature? Some philosophers and literary theorists believe that philosophy and literature converge in a number of places. Great literature is often deeply philosophical, and great philosophy is often great literature, sometimes in the form of fictional narrative. Perhaps we can learn many of the same lessons from philosophy and litera...
2015-Oct-28 • 9 minutes
141: Predicting the Future
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/predicting-future. People... who predict the future well are sometimes said to be psychic. But we all make predictions about the future, with more or less success. We confidently predict the sun will rise tomorrow, that ice will be cold, etc. But maybe we're not quite as good at predicting the future as we think. Is the stock market predictable? The weather? Political upheavals? Or is life just too random to make good predictions? John and Ken predict that Nassim Tal...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
140: Faith, Reason, and Science
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/faith-reason-and-science. Does... faith obscure reason? Does reason obscure faith? Or perhaps their subject matters are different. Faith might address one area of our lives and reason and science another. Faith may allow us to see meaning, values, and God, while reason sees everything else, whatever that may be. Or perhaps faith and reason are fundamentally intertwined. Is faith void of reason? Is it irrational to be faithful? Are science and rationality void of fait...
2015-Oct-28 • 8 minutes
139: Love, Poetry, and Philosophy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/love-poetry-and-philosophy. For... Plato, love and philosophy were closely related. Love of beauty causes one to contemplate the whole sea of beauties, including beautiful systems of justice and beautiful scientific theories. But Plato wasn't such a fan of poetry, arguing that it merely evoked strong emotions in a way contrary to reason. Noted poet Troy Jollimore, winner of the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award, disagrees. He joins John and Ken for a spirited d...
2015-Oct-28 • 7 minutes
138: Math and the Mind
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/math-and-mind. How... does a bunch of grey matter in our skulls have the ability to solve mathematical problems? Are we the only species that can? Does catching a baseball require doing calculations? Join John, Ken, and their guest, noted cognitive scientist and NPR's "Math Guy" Keith Devlin, as they discuss the many ways our minds can do the math.
2015-Oct-28 • 6 minutes
137: The Value of Art
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/value-art. An... art lover will argue that art brings beauty to our surroundings and provides occasions for intellectual and emotional reflection. But those who don't appreciate art see it as unnecessary and frivolous - at any rate, certainly not something that tax dollars should go to support. In a time when school budgets for art programs are dwindling, John and Ken are joined by Cynthia Freeland, Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Houston, to ...
2015-Oct-28 • 10 minutes
136: Postmodernism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/postmodernism. In... art, architecture, music, film, literature, sociology, communications, fashion and philosophy there is a contrast between "the modern" and "the post-modern." But just what are the main hallmarks of the postmodern? How does the "postmodern" differ from the "modern?" Is the postmodern an improvement over the modern? John and Ken are joined by Gary Aylesworth, Professor of Philosophy at Eastern Illinois University, to explore the contours of postmod...
2015-Oct-28 • 8 minutes
135: Firting With Philosophy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/flirting-philosophy. What... is flirting? Can you flirt without intending to? Can you flirt by dressing a certain way, by walking a certain way? Is flirtatious behavior culturally relative? Could you flirt with a robot? With your own long-term partner? With an idea? Join John and Ken as they plumb the philosophical depths of flirting with Carrie Jenkins from the University of Nottingham, author of "The Philosophy of Flirting."
2015-Oct-28 • 9 minutes
134: Philosophy Through Humor
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-through-humor. Why... did Nietzsche cross the road? To get beyond good and evil! How is a good joke like a good philosophical argument? Are philosophical tenets at the core of much of humor? To find out, join the philosophers and their guests, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, authors of "Plato and A Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes."
2015-Oct-28 • 9 minutes
133: Capital Punishment
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/capital-punishment. The... death penalty: An effective deterrent? A just retribution for horrendous crimes? Or a racist, classist form of state-sanctioned murder? Join John and Ken and their guest, Robert Weisberg, Director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, as they discuss the philosophical pros and cons of capital punishment.
2015-Oct-28 • 9 minutes
131: Summer Reading List 2007
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2007. Are... there philosophers, philosophies, or philosophical issues you want to read up on over the summer? Kant's Critique of Pure Reason probably isn't the obvious choice to take to the beach (though it does make great radio), but there are a lot of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your Summer Reading. Plus, new and classic fiction books with a philosophical bent. Join John and Ken and John to s...
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
130: Aging and the Well-Lived Life
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/aging-and-well-lived-life. Aging... is a physical process that will always be with us. But conceptions of aging, views about the contributions older people can make to society, and what society owes them change from era to era and differ from culture to culture. In conjunction with the Stanford Humanities Center, John and Ken explore the issues involved in growing older with their guest, Stanford University psychologist Laura Carstensen.
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
129: Artificial Intelligence
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/artificial-intelligence. At... least some versions of artificial intelligence are attempts not merely to model human intelligence, but to make computers and robots that exhibit it: that have thoughts, use language, and even have free will. Does this make sense? What would it show us about human thinking and consciousness? John and Ken uncover the philosophical issues raised by artificial intelligence with Marvin Minsky from M.I.T., one of the pioneers of A.I.
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
128: Science, Ethics, and Censorship
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/science-ethics-and-censorship. Science... is, on the one hand, a huge enterprise funded to a great extent by the government and by industry. On the other hand, science is supposed to be the dispassionate, objective search for truth. What happens when the search for truth conflicts with the needs and desires of the funders? Should those funders be allowed to censor the science they pay for? Should scientists be free to publish the truth whatever its effect? John ...
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
127: Autonomy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/autonomy. Philosophers... call a person autonomous if she is responsible not just for what she does but also for the principles and rules that guide her. But does this really make sense? Aren't we all just products of culture, education and genes? Join John and Ken as they investigate the nature of autonomy with John Christman from Penn State University.
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
126: Ethics In Journalism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/ethics-journalism. Freedom... of speech tells us the government shouldn't restrict the journalist. But should anything restrict the journalist? Should the duty to inform be limited by the duty not to betray national security, not to injure the innocent, not to corrupt the jury pool, and similar considerations? How do we draw the line? John and Ken welcome Dale Jacquette from Pennsylvania State University to delve into the ethics of journalistic practice.
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
125: Can Science Explain Consciousness?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/can-science-explain-consciousness. Human... are conscious, billiard balls are not, and computers aren't either. But all three are just collections of molecules, aren't they? What is consciousness, and does it go beyond what science can explain? John and Ken probe the limits of scientific accounts of consciousness with Joseph Levine UMass Amherst, author of "Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness."
2015-Oct-27 • 6 minutes
124: APhilosophical Shout-Out
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophical-shout-out. On... this special pledge-week episode, John and Ken open the phones and the inbox to their listeners, answering questions about art, politics, proof, and philosophy itself.
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
123: Skepticism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/skepticism. Various... forms of skepticism play important roles in the history of philosophy. Do we really know there are external objects? That there are other minds? That there is a distant (or even a not-so-distant) past? All the evidence we have for these things seems consistent with our being in a world in which they don't exist. What does this tell us about life? About philosophy? Our hosts discuss one of the deepest and most fertile philosophical tradit...
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
122: Immortality and the Afterlife
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/immortality-and-afterlife. Many... religions contemplate some form of personal continued existence after death: reincarnation in another body, or continued being in some vastly different place like Heaven or Hell. Do any of these conceptions make sense? If so, is there any evidence for any of them? And why do people want continued existence, even immortality? Wouldn't it be a bore? John and Ken welcome back Anne Ashbaugh of Colgate University to explore the philosoph...
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
120: Ludwig Wittgenstein
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/wittgenstein. The... Austrian/British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein exercised enormous influence over philosophy in the middle third of the last century, and his view and his life continue to fascinate thinkers around the world. What are the basic tenets of Wittgenstein's philosophy, and what is their enduring legacy? Join John and Ken as they investigate the ideas and implications of one of the great philosophers of language and thought with Juliet Floyd from Bo...
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
119: The Judiciary in Democracy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/judiciary-democracy. In... many democracies, the judiciary is protected, to one degree or another, from the voters. Our federal judges, for example, though appointed by elected officials, then have lifetime tenure. In more local venues, however, many judges are directly elected. What is the role of the judiciary in a democracy, and how much protection from democratic processes is needed? John and Ken probe the judiciary branch of government with Larry Kramer, Dea...
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
118: Mental Imagery
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/mental-imagery. In... the Early Modern period many philosophers took ideas to be mental images of the objects they stood for. During the 20th century, that notion fell into considerable disrepute. Yet recent cognitive science has revived the idea that at least some of our mental representations are highly imagistic in character, not just mental representations tied to vision and perception generally. Join John, Ken, and noted cognitive psychologist Lera Boroditsk...
2015-Oct-27 • 7 minutes
117: If Truth Is So Valuable, Why Is There So Much BS?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/if-truth-so-valuable-why-there-so-much-bs. Ever... we look -- in the media, in our political campaigns, in the hallowed halls of the academy -- we are confronted with an endless stream of BS, spin, propaganda, half-truths, and even outright lies. Yet for centuries, philosophers have argued that the pursuit of truth is both intrinsically good and instrumentally useful. But if truth is really both good and useful, then why is there so much BS around? John and Ken we...
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
116: Legal Ethics
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/legal-ethics. Lawyers... are often thought to be hardly better than hired guns, who, in the words of Plato, are paid to "make the weaker argument the stronger" -- like the sophists of old. In fact, lawyers are legally and morally bound by stringent codes of ethics. Noted philosopher of law David Luban, of Georgetown University, is the guest as Philosophy Talk explores the ethical obligations of lawyers to their clients, to the court, and to society at large.
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
115: We've Been Framed: How Language Shapes Politics
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/weve-been-framed-how-language-shapes-politics. ... the hijacking of words by political forces tell us something interesting about the nature of language and meaning? Would liberals by some other name smell sweeter, or are they really tax-raising, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freaks? Ken and John welcome back Philosophy Talk favorite Geoff Nunberg, author of "The Way We Talk Now" and ...
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
114: The Promise and Perils of the New Genomics
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/promise-and-perils-new-genomics. John... and Ken welcome their special guest, noted scientist and entrepreneur, Craig Venter. From the mapping of the human genome, to the patenting of synthetic life forms, to bio-prospecting for genetic gold in the depths of the oceans and the deepest reaches of the world's rain forests, Craig Venter has been at the forefront of a revolution in genomics. Join the hosts and their guest as they explore the ethical, legal, and economi...
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
113: Philosophy and Film
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-film. Despite... the crass commercialism that drives the production of many movies, there's no doubt that film is a distinctive and distinctively powerful art form. Cinematic representations move us in ways that few others do. Film has also proven to be an outstanding vehicle for conveying philosophical ideas. John and Ken explore both the philosophy of film and philosophy within film with noted critic David Thomson, author of "The New Biographical Di...
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
112: Philosophy and Neuroscience
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-neuroscience. Philosophers... have always been concerned with the mind. What is consciousness? Representation? Emotion? Now that neuroscience is making headway on these same questions, we should ask: how should philosophy and neuroscience relate? John and Ken discuss this question and more as they delve into neuroscientifically-minded philosophy with Patricia Churchland from UC San Diego.
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
111: American Pragmatism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/american-pragmatism. Pragmatism... is perhaps America's most distinctive contribution to philosophy. Developed by Pierce, Dewey, and James in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pragmatism holds that both the meaning and the truth of any idea is a function of its practical outcome. The pragmatists rejected all forms of absolutism and insisted that all principles be regarded as working hypotheses that must bear fruit in lived experience. Join John and Ken as th...
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
110: What is a Child?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-child. Back... in the middle ages, people thought of children simply as little adults. Modern psychology has destroyed that theory. But then, what is a child? How are their minds different? And what are the moral implications of these differences for how we should treat them? Join John and Ken as they reflect on the nature of childhood with Tamar Schapiro from Stanford University.
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
109: Dreaming
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/dreaming. A... scary dream brings all the fears that a scary real situation can, and a happy dream can make us feel truly happy. But what are dreams? Where do they come from? And why do they feel so real? Thinkers from Descartes to Freud have been fascinated by dreams and their philosiphical significance. Join John and Ken as they explore one of the mind's greatest mysteries.
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
108: Separation of Powers
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/separation-powers. In... America, there's not just one governing body, there are three: executive, legislative, and judicial. You might think that separating those powers is just less efficient. But the founding fathers put a lot of philosophical thought into coming up with a system of checks and balances. In this episode, John and Ken discuss the separation of powers with Stanford law professor Kathleen Sullivan in front of a live audience on Capitol Hill in Washi...
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
107: Believing in God
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/believing-god. Some... have argued that there aren't any good arguments for believing in God. Is belief in God just an act of faith without reason? Plenty of philosophers would disagree. Why are philosophers so divided on the matter? In this episode Ken and John discuss the rational arguments for believing in God with Philip Clayton from the Claremont School of Theology.
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
106: Language and Thought
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/language-and-thought. You... might think our thoughts simply determine what we say. But maybe the language we speak is what really determines the thoughts we can have. As Wittgenstein famously wrote, "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." And Benjamin Lee Whorf held that the language you speak has a systematic influence on how you think about and interact with reality. John and Ken wrestle with the relationship between language and thought with Lera...
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
105: Karl Popper
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/karl-popper. Karl... Popper is a landmark figure in the philosophy of science. His notion of "falsifiability" endures to this day and even appears in arguments about creation versus evolution. But what does it mean for a theory to be falsifiable? And where does the idea stand in contemporary philosophy of science? John and Ken test a few ideas on Popper and falsifiability with Denis Phillips from Stanford University.
2015-Oct-27 • 9 minutes
104: Jewish Philosophy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/jewish-philosophy. Rabbis... and Talmudic scholars have spent centuries puzzling over theology, texts, and life. In the process they came up with many philosophical ideas that have inspired the work of more recent philosophers such as Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas. Who or what is God? By what rules should people live? And what does Maimonides have to say about diets and bathing? Join John and Ken as they investigate the past, present, and future of Jewish ph...
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
103: Philosophy of Music
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-music. Most... people enjoy music daily and have strong listening preferences. Music – along with love – is often thought of as a universal language. But what makes a collection of sounds a piece of music as opposed to just noise? Can music teach us anything? And is the value of music objective? John and Ken explore what philosophy has to tell us about music – and vice versa – with Peter Kivy from Rutgers University, author of "Sounding Off: Eleven Essays ...
2015-Oct-27 • 6 minutes
102: War Crimes
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/war-crimes. In... war, people do awful things to other people. But the concept of 'war crime' suggests that some things are worse than others. How do we disentangle what's fair play from what's criminal? What are the ethical justifications for regarding some of the evils of war as worse than others? John and Ken bring on David Luban from Georgetown University to explore the challenging subject of war crimes.
2015-Oct-27 • 8 minutes
101: Liberty vs. Security
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/liberty-vs-security. Edward... Gibbon and James Madison both noted how liberties in Rome were among the victims of its growing empire. Is our society facing a similar problem, given what some public figures have said about choosing between how much liberty and how much security we want? Or is this a false choice put forward by those in power? John and Ken take a philosophical lens to the relationship between liberty and security with Stephen Holmes from the NYU La...
2015-Oct-26 • 9 minutes
100: 100th Episode
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/100th-episode. It’s... our anniversary! Join the philosophers for a celebration of the program that questions everything – except your intelligence – with a look back on the issues and the people that have made Philosophy Talk a hit.
2015-Oct-26 • 9 minutes
99: Language in Action
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/language-action. How... do we communicate ideas with language? Where does the literal meaning of a word end and the subtle connotation begin? John and Ken tackle the semantics, pragmatics, and mysteries of meaning with Dan Sperber, co-author of "Relevance: Communication and Cognition."
2015-Oct-26 • 9 minutes
98: Athletic Beauty
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/athletic-beauty. Figure... skating is athletic and beautiful. How about a bone-crunching tackle? Or a spikes-high slide into second? Or a slam-dunk? Or an overweight sixty-year-old at a bowling alley? John and Ken discuss the nature of athletic beauty with Hans Gumbrecht, author of "In Praise of Athletic Beauty."
2015-Oct-26 • 7 minutes
97: Race, Class, and Inequality
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/race-class-and-inequality. The... concept of equality is as important to America's self-conception as it is confusing. What sort of equality? Equality before the law; equality of opportunity; equal access to all the benefits of modern society? If we treat everyone the same, how can we take account of inequities due to race, class, gender and other factors? John and Ken put these questions and more to Elizabeth Kiss from Duke University.
2015-Oct-26 • 7 minutes
96: The Future of Philosophy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/future-philosophy. Ken... and John discuss the future of philosophy with three rising stars in American philosophy: Elizabeth Harman from New York University, Brian Weatherson from Cornell University, and Sean Kelly from Princeton University.
2015-Oct-26 • 8 minutes
95: Stoicism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/stoicism. People... who don't seem affected by emotions are often called "stoic." But there's a lot more to Stoicism than simply being unaffected. Stoicism dates back to ancient Greece and Rome and offers a comprehensive approach to living life. Who were the original Stoics? What were their arguments? And is being stoic a good idea? John and Ken delve deep into Stoicism in this episode with John Cooper from Princeton University.
2015-Oct-26 • 9 minutes
94: Leadership
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/leadership. At... certain crucial times, such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II, America was blessed with great leaders. But now? What is leadership? How is it cultivated? What political processes bring great leaders to the top of the heap? And what processes will keep demonic leaders, like Hitler, from gaining ascendance? Can philosophy help us understand the nature of and limits of leadership? John and Ken welcome Deborah Rhode, Dire...
2015-Oct-26 • 8 minutes
93: Georg Hegel
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/hegel. Georg... Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is without doubt one of the most influential philosophers of all time. He has, however, been largely ignored by American "analytic" philosophers of the twentieth century. John in particular, and Ken to a lesser extent, don't know nearly as much about Hegel and his philosophy as they should. They will be lively if somewhat obtuse students for Allen Wood, Stanford's resident expert on virtually all aspects of modern philosophy, w...
2015-Oct-26 • 8 minutes
92: The Nature Of Imagination
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/nature-imagination. A... lot of our thinking, and even our perception, has to do not only with what is, but what might be, and what would have been. That is, the imagination is an important part of our intellectual life. And learning to use our imaginations without losing sight of reality is part of growing up. What is the imagination, and what led Mother Nature to make it such an important part of our make-up? John and Ken discuss the imagination with Alison Gopnik,...
2015-Oct-26 • 8 minutes
91: Summer Reading List 2006
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophical-summer-reading-list. Are... there some philosophers, philosophies, or philosophical issues you want to bone up on over the Summer? Hegel's "Phenomenology of the Spirit" probably isn't a very good choice to take to the beach, but there are a lot of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your Summer Reading. Ken and John discuss some of their favorites and pass on suggestions from Philosophy Talk guests.
2015-Oct-26 • 8 minutes
90: Justice Across Boundaries
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/justice-across-boundaries. Philosophical... conceptions of justice have most often been directed at the nature of a just state. But many contemporary issues of justice reach across boundaries. Are our immigration policies fair and just? Can a just state invade another state in order to outfit it with a more just government? Can we defend economic policies that improve the lives of our citizens but an adverse impact on economies abroad? John and Ken look beyond with M...
2015-Oct-26 • 9 minutes
89: What Is Art
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-art. Anything... someone wants to call art? Or are there some objective criteria, that not every instance of paint smeared on canvas and not every murder mystery meets? What are the main philosophies of art? Are any of them plausible? John and Ken talk about the nature of art with Alexander Nehamas from Princeton University.
2015-Oct-26 • 8 minutes
88: Philosophy and the Law
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-law. With... what right do governments make and enforce laws? To what extent are citizens obligated to obey the law, even if a law is unjust? John and Ken talk about philosophy and the law with Jules Coleman from Yale University.
2015-Oct-26 • 9 minutes
87: The Value of Truth
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/value-truth. The... pursuit of truth is often thought to be "intrinsically" valuable. Scientists and philosophers, who eschew religious rationales for their life's work, take the pursuit of truth to be obviously a worthwhile enterprise. But what's so great about truth? Sure, it's good to know what's for lunch, or the nature of the disease that plagues you, but is there any intrinsic or instrumental value in knowing how far away the farthest stars are? Or whether Milt...
2015-Oct-26 • 9 minutes
85: Suicide
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/suicide. Taking... human life is wrong. But what if it is one's own life? Is suicide worse or less bad than murder? Is it wrong at all? Can suicide be rational? How about helping another commit suicide? The Philosophers discuss the metaphysics and morality of taking one's own life with Michael Cholbi from Cal Poly Pomona, author of "Suicide: The Philosophical Dimensions."
2015-Oct-26 • 8 minutes
84: What Are Numbers?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-are-number. Plato... claimed that numbers exist in some mind-independent abstract heaven. Nominalists claim that there is no such heaven. Clearly, we can't see, hear, taste or feel numbers. But if there are no numbers what is mathematics all about? John and Ken count on a great discussion with Gideon Rosen from Princeton University, co-author of "A Subject With No Object: Strategies for Nominalistic Interpretation of Mathematics."
2015-Oct-26 • 8 minutes
83: Existentialism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/existentialism. Being... and Nothingness, the for-itself and the in-itself, bad faith, and the existential predicament; these Existentialist concepts were central to the philosophical scene in Europe and America after World War II. Join the Philosophers as they examine the ideas of Existentialism with Lanier Anderson from Stanford University.
2015-Oct-26 • 9 minutes
82: The Science of Humor
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/science-humor. Being... funny isn't easy. Figuring out what makes things funny is even harder. Still, a number of psychologists (e.g., Freud) and philosophers (e.g., Bergson) have tried. Now computer scientists are trying to learn enough about humor to construct programs that can write good jokes; maybe an artificial stand-up comedian is on the way. Ken and John discuss the art, philosophy and science of humor with Tony Veale, an Irish computer scientist who knows a ...
2015-Oct-26 • 8 minutes
81: Marriage And Monogamy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/marriage-and-monogamy. Monogamy... is traditional in most cultures, and it is the law throughout America since Utah gave up polygamy to acquire statehood. Is there any philosophical basis for favoring monogamy over polygamy? Or any reasons grounded in clear empirical facts or social needs? With a looming shortage of females relative to males in large parts of Asia, is it time to question this traditional assumption about marriage? John and Ken remain faithful to thei...
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
79: Legislating Values
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/legislating-values. To... legislate is to choose, and choices are made for the sake of values. But what values should, and which values do, guide our legislators? And why? Does the majority always rule? What attention must be paid to deeply held religious values? Or deeply held secular values? Ken and John discuss these issues with Representative Anna Eschoo (D-Cal).
2015-Oct-25 • 9 minutes
78: Philosophy of Science
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-science. Is... philosophy the queen of the sciences, with the job of synthesizing, interpreting and evaluating the results of the particular sciences? Or should we adopt John Locke's conception of philosophy as a handmaiden to science: clarifying concepts, definitions and assumptions? During the twentieth century the discipline of the philosophy of science emerged as a central part of philosophy. Ken and John discuss some of the leading ideas and projects ...
2015-Oct-25 • 9 minutes
77: Intelligent Design
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/intelligent-design. Is... there any reason to think the cause or causes of order in the universe bear an even remote analogy to human intelligence? Even if they did, would that mean these intelligent causes had the benevolence and sense of justice required of a Christian God? Is this whole issue one of science, religion, or philosophy? These questions, considered by Hume, have now become the focus of a national debate. The philosophers discuss intelligent design with...
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
76: Progress and the Environment
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/progress-and-environment Does... the value of preserving our environment conflict with the development of a world community in which all enjoy the fruits of human progress? Is the environment important intrinsically, or only as a source of pleasure and other goods for human beings? Ken and John discuss these and other issues with Terry Tamminen, Cabinet Secretary to California Governor Schwarzenegger, and an environmental activist.
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
75: The Existence of God
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/existence-god The... question of whether or not God exists is profoundly fascinating and important. What are the proofs of the existence of God? How can one prove that God does not exist? Join us as John and Ken explore issues such as religious experience, the Bible, evil, eternity, the origin of the universe, design, and the supposed connection between morality and the existence of God with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong from Dartmouth College.
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
74: Immanuel Kant
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/kant Immanuel... Kant introduced the human mind as an active originator of experience rather than just a passive recipient of perception. How has his philosophy influenced the world after him? John and Ken dig into the brilliantly active mind of Kant with Peter Gilgen from Cornell University, editor of "Back to Kant II: The Fate of Kant in a Time of Crisis."
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
73: Freedom of Speech
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/freedom-speech The... Constitution grants the freedom of speech to every citizen. Journalists value it more than anything else. Should the freedom of speech be unlimited? Would unlimited freedom of speech do more good or bad to our society? Would limited freedom of speech impact the monitoring power of news media and therefore threaten our society? John and Ken discuss the philosophy behind the freedom of speech with Geoff Stone from the University of Chicago Law Schoo...
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
72: Friendship
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/friendship Who... do we call friends? Do we need friends out of love for others or for ourselves? Is a life with friends necessarily a better life? Ancient philosophers, such as Aristotle, wrote extensively on the topic. John and Ken examine just what friendship means in the modern life with their friend, Martha Nussbaum, Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago.
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
71: The Language of Fiction
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/language-fiction What... are we talking about when we talk about Sherlock Holmes or Santa Claus? Something that doesn't exist? Something that exists only in the mind? Something that exists only in a fictional or imaginary world? Are statements about fictional objects true? Is there a distinction between literal truth and "fictional truth?" John and Ken uncover the facts about fiction with Joshua Landy from Stanford University.
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
70: George Berkeley
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/george-berkeley. Berkeley... founded and defended idealism, the doctrine that there is not a material world; reality is the orchestration of ideas in minds, nothing more. He influenced Hume, Mill, Russell, and many other philosophers. John and Ken explore Berkeley's ideas with David Hilbert from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
69: The Willing Suspension of Disbelief
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/willing-suspension-disbelief Why... don't we run out of the movie theatre when a monster shows on the screen? What kind of mental state is the willing suspension of disbelief? Why do fiction and drama affect our emotions even when we know they are not real? John and Ken examine the role of suspension of disbelief in the enjoyment of theatre, movies, video games, and what this trait reveals about the human mind in general.
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
68: Reconciliation
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/reconciliation Justice,... truth, and identity; race, society, and law—these all come into dramatic play as South Africa makes the tumultuous transition to a post-apartheid democracy. How has the new South Africa constructed its concepts of reconciliation? How has its historical emergence meant a rethinking, reimaging, re-experiencing, relabeling, and repoliticizing of race? John and Ken discuss reconciliation with Daniel Herwitz, a philosopher who has spent much time ...
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
67: The Strange World of Quantum Reality
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/strange-world-quantum-reality Quantum... mechanics is an astoundly successful, mathematically elegant, explanatorily deep, even beautiful scientific theory. Yet it reveals a truly puzzling world of micro-entities: entities that can be at two places at once, that can "travel" from here to the other side of Alpha Centauri in an instant without traversing the space in between, that behave like waves when unobserve but like particles when observed. John and Ken ask Jenann ...
2015-Oct-25 • 6 minutes
66: Ethics in War
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/ethics-war. After... World War II the Nurenberg trials and the conventions that arose out of them codified the idea that there are right and wrong ways to wage war. That prisoners of war have definite rights, and that non-combatants should be treated differently that soldiers. Some think the idea of a morality of warfare makes no sense, and that the distinction between soldiers and non-combatants is meaningless in the setting of modern warfare. John and Ken discus...
2015-Oct-25 • 5 minutes
65: The Language of Politics
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/language-politics. Politics,... especially American politics, puts pressure on words like "liberal", "conservative" and "values" as they are used more as weapons than as tools for communication. John and Ken discuss this process and the philosophical shifts that often accompany changes in meaning with famed San Francisco linguist Geoff Nunberg, a regular on NPR's "Fresh Air."
2015-Oct-25 • 7 minutes
64: Saints, Heroes, and Well-Lived Lives
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/saints-heroes-and-well-lived-lives. Some... actions are right, and some are wrong. But aren't some even better than right---the kinds of things that heroes and saints do? Yet some philosophers think that such "supererogatory" acts make no sense; we should always do the best thing open to us, and there is no room for better than best. John and Ken discuss the philosophy and psychology of saints and heroes with Susan Wolf from UNC Chapel Hill.
2015-Oct-25 • 7 minutes
63: René Descartes
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/descartes The... 17th Century philosopher Rene Descartes is often considered the father of modern philosophy. His Meditations are a staple in introductory philosophy courses, and his views on the relation of mind and body have dominated philosophical discussion of this issue for three hundred years. John and Ken discuss the life, times, and philosophy of this fascinating French philosopher with Ron Rubin from Pitzer College.
2015-Oct-25 • 9 minutes
62: The Indispensable Emotions
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/indispensible-emotions Where... would we be without emotions? Many philosophers throughout history have thought the emotions serve only to cloud our judgments and actions. Phrases like "He's just acting emotionally" or "Her judgment is clouded by emotion" are phrases of condemnation, not of praise. Still, some philosophers have argued the emotions have an intelligence of their own and that the emotions are indispensable for our ethical lives. Join John and Ken and t...
2015-Oct-25 • 7 minutes
61: Moral Dilemmas and Moral Ambiguity
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/moral-dilemmas-and-moral-ambiguity It... would be nice if we always knew the morally right thing to do, if our choices and commitments were painted in stark black and white. Unfortunately life is full of gray areas, including situations in which all the choices that confront us seem morally problematic, in which all the people who surround us seem composed of equal parts good and evil. John and Ken explore the extent to which reality confronts us with moral dilemmas an...
2015-Oct-25 • 7 minutes
60: Zen Beuddhism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/zen. What... is the sound of one hand clapping? Does Zen Buddhism provide a unique perspective on the world that transcends the wisdom in Western Philosophy? Is there a special kind of Zen logic? Or is it just one more religion? John and Ken welcome Robert Scharf from UC Berkeley.
2015-Oct-25 • 7 minutes
59: Global Poverty and International Aid
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/global-poverty-and-international-aid Does... a hungry child in a far away land have any less of a demand on your good will and aid than a hungry child from your own family or neighborhood? Does each individual have the duty to give to the worldwide alleviation of poverty up to the point at which further giving would cause his or her own family more harm than it would do good for others? Or is responsibility for others a mostly local affair: take care of your family, l...
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
58: The Ethics of Identity
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/ethics-identity What... makes me who I am? Is it fair of me, or others, to take my race or ethnicity as part of whom I am? How does the age-old virtue of standing up for kith and kin comport with the demands of fairness as cosmopolitanism? Join John and Ken and Philosophy Talk regular Anthony Appiah from Princeton.
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
57: Intergenerational Obligations
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/intergenerational-obligations Parents... have duties to their children. But do grown up children have obligations to their parents? More generally, do the younger members of a society have obligations to their elders? Where would such obligations come from? What are their limits? John and Ken investigate the moral ties that bind the generations together with Norm Daniels from Harvard University, author of "From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice."
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
56: Evolution of the Human Mind
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/evolution-human-mind Is... the human mind a relatively inflexible program bequeathed to us by evolution, and culture just a veneer that gives age-old urges a respectable cover? Or our minds largely the product of language, culture, and civilization, with evolution having supplied only the most basic hardware and operating system? John and Ken welcome Leda Cosmides to shed some light on the human mind.
2015-Oct-25 • 9 minutes
55: Prostitution
More at wwwphilosophytalk.org/shows/prostitution... prostitution morally objectionable? Should it be illegal? Or is it simply a market transaction, where one party sells a service for a price that another party is willing to pay, and no third party is harmed? Philosophy Talk favorite Debra Satz joins John and Ken.
2015-Oct-25 • 9 minutes
54: Confucius
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/confucius. Confucius... laid down a pattern of thinking followed by more people for more generations than any other human being on the face of the earth. No matter what religion, no matter what form of government, the Chinese (and most other East Asian civilizations) and their way of thinking can in some way be shown to have Confucian elements about them. John and Ken discuss the ancient wisdom of Confucius with Paul Kjellberg from Whittier College.
2015-Oct-25 • 10 minutes
53: Forgiveness
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/forgiveness Justice... is a virtue and so, many claim, is forgiveness. But they seem inconsistent. Is forgiveness really a virtue? Philosopher Charles Griswold discusses the South African reconciliation process, truly evil people, and the virtue of forgiveness.
2015-Oct-25 • 5 minutes
52: Propaganda
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/propaganda Allegedly... independent radio commentators taking money to spout the government line! Fake news reports being produced and distributed by the Administration to promote a partisan agenda! Journalists abandoning neutrality and objectivity to become cheerleaders for a political doctrine! Where can this happen? Right here in the good old U.S. of A. propaganda is all around us! But what exactly is propaganda? How can it be distinguished from legitimate news and i...
2015-Oct-25 • 5 minutes
51: Genetic Determinism
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/genetic-determinism. Are... there genes for practically everything? For being gay? For being mean? For being a philosopher? Does modern science show that we are largely the product of our genes --- or not? Join Ken and John and famed philosopher of biology John Dupré to see how trapped you are by your genes.
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
50: Schopenhauer
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/schopenhauer. Arthur... Schopenhauer, the great Nineteenth Century philosopher, had a pessimistic vision of the world as "will and idea.” Our will to survive serves no high purpose; the world is at best a shared illusion. Schopenhauer influenced Nietzsche and Wittgenstein and inspired our guest, prominent psychiatrist Irv Yalom, to write the novel "The Schopenhauer Cure." What truths, metaphysical or psychological, can we wrest from Schopenhauer's gloomy vision?
2015-Oct-25 • 9 minutes
49: Is Free Will An Illusion?
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/free-will-illusion We... like to think of ourselves as enjoying unrestricted freedom of the will. But modern science increasingly teaches us that our choices are causally determined by some combination of our genes, our upbringing, and our present circumstances. Can the idea of freedom of the will be reconciled with the scientific outlook or is free will an illusion? If we give up on the idea that we have freedom, what follows for our practice of holding people moral...
2015-Oct-25 • 7 minutes
48: Neurocosmetology
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/neurocosmetology Progress... in neuroscience may soon make possible an age of neurocosmetology: the use of drugs to let people affect the way their brains work, so as to make them more effective, more attractive, and more like their "cognitive ideal." A world where all the women are beautiful and all the men handsome might be bearable if boring. But would a society full of type-A's work at all? Can it be rational to choose to change in ways that may change who you are? ...
2015-Oct-25 • 7 minutes
47: What Is Beauty?
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-beauty. Are... there objective standards of beauty? Or is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Must art be beautiful to be great art? What is the role of the experience of beauty in a good life? John and Ken take in the beauty with Alexander Nehamas from Princeton University, author of "Only a Promise of Happiness: The Place of Beauty in a World of Art."
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
46: Religion and the Secular State
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/religion-and-secular-state. Can... committed believers and committed non-believers share a common political life in the context of a secular state? Committed believers may want the policies of the state to reflect their deeply held religious convictions and values. Committed non-believers may not want the state imposing religiously inspired values in the absence of any purely secular justification. Must religion retreat from the public sphere or can religion find ...
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
45: David Hume
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/hume. David... Hume's was a superb essayist, a brilliant philosopher, and a world-class bon vivant. His philosophical views in ethics, epistemology, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion, though shocking to many in his own time, are enduring touchstones of modern philosophy, still required reading of every student of philosophy. Join John and Ken for a tour of a few of Hume's most startling ideas with Don Garrett from NYU, author of "Cognition and Commitment in ...
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
44: The Erotic vs The Pornographic
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/erotic-vs-pornographic. Erotic... experience is a human good. Mature, consenting adults should be able to explore the erotic realm freely, without outside interference. Pornography is illicit and destructive. But what is the real difference between the erotic and the pornographic? Is there a bright line? In our attempts to regulate pornography do we run the risk of infringing upon the erotic freedoms of consenting adults? John and Ken draw the line with Anne Ashbaug...
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
43: Ethics in Sport
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/ethics-sport. Once... upon a time, student athletes were students first, athletes second; the Olympics was about amateurism and the pursuit of excellence, not the pursuit of endorsements; and professional athletes enhanced the physics through rigorous work-outs, not through performance enhancing substances. No doubt athletic excellence is at an all time high, but are ethics in athletics at an all time low? John and Ken explore ethics in sport with Myles Brand, Presid...
2015-Oct-25 • 7 minutes
42: Evil
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/evil. Is... there such a thing as pure evil in the world? How should we confront evil? Can evil ever be finally overcome? If the universe was created by a supremely good, supremely powerful, supremely loving deity, why is there evil in the world to begin with? On the other hand, if there is no God and everything is permitted, what distinguishes the truly evil from the purely good? John and Ken weigh good and evil with Peter van Inwagen from the University of Notre Da...
2015-Oct-25 • 8 minutes
41: Aristotle
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/aristotle. Aristotle's... philosophical doctrines have permeated and helped shape Western Culture in spheres as disparate as cosmology, biology, ethics, physics, politics, and logic. John and Ken take a tour of some of the greatest hits of one of the greatest philosophers of Antiquity with Chris Bobonich from Stanford University.
2015-Oct-24 • 7 minutes
40: The Mystery Of Mind
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/mystery-mind. Modern... science tells us that the mind is just the brain working. But science cannot yet tell us how consciousness, rationality, free will, autonomy, or even our sense of self arises out of the merely material processes of the brain. Could our confidence that mind is just the brain working possibly be misplaced? John and Ken delve into the mystery of the mind with UC Berkeley philosopher John Searle.
2015-Oct-24 • 9 minutes
39: Gender
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/gender. Are... gender roles and differences fixed, once and for, all by biology? Or is gender socially constructed and culturally variable? How does gender differ from sex? John and Ken explore whether men and women are really from different planets after all with Anne Fausto-Sterling from Brown University, author of "Myths of Gender: Biological Theories about Women and Men."
2015-Oct-23 • 11 minutes
299: Unconditional Love
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/unconditional-love. According... to Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind and envies no one.” But is love always unconditional? Should it be? If unconditional love means that we love no matter what our beloved’s actions or traits are, doesn’t that suggest we should love everyone in this way? If not, how do we select just a few to love unconditionally? Perhaps the feeling we reserve for those we cherish most in the world is better described as selfless rather th...
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
298: Are Some People Better Than Others?
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/are-some-people-better-others. Egalitarian... principles play an important role in our moral and political discourse. Yet there’s no doubt that some people are smarter, stronger, or more talented in certain respects than others. So was Thomas Jefferson wrong to think that all men are created equal? Might we reasonably think that some people are better than others? If so, should the “elite” be treated differently? Should we, for example, find immoral acts committed by a ...
2015-Oct-23 • 10 minutes
297: How Fiction Shapes Us
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/how-fiction-shapes-us. A... good novel can do many things. It can distract us from the humdrum of daily existence, stimulate our imaginations, and delight us with its creative use of language. But isn’t there something more we gain from engaging with fictional worlds and characters? Do we, for example, use literary texts to morally improve ourselves? Is there some deeper truth we’re supposed to learn from a good novel? Or do we use fiction to fine-tune certain cognitive...
2015-Oct-23 • 10 minutes
296: Economics – Science or Cult?
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/economics-science-or-cult. With... the recent global economic crisis, many people wonder if our economic policies are built on sound principles or on dubious, unscientific claims. What kinds of assumptions does Economics make about markets and the behavior of producers and consumers? What kinds of assumptions does it make about the rationality of individuals? How, if at all, are those claims empirically verified? Or are they just speculative theories proven false by the...
2015-Oct-23 • 7 minutes
38: Nature vs. Nurture
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/nature-vs-nurture. The... philosopher John Locke thought we had no innate ideas; our minds are blank slates, upon which experience writes. Nurture is everything, nature nothing. Modern popular genetics gives the impression that we are nothing but the stage on which a play written by our genes is performed; nature is everything, nurture nothing. What are the facts, and what are the philosophical principles that are used to interpret these facts? John and Ken nurtur...
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
37: Disability
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/disability. The... Americans with Disabilities Act recognizes that people with disabilities are often prevented from leading productive and satisfying lives because social, school and work environments are often thoughtlessly and unnecessarily designed with only people with the standard set of abilities in mind. In many cases "reasonable accommodation" to the ways people with disabilities need to do things is required. What is reasonable? Elevators in schools? Proba...
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
36: Love
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/love. Is... love just a (second-hand) emotion? Is it a feeling? A disparate group of feelings, glandular responses, and ill-considered commitments called by a single word so that poets will have something to write about? A poor substitute for true friendship imposed upon us by lust? Or the deepest and most satisfying of human conditions? John and Ken question their love with Noel Merino from Humboldt State University.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
35: Truth And Relativism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/truth-and-relativism. Is... there such a thing as absolute truth, independent of who is doing the thinking, and where? Or is truth relative to backgrounds, cultures, creeds, times, and places? Can it be true that what is right for me isn't right for you? John and Ken search for truth with Helen Longino, Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies at the University of Minnesota.
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
34: Time
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/time. Time... is the most familiar thing in the world, and yet philosophically one of the most puzzling. Is the present what's left when you subtract what has already happened, and what is yet to happen? Then it seems to vanish into a mere instant. Are future events completely unreal? Or are they just the things we can't know yet? Is time unreal, as many philosophers have thought? Columbia's Dave Albert joins John and Ken for a fascinating hour.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
33: Is This Any Way to Run a Democracy
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/any-way-run-democracy. America... prides itself on being the oldest continuous democracy in the world. But criticisms of the America system are widespread. Our system is tailored to narrow interests and wealthy elites. Our two parties lock out alternative voices. Our voting procedures discourage participation and lead to unrepresentative outcomes. Is this really the best way to run a democracy? Join John and Ken as they examine the philosophical underpinnings of demo...
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
32: Karl Marx
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/karl-marx The... ideas of Karl Marx vie with those of Rousseau, Locke and Jefferson for shaping the politics of the twentieth century. Are Marx's ideas of real philosophical value and interest, or simply relics of interest only in trying to understand the benighted century we have left behind? John and Ken divide their labor with Jonathan Wolff from University College London, author of "Why Read Marx Today?"
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
31: Feminism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/feminism. Some... feminists hold that there are specially feminine ways of knowing, and the current scientific research is flawed for not recognizing them. Some hold that philosophy itself is a thoroughly phallocentric enterprise, and deeply flawed. Other feminists vigorously reject these views. Join John and Ken as they discuss the philosophies of feminism with Barrie Thorne from UC Berkeley, co-author of "Feminist Sociology: Life Histories of a Movement."
2015-Oct-23 • 6 minutes
30: The Environment and Global Justice
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/environment-and-global-justice. Our... current way of life is unsustainable. Depletion of the ozone layer, the dwindling of the rain forest, the loss of animal habitat, and toxic runoff into lakes, streams and rivers are just a few of the environmental challenges we face. The environment is a global problem that no one nation can address on its own. Something must give, somewhere. But who will pay what costs for improving the global environment? Wealthy nations of t...
2015-Oct-23 • 12 minutes
29: Corporations
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/corporations. Corporations... are recognized as persons in the eyes of the law. But if they are persons, they would seem to be pathologically self-interested persons, driven by nothing but the desire for their own further aggrandizement. John and Ken ask how we can cope with such persons in our midst with Lawrence Mitchell from the George Washington University Law School.
2015-Oct-23 • 13 minutes
28: Plato
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/plato. From... his theory of the Forms, to his views about morality, justice, and the soul Plato was one the greatest and most influential philosophers of all time. Indeed, it has been said that all of philosophy is but a footnote to Plato. Find out why as John and Ken dig into the philosophical views of Plato, with their guest, Chris Bobonich, author of "Plato's Utopia Recast."
2015-Oct-23 • 7 minutes
27: Happiness
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/happiness. Is... happiness a mere psychological state? And if so, what's so important about it? Is there anything more to being happy than just thinking you're happy? Or is happiness a way of life? John and Ken get happy with Robert Solomon from the University of Texas at Austin, author of "True to Our Feelings: What Our Emotions Are Really Telling Us."
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
26: Gambling
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/gambling. Rolling... the dice in a game you're rigged to lose sounds like a bad idea. So why is it so much fun? Is gambling an exciting pastime, or a vicious addiction? John and Ken take their chances with Will Barrett from the University of Melbourne, author of "Luck and Decision."
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
25: Affirmative Action
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/affirmative-action. Is... affirmative action a way of balancing out inequality? Or is it just another form of bias in admissions and hiring practices? And where's the line between fostering diversity and lowering standards? John and Ken affirmatively welcome Elizabeth Anderson from the University of Michigan, author of "The Imperative of Integration."
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
24: Who Owns Ideas?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/who-owns-ideas. You... can own a car or a bicycle. But what about an idea? If you invent a program it seems like you should have some say about its use. But can you really own the idea itself? Listen in and steal an idea or two from Larry Lessig, author of "The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World."
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
23: Paternalism and Health
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/paternalism-and-health. Some... diseases such as Alzheimer's inhibit our abilities to make decisions and lessen our quality of life. In cases like these, we often think that others are justified in stepping in and making decisions for that person. But what about the case where the person in question is relatively healthy but suffers, perhaps, from minor depression, or an anxiety disorder? When (if ever) is it OK to step in and take charge of someone else's life or bo...
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
22: Humans: The Irrational Animal
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/humans-irrational-animal. Some... psychologists claim to have demonstrated that humans are systematically, deeply and perhaps irredeemably irrational in their reasoning and decision making. But what is rationality and why does it matter? If we are really so irrational, how have we managed to get this far as a species? Maybe rationality isn't such a big deal after all. Tune in as Ken Taylor and guest host Nadeem Hussain size up the human mind with Stephen Stich from R...
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
21: Virtue
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/virtue. What... is virtue? Is virtue the key human happiness and flourishing, as the ancients held, or a quaint notion of at best secondary interest for ethics, as many modern theorists hold? Does the return of virtue ethics to the philosophical scene mark an advance in our thinking about morality or is it just a nostalgia for morally simpler times? Jon and Ken sing the praises of Julia Driver from Dartmouth College, author of "Uneasy Virtue."
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
20: Dignity and the End of Life
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/dignity-and-end-life. Is... physician assisted suicide morally okay? What about active euthanasia for patients suffering terminal illnesses? If we begin traveling down this path, how do we put a break to our slide down the slippery slope toward a world in which we license physicians to kill or assist the suicide of severely depressed but not terminally ill patients? John and Ken have a dignified discussion with Margaret Battin from the University of Utah, author of "...
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
19: Terrorism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/terrorism. We... like to think that terrorism is always wrong. But what if the cause is just? Do the ends ever justify the means? And how do we define "terrorism" anyway?
2015-Oct-23 • 7 minutes
18: Meaning of Lfe
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/meaning-life. Does... life have a meaning? If we were created by a powerful God, would that give our lives meaning? Who gave God's existence meaning? What if we were created by a crazy scientist wholly for the purpose of irritating their spouse? John and Ken search for meaning with Howard Wettstein from UC Riverside.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
17: Animal Rights
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/animal-rights. We... shouldn't be mean to animals. Is that because animals have rights, like people do? Or is it just because people care about animals? Is it intrinsically worse to step on dog than on a spider? John and Ken play nice with Lori Gruen from Wesleyan University, author of "Ethics and Animals: An Introduction."
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
16: Whose Language Is It?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/whose-language-it. Is... there a right and a wrong way to speak English? Is there really something wrong with saying, "Hopefully, we'll have a good century," or "Where is the library at?" or "There is no way to correctly split an infinitive"? Is grammatical purity just snobbism? John and Ken don't hold their tongues with linguist and NPR commentator Geoff Nunberg.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
15: Baseball
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/baseball. What... can we learn from baseball? Are the passions we have for our baseball teams and heroes irrational? If so, what makes passions for families, cities, countries, universities, or radio stations more rational? Are all allegiances and loyalties ultimately arbitrary? Eminent Kant scholar and baseball fan extraordinare Allen Wood visits.
2015-Oct-23 • 10 minutes
14: Taxation
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/taxation. How... is taxation different from stealing? What right does the government have to take some of our money? No taxation without representation? What difference does representation make? John and Ken pay their dues with Barbara Fried from the Stanford Law School.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
13: Consciousness
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/consciousness. Is... the conscious mind just the brain or something more? Can science explain consciousness? How does Ken know that John is a conscious being and not just an automaton programmed to act like a conscious being? Or is John just an automaton? John and Ken consciously welcome David Chalmers from the Australian National University, author of "The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory."
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
12: Humor
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/humor. What... is humor? What makes some jokes funny? Why did the chicken cross the road? Tune in for deep thoughts and big laughs as Ken, John and guest Ted Cohen, author of "Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters" discuss the philosophical aspects of humor.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
11: Has Science Replaced Religion?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/has-science-replaced-religion Has... science replaced religion? Can one be religious and maintain a scientific viewpoint? Does belief in evolution undermine morality or belief in God, or vice versa? Ken and John take on the big questions with George Ellis from the University of Cape Town, author of "On the Moral Nature of the Universe."
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
10: Friedrich Nietzsche
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/nietzsche Ken... and John and Übermensch-at-large Brian Leiter discuss everyone's favorite syphilitic philosopher. Was he a mysogynistic Nazi-supporter, or an artistic visionary who sought to set us free from our moralistic chains? Boring radio is dead.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
9: Markets and Morality
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/markets-and-morality. Does... the free market provide incentives for behavior that is problematic from a moral perspective? Or does the free market punish morally problematic behavior? Is respecting the free market itself moral, insofar as respecting the free market is also respecting individual freedom of choice? Ken, John and Elizabeth Anderson take on the topic of markets and morality.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
8: Genetic Engineering and Cloning
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/genetic-engineering-and-cloning When... is genetic manipulation morally permissible? For health? Beauty? Wit? What sorts of animals is it acceptable to clone? Should we ban stem cell research? John and Ken discuss cloning and the ethical issues surrounding genetic engineering with Hank Greely from the Stanford Law School.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
7: Drug Legalization
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/drug-legalization Ken... and John discuss the philosophical issues underlying arguments for and against the legalization of drugs. Does America's drug problem rest on confused philosophy? Listen in and get more confused.
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
6: The Insanity Defense
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/insanity-defense Ken... and John debate (use?) the insanity defense. What difference does it make if the person who commits a crime is, in one way or another, mentally ill? Does this make punishment illegitimate? Why is punishment, rather than therapy, ever legitimate? Which sorts of mental illness should exempt a criminal from punishment? Inability to know right from wrong? Inability to resist compulsion? Irrational depravity? John and Ken defend themselves with Sus...
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
5: Patriotism versus Cosmopolitanism
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/patriotism-versus-cosmopolitanism. Patriotism... versus Comopolitanism: Is your loyalty to America and Americans more important than the common humanity you share with everyone on the globe?
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
4: Marriage and the State
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/marriage-and-state With... what right does the state say who can and cannot marry? The state has, at various times, said that people of different races cannot marry, that people of the same sex cannot marry, that no one can marry more than one person at at time. But with what legitimate authority can the state make such prohibitions? John and Ken welcome Richard Mohr from the University of illinois at Urbana-Champaign, author of "The Long Arc of Justice: Lesbian and...
2015-Oct-23 • 9 minutes
3: What Is Race?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-race Is... race a discredited pseudo-scientific category? Or a real dimension of difference among humans? Or a socially constructed reality? What difference does it make? John and Ken question the category of race with Anthony Appiah from Princeton University.
2015-Oct-23 • 8 minutes
2: Would You Want To Live Forever?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/would-you-want-live-forever. Pick... your favorite age. You are healthy, career thriving, family intact (at least pretend!). Would you like to live forever at that age, in that health, with those friends and family members also living forever with you? Immortality, on earth? How about an extra fifty or one hundred years or two hundred beyond your present life expectancy?
2015-Oct-23 • 7 minutes
1: The Bush Doctrine of Pre-emptive Self-Defense
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/bush-doctrine-preemptive-self-defense What... is the difference between mere aggression and preemptive self defense? Can you really permissibly "defend" yourself against an attack that hasn't even begun? How does preemptive self defense differ from preventive war, from humanitarian intervention?
2015-Oct-20 • 10 minutes
300: Has Science Replaced Philosophy?
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/has-science-replaced-philosophy. Modern... science has made astounding progress in our understanding of ourselves and the universe. Physics, neuroscience, and psychology now tackle questions that a few decades ago could only be explored through philosophical speculation. So some vocal members of the scientific community, and even members of the general public, have suggested that philosophy itself has become a superfluous, archaic practice. Is philosophy useful and a...
2015-Oct-20 • 11 minutes
301: Turbo-charging the Mind
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/turbo-charging-mind. The... rapid advance of computer technology in recent decades has produced a vast array of intelligent machines that far outstrip the human mind in speed and capacity. Yet these machines know far less than we do about almost everything. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Can we use new technologies to create a hybrid intelligence that seamlessly integrates the vast knowledge and skills embedded in our biological brains with the vastl...
2015-Oct-20 • 8 minutes
302: The Examined Year - 2012
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/examined-year-2012. A... new year offers an opportunity to reflect on the significant events of the previous year. But what ideas and events took shape over the past twelve months that have prompted us to question our assumptions and to think about things in new ways? Join John, Ken, and their special guests as they celebrate the examined year with a philosophical look back at 2012.
2015-Oct-20 • 11 minutes
303: The Linguistics of Name-Calling
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/linguistics-name-calling. Sticks... and bones may break your bones, but names can also hurt you. And language gives us surprisingly many ways to deride, hurt and demean – from a subtly sneering intonation to hurtful and offensive names. How does such language work? And why is there so much of it around these days? Has our acerbic political culture ushered in a new era of name-calling? Or is name calling a phenomenon as old as language itself? John and Ken welcome bac...
2015-Oct-17 • 11 minutes
304: Bioethics – Myths and Realities
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/bioethics-myths-and-realities. Recent... advances in mapping the human genome suggest a vision of the future that might fill us with equal parts hope and dread. On the one hand, the possibility of identifying disease-causing genes may enable us to eradicate cancer, obesity, or depression before they ever develop. On the other hand, the idea that soon we could be “designing” our progeny, choosing physical and psychological traits we deem desirable, is fraught with dee...
2015-Oct-17 • 10 minutes
306: The Psychyology of Partisan Politics
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/psychology-partisan-politics. Are... you a tax-raising, soy latte-drinking, Prius-driving, New York Times-reading, Daily Show-watching, corporation-hating liberal? Or a gun-toting, Bible-loving, Walmart-shopping, homophobic, climate-change-denying, immigrant-hating conservative? Why does it seem like all of American politics often boils down to these two absurd positions? Is it because of our particular political system, our culture, or deeper psychological impulses?...
2015-Oct-17 • 11 minutes
305: The Self
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/self. What... is a self? Merely a human being? Or perhaps a soul? Hume claimed he could not find a self when he looked within, only a succession of impressions. But other philosophers seem to find transcendental selves, momentary selves, and objective selves, among others. Do the modern physical and biological sciences shed light on the self, or do they suggest there is no room – and no need – for such things? John and Ken examine their selves and others with Jenann ...
2015-Oct-17 • 10 minutes
307: God and the Fine-Tuned Universe
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/god-and-fine-tuned-universe. If... the precise value of many physical constants had been different, the universe would not have supported life, human life, consciousness, philosophy and us. Is it just luck – without which we wouldn't even be here to worry about it? Or is there a Creator who wanted things to turn out the way they did, and fine-tuned the universe to get that result? What if there were many universes, with many combinations of values for the basic const...
2015-Oct-17 • 12 minutes
308: Truth and Other Fictions
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/truth-and-other-fictions. Most... of us think we know the truth when we see it. But what exactly is truth, anyway? Philosophers have offered a blizzard of different answers, ranging from truth as correspondence or coherence all the way to the view that truth is a matter of pragmatic utility or just a compliment we pay to the things we're prepared to believe or to say. But what is the truth about truth? Is there really such a thing? Or is truth itself a fictio...
2015-Oct-17 • 12 minutes
309: Dance as a Way of Knowing
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/dance-way-knowing. Be... it rhythmic or shuffling, athletic or pedestrian, erotic or just social, dance is an art form that utilizes movement of the body through space. Could the aesthetic experience of being physically present and embodied in the world be considered a way of knowing? Is there something in particular we can come to know by watching or performing dance? And are there broader lessons that dance can teach us about human perception and action? John and K...
2015-Oct-17 • 11 minutes
310: The Demands of Morality
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/demands-morality. We... all want to lead a moral life. But even if we all agreed on what that would mean, we still have to balance our own self-interest with the competing demands of morality. This becomes even more challenging when the decks are stacked against us, or when everyone around us is only looking out for themselves. So in the real world, what does it mean to live a moral life? Do we have a responsibility to act morally when others around us are not? And w...
2015-Oct-17 • 10 minutes
311: Good, Evil, and the Divine Plan
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/good-evil-and-divine-plan. A... theodicy is an explanation by a philosopher or theologian about why a world created by a kind and all-powerful God contains so much suffering. It forces us to think about the nature of good and evil, whether the kind of knowledge an all-knowing God has leaves room for human freedom. Why do people who suffer often find their faith in God growing stronger? Is evil an illusion? Does God really need a defense attorney? John and Ken search ...
2015-Oct-17 • 8 minutes
313: Summer Reading List 2013
Summer is the perfect time to dig in to deep reading. Heidegger's "Being and Time" may be a bit much to take to the beach, but there are lots of readable classics that could make your summer reading a transformative experience. John and Ken ask a few of their favorite past guests about the book that has most transformed their life and thinking, and they take more recommendations for philosophically-rich summer reading from listeners around the country. More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading...
2015-Oct-17 • 11 minutes
315: Education and the Culture Wars
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/education-and-culture-wars. In... contemporary democracies, the state is responsible for providing children with an education. But parents surely have both the right and responsibility for instilling appropriate morals and values in their children. How should we reconcile conflicts between the state’s responsibility to properly educate minors and the parents’ rights to influence their children's values and ideals? Should the government’s approach to education in are...
2015-Oct-17 • 10 minutes
314: Physics, Philosophy, and Theology
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/physics-philosophy-and-theology. The... world disclosed by the physical sciences can seem depressing. Modern physics, for example, has undermined the religious idea that the universe has a spiritual dimension. Quantum physics in particular seems to present the world as more paradoxical than rational. Is there room within – or in addition to – the world presented to us by the physical sciences for ideas such as freedom, dignity, justice, and even God? Or should these ...
2015-Oct-17 • 11 minutes
317: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/ancient-wisdom-modern-times. If... the Ancients found themselves transported to the modern world, they would have much to learn about science, technology, and human thinking. But is there something the Ancients can still teach us about how to live a good life? What relevance do the virtues – wisdom, courage, prudence, justice, and so on – have for our modern times? Could these ancient values help solve some of the most challenging problems of contemporary life? John ...
2015-Oct-14 • 7 minutes
322: Tenth Anniversary Special
Philosophy Talk debuted on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco on August 20, 2003, with regular broadcasts beginning a few months later. Over the course of a decade the Philosophers, their guests, and their listeners have discussed and debated everything from the meaning of life to pre-emptive military strikes and baseball. To celebrate ten years on the air, John and Ken listen back to some of their favorite conversations with the writers and thinkers who have joined them on the program, and they look ahead to th...