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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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  • 380: Neuroscience and Free Will
    Fri, May 18, 2018


    More at philosophytalk.org/shows/neuroscience-and-free-will.We like to think of ourselves as rational agents who exercise conscious control over most of our actions and decisions. Yet in recent years, neuroscientists have claimed to prove that free will is simply an illusion, that our brains decide for us before our conscious minds even become aware. But what kind of evidence do these scientists rely on to support their sweeping conclusions? Is the "free will" they talk about the same kind of free will that philosophers have puzzled about for millennia? And could science ever prove that we lack the kind of freedom needed for moral responsibility? John and Ken free their minds with Daniel Dennett from Tufts University, author of "Freedom Evolves."

  • 387: In Praise of Love – Plato's Symposium Meets Bernstein's Serenade
    Mon, May 14, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/praise-love-platos-symposium-meets-bernsteins-serenade.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.

  • 457: Faith and Humiity
    Mon, May 07, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/faith-and-humility.Some would argue that faith requires that one blindly—rather than rationally— believe. Faith in one ‘true’ religion often entails rejection of all others. Given this, can there ever be humility when it comes to religious faith? How unwavering should the faithful be when it comes to their religious convictions, attitudes, and actions? Should we encourage religious humility, or would it taint the very concept of faith? Can religious faith and intellectual humility ever be reconciled? The Philosophers humbly believe in talking to Joshua Hook from the University of North Texas, co-author of "Cultural Humility: Engaging Diverse Identities in Therapy."

  • 456: Are We Alone?
    Mon, Apr 30, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/are-we-alone.News that life might exist or have existed on Mars or somewhere else in our universe excites many. But should we really be happy to hear that news? What are the philosophical implications of the possibility of extraterrestrial life? If life can blossom in our own cosmic backyard, then that means that the universe is most likely saturated with life forms. And if that’s the case, why haven’t we found any evidence of other civilizations? Is it because all civilizations are prone to suicidal destruction at a certain point in their development? If so, how might we avoid this fate? The Philosophers search for life with Paul Davies from Arizona State University, author of "The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence."

  • 378: Heidegger
    Mon, Apr 23, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/heidegger.Best known for his work "Being and Time," Martin Heidegger has been hailed by many as the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century. He has also been criticized for being both nearly unreadable and a Nazi. Yet there is no disputing his seminal place in the history of Western thought. So what did Heidegger mean when he wrote about world, being, and time? What significance does he still hold as a thinker today, especially as a philosopher of modern technology? Should we even read the works of a Nazi? John and Ken are present and ready with Thomas Sheehan from Stanford University, author of "Making Sense of Heidegger: A Paradigm Shift."

  • 455: Trolling, Bullying, and Flame Wars - Humility and Online Discourse
    Mon, Apr 16, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/trolling-bullying-and-flame-wars.Open up any online comments section and you’ll find them: internet trolls, from the mildly inflammatory to the viciously bullying. It seems that the ease of posting online leads many to abandon any semblance of intellectual humility. So can we have intellectual humility on an anonymous forum with little oversight and accountability? Does current online behavior portend the end of humility in the public domain? How do we encourage greater humility and less arrogance in any public discourse? The Philosophers open up the comments section for Michael Lynch from the University of Connecticut, author of "The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data."

  • 454: Monstrous Technologies?
    Mon, Apr 09, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/monstrous-technologies.Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein raises powerful questions about the responsibilities of scientists to consider the impact of their inventions on the world. Are these questions as relevant now as they were 200 years ago? What insights, if any, should today’s technologists and disrupters glean from Shelley's story? What does it mean to take responsibility for one’s scientific or technological innovations? And what role should university educators play in ensuring that no new monsters are unleashed onto the world? The hosts have a monstrously fun conversation with Persis Drell, Provost and former Dean of Engineering from Stanford University.

  • 379: The Ethics of Whistleblowing with Edward Snowden
    Mon, Apr 02, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/snowden.You might think we each have a moral duty to expose any serious misconduct, dishonesty, or illegal activity we discover in an organization, especially when such conduct directly threatens the public interest. However, increasingly we are seeing whistleblowers punished more harshly than the alleged wrongdoers, who often seem to get off scot-free. Given the possibility of harsh retaliation, how should we understand our moral duty to tell the truth and reveal wrongdoing? Should we think of whistleblowers as selfless martyrs, as traitors, or as something else? Do we need to change the laws to provide greater protection for whistleblowers? John and Ken welcome our era's most renowned whistleblower, former CIA analyst Edward Snowden.

  • 453: Adorno and the Culture Industry
    Mon, Mar 26, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/culture-industry.What's your favorite movie? Did you watch that season finale last night? No spoilers! Popular cultures pervades modern life. But what if pop culture was actually more pernicious than we ordinarily think? Could it be systematically deceiving us—eroding our ability to think for ourselves and fight for change? That's what the 20th century German philosopher Theodor Adorno thought. The Philosophers get cultured on Adorno's life and thought with Adrian Daub from Stanford University, co-author of "The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism."

  • 452: How to Humbly Disagree
    Mon, Mar 12, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/how-humbly-disagree.People like to argue, especially Philosophy Talk listeners! But no matter how hard we try to resolve disputes through rational discourse, sometimes we may still disagree about important issues. One response to this predicament is simply to agree to disagree. But should the mere fact of disagreement lower our confidence in our views? Should we change how we judge our own beliefs when we realize that other people disagree? Or do we only have reason to doubt our beliefs when we learn that experts disagree with us? The Philosophy humbly welcome Nathan Ballantyne from Fordham University, author of "Knowing Our Limits" (forthcoming).

  • 451: Misogyny and Gender Inequality
    Mon, Feb 26, 2018


    More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/misogyny.With the recent #MeToo viral campaign, along with the wave of prominent male figures toppled for being serial sexual harassers or worse, the topic of misogyny has come into sharp focus. But what exactly is misogyny? And how does it differ from sexism? What set of beliefs or attitudes makes someone a misogynist? And why does misogyny persist despite the fact that traditional gender roles are being abandoned more and more? Ken and Debra explore the trials of the second sex with Kate Manne from Cornell University, author of "Down, Girl: The Logic of Misogyny."

  • 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.J?rgen 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.Niccol? 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 caf? 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

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