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Philosophy Talk Podcast

Philosophy Talk Podcast

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Listen to this philosophical radio show hosted by Stanford University philosophy professors as they chat with eminent contemporary philosophers about particular philosophical topics. Philosophy Talk celebrates the value of the examined life. Each week, our host philosophers invite you to join them in conversation on a wide variety of issues ranging from popular culture to our most deeply-held beliefs about science, morality, and the human condition. Philosophy Talk challenges listeners to identify and question their assumptions and to think about things in new ways. We are dedicated to reasoned conversation driven by human curiosity. Philosophy Talk is accessible, intellectually stimulating, and most of all, fun!


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 July 17, 2007


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  • 450: The Fifth (Mostly) Annual Dionysus Awards
    Tue, Feb 20, 2018

    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/5th-mostly-annual-dionysus-awards.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

  • 449: James Baldwin and Social Justice
    Mon, Feb 12, 2018

    More at https://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 justice? The Philosophers seek their own truth with Christopher Freeburg from the University of Illinois, author of "Black Aesthetics and the Interior Life."

  • 448: Frantz Fanon and the Violence of Colonialism
    Mon, Jan 29, 2018

    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 to his philosophy and psychology of the colonial subject? How has Fanon shaped how we think of identity politics? The Philosophers welcome Nigel Gibson from Emerson College, author of "Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination."

  • 447: Fractured Identities
    Mon, Jan 22, 2018

    More at https://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 the ability to develop a unified self? And what role might community play in helping heal fractured identities? The Philosophers identify with Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of "Real American: A Memoir."

  • 371: The Art of Non-Violence
    Mon, Jan 15, 2018

    More at philosophytalk.org/shows/art-non-violenceWe 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? John and Ken keep the peace with renowned cultural critic Judith Butler.

  • 446: Philosophy of Retirement
    Mon, Jan 08, 2018

    More at https://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 an age when people are living longer and technology is displacing more and more workers, how should our attitudes about retirement change? The Philosophers coax John Perry out of radio retirement to ask about all the work he's been getting done since stepping away from the mic.

  • 445: The Examined Year - 2017
    Wed, Dec 27, 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, author of "Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus"• The Year in Democracy and Social Media with Larry Kramer, President of the Hewlett FoundationBecause the unexmained year is not worth reviewing!

  • 363: What's Next? Death and the Afterlife
    Mon, Dec 25, 2017

    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 mean for the self to persist beyond the destruction of the body? Is there room in a scientific account of the mind for the existence of an immaterial soul? John and Ken see the light with Richard Swinburne from the University of Oxford, author of "Mind, Brain, and Free Will."

  • 444: Can Speech Kill?
    Mon, Dec 11, 2017

    More at https://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 how does the answer to this question affect our commitment to free speech in a liberal democracy? The Philosophers do no harm with Lynne Tirrell from the University of Connecticut, author of “Genocidal Language Games.”

  • 443: Midlife and Meaning
    Mon, Dec 04, 2017

    More at https://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 Philosophical Guide."

  • 368: Diseases of the Mind - Philosophy of Psychiatry
    Mon, Nov 20, 2017

    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 disease of the body? Does our classification system construct mental illness, or does it reveal underlying facts from genetics or neuroscience? John and Ken diagnose the issues with Jerome Wakefield from NYU, co-author of "The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder."

  • 369: Democracy in Crisis
    Mon, Nov 13, 2017

    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 political decay in our institutions, or is democracy in trouble everywhere? How can we achieve an efficient and prosperous democracy in which the average citizen is truly represented? Should we consider a radically different system of government? John and Ken keep calm with renowned political scientist Francis Fukuyama, author of "Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy."

  • 442: Philosophy of Trash
    Mon, Nov 06, 2017

    More at https://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 worthy of throwing away? The Philosophers go dumpster diving with Elizabeth Spelman from Smith College, author of "Trash Talks: Revelations in the Rubbish."

  • 441: Race Matters
    Mon, Oct 30, 2017

    More at https://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 respond to counter-movements like #AllLivesMatter? Ken and Debra discuss matters with Chris Lebron from Johns Hopkins University, author of "The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea."

  • 440: The Internet of Things
    Mon, Oct 16, 2017

    More at https://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 Hewitt, editor of Inconsistency Robustness (Studies in Logic).

  • 439: A World Without Work
    Mon, Sep 25, 2017

    More at https://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 these changes? What about providing all citizens with a basic income? The Philosophers work hard with Juliana Bidadanure from Stanford University, Faculty Director of the Stanford Basic Income Lab.

  • 438: Post-Truth Politics
    Mon, Sep 11, 2017

    More at https://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 entered the "post-truth" era? What does this mean for politics, policy, and accountability? The Philosophers don't fake it with Christopher Meyers from CSU Bakersfield, editor of "Journalism Ethics: A Philosophical Approach."

  • 437: Polyamory
    Mon, Aug 28, 2017

    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 our society's commitment to monogamy simply a fossil of tradition that could one day be obsolete? The Philosophers welcome back Carrie Jenkins from the University of British Columbia, author of "What Love Is: And What It Could Be."

  • 436: Could the Laws of Physics Ever Change?
    Mon, Aug 14, 2017

    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 the laws of physics “laws”? The philosophers conserve mass with Massimo Pigliucci from the City University of New York, author of "Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science From Bunk."

  • 435: Driverless Cars at the Moral Crossroads
    Wed, Jul 26, 2017

    More at https://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 might encounter? And who should be held responsible for the bad − potentially lethal − decisions these cars make? Our hosts take the wheel with Harvard psychologist Joshua Greene, author of "Our Driverless Dilemma: When Should Your Car be Willing to Kill You?"

  • 434: Cognitive Bias
    Mon, Jul 17, 2017

    More at https://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 awareness of these biases obligate us to counter them? John and Ken shed their biases with Brian Nosek from the University of Virginia, co-Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Open Science.

  • 433: Summer Reading List
    Wed, Jul 05, 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 Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and the new TV series based on it• Roving Philosophical Reporter Holly J. McDede investigates the graphic novel behind this summer's blockbuster Wonder Woman movie• Other recommendations from the Community of Thinkers

  • 432: Habermas and Democracy
    Sun, Jun 25, 2017

    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 consensus? And how should we reform our liberal democracies to make them more democratic? John and Ken reach for consensus with Matthew Specter from Central Connecticut State University, author of "Habermas: An Intellectual Biography."

  • 356: Racial Profiling and Implicit Bias
    Mon, Jun 19, 2017

    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/racial-profiling-and-implicit-bias.Whether 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 result of deeply-held biases we're not even aware of? Ken and guest host Jenann Ismael share their profiles with Linda Alcoff from the City University of New York, author of "Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self."

  • 431: Nonhuman Rights
    Mon, May 29, 2017

    More at https://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 concept of a “person” when it’s applied to nonhumans? What kind of cognitive and emotional complexity is required for nonhuman personhood? John and Ken extend rights to their human guest, Steven Wise, author of "Rattling The Cage: Toward Legal Rights For Animals."

  • 353: Babies and the Birth of Morality
    Mon, May 22, 2017

    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 morality is innate, and how much must we develop as moral thinkers? John and Ken talk infant morality with Paul Bloom from Yale University, author of "Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil."

  • 430: Should Beliefs Aim at Truth?
    Mon, May 15, 2017

    More at https://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? Our host philosophers truly believe their guest is Ray Briggs from Stanford University.

  • 429: The Limits of Medical Consent
    Mon, May 08, 2017

    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 treatment? What makes a patient so incompetent, they should be precluded from making their own decisions? John and Ken consent to talk to Jodi Halpern from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, author of "From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice."

  • 354: Machiavelli
    Mon, May 01, 2017

    More at https://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? John and Ken plot and scheme with Maurizio Viroli from Princeton University, author of "Redeeming the Prince: The Meaning of Machiavelli's Masterpiece."

  • 428: The Phenomenology of Lived Experience
    Mon, Apr 24, 2017

    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/phenomenology-lived-experience.Phenomenology 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 Ken learn what it’s like to talk to Shaun Gallagher from the University of Memphis, author of "How the Body Shapes the Mind."

  • 351: Remixing Reality Art & Literature for the 21st Century
    Mon, Apr 17, 2017

    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 everything has already been said or done before, can there be any truly original innovations in art and literature? Or is the demand for originality itself an antiquated idea? John and Ken mix it up with David Shields, author of "Reality Hunger: A Manifesto."

  • 350: Captivity
    Mon, Apr 10, 2017

    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 of humans and animals differently? And in a civil society, is captivity a necessary harm, or should we work towards eradicating it? John and Ken have a captivating conversation with Lori Gruen from Wesleyan University, editor of "The Ethics of Captivity."

  • 427: The Space-Time Continuum
    Mon, Apr 03, 2017

    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? John and Ken fill time and space with Tim Maudlin from NYU, author of "Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time."

  • 426: Knowing What We Know And What We Don't
    Mon, Mar 20, 2017

    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, and dogmatic conviction, on the other? John and Ken know that their guest is Baron Reed from Northwestern University, author of "The Long Road to Skepticism."

  • 424: Free Speech on Campus
    Mon, Feb 27, 2017

    More at https://philosophytalk.org/shows/free-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? And when does one person’s freedom of speech impinge on another’s? John and Ken create a safe space for Greg Lukianoff, co-author of "The Coddling of the American Mind."

  • 423: Philosophy Behind Bars
    Mon, Feb 13, 2017

    More at https://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 punish inmates for their crimes rather than giving them the education many non-felons never receive? John and Ken take a lesson from Jennifer Lackey, who teaches philosophy at Northwestern University and at Stateville Correctional Center near Chicago.

  • 422: Reparations
    Mon, Feb 06, 2017

    More at https://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 for burdens they themselves did not bear? Likewise, why should the descendants of slave-owners be made to pay for crimes they did not commit? John and Ken welcome Michael Dawson from the University of Chicago, author of "Not in Our Lifetimes: The Future of Black Politics."

  • 421: The Value of a College Education
    Sun, Jan 22, 2017

    More at https://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 college is worth it for students? Should public colleges be free? Or would that decrease their value? And would studying philosophy increase or decrease the value of a college education? John and Ken get collegial with former Stanford president John Hennessy, in a program recorded live at De Anza High School in Richmond, California.

  • 420: The Examined Year - 2016
    Mon, Jan 09, 2017

    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.

  • 343: The Reality of Time
    Sun, Jan 01, 2017

    More at philosophytalk.org/shows/reality-time.St. 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 latter is the case, how does it affect our perception of memory or recollection? John and Ken take their time with Julian Barbour from the University of Oxford, author of "The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics."

  • 342: What Is Color?
    Fri, Dec 16, 2016

    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 - remains a mysterious phenomenon. Where are colors: in objects, or in our minds? Could color experiences ever be explainable in terms of raw physical facts? Or is there something about color that goes beyond what science can teach us? John and Ken go full spectrum with Jonathan Cohen from UC San Diego, author of "The Red and the Real: An Essay on Color Ontology."

  • 336: Science and Gender
    Tue, Nov 29, 2016

    More at https://philosophytalk.org/shows/science-and-gender-1.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 there any possibility of achieving a gender-neutral science, and if so, what would that look like? John and Ken make room at the table for Stanford historian Londa Schiebinger, author of "Gendered Innovations in Science and Engineering."

  • 415: Election Special 2016
    Mon, Nov 07, 2016

    More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/election-special-2016-0.John and Ken look beyond the horse race at some of the bigger questions raised by this year’s campaign:• 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 Brookings Institution.

  • 334: Memory and the Self
    Mon, Oct 31, 2016

    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 the self be something over and above what memory suggests? John and Ken remember to welcome Stan Klein from UC Santa Barbara, author of "The Two Selves: Their Metaphysical Commitments and Functional Independence."

  • 419: The Mystery of the Multiverse
    Mon, Oct 24, 2016

    More at 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 talk about other universes if they can never be detected from this one? Can science ever prove or disprove the multiverse theory? Or does the theory make some testable predictions about our finely-tuned universe? John and Ken multiply their thoughts with George Ellis from the University of Cape Town, author of "How Can Physics Underlie the Mind?"

  • 418: Matter and Energy - The Dark Side
    Mon, Oct 10, 2016

    More at philosophytalk.org/shows/dark-matter.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 metaphysics, and can the two overlap? John and Ken see the light with Priya Natarajan from Yale University, author of "Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos."

  • 417: John Dewey and the Ideal of Democracy
    Mon, Sep 26, 2016

    More at http://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 have a public sphere? If not, how might we recreate a public necessary for democracy? And does the rise of the internet and social media fit into Dewey’s ideal democracy? John and Ken idealize a conversation with Melvin Rogers from UCLA, author of "The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of Democracy."

  • 416: Magical Thinking
    Tue, Sep 20, 2016

    More at http://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 think? John and Ken share some magic with Michael Shermer, author of "Skeptic: Viewing the World with a Rational Eye."

  • 329: Dangerous Demographics - The Challenges of an Aging Population
    Mon, Aug 29, 2016

    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 adjust to this new world awash with old folks? John and Ken remain young at heart with Laura Carstensen, Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity.

  • 414: This Is Your Brain on Art
    Mon, Aug 22, 2016

    More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/your-brain-art.Humans 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 Ken find their inner artist with Gabrielle Starr from NYU, author of "Feeling Beauty: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience."

  • 413: The Big Bang - Before and After
    Tue, Aug 16, 2016

    More at philosophytalk.org/shows/big-bang-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 does philosophy play in answering these mysteries? John and Ken have a singular conversation with Katherine Freese from the University of Michigan, author of "The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter."

  • 412: More Than Pun and Games
    Mon, Aug 01, 2016

    More at http://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 – but can we eggsplain what’s funny about it? John and Ken get punny with John Pollack, author of "The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics."

  • 411: The Mystery of Music
    Mon, Jul 25, 2016

    More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/mystery-music.Most of us listen to music on a regular basis, but we don't think much about how we listen. Moreover, when we disagree about music, we're usually happy to agree that we just have different personal tastes. But what if some of us just don't know how to listen to music properly? Are there objectively correct ways to listen to music, or is it up to the individuals how they listen? Are we worse off if we don't listen to music in certain ways? How might we become better listeners? What insights have philosophers had on these questions? John and Ken drop the needle with Stanford musicologist Adrian Daub, co-author of "The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism."

  • 410: Identity Politics
    Mon, Jul 18, 2016

    More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/identity-politics.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 in political representation? And does politicizing identities genuinely empower communities or just further divide them? John and Ken find common cause with Tommie Shelby from Harvard University, author of "We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity."

  • 326: An Eye for an Eye - The Morality of Revenge
    Mon, Jul 11, 2016

    More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/eye-eye-morality-revenge.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 vengeance model? Don’t the victims of crime deserve some kind of payback for their suffering? Are justice and revenge in conflict with one another, or do they actually go hand in hand? John and Ken trade favors with Thane Rosenbaum from the Fordham Law School, author of "Payback: The Case For Revenge."

  • 409: The Radical Democracy Movement
    Tue, Jul 05, 2016

    More at http://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 equality for all citizens in a society? And how does the anti-colonial tradition help us rethink what a modern democracy might be like? John and Ken join the struggle with Stanford historian Aishwary Kumar, author of "Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy."

  • 325: The Limits of Self-Knowledge
    Mon, Jun 27, 2016

    More at philosophytalk.org/shows/limits-self-knowledge.Descartes 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 to self-knowledge, or are we condemned to being forever deluded about who we truly are? John and Ken look inward with Timothy Wilson from the University of Virginia, author of "Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By."

  • 407: Philosophy of Sleep
    Mon, Jun 13, 2016

    More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-sleep."Blessed are the sleepy ones," write 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 can we distinguish wakefulness from sleep, as Descartes wondered? Do we experience dreams consciously? And do we sleep to live, or live to sleep? Ken and guest co-host Jorah Danenberg stay up with Deirdre Barrett from the Harvard Medical School, co-author of "The Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreams."

  • 320: Life as a Work of Art
    Mon, Jun 06, 2016

    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 that make a life good? Is there really such thing as a "beautiful" life? John and Ken paint their masterpiece with Lanier Anderson from Stanford University.

  • 323: The Moral Lives of Animals
    Tue, May 31, 2016

    More at 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 lack the cognitive capacity necessary for being truly moral? John and Ken examine their animal nature with Mark Rowlands from the University of Miami, author of "Can Animals Be Moral?"

  • 406: Altered States
    Mon, May 23, 2016

    More at http://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 and provide meaningful insight? Or are they nothing more than a route to empty delirium? Ken and guest co-host Alison Gopnik take a trip with artist, scientist, and founder of the Beckley Foundation, Amanda Feilding.

  • 327: When Is It Wrong to Save a Life? Lessons from the Trolley Problem
    Mon, May 16, 2016

    More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/when-it-wrong-save-life-lessons-trolley-problem.A 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 difference between doing and letting happen (being more obliged to not cause harm than to prevent harm), and issues of "collateral damage" (killing one person to save others). John and Ken ride the trolley with Thomas Cathcart, author of "The Trolley Problem, or Would You Throw the Fat Guy Off the Bridge: A Philosophical Conundrum."

  • 405: Affirmative Action Too Little or Too Much?
    Mon, May 09, 2016

    More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/affirmative-action-too-little-or-too-much.Addressing 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, or rectifying the injustices they face? Is affirmative action enough to redress racial injustice, or is it simply the best we can do for the time being? John and Ken welcome Glenn Loury from Brown University, author of "The Anatomy of Racial Inequality."

  • 404: One Child Too Many
    Mon, May 02, 2016

    More at http://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 right, and if so is it one we should give up for the greater good? What can we do ethically about controlling population? John and Ken have more than a word with Sarah Conly from Bowdoin College, author of "One Child: Do We Have a Right to More?"

  • 321: Memes - Viruses of the Mind?
    Tue, Apr 26, 2016

    More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/memes-viruses-mindGangnam 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 fittest memes are also the most detrimental to us? John and Ken spread ideas with Susan Blackmore from the University of Plymouth, author of "The Meme Machine."

  • 317: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times
    Mon, Apr 18, 2016

    317: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times by Philosophy Talk

  • 403: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
    Mon, Apr 11, 2016

    More at http://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 Ken find something to talk about with Jim Holt, author of "Why Does The World Exist: An Existential Detective Story."

  • 402: Extreme Altruism
    Mon, Apr 04, 2016

    More at http://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 and Ken lend a hand to New Yorker writer Larissa MacFarquhar, author of "Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help."

  • 401: Gun Control
    Mon, Mar 28, 2016

    More at http://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 philosophical thinking contribute to such delicate policy decisions? John and Ken stand their ground with Hugh LaFollette from the University of South Florida, author of "The Practice of Ethics."

  • 400: The Science of Happiness
    Mon, Mar 21, 2016

    More at http://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 happiness something really worth pursuing? John and Ken get happy (scientifically) with Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Science Director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

  • 399: The AncientCosmos - When the Earth Stood Still
    Tue, Mar 15, 2016

    More at http://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 should we think about the status of scientific theories if they can be subject to such massive conceptual shifts? John and Ken ponder the cosmos with Carlo Rovelli from Aix-Marseille University, author of "Seven Brief Lessons on Physics."

  • 337: Simone de Beauvoir
    Mon, Mar 07, 2016

    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 sense did she find that we are all radically free? Are we always to blame for our self-deception or can social institutions be at fault? John and Ken sit down at the café with Shannon Mussett from Utah Valley University, co-editor of "Beauvoir and Western Thought from Plato to Butler."

  • Ian Shoales on The Ethics of Debt
    Fri, Mar 04, 2016

    More at http://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 the debt? Can traditional economic theory explain why we face debt crises and how we can get out of them? Or do we need a new economic model that dispels some of the myths of the traditional model and offers a more ethical solution to the global debt crisis? John and Ken are held to account with Julie Nelson from the University of Massachusetts Boston, author of "Economics For Humans."

  • 398: The Ethics of Debt
    Mon, Feb 29, 2016

    More at http://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 the debt? Can traditional economic theory explain why we face debt crises and how we can get out of them? Or do we need a new economic model that dispels some of the myths of the traditional model and offers a more ethical solution to the global debt crisis? John and Ken are held to account with Julie Nelson from the University of Massachusetts Boston, author of "Economics For Humans."

  • 319: Finding Meaning in a Material World
    Mon, Feb 22, 2016

    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? John and Ken talk materially with Owen Flanagan from Duke University, author of "The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World."

  • Ian Shoales on White Privilege
    Fri, Feb 19, 2016

    More at http://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? Instead of unequal privilege, should we be more focused on equal rights? What kind of theory of justice is required to improve black lives? John and Ken check their privilege with Naomi Zack from the University of Oregon, author of "White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of U.S. Police Racial Profiling and Homicide."

  • 397: White Privilege and Racial Injustice
    Mon, Feb 15, 2016

    More at http://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? Instead of unequal privilege, should we be more focused on equal rights? What kind of theory of justice is required to improve black lives? John and Ken check their privilege with Naomi Zack from the University of Oregon, author of "White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of U.S. Police Racial Profiling and Homicide."

  • 318: Freedom and Free Enterprise
    Tue, Feb 09, 2016

    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 a practical matter – an effective way of organizing resources and the distribution of goods – or does it rest on deeper principles? John and Ken test their entrepreneurial spirit with Shannon Stimson from UC Berkeley, co-author of "After Adam Smith: A Century of Transformation in Politics and Political Economy."

  • 312: Faith, Reason, and the Art of Living
    Tue, Feb 02, 2016

    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 of its own? Is there a way to reconcile faith and reason, or does the well-lived life demand that we choose one over the other? John Ken put reasonable faith in Howard Wettstein from UC Riverside, author of "The Significance of Religious Experience."

  • 316: Nations and Borders
    Wed, Jan 27, 2016

    More at philosophytalk.org/shows/nations-and-borders.Borders 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 for UC Berkeley Law Professor Sarah Song, author of "Justice, Gender, and the Politics of Multiculturalism."

  • Ian Shoales on Nations and Borders
    Mon, Jan 25, 2016

    Borders 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 for UC Berkeley Law Professor Sarah Song, author of "Justice, Gender, and the Politics of Multiculturalism."More at philosophytalk.org/shows/nations-and-borders

  • Ian Shoales on Sartre
    Mon, Jan 25, 2016

    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 Thomas Flynn from Emory University, author of "Sartre: A Philosophical Biography."More at philosophytalk.org/shows/sartre

  • 396: Jean-Paul Sartre
    Mon, Jan 18, 2016

    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 Thomas Flynn from Emory University, author of "Sartre: A Philosophical Biography."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/sartre

  • 395 - Dignity Denied: Life and Death in Prison
    Mon, Jan 11, 2016

    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 recidivism rates? How can we ensure dignity for prisoners in the age of for-profit prisons? John and Ken maintain their dignity with filmmaker Edgar Barens, whose documentary "Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall" was nominated for an Academy Award.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/dignity-denied-life-and-death-prison

  • 394 - The Examined Year: 2015
    Thu, Dec 31, 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://philosophytalk.org/shows/examined-year-2015

  • 393 - Taoism: Following the Way
    Mon, Dec 14, 2015

    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 philosophy, or a way of life? How do Taoists reconcile endorsing a specific way of life with skepticism about human thinking? John and Ken go east with Bryan Van Norden from Vassar College, author of numerous translations and books on Chinese thought, including "Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/taoism-following-way

  • 392 - Self and Self-Presentation
    Mon, Dec 07, 2015

    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 conglomerate of 'mini-selves' shaped by cultural and societal forces? Could it be detrimental to think of a self as socially constructed? John and Ken put their best face on for Susan Hekman from the University of Texas at Arlington, author of "Private Selves, Public Identities: Reconsidering Identity Politics."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/self-and-self-presentation

  • 391 - Your Lying Eyes: Perception, Memory, and Justice
    Mon, Nov 30, 2015

    The criminal justice system often relies on the testimony of eyewitnesses to get convictions. Yet more and more, psychological science demonstrates how unreliable eye witness 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 figure out whether a particular eye witness report is reliable? Or for a truly just system, must we forbid all testimony that depends on the capricious faculty of memory? John and Ken take the stand with Daniel Reisberg from Reed College, author of The Science of Perception and Memory: A Pragmatic Guide for the Justice System.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/your-lying-eyes-perception-memory-and-justice

  • 390: Will Innovation Kill Us?
    Thu, Nov 19, 2015

    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 ill? Is our constant need to innovate a function of our biology, or just a product of various cultural forces? Can we ever escape the innovation loop? Should we try before it kills us? John and Ken find new ways to talk to Christian Seelos, author of "Innovation and Scaling for Impact: How Effective Social Enterprises Do It."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/will-innovation-kill-us

  • 389 - Spinoza
    Mon, Nov 09, 2015

    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 today still take him seriously? John and Ken welcome back Rebecca Goldstein, author of "Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/spinoza

  • 388 - Living On Through Others
    Wed, Nov 04, 2015

    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 lives be nearly as meaningful if others did not live on after our death? Could our “collective afterlife” through the lives of others actually be more important than the “personal afterlife” with which we are so often preoccupied? John and Ken live on through Samuel Scheffler from NYU, author of "Death & the Afterlife."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/living-through-others

  • 295: The Evolution of Storytelling
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 Jonathan Gottschall from Washington & Jefferson College, author of "The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/evolution-storytelling

  • 294: Forbidden Words
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 Chris Hom from Texas Tech University, author of "Hating and Necessity: The Semantics of Racial Epithets."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/forbidden-words

  • 293: Prostitution and the Sex Trade
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 can becoming a sex worker ever be a free, fully autonomous choice? John and Ken explore the complexities of the world's oldest profession with novelist, columnist, and former sex worker Tracy Quan, author of the best-selling "Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/prostitution-and-sex-trade

  • 292: Regulating Bodies
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 government legitimately prohibit its citizens from doing to their own bodies -- and what can it legimitately compel them to do? John and Ken are joined by Cécile Fabre from the University of Oxford, author of "Whose Body is it Anyway? Justice and the Integrity of the Person."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/regulating-bodies

  • 291: Why Be Moral
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 of Notre Dame, author of "From Rationality to Equality."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/why-be-moral

  • 290: The Nature of Wilderness
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 with the need to preserve some aspect of the wild in our lives? John and Ken welcome Jay Odenbaugh from Lewis & Clark College for a program recorded live on campus in Portland, Oregon.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/nature-wilderness

  • 289: The Moral Costs of Climate Change
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 Allen Thompson from Oregon State University, editor of "Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/moral-costs-climate-change

  • 288: Neuroscience and the Law
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 brain disorder? John and Ken ask how the law should respond to the findings of neuroscience with David Eagleman, author of "Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/neuroscience-and-law

  • 287: Gut Feelings and the Art of Decision-Making
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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-making? Is there a role for expertise in developing reliable gut-feelings? John and Ken trust their instincts with Gerd Gigerenzer from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, author of "Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/gut-feelings-and-art-decision-making

  • 286: Hypocrisy
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 view that you, yourself, don't have the courage or the character to follow through on? John and Ken try to practice what they preach with Lawrence Quill from San Jose State University, author of "Secrecy and Democracy."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/hypocrisy

  • 285: Identities Lost and Found in a Global Age
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 themselves with UC Berkeley English Professor Bharati Mukherjee, author of "Miss New India" and other novels exploring migration, alienation, and identity.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/identities-lost-found-global-age

  • 284: Corporations and the Future of Democracy
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 national democracy? Can regulations provide a solution, and if so, who has the authority to create and enforce these regulations? John and Ken welcome former US Senator Russell Feingold, author of "While America Sleeps: A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/corporations-and-future-democracy

  • 283: What Might Have Been
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 differently. But how do we make sense of this talk of possible worlds? How can there be facts other than facts about the actual world? John and Ken consider the possibilities with Laurie Paul from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, co-author of "Causation: A User's Guide."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-might-have-been

  • 282: Summer Reading List 2012
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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-list-2012

  • 281: Freedom, Blame, and Resentment
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/freedom-blame-and-resentment

  • 280: What Is Love?
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 collections of poems: At Lake Scugog and 2006's Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-love

  • 279: What Are Leaders Made of?
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 than, say, a lottery like the Athenians used? Ken and John ask what leaders are – and should be – made of with Stanford Law Professor Deborah Rhode, co-author of "Moral Leadership: The Theory and Practice of Power, Judgment, and Policy."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-are-leaders-made

  • 278: Poetry as a Way of Knowing
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/poetry-way-knowing

  • 277: Epicurus and the Good Life
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 relevance of Epicurean philosophy for contemporary life. A diverse array of thinkers, including Thomas Jefferson, Diderot, and Jeremy Bentham, have considered themselves Epicureans. So what is the legacy of Epicurus, and how have his ideas become integrated into the fabric of modernity? With great pleasure, John and Ken welcome David Konstan from NYU, author of "A Life Worthy of the Gods: The Materialist Psychology of Epicurus."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/epicurus-and-good-life

  • 276: Pantheism
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 new interest in pantheism and its emphasis on nature as sacred. Is there a consistent world view that all these philosophies have in common? And how should we understand the claim that nature is to be worshipped? John and Ken welcome back Philip Clayton from the Claremont Graduate School, editor of "In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God's Presence in a Scientific World."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/pantheism

  • 275: The 2012 Dionysus Awards
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/2012-dionysus-awards

  • 274: Black Solidarity
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 Shelby from Harvard University, author of "We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/black-solidarity

  • 273: The Right to Privacy
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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? How does our use of social media undermine our claims to privacy? John and Ken talk publicly with George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen, author of "The Naked Crowd: Reclaiming Security and Freedom in an Anxious Age."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/right-privacy

  • 272: Is Democracy a Universal Value?
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 with Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of "The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/democracy-universal-value

  • 271: The Examined Year - 2011
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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://philosophytalk.org/shows/examined-year-2011

  • 270: Forgive and Forget
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 entail a sacrifice of pride and dignity?John and Ken let bygones be bygones with their guest, Paul Hughes from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/forgive-and-forget

  • 269: The Military What Is It Good For?
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 in a discussion of the military and its role in public life with Pulitzer Prize winning historian David KennedyMore at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/military-what-it-good

  • 268: Is Nothing Sacred Anymore
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/nothing-sacred-anymore

  • 267: Miracles
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 constitute good reasons for believing in them, with Peter Graham from the University of California Riverside.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/miracles

  • 266: Thinking Inside the Box
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    Speaking 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 to TV, past and present.More at philosophytalk.org/shows/thinking-inside-box

  • 265: Cooperation and Conflict
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 generation?John and Ken find their mutual interests in a discussion of cooperation and conflict with Cristina Bicchieri from the University of Pennsylvania, author of "The Grammar of Society: The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/cooperation-and-conflict

  • 264: Morality and the Self
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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.John and Ken explore the surprising ways in which our own self-images influences our moral evaluations and reasoning with Stanford psychologist Benoît Monin.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/morality-and-self

  • 263: Wisdom
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 Limits."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/wisdom

  • 262: Latin-American Philosophy
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 State University, author of "Cesar Chavez and the Common Sense of Nonviolence."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/latin-american-philosophy

  • 261: Deconstructing the College Admissions Rat Race
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    America's 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 from Stanford's School of Education, author of "Creating A Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites," for a program recorded with an audience of high school students in Palo Alto, California.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/deconstructing-college-admissions-rat-race

  • 260: Time, Space, and Quantum Mechanics
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 Jenann Ismael from the University of Arizona, author of "The Situated Self" and many essays on the interpretation of quantum mechanics.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/time-space-and-quantum-mechanics

  • 259: The State of Public Philosophy
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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 Betrand 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 intellectual a thing of the past? John and Ken contemplate the place of the public intellectual in the modern world with Hans Gumbrecht, author of "Reading Moods: On Literature's Different Reality."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/state-public-philosophy

  • 258: Philosophy and Everyday Life
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-everyday-life

  • 257: The Psychology of Evil
    Mon, Nov 02, 2015

    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, author of "The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/psychology-evil

  • 256: Atheism and the Well-Lived Life
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/atheism-and-well-lived-life

  • 255: Whodunit - The Language of Responsibility
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 probing look at cross cultural variations in the language of responsibility.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/whodunit-language-responsibility

  • 254: Gay Pride & Prejudice
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 Herdt, author of "Moral Panics, Sex Panics: Fear and the Fight over Sexual Rights."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/gay-pride-prejudice

  • 253: Summer Reading List 2011
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 listeners and special guests.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2011

  • 252: Cities, Gentrification, and Inequality
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 places they had called home.Is gentrification on balance a morally and socially good thing or bad thing?Does it serve more to increase inequality or to lessen the isolation of the urban underclass?John and Ken assess the moral cityscape with Stanford sociologist Frederic Stout, co-editor of "The City Reader."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/cities-gentrification-and-inequality

  • 251: Should Marriage Be Abolished?
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 be in the marriage business in the first place – until now. John and Ken welcome Tamara Metz from Reed College, author of "Untying the Knot: Marriage, the State and the Case for Their Divorce."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/should-marriage-be-abolished

  • 250: The Extended Mind
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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, embodied cognition, and the situated self with renowned cognitive scientist George Lakoff, co-author of "Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/extended-mind

  • 249: What Is an Adult?
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-adult

  • 248: Is It All Relative?
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 something else.Does that mean that we merely obey a code that has no inherent value?John and Ken avoid absolutes with Paul Boghossian from New York University, author of "Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/it-all-relative

  • 247: John Locke
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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?John and Ken are joined by William Uzgalis from Oregon State University, author of "Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding: A Reader’s Guide."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/john-locke

  • 246: The 2011 Dionysus Awards
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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.http://philosophytalk.org/shows/movie-show-2011

  • 245: Procrastination
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 "The Procrastinator’s Digest: A Concise Guide to Solving the Procrastination Puzzle."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/procrastination

  • 244: Derrida and Deconstruction
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 half-understood ideas.John and Ken take on Derrida and his ideas with Joshua Kates from Indiana University, author of "Fielding Derrida: Deconstruction in the Fields of Philosophy, History, and Beyond."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/derrida-and-deconstruction

  • 243: Abortion
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 professor Cynthia Gorney, author of "Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/abortion

  • 242: The Moral Costs of Free Markets
    Sun, Nov 01, 2015

    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 Debra Satz, author of "Why Some Things Should Not Be For Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/moral-costs-free-markets

  • 241: Philosophy for Children
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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, Personal Identity, Ethics, and Social Philosophy to a live -- and questioning -- audience of Seattle schoolchildren.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-children

  • 240: The Power of Thought
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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 Creates Language" and "The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/power-thought

  • 239: Disagreement
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/disagreement

  • 238: Reading, Narrative, and the Self
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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 games, rather than the carefully constructed lives of great fiction? Or is that just one of the old-fogey hosts grumbling? John and Ken swap stories with Joshua Landy, co-director of the Literature and Philosophy Initiative at Stanford University.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/reading-narrative-and-self

  • 237: The Occult Philosophy
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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 that the Occult Philosophy and the Occult Sciences, with their search for hidden causes, played a decisive role in the rise of modern science. In this special Halloween week episode, John and Ken delve into the Occult Philosophy with Christopher Lehrich from Boston University, author of The Occult Mind: Magic in Theory and Practice.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/occult-philosophy

  • 236: Bargaining with the Devil
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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 grounds, are we imposing our values? Ken and John negotiate the terms with UC Irvine Law Professor and professional mediator Carrie Menkel-Meadow.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/bargaining-devil

  • 235: Philosophy and the Alma Mater
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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 who can raise more money for our beloved radio station.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-alma-mater

  • 234: Meaning and the Revolution
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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 Rakove, author of "Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/meaning-and-revolution

  • 233: Philosophy for the Young Corrupting or Empowering?
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    Socrates 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 "If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers," for a program recorded with a live audience of young philosophers at Palo Alto High School.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-young-corrupting-or-empowering

  • 232: Self-Deception
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/self-deception

  • 231: Humanism
    Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    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 program recorded live at the 69th annual conference of the American Humanist Association in San Jose.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/humanism

  • 387: In Praise of Love - Plato's Symposium Meets Bernstein's Serenade
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    Plato’s 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 highest form of love? How does Bernstein explore these themes through his music? In this special episode featuring violin virtuoso Anne Akiko Meyers and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, John and Ken talk to Brandi Parisi from All Classical Portland radio about love – its nature, its origin and its purpose – and music.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/praise-love-platos-symposium-meets-bernsteins-serenade

  • 230: Social Reality
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    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 ontological fluff?Ken and John discuss the metaphysics of the social with famed philosopher John Searle, author of "Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/social-reality

  • 229: Loyalty
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/loyalty

  • 228: Democracy and the Press
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    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 of our founding fathers? John and Ken are joined by former TV news anchor and investigative journalist Leslie Griffith.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/democracy-and-press

  • 227: What Are Human Rights?
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    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, Culture."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-are-human-rights

  • 226: The Corporation as Person
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    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 corporate personhood with shareholder activist Robert Monks, co-author of "Corporate Governance."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/corporation-person

  • 224: Live Highlights
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    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 at the University of Delaware, scientist and entrepreneur Craig Venter at the Smithsonian Institution, and political scientist Rob Reich in Palo Alto, California. Plus selected commentaries from Ian Shoales, the Sixty-Second Philosopher.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-talk-live-highlights

  • 223: Mental Illness and Culture
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    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 Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/mental-illness-and-culture

  • 222: Faces, Feelings, and Lies
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    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 scientific consultant to the Fox television series "Lie To Me."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/faces-feelings-and-lies

  • 221: The Ethics of Torture
    Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    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 University, author of "The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/ethics-torture

  • 220: What Is a Wife?
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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, author of "A History of the Wife."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-wife

  • 219: Fear
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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, author of "Fear: The History of a Political Idea."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/fear

  • 218: What Is 'Normal'?
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-normal

  • 216: Mind Reading
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 Integrated Account of Pretense, Self-Awareness and Understanding Other Minds."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/mind-reading

  • 215: Philosophy in Fiction
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 and existence.'' Ken and John explore philosophy in fiction with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of "The Mind-Body Problem" and "36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-fiction

  • 214: Nihilism and Meaning
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 a thought-provoking discussion of nihilism and meaning with Hubert Dreyfus, co-author of "All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/nihilism-and-meaning

  • 213: S?ren Kierkegaard
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 University.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/kierkegaard

  • 212: Is It Wrong to Wreck th Earth?
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 and John welcome environmental ethicist and celebrated author Kathleen Moore from Oregon State University.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/it-wrong-wreck-earth

  • 210: The Philosophical Legacy of Darwin
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/darwin

  • 209: From the Minds of Babies
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 the Meaning of Life."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/minds-babies

  • 207: Healthcare Right or Privilege?
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/health-care-right-or-privilege

  • 206: Schizophrenia and the Mind
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/schizophrenia-and-mind

  • 205: War, Sacrifice, and the Media
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 Berkeley professor Judith Butler, author of "Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?"More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/war-sacrifice-and-media

  • 204: What Are Words Worth?
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/what-are-words-worth

  • 203: Philosophy Talk Highlights
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 biracial identities in the age of Obama, and Berkeley psychologist Alison Gopnik on her favorite philosophical movie. Plus selected commentaries from Ian Shoales, the Sixty-Second Philosopher.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-talk-highlights

  • 202: The Postmodern Family
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 Michael Rosenfeld, author of "The Age of Independence: Interracial Unions, Same-Sex Unions and the Changing American Family."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/postmodern-family

  • 201: Pornography
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 of "Sexual Solipsism: Philosophical Essays on Pornography and Objectification."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/pornography

  • 200: Money and Morality
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 and more to Neil Malhotra from the Stanford Graduate School of BusinessMore at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/money-and-morality

  • 199: The Prison System
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/prison-system

  • 198: Social Networking
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/social-networking

  • 197: Summer Reading List 2009
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2009

  • 196: The Mind and the World
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/mind-and-world

  • 195: Lincoln as a Philosopher
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/lincoln

  • 194: Worship
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 of nature that make human life possible and rewarding. Does this make more sense than worshipping an imperfect God? The Philosophers express their reverence with Daniel Speak from Loyola Marymount University.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/worship

  • 193: Beliefs Gone Wild
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/beliefs-gone-wild

  • 192: Desire
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 What We Want."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/desire

  • 191: Too Much Information
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    “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 be organized? Ken and John try to make sense of the flood of information with author and philosopher David Weinberger.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/too-much-information

  • 190: The Root of All Evil?
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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

  • 189: The Copyright Wars
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 John sample the copyright debate with Larry Lessig, author of "Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/copyright-wars

  • 188: Challenges to Free Will
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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?And what are the implications for morality and responsibility?John and Ken exercise their will with Manuel Vargas from the University of San Francisco.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/challenges-free-will

  • 187: Bi-racial Identities
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 factor in a person's life?Must we choose among our potential identities?Ken and John discuss racial and bi-racial identity with Michele Elam from Stanford University, author of "Mixed Race in the New Millennium."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/bi-racial-identities

  • 186: Different Cultures, Different Selves
    Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    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 and action across cultures.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/different-cultures-different-selves

  • 185: The Movie Show
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 annual Dionysus Awards.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/movie-show

  • 183: Civil Disobedience
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 from the University of Manchester.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/civil-disobedience

  • 182: Philosophy of History
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-history

  • 181: The Idea of the University
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/idea-university

  • 180: John Rawls
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 discuss the life and ideas of John Rawls with Joshua Cohen, Professor of Political Science, Philosophy, and Law at Stanford University and co-author of "Associations and Democracy."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/john-rawls

  • 179: Bodies For Sale
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 of "Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: On The Limits of Markets."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/bodies-sale

  • 178: Levels of Reality
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 and Ultimate Explanation."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/levels-reality

  • 177: Gandhi as a Philosopher
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University and author of "Gandhi, the Philosopher."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/gandhi-philosopher

  • 176: William James
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/william-james

  • 175: Making Decisions
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/making-decisions

  • 174: Digital Selves
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 more or less effective as digital selves?John and Ken are joined by Jeremy Bailenson, Director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/digital-selves

  • 173: Overcoming the Terror of Death
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/overcoming-terror-death

  • 172: The Morality of Food
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 "In Defense of Food."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/morality-food

  • 171: Utilitarianism
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 Obscene: Studies in the Limits of Free Expression."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/utilitarianism

  • 170: Global Justice and Human Rights
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    What 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.More at philosophytalk.org/shows/global-justice-and-human-rights

  • 169: Dualism
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 New York, author of "Consciousness and Mind."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/dualism

  • 168: Philosophy and Pop Culture
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."More at philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-pop-culture

  • 167: Giving and Keeping
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.

  • 166: The Luck of the Draw
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/luck-draw

  • 165: Altruism
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    Are 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."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/altruism

  • 164: Hannah Arendt
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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. Seyla Benhabib, Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University and Director of its Program in Ethics, Politics and Economics, joins John and Ken discuss Arendt's political philosophy and its enduring influence.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/hannah-arendt

  • 163: The Problem of Evil
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/problem-evil

  • 162: Summer Reading List 2008
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2008

  • 161: Promises
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."ore at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/promises

  • 160: Experimental Philosophy
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/experimental-philosophy

  • 159: Varieties of Love
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/varieties-love

  • 158: Politics and Cognitive Science
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/politics-and-cognitive-science

  • 157: Philosophy of Wine
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-wine

  • 156: Apologizing
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/apologizing

  • 155: Science vs. Pseudoscience
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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: The Psychology of Superstition."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/science-vs-pseudo-science

  • 154: Infinity
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 of Computer Science at San Jose State University and author of "Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/infinity

  • 153: Connectionism
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/connectionism

  • 152: Paradoxes
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 learn from paradoxes.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/paradoxes

  • 151: Saint Augustine
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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. And many find the roots of some of the darker sides of Christian doctrine, from the emphasis on original sin to the second-rate status for women, in his works. John and Ken welcome Georgetown University Provost James O'Donnell, author of "Augustine, Sinner & Saint: A New Biography."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/st-augustine

  • 150: Persons, Selves, Souls, and Loops
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 them.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/persons-selves-souls-and-loops

  • 149: Why Music Matters
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 David Harrington.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/why-music-matters

  • 147: Personal Identity
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 Rise and Fall of Soul and Self: An Intellectual History of Personal Identity."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/personal-identity

  • 146: The Concept of God
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/concept-god

  • 145: Political Correctness
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 progress?Or do the assailants of political correctness have a point?John and Ken take on political correctness with former political speechwriter Leonard Steinhorn, author of "The Greater Generation:In Defense of the Baby Boomer Legacy."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/political-correctness

  • 144: Islamic Philosophy
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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-Allaf, Imam Khattab Chair of Islamic Studies at the University of Toledo and Author of "The Essential Ideas of Islamic Philosophy."More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/islamic-philosophy

  • 143: Immigration and Citizenship
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 immigration and citizenship are permissible?John and welcome Noe Lozano, Dean of Diversity at Stanford's School of Engineering, to discuss the challenges and benefits of immigration.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/immigration-and-citizenship

  • 142 Philosophy and Literature
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 literature.Can the methods of philosophy and literary criticism be combined?Are the truths they shed light upon complementary?John and Ken are joined by fellow Stanford philosopher Lanier Anderson to discuss the intersection of philosophy and literature.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-and-literature

  • 141: Predicting the Future
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 Taleb, author of "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable," will join them to consider the extent to which we can forecast the future.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/predicting-future

  • 140: Faith, Reason, and Science
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 faith? John and Ken welcome Nancey Murphy, author of "Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will," to explore the meaning of faith and the place of faith and reason in religion, scientific practice, and our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us.More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/faith-reason-and-science

  • 139: Love, Poetry, and Philosophy
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 discussion of love, poetry, and philosophy.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/love-poetry-and-philosophy

  • 138: Math and the Mind
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/math-and-mind

  • 137: The Value of Art
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 ask the critical question: what is the value of art?More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/value-art

  • 136: Postmodernism
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 postmodernism in philosophy, literature, and art.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/postmodernism

  • 135: Firting With Philosophy
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/flirting-philosophy

  • 134: Philosophy Through Humor
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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."More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-through-humor

  • 133: Capital Punishment
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/capital-punishment

  • 131: Summer Reading List 2007
    Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    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 share some of the philosophically-minded reading on your list for this summer.More at: http://philosophytalk.org/shows/summer-reading-list-2007

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