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Podcast Profile: Micro-Digressions: A Philosophy Podcast

podcast imageTwitter: @ADigressions@SpencerJayCase
51 episodes
2020 to present
Average episode: 81 minutes
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Categories: Interview-Style

Podcaster's summary: Philosophical excursions into interesting, and often controversial, topics. Hosted by Spencer Case. 

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List Updated: 2024-Feb-21 13:08 UTC. Episodes: 51. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

2024-Jan-25 • 93 minutes
Thinking about Death, Part 1
What is death? Does fear of death affect our everyday lives? And will your death harm you or not? Travis Timmerman, associate professor at Seton Hall University, joins Spencer to discuss these and other questions. Timmerman is coeditor, along with Michael Cholbi, of a fine anthology on the philosophy of death, Exploring the Philosophy of Death and Dying. Purchase your copy here:
2023-Dec-20 • 134 minutes
Rant-a-Thon 2023
It's the end of the year again and time to rant! This year's collection of rants includes:Jarrod Blair on bad habits that crush the philosophical spiritMatthew Adelstein on the stupidity and depravity of Effective Altruism criticsMatt Lutz on possible world confusionsMark Oppenheimer on the Israel-Gaza warOliver Traldi on the university presidents' testimony to CongressJP Andrew on naturalism as a dogma in philosophySpencer Case on scientific dogmatismJason Werbeloff on moralizing vegetarians...
2023-Nov-19 • 70 minutes
Political Beliefs (with Oliver Traldi)
Oliver Traldi rejoins Spencer Case to discuss the nature of political beliefs. Topics they cover include the bad incentives that influence political beliefs, how political beliefs should be defined, and the need for (and possibility of) politically neutral language in which to discuss political issues.
2023-Oct-29 • 90 minutes
Discriminating for the Greater Good Part 2: Law and Affirmative Action
His Offensiveness Stephen Kershnar returns to the podcast for a wide-ranging conversation about the philosophy of law. This leads to a discussion of the Students For Fair Admissions (SFFA) Supreme Court Case. Music: "Sweet, Man" by Jeremy Mohney. Available for download $1 here:
2023-Sep-28 • 72 minutes
Trust and the liberal order
Kevin Vallier joins Spencer Case to talk about social trust and the role it plays in the psychological and moral foundations of liberal societies.
2023-Aug-07 • 81 minutes
Gender, Pronouns and Linguistic Negotiation
Alex Byrne discusses the controversy around his article on pronouns in the Journal of Controversial Ideas. Byrne and Matt Lutz debate the meaning of the word 'woman.' Alex's view is that women are adult human females, whereas Matt thinks that the word is ambiguous between that traditional definition and a trans-inclusive meaning. We can be tolerant and accept both are legitimate meanings of the word. The conversation eventually comes to focus on the idea that the meanings of words are outcom...
2023-Jun-30 • 83 minutes
American Patriotism
Commentator Charles "Concealed Weapon" Cooke joins Spencer to discuss American identity and patriotism.
2023-Jun-09 • 74 minutes
Wokeness in Science: Critiquing a critique
MIT philosophy professor Alex Byrne and podcast regular Matt Lutz join Spencer to discuss an article that recently appeared in the Journal of Controversial Ideas entitled "A Defense of Merit in Science." The article, which was written by 27 co-authors, including many social scientists, alleges that the "liberal epistemology" that underlies science is under threat by the institutionalized influence of identity-based ideologies. (The article doesn't use the term "wokeness", ...
2023-May-21 • 75 minutes
Thought experiments (Special Brain in a Vat co-production)
Mark Oppenheimer and Jason Werbeloff of Brain in a Vat join Spencer to discuss one of their favorite subjects: thought experiments.
2023-Apr-21 • 71 minutes
Sikh Metaphysics and Ethics
Keshav Singh joins Spencer to discuss Sikh religion and philosophy. ("Sikh" is pronounced with the short 'i' sound, and not like "seek"). They cover they history and basic tenets of the Sikh faith, its idea of divinity, and the Sikh idea that "haumai", meaning roughly obsession with oneself, is the root of all human evil. Keshav's personal webpage is here:
2023-Mar-30 • 97 minutes
Creating Future People
Johnny the Anomaly joins Spencer Case to argue that the potential benefits of genetic enhancement outweigh the risks (Spencer is skeptical).The electronic version of Anomaly's book, Creating Future People: The Ethics of Genetic Enhancement can be downloaded free at Amazon for Kindle or here:
2023-Feb-25 • 94 minutes
Unreasonable Doubt: Rejecting Skepticism
Mike Huemer joins Spencer Case for a wide-ranging discussion about epistemology. Mike argues that you should trust the experts rather than relying on your own "critical thinking"; Spencer's not so sure. They also discuss two strategies for rejecting the Brain-in-a-Vat argument for external world skepticism. Music: "April Kisses" by Eddie Lang (1929),
2023-Jan-28 • 70 minutes
The Dark Side of Technology, Part 2
Ryan Jenkins, professor of philosophy at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, rejoins Spencer for the first time since the inaugural episode of Micro-Digressions to resume the conversation about how technology can make our lives worse. The topics discussed include anti-Covid measures, government and corporate surveillance, content moderation on social media, and (taking a page from Oliver Burkeman's Four Thousand Weeks), the ways in which technology encourages us to instrumentalize our everyday experiences.
2022-Dec-25 • 96 minutes
Rant-a-thon spectacular (2022)
Featuring: Mark Oppenheimer and Jason Werbeloff from the Brain in the Vat podcast ranting against each other, Perry Hendericks on biased refereeing, Bob Pasnau on contemporary philosophy versus history of philosophy, Matt Lutz on probability and China's zero Covid meltdown, Mike Burke on woke enablers, Spencer Case on why moral extremism is bad, and Oliver Traldi on conceptual engineering.
2022-Dec-08 • 68 minutes
Black Friday Special episode: Famine, Affluence and Morality, Part 2
Jim Skidmore joins Spencer to continue the discussion of Singer's argument in "Famine, Affluence, and Morality."
2022-Nov-30 • 72 minutes
Black Friday Special episode: Famine, Affluence and Morality, Part 1
The first of a two-part series on Peter Singer's famous argument that we must give our expendable income to highly effective charities. This episode features guest Travis Timmerman of Seton Hall University. (Note: Jim Skidmore participated in the first part of this conversation, but his audio wasn't useable due to technical difficulties. That explains a few references to a third participant. Skidmore will appear in part 2).
2022-Oct-27 • 113 minutes
Realism, idealism, and the War in Ukraine
Philippe Lemoine returns to Micro-Digressions to talk about the difference between realism and idealism in foreign policy thinking, and why he thinks excessive idealism led to the ongoing Russo-Ukraine war.
2022-Sep-17 • 77 minutes
Self-Contempt and the Decline of Civilizations
Benedict Beckeld joins Spencer Case to talk about his new book Western Self-Contempt: Oikophobia in the Decline of Civilizations. They discuss the phenomenon of oikophobia, which is roughly contempt for one's home country or culture, the decline of philosophy of history, and other topics.
2022-Aug-21 • 81 minutes
Parenting and Philosophy
Big news: Spencer is a father! Jessica Flanigan, mother of four and philosopher, is this episode's guest. The topics they cover include: what are babies' minds like? Do we have good reasons to become parents (or to avoid becoming parents)? Do we have any special duties toward our offspring? Special appearance by new mother Han Ruimei, Spencer's wife. The picture is of their son, Elijah Han Case (Han Yilai).
2022-Aug-03 • 64 minutes
Is everything becoming political? (Remastered)
This first recorded episode of Micro-Digressions has been re-edited for improved sound quality and flow. Justin Kalef and Spencer Case discuss their worries about hyper-politicization, and together develop a case that society requires politically neutral ground.
2022-Jul-18 • 103 minutes
Let's talk about Socialism
Ben Burgis joins Spencer to discuss G.A. Cohen's defense of socialism, and objections to it. They also discuss the difference between Marxism and utopian socialism, different conceptions of political freedom, and other topics.
2022-Jun-11 • 87 minutes
The University Disaster
Jason Brennan joins Spencer to discuss the many problems that afflict the university as an institution, all of which stem from bad incentives. They also discuss the psychology of extremism and bad faith engagement. This intro and outro music is "Eddie's Twister" by Eddie Lang (1927).
2022-May-19 • 111 minutes
This episode is a companion to the recent moral experts roundtable article in Quillette. Oliver Traldi rejoins Spencer, along with first-time guests Bo Winegard and Geoffrey Miller, to discuss the philosophical and social problems of moral expertise. Over the course of the episode, they touch on the concept of expertise, the moral realism/anti-realism debate, and the extent to which values do (and should) influence scientific research.
2022-Apr-21 • 91 minutes
The Problem of Induction and the Uniformity of Nature
Matt Lutz returns to the podcast to explain his (in his opinion, very neglected) solution to the "counter-induction parody" argument, which is used to bolster Hume's notorious argument for inductive skepticism. Spencer makes a big personal announcement.
2022-Mar-14 • 87 minutes
Hypocrisy and Bad Intentions
What's so bad about hypocrisy? What difference does an agent's intentions make to the morality of his or her action? Craig White joins Spencer Case to discuss these questions, and to register his objections to the unrealistic thought experiments that some moral philosophers deploy.
2022-Feb-20 • 80 minutes
Why Philosophy?
Mark Oppenheimer and Jason Werbeloff, the two South African hosts of the irreverent and fearless Brain in a Vat podcast, join Spencer to discuss the uses of philosophy its role in a flourishing human life. Along the way, they also discuss the permissibility of outsourcing your religious duties to an AI and other surprising topics.
2022-Jan-26 • 92 minutes
Killing in War
Jeff McMahan, White's professor of philosophy at Oxford University and author of Killing in War and other books, joins Spencer to talk about the ethics of participating in wars and other topics.
2021-Dec-31 • 106 minutes
Should borders be open?
Peter Jaworski, a philosophy professor at the Georgetown University McDonough school of business, and Rob Gressis, a philosophy professor at California State University Northridge, join Spencer to debate the pros and cons of open borders.
2021-Nov-30 • 98 minutes
Beauty, Ugliness and Morality: Some moral quandaries of art
Mary Beth ("no hyphen") Willard of Weber State University joins Spencer and his wife, May to discuss the relationship between beauty and moral goodness. They pay particular attention to the question of whether an artist's moral character can ever affect the aesthetic or moral qualities of his or her art. Subjects include Bill Cosby and the blues artist Louisiana Red .
2021-Nov-01 • 97 minutes
SPECIAL EPISODE: Debating abortion
Two guests, Nathan Nobis and Christopher Kaczor, join Spencer to discuss the ethics of abortion.
2021-Oct-13 • 66 minutes
The Dark Side of Morality
Is there something bad about being too good? Might belief in objective morality distort our moral behavior? Marcus Arvan joins Spencer Case to discuss.
2021-Sep-23 • 117 minutes
Discriminating for the greater good
Stephen Kershnar joins Spencer Case to discuss the moral quandaries surrounding affirmative action and other forms of discrimination on the basis of race and gender.
2021-Aug-30 • 73 minutes
Religious and atheistic experience
Many people claim to have experiences of God. Others have experiences that cause them to lose faith. What is the significance of these experiences? Chad McIntosh and Spencer Case discuss.
2021-Jul-13 • 104 minutes
SPECIAL EPISODE: What's the Deal with Critical Race Theory?
What is Critical Race Theory and why is it evil (if it is in fact evil)? Sam Hoadley-Brill and Oliver Traldi join Spencer Case to discuss the culture war controversy surrounding CRT. They discuss the proper way of defining CRT, the relationship between CRT and figures like Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo, and the pros and cons of the anti-"CRT" bills.
2021-Jun-14 • 74 minutes
The metaphysics of bitcoin
What is Bitcoin, anyway? Craig Warmke joins Spencer Case to discuss his view that Bitcoin is a kind of fictional substance that nonetheless has real economic value.
2021-Apr-28 • 56 minutes
Dangerous ideas: an interview with Francesca Minerva
Francesca Minerva joins Spencer Case to discuss the launch of the new Journal of Controversial Ideas, which allows scholars to publish peer reviewed research anonymously to avoid backlash.
2021-Apr-02 • 82 minutes
Some conflict, she says: An interview with Holly Lawford-Smith
Holly Lawford-Smith joins Spencer to defend her website, No Conflict They Said (.org). This collects anonymous stories from women who say they have been negatively affected by the intrusion of biological males into what have been female only spaces. Critics allege that this website is transphobic. Spencer and Holly discuss these criticism, the extent to which trans-activism is influencing academic philosophy, and some potential downsides to anti-"conversion therapy" laws.
2021-Mar-30 • 71 minutes
What is knowledge (and who cares)?
Crispin Sartwell joins Spencer Case to discuss the nature of knowledge, the relationship between aesthetics and knowledge, and other themes.
2021-Jan-26 • 89 minutes
Thinking about Disagreement
Matt Lutz, an associate professor of philosophy at Wuhan University, joins Spencer Case to discuss philosophical conundrums about disagreement. Must we alter our beliefs in the face of disagreement? If so, then how much and in what circumstances? Along the way, they discuss the Wuhan lockdown -- which Matt experienced firsthand -- conspiracy theories, and something called "explanationism."
2020-Dec-25 • 66 minutes
Conquering Anger and Fear
Tyler Paytas rejoins Spencer Case on Micro-Digressions to discuss the irrationality of anger and fear. They also touch on retributivism and strategies for overcoming anger and fear.
2020-Oct-07 • 79 minutes
The Limits of Scientific Authority
Philosophers of science disagree about what, if anything, distinguishes science from other bodies of knowledge, and other areas of inquiry. It's clear science commands a great deal of authority. But is this authority always a good thing? Spencer Case and Philippe Lemoine discuss the ways in which that authority can be misused and corrupted.
2020-Aug-31 • 77 minutes
Has liberalism failed?
Liberalism has recently been subjected to criticisms from both the political left and the right. But what is liberalism, anyway? Do these recent arguments against it carry any weight? Spencer Case discusses these and other questions with Prof. Patrick Lee Miller of Duquesne University.
2020-Aug-07 • 69 minutes
The Virtue Illusion: Are you as good as you think you are?
You probably think of yourself as a good person. But how sure are you that, if faced with certain sorts of social pressures, you wouldn't do something really terrible? There is, unfortunately, a evidence that most people aren't nearly as good as they believe themselves to be. Christian Miller, author of The Character Gap, discusses some of this evidence and why it matters.
2020-Jul-18 • 65 minutes
You're cancelled!
Guest Oliver Traldi and Spencer Case discuss the phenomenon of so-called "cancel culture."
2020-Jul-06 • 68 minutes
Philosophical Dispositions
Spencer Case and Dan Kaufman discuss the importance of disposition to philosophy, and the difference between wisdom and knowledge.
2020-Jun-06 • 61 minutes
What's the deal with relativism?
Relativism about some domain is the rejection of truth standards independent of some perspective or standpoint. It may be implied in the slogan: "What's true for me may not be true for you." Should we accept relativism about morality or anything else? Spencer Case discusses with Robert Gressis, who teaches philosophy at California State University, Northridge. Follow
2020-May-19 • 62 minutes
Compassion and Rationality: An interview with Jacy Reese Anthis
Spencer Case and Jacy Reese Anthis, a co-founder of the Sentience Institute, discuss effective altruism, vegan activism and debate whether strong moral convictions presuppose moral realism.
2020-May-07 • 67 minutes
Is Everything Becoming Political?
It seems like our lives are more and more consumed with politics. Is that true? Is that a bad thing if it is true? Spencer Case and Justin Kalef, a philosophy professor at Rutgers University, discuss.
2020-Apr-21 • 59 minutes
Do you have a right to your opinion? Clifford, James and the ethics of belief
May we believe whatever we like? Philosopher Tyler Paytas and Spencer Case discuss.
2020-Mar-29 • 63 minutes
What good is free speech?
Inspired by J.S. Mill, philosophy professor Daniel Jacobson presses the case for free speech.
2020-Mar-25 • 54 minutes
The dark side of technology
What could go wrong? Ryan Jenkins, an associate professor of philosophy at Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, discusses some of the dangers of technological advancement. (Note that this was recorded in August 2019, before the COVID-19 crisis).