Guide to Philosophy Talk

Jenny Johnson & Daniel Hartwig
Stanford University. Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Stanford, California
September 2012
Copyright © 2014 The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.


Overview

Call Number: SC1118
Creator: Perry, John, 1943-
Creator: Taylor, Kenneth Allen, 1954-
Title: Philosophy Talk
Dates: 2002-2014
Physical Description: 18574 megabyte(s) (358 computer files)
Language(s): The materials are in English.
Repository: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Green Library
557 Escondido Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6064
Email: speccollref@stanford.edu
Phone: (650) 725-1022
URL: http://library.stanford.edu/spc

Administrative Information

Information about Access

The materials are open for research use. Audio-visual materials are not available in original format, and must be reformatted to a digital use copy.

Ownership & Copyright

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94305-6064. Consent is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, heir(s) or assigns. See: http://library.stanford.edu/depts/spc/pubserv/permissions.html.
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

Cite As

[identification of item], Philosophy Talk (SC1118). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

Alternative Formats

Streaming audio for Philosophy Talk podcasts is available to the Stanford community here: https://lib.stanford.edu/philosophy-talk .

Scope and Contents

Philosophy Talk is a talk radio program co-hosted by Stanford professors John Perry and Ken Taylor. The program deals both with fundamental problems of philosophy and with the works of famous philosophers, especially as these relate to our contemporary, day-to-day lives. Some of the wide range of topics of past programs include terrorism, Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense, Descartes, genetic engineering, and virtue. The program airs from the studios of KALW, 91.7 FM, Information Radio, San Francisco, California, and is produced by Ben Manilla Productions, Inc. on behalf of Stanford University, as part of its Humanities Outreach Initiative.
The show focuses on one topic or famous philosopher for an hour at a time, with an invited guest who is an expert on the philosopher or area of philosophy in question. As with most philosophical discussions, each show usually provides some factual information about the topic, as well as methods and points of view that are helpful in thinking about the topic. The Philosophy Talk motto is, "the program that questions everything, except your intelligence."

Arrangement note

The materials are arranged chronologically.

Access Terms

aesthetics and philosophy
Philosophy--History
Philosophy.


Collection Contents

 

Program Audio

 

Pilot #1: Can Machines Think? 2002 Jan 1

Pilot #1: Can Machines Think?, 2002

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Will Computers someday be able to have humanlike consciousnes and intelligence? Will they someday outstrip the thinking of humans? Would it matter if they did? Or is Artificial Intelligence on fundamentally the wrong track?
 

Pilot #2: Terrorism 2002 Jan 1

Pilot #2: Terrorism, 2002

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

What is terrorism? Is terrorism morally worse than other forms of warfare. Was Truman's decision to drop the A-bomb and act of terrorism? Is the US a terrorist State? Is terrorism an insult the powerful use to deligitimate the only means of resistance open to the disempowered?
 

Bush's Doctrine of Preemptive Self-Defense 2004 Jan 13

Bush's Doctrine of Preemptive Self-Defense, 2004 Jan 13

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

What is the difference between mere aggression and preemptive self defense? Can you really permissibly "defend" yourself against an attack that hasn't even begun? How does preemptive self defense differ from preventive war, from humanitarian intervention?
 

Would You Want to Live Forever? 2004 Jan 20

Would You Want to Live Forever?, 2004 Jan 20

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Pick your favorite age. You are healthy, career thriving, family intact (at least pretend!). Would you like to live forever at that age, in that health, with those friends and family members also living forever with you? Immortality, on earth? How about an extra fifty or one hundred years or two hundred beyond your present life expectancy?
 

Race 2004 Jan 27

Race, 2004 Jan 27

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is race a discredited pseudo-scientific category? Or a real dimension of difference among humans? Or a socially constructed reality? What difference does it make?
 

Marriage and the State 2004 Feb 3

Marriage and the State, 2004 Feb 3

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

With what right does the state say who can and cannot marry? The state has, at various times, said that people of different races cannot marry, that people of the same sex cannot marry, that no one can marry more than one person at at time. But with what legitimate authority can the state make such prohibitions?
 

Patriotism versus Cosmopolitanism 2004 Feb 10

Patriotism versus Cosmopolitanism, 2004 Feb 10

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Patriotism versus Comopolitanism: Is your loyalty to America and Americans more important than the common humanity you share with everyone on the globe?
 

The Insanity Defense 2004 Feb 17

The Insanity Defense, 2004 Feb 17

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Ken and John debate (use?) the insanity defense. What difference does it make if the person who commits a crime is, in one way or another, mentally ill? Does this make punishment illegitimate? Why is punishment, rather than therapy, ever legitimate? Which sorts of mental illness should exempt a criminal from punishment? Inability to know right from wrong? Inability to resist compulsion? Irrational depravity?
 

Drug Legalization 2004 Feb 24

Drug Legalization, 2004 Feb 24

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Ken and John discuss the philosophical issues underlying arguments for and against the legalization of drugs. Does America's drug problem rest on confused philosophy? Listen in and get more confused.
 

Genetic Engineering and Cloning 2004 Mar 2

Genetic Engineering and Cloning, 2004 Mar 2

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Ken and John and Ken and John discuss cloning and the ethical issues surrounding genetic engineering. When is genetic manipulation morally permissible? For health? Beauty? Wit? What sorts of animals is it acceptable to clone? Should we ban stem cell research?
 

Markets and Morality 2004 Mar 9

Markets and Morality, 2004 Mar 9

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Ken, John and Elizabeth Anderson take on the topic of markets and morality.Does the free market provide incentives for behavior that is problematic from a moral perspective?Or does the free market punish morally problematic behavior?Is respecting the free market itself moral, insofar as respecting the free market is also respecting individual freedom of choice?
 

Nietzsche 2004 Mar 16

Nietzsche, 2004 Mar 16

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Nietzsche. Ken and John and Ãœbermensch-at-large Brian Leiter discuss everyone's favorite syphilitic philosopher. Was he a mysogynistic Nazi-supporter, or an artistic visionary who sought to set us free from our moralistic chains? Boring radio is dead.
 

Has Science Replaced Religion? 2004 Mar 23

Has Science Replaced Religion?, 2004 Mar 23

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Has science replaced religion? Can one be religious and maintain a scientific viewpoint? Does belief in evolution undermine morality or belief in God, or vice versa? Ken and John take on the big questions.
 

Humor 2004 Mar 30

Humor, 2004 Mar 30

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Ken, John and guest Ted Cohen , author of Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters   discuss the philosophical aspects of humor. What is humor? What makes some jokes funny? Why did the chicken cross the road? Tune in for deep thoughts and big laughs.
 

Consciousness 2004 Apr 6

Consciousness, 2004 Apr 6

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is the conscious mind just the brain or something more? Can science explain consciousness? How does Ken know that John is a conscious being and not just an automaton programmed to act like a conscious being? Or is John just an automaton?Is the conscious mind just the brain or something more? Can science explain consciousness? How does Ken know that John is a conscious being and not just an automaton programmed to act like a conscious being? Or is John just an automaton?
 

Taxation 2004 Apr 13

Taxation, 2004 Apr 13

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

How is taxation different from stealing? What right does the government have to take some of our money? No taxation without representation? What difference does representation make?
 

Baseball 2004 Apr 27

Baseball, 2004 Apr 27

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

What can we learn from baseball? Are the passions we have for our baseball teams and heroes irrational? If so, what makes passions for families, cities, countries, universities, or radio stations more rational? Are all allegiances and loyalties ultimately arbitrary? Eminent Kant scholar and baseball fan extraordinare Allen Wood  visits.
 

Whose Language Is It? 2004 May 4

Whose Language Is It?, 2004 May 4

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is there a right and a wrong way to speak English? Is there really something wrong with saying, "Hopefully, we'll have a good century?" or "Where is the library at?", or "There is no way to correctly split an infinitive." Is grammatical purity just snobbism?
 

Animal Rights 2004 May 11

Animal Rights, 2004 May 11

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

We shouldn't be mean to animals. Is that because animals have rights, like people do? Or is it just because people care about animals? Is it intrinsically worse to step on dog than on a spider?
 

Meaning of Life 2004 May 18

Meaning of Life, 2004 May 18

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Does life have a meaning? If we were created by a powerful God, would that give our lives meaning? Who gave God's existence meaning? What if we were created by a crazy scientist wholly for the purpose of irritating his or her spouse?
 

Terrorism 2004 Jun 1

Terrorism, 2004 Jun 1

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

We like to think that terrorism is always wrong. But what if the cause is just? Do the ends ever justify the means? And how do we define "terrorism" anyway?
 

Dignity and the End of Life 2004 Jun 8

Dignity and the End of Life, 2004 Jun 8

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Join John and Ken and their guest, Peggy Battin, as they discuss dignity and the end of life. Is physician assisted suicide morally okay? What about active euthanasia for patients suffering terminal illnesses? If we begin traveling down this path, how do we put a break to our slide down the slippery slope toward a world in which we license physicians to kill or assist the suicide of severely depressed but not terminally ill patients?
 

Virtue 2004 Jun 15

Virtue, 2004 Jun 15

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

What is virtue?Is virtue the key human happiness and flourishing, as the ancients held, or a quaint notion of at best secondary interest for ethics, as many modern theorists hold? Does the return of virtue ethics to the philosophical scene mark an advance in our thinking about morality or is it just a nostalgia for morally simpler times?
 

Humans: The Irrational Animal 2004 Jun 29

Humans: The Irrational Animal, 2004 Jun 29

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Some psychologists claim to have demonstrated that humans are systematically, deeply and perhaps irredeemably irrational in their reasoning and decision making. But what is rationality and why does it matter? If we are really so irrational, how have we managed to get this far as a species? Maybe rationality isn't such a big deal after all. Tune in as Ken Taylor and guest host Nadeem Hussain  size up the human mind.
 

Paternalism and Health 2004 Jul 13

Paternalism and Health, 2004 Jul 13

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Paternalism and Health: Some diseases such as Alzheimer's inhibit our abilities to make decisions and lessen our quality of life. In cases like these, we often think that others are justified in stepping in and making decisions for that person. But what about the case where the person in question is relatively healthy but suffers, perhaps, from minor depression, or an anxiety disorder? When (if ever) is it OK to step in and take charge of someone else's life or body?
 

Who Owns Ideas? 2004 Jul 20

Who Owns Ideas?, 2004 Jul 20

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

You can own a car or a bicycle. But what about an idea? If you invent a program it seems like you should have some say about its use. But can you really own the idea itself? Listen in and steal an idea or two.
 

Affirmative Action 2004 Aug 17

Affirmative Action, 2004 Aug 17

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is affirmative action a way of balancing out inequality? Or is it just another form of bias in admissions and hiring practices? And where's the line between fostering diversity and lowering standards?
 

Gambling 2004 Aug 24

Gambling, 2004 Aug 24

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Rolling the dice in a game you're rigged to lose sounds like a bad idea. So why is it so much fun? Is gambling an exciting pastime, or a vicious addiction?
 

Happiness 2004 Aug 31

Happiness, 2004 Aug 31

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is happiness a mere psychological state? And if so, what's so important about it? Is there anything more to being happy than just thinking you're happy? Or is happiness a way of life?
 

Plato 2004 Sep 14

Plato, 2004 Sep 14

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

From his theory of the Forms, to his views about morality, justice, and the soul Plato was one the greatest and most influential philosophers of all time. Indeed, it has been said that all of philosophy is but a footnote to Plato. Find out why as John and Ken dig into the philosophical views of Plato, with their guest, Chris Bobonoich, a leading Plato scholar.
 

Corporations 2004 Sep 21

Corporations, 2004 Sep 21

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Corporations are recognized as persons in the eyes of the law. But if they are persons, they would seem to be pathologically self-interested persons, driven by nothing but the desire for their own further aggrandizement. How can we cope with such persons in our midst?
 

The Environment and Global Justice 2004 Sep 28

The Environment and Global Justice, 2004 Sep 28

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Our current way of life is unsustainable. Depletion of the ozone layer, the dwindling of the rain forest, the loss of animal habitat, and toxic runoff into lakes, streams and rivers are just a few of the environmental challenges we face. The environment is a global problem that no one nation can address on its own. Something must give, somewhere. But who will pay what costs for improving the global environment? Wealthy nations of the North? Developing nations of the South? By what principles of justice shall we decide?
 

Feminism 2004 Oct 12

Feminism, 2004 Oct 12

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Some feminists hold that there are specially feminine ways of knowing, and the current scientific research is flawed for not recognizing them. Some hold that philosophy itself is a thoroughly phallocentric enterprise, and deeply flawed. Other feminists vigorously reject these views. Join John and Ken as they discuss the philosophies of feminism.
 

Karl Marx 2004 Oct 19

Karl Marx, 2004 Oct 19

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

The ideas of Karl Marx vie with those of Rousseau, Locke and Jefferson for shaping the politics of the twentieth century. Are Marx's ideas of real philosophical value and interest, or simply relics of interest only in trying to understand the benighted century we have left behind?
 

Is This Any Way to Run a Democracy? 2004 Nov 2

Is This Any Way to Run a Democracy?, 2004 Nov 2

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

America prides itself on being the oldest continuous democracy in the world. But criticisms of the America system are widespread.Our system is tailored to narrow interests and wealthyelites. Our two partieslock out alternative voices. Ourvoting procedures discourage participation and lead to unrepresentative outcomes. Is this really the best way to run a democracy? Join John and Ken as they examine the philosophicalunderpinnings of democracy in America.
 

Time 2004 Nov 9

Time, 2004 Nov 9

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Time is the most familiar thing in the world, and yet philosophically one of the most puzzling. Is the present what's left when you subtract what has already happened, and what is yet to happen? Then it seems to vanish into a mere instant.Are future events completely unreal? Or are they just the things we can't know yet? Is time unreal, as many philosophers have thought? Columbia's Dave Albert joins John and Ken for a fascinating hour.
 

Truth and Relativism 2004 Nov 16

Truth and Relativism, 2004 Nov 16

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is there such a thing as absolute truth, independent of who is doing the thinking, and where?Or is truth relative to backgrounds, cultures, creeds, times, and places?Can it be true that what is right for me isn't right for you? John and Ken search for truth with Helen Longino, Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies at the University of Minnesota.
 

Love 2004 Nov 30

Love, 2004 Nov 30

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is love just a (second-hand) emotion? Is it a feeling? A disparate group of feelings, glandular responses, and ill-considered commitments condensed into a single word so that poets will have something to write about?A poor substitute for true friendship imposed upon us by lust? Or the deepest and most satisfying of human conditions?
 

Disability 2004 Dec 7

Disability, 2004 Dec 7

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

The Americans with Disabilities Act recognizes that people with disabilities are often prevented from leading productive and satisfying lives because social, school and work environments are often thoughtlessly and unnecessarily designed with only people with the standard set of abilities in mind. In manycases"reasonable accommodation" to the ways people with disabilities need to do things is required. What is reasonable? Elevators in schools? Probably. How about elevators in the Grand Canyon?What is a disability? Blindness? Certainly. How about obesity? Where do we draw lines, and on what principles?
 

Nature vs. Nurture 2004 Dec 13

Nature vs. Nurture, 2004 Dec 13

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

The philosopher John Locke thought we had no innate ideas; our minds are blank slates, upon which experience writes.Nurture is everything, nature nothing.Modern popular genetics gives the impression that we are nothing but the stage on which a play written by our genes is performed; nature is everything, nurture nothing.What are the facts, and what are the philosophical principles that are used to interpret these facts?
 

Gender 2005 Jan 4

Gender, 2005 Jan 4

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Are gender roles and differences fixed, once and for, all by biology? Or is gender socially constructed and culturally variable? How does gender differ from sex? Join John and Ken as they explore whether men and women are really from different planets after all.
 

The Mystery of Mind 2005 Jan 11

The Mystery of Mind, 2005 Jan 11

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Modern science tells us that the mind is just the brain working.But science cannot yet tell us how consciousness, rationality,free will, autonomy, or even our sense of self arises out of the merely material processes of the brain. Could our confidence that mind is just the brain working possibly be misplaced?
 

Aristotle 2005 Jan 25

Aristotle, 2005 Jan 25

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Aristotle'sphilosophical doctrines have permeated and helped shape Western Culture in spheres as disparate as cosmology, biology, ethics, physics, politics, and logic.Join John and Ken for a tour of some of the greatest hits of one of the greatest philosophers ofAntiquity.
 

Evil 2005 Feb 1

Evil, 2005 Feb 1

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is there such a thing as pureevil in the world?How should we confront evil?Can evilever be finally overcome? If the universe was created by a supremely good, supremely powerful, supremely loving deity, why is there evil in the world to begin with? On the other hand, if there is no god and everything is permitted, what distinguishes the truly evil from the purely good?
 

Ethics in Sport 2005 Feb 8

Ethics in Sport, 2005 Feb 8

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Once upon a time,student athletes were students first, athletes second; the Olympics was about amateurism and the pursuit of excellence, not the pursuit ofendorsements; and professional athletes enhanced the physics through rigorous work-outs, not through performance enhancing substances.No doubt athletic excellence is at an all time high, but are ethics in athletics at an all time low?
 

The Erotic vs. The Pornographic 2005 Feb 15

The Erotic vs. The Pornographic, 2005 Feb 15

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Erotic experience is a human good. Mature, consenting adults should be able to explore the erotic realm freely, without outside interference.Pornography is illicit and destructive.But what is the real difference between the erotic and the pornographic?Is there a bright line?In our attempts to regulate pornography do we run the risk of infringing upon the erotic freedoms of consenting adults?
 

Hume 2005 Mar 1

Hume, 2005 Mar 1

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

David Hume's was a superb essayist,a brilliant philosopher, and a world-class bon vivant. His philosophical viewsin ethics, epistemology, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion, though shocking to many in his own time,are enduring touchstones of modern philosophy, still required reading of every student of philosophy. Join John and Ken for a tour of a few ofHume's most startling ideas.
 

Religion and the Secular State 2005 Mar 8

Religion and the Secular State, 2005 Mar 8

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Can committed believers and committed non-believers share a common political life in the context of a secular state?Committed believers may want the policies of the stateto reflect their deeply heldreligious convictions and values.Committed non-believers may notwant the state imposing religiously inspired values in the absence of any purely secular justification.Must religion retreat from the public sphere or can religion find a place in the public sphere, even in a purely secular state?
 

What is Beauty? 2005 Mar 15

What is Beauty?, 2005 Mar 15

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Are there objective standards of beauty? Or is beauty in the eye of the beholder?Must art be beautiful to be great art?What is the role of the experienceof beauty in a good life?
 

Neurocosmetology 2005 Mar 22

Neurocosmetology, 2005 Mar 22

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Progress in neuroscience may soon make possible an age of neurocosmetology: the use of drugs to let people affect the way their brains work, so as to make them more effective, more attractive, and more like their "cognitive ideal."A world where all the women are beautiful and all the men handsome might be bearable if boring. But would a society full of type-A's work at all?Can it be rational to choose to change in ways that may change who you are? Should there be moral or legal prohibitions against healthy people messing with their own brain chemistry?
 

Is Free Will an Illusion? 2005 Mar 29

Is Free Will an Illusion?, 2005 Mar 29

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

We like to think of ourselves as enjoying unrestricted freedom of the will.But modern science increasingly teaches us that our choices are causally determined by some combination of our genes, our upbringing, and our present circumstances.Can the idea of freedom of the will be reconciled with the scientific outlook or is free will an illusion?If we give up on the idea that we have freedom, what follows for our practice of holding people morally responsible for their actions and choices?
 

Schopenhauer 2005 Apr 5

Schopenhauer, 2005 Apr 5

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Arthur Schopenhauer, the great Nineteenth Century philosopher, had a pessimistic vision of the world as "will and idea.  Our will to survive serves no high purpose; the world is at best a shared illusion. Schopenhauer influenced Nietzsche and Wittgenstein and inspired our guest, prominent psychiatrist Irv Yalom, to write the novel The Schopenhauer Cure . What truths, metaphysical or psychological, can we wrest from Schopenhauer's gloomy vision?
 

Genetic Determinism 2005 Apr 19

Genetic Determinism, 2005 Apr 19

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Are there genes for practically everything? For being gay? For being mean? For being a philosopher? Does modern science show that we are largely the product of our genes --- or not? Join Ken and John and famed philosopher of biology John Dupre to see how trapped you are by your genes.
 

Propaganda 2005 Apr 26

Propaganda, 2005 Apr 26

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Allegedly independent radio commentators taking money to spout the government line! Fake news reports being produced and distributed by the Administration to promote a partisan agenda! Journalists abandoning neutrality and objectivity to become cheerleaders for a political doctrine! Where can this happen? Right here in the good old U.S. of A. propaganda is all around us! But what exactly is propaganda? How can it be distinguished from legitimate news and information? Can democracy survive where propaganda flourishes? Join John and Ken for a fresh, philosophical look at propaganda.
 

Forgiveness 2005 May 3

Forgiveness, 2005 May 3

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Justice is a virtue and so, many claim, is forgiveness. But they seem inconsistent. Is forgiveness really a virtue? Philosopher Charles Griswold discusses the South African reconciliation process, truly evil people, and the virtue of forgiveness.
 

Confucius 2005 May 10

Confucius, 2005 May 10

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Confucius laid down a pattern of thinking followed by more people for more generations than any other human being on the face of the earth. No matter what religion, no matter what form of government, the Chinese (and most other East Asian civilizations) and their way of thinking can in some way be shown to have Confucian elements about them. Join John and Ken as they discuss the ancient wisdom of Confucius.
 

Prostitution 2005 May 17

Prostitution, 2005 May 17

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is prostitution morally objectionable? Should it be illegal? Or is it simply a market transaction, where one party sells a service for a price that another party is willing to pay, and no third party is harmed? Philosophy Talk favorite Debra Satz joins John and Ken.
 

Evolution of the Human Mind 2005 May 24

Evolution of the Human Mind, 2005 May 24

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Is the human mind a relatively inflexible program bequeathed to us by evolution, and culture just a veneer that gives age-old urges a respectable cover? Or our minds largely the product of language, culture, and civilization, with evolution having supplied only the most basic hardware and operating system? John and Ken welcome Leda Cosmides to shed some light on the human mind.
 

Intergenerational Obligations 2005 Jun 7

Intergenerational Obligations, 2005 Jun 7

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Parents have duties to their children. But do grown up children have obligations to their parents? More generally,do the younger members of a society have obligations to their elders? Where would such obligations come from? What are their limits? Join John and Ken as they investigate the moral ties that bind the generations together.
 

The Ethics of Identity 2005 Jun 14

The Ethics of Identity, 2005 Jun 14

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

What makes me who I am? Is it fair of me, or others, to take my race or ethnicity as part of whom I am? How does the age-old virtue of standing up for kith and kin comport with the demands of fairness as cosmopolitanism? Join John and Ken and Philosophy Talk regular Anthony Appiah from Princeton.
 

Global Poverty and International Aid 2005 Jun 21

Global Poverty and International Aid, 2005 Jun 21

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Does a hungry child in a far away land have any less of a demand on your good will and aid than a hungry child from your own family or neighborhood?  Does each individual have the duty to give to the worldwide alleviation of poverty up to the point at which further giving would cause his or her own family more harm than it would do good for others?  Or is responsibility for others a mostly local affair: take care of your family, look out for those in your community, and the rest of the world will take care of itself?  John and Ken welcome Peter Singer to discuss Global Poverty and International Aid.
 

Zen 2005 Jun 28

Zen, 2005 Jun 28

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

What is the sound of one hand clapping? Does Zen Buddhism provide a unique perspective on the world that transcends the wisdom in Western Philosophy? Is there a special kind of Zen logic? Or is it just one more religion?
 

Moral Dilemmas and Moral Ambiguity 2005 Jul 19

Moral Dilemmas and Moral Ambiguity, 2005 Jul 19

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

It would be nice if we always knew the morally right thing to do, if our choices and commitments were painted in stark black and white. Unfortunately life is full of gray areas, including situations in which all the choices that confront us seem morally problematic, in which all the people who surround us seem composed of equal parts good and evil. Join John and Ken as they explore the extent to which reality confronts us with moral dilemmas and moral ambiguity.
 

The Indispensible Emotions 2005 Jul 26

The Indispensible Emotions, 2005 Jul 26

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

Where would we be without emotions? Many philosophers throughout history have thought the emotions serve only to cloud our judgments and actions. Phrases like "He's just acting emotionally" or "Her judgment is clouded by emotion" are phrases of condemnation, not of praise. Still, some philosophers have argued the emotions have an intelligence of their own and that the emotions are indispensable for our ethical lives. Join John and Ken and their guest Martha Nussbaum as they explore the role of emotions in well lived lives and well-order societies.
 

Descartes 2005 Aug 2

Descartes, 2005 Aug 2

Physical Description: 1 computer file(s) (MP3)

Scope and Content Note

The 17th Century philosopher Rene Descartes is often considered the father of modern philosophy. His Meditations  are a staple in introductory philosophy courses, and his views on the relation of mind and body have dominated philosophical discussion of this issue for three hundred years. John and Ken discuss the life, times, and philosophy of this fascinating French philosopher.
 

Saints, Heroes, and Well-Lived Lives 2005 Aug 30

Saints, Heroes, and Well-Lived Lives, 2005 Aug 30

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Some actions are right, and some are wrong. But aren't some even better than right---the kinds of things that heroes and saints do? Yet some philosophers think that such "supererogatory" acts make no sense; we should always do the best thing open to us, and there is no room for better than best. John and Ken discuss the philosophy and psychology of saints and heroes with Susan Wolf from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
 

Language of Politics 2005 Sep 20

Language of Politics, 2005 Sep 20

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Politics, especially American politics, puts pressure on words like "liberal", "conservative" and "values" as they are used more as weapons than as tools for communication. John and Ken discuss this process and the philosophical shifts that often accompany changes in meaning with famed San Francisco linguist Geoff Nunberg, a regular on "Fresh Air."
 

Ethics in War 2005 Sep 27

Ethics in War, 2005 Sep 27

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After World War II the Nurenberg trials and the conventions that arose out of them codified the idea that there are right and wrong ways to wage war. That prisoners of war have definite rights, and that non-combatants should be treated differently that soldiers. Some think the idea of a morality of warfare makes no sense, and that the distinction between soldiers and non-combatants is meaningless in the setting of modern warfare. John and Ken discuss these issues in the light of philosophical theories of right and wrong.
 

The Strange World of Quantum Reality 2005 Oct 4

The Strange World of Quantum Reality, 2005 Oct 4

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Quantum mechanics is an astoundly successful, mathematically elegant, explanatorily deep, even beautiful scientific theory. Yet it reveals a truly puzzling world of micro-entities: entities that can be at two places at once, that can "travel" from here to the other side of Alpha Centauri in an instant without traversing the space in between, that behave like waves when unobserve but like particles when observed. Join John, Ken and their guest,Jenann Ismael as they try to make philosophical sense of the strange world of quantum reality.
 

Reconciliation 2005 Oct 11

Reconciliation, 2005 Oct 11

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Justice, truth, and identity; race, society, and law "these all come into dramatic play as South Africa makes the tumultuous transition to a post-apartheid democracy. How has the new South Africa constructed its concepts of reconciliation? How has its historical emergence meant a rethinking, reimaging, re-experiencing, relabeling, and repoliticizing of race? John and Ken discuss reconciliation with Daniel Herwitz, a philosopher who has spent much time in South Africa.
 

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief 2005 Oct 18

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief, 2005 Oct 18

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Why don't we run out of the movie theatre when a monster shows on the screen? What kind of mental state is the willing suspension of disbelief? Why do fiction and drama affect our emotions even when we know they are not real? John and Ken examine the role of suspension of disbelief in the enjoyment of theatre, movies, video games, and what this trait reveals about the human mind in general.
 

George Berkeley 2005 Nov 1

George Berkeley, 2005 Nov 1

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Berkeley founded and defended idealism; the doctrine that there is not a material world; reality is the orchestration of ideas in minds, nothing more. He influenced Hume, Mill, Russell, and many other philosophers. John and Ken explore Berkeley's ideas.
 

Language of Fiction 2005 Nov 22

Language of Fiction, 2005 Nov 22

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What are we talking about when we talk about Sherlock Holmes or Santa Claus? Something that doesn't exist? Something that exists only in the mind? Something that exists only in a fictional or imaginary world? Are statements about fictional objects true? Is there a distinction between literal truth and "fictional truth?" We'll uncover the facts about fiction.
 

Friendship 2005 Nov 29

Friendship, 2005 Nov 29

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Who do we call friends? Do we need friends out of love for others or for ourselves? Is a life with friends necessarily a better life? Ancient philosophers, such as Aristotle, wrote extensively on the topic. John and Ken examine just what friendship means in the modern life with their friend, Martha Nussbaum, Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago.
 

Freedom of Speech 2005 Dec 6

Freedom of Speech, 2005 Dec 6

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The Constitution grants the freedom of speech to every citizen. Journalists value it more than anything else. Should the freedom of speech be unlimited? Would unlimited freedom of speech do more good or bad to our society? Would limited freedom of speech impact the monitoring power of news media and therefore threaten our society? John and Ken discuss the philosophy behind the freedom of speech.
 

Kant 2005 Dec 13

Kant, 2005 Dec 13

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Immanuel Kant introduced the human mind as an active originator of experience rather than just a passive recipient of perception. How has his philosophy influenced the world after him? John and Ken dig into the brilliantly active mind of Kant.
 

The Existence of God 2005 Dec 20

The Existence of God, 2005 Dec 20

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The question of whether or not God exists is profoundly fascinating and important. What are the proofs of the existence of God? How can one prove that God does not exist? Join us as John and Ken explore issues such as religious experience, the Bible, evil, eternity, the origin of the universe, design, and the supposed connection between morality and the existence of God with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Professor of Philosophy, and Hardy Professor of Legal Studies, Dartmouth College.
 

Progress and the Environment 2006 Jan 3

Progress and the Environment, 2006 Jan 3

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Does the value of preserving our environment conflict with the development of a world community in which all enjoy the fruits of human progress? Is the environment important intrinsically, or only as a source of pleasure and other goods for human beings? Ken and John discuss these and other issues with Terry Tamminen, Cabinet Secretary to California Governor Schwarzenegger, and an environmental activist.
 

Intelligent Design 2006 Jan 17

Intelligent Design, 2006 Jan 17

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Is there any reason to think the cause or causes of order in the universe bear an even remote analogy to human intelligence? Even if they did, would that mean these intelligent causes had the benevolence and sense of justice required of a Christian God? Is this whole issue one of science, religion, or philosophy? These questions, considered by Hume, have now become the focus of a national debate. The philosophers discuss intelligent design with Daniel Dennett, Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, author of books on consciousness, evolution, and freedom.
 

Philosophy of Science 2006 Jan 24

Philosophy of Science, 2006 Jan 24

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Is philosophy the queen of the sciences, with the job of synthesizing, interpreting and evaluating the results of the particular sciences? Or should we adopt John Locke's conception of philosophy as a handmaiden to science: clarifying concepts, definitions and assumptions? During the twentieth century the discipline of the philosophy of science emerged as a central part of philosophy. Ken and John discuss some of the leading ideas and projects involved in this branch of philosophy.
 

Legislating Values 2006 Jan 31

Legislating Values, 2006 Jan 31

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To legislate is to choose, and choices are made for the sake of values. But what values should, and which values do, guide our legislators? And why? Does the majority always rule? What attention must be paid to deeply held religious values? Or deeply held secular values? Ken and John discuss these issues with Representative Anna Eschoo (D-Cal).
 

W.E.B. Du Bois 2006 Feb 7

W.E.B. Du Bois, 2006 Feb 7

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The Philosophers discuss the life and ideas of W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963). Sociologist, historian, philosopher, editor, writer, and activist, he was one of the most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century. The first African-American Ph.D. from Harvard University, Du Bois died in Ghana after having renounced his American citizenship. In between he co-founded the NAACP and wrote The Souls of Black Folk (1903) as well as a number of other influential books that had a decisive impact on the development of African-American culture in the twentieth century.
 

Marriage and Monogamy 2006 Feb 14

Marriage and Monogamy, 2006 Feb 14

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Monogamy is traditional in most cultures, and it is the law throughout America since Utah gave up polygamy to acquire statehood. Is there any philosophical basis for favoring monogamy over polygamy? Or any reasons grounded in clear empirical facts or social needs? With a looming shortage of females relative to males in large parts of Asia, is it time to question this traditional assumption about marriage?
 

The Science of Humor 2006 Feb 28

The Science of Humor, 2006 Feb 28

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Being funny isn't easy. Figuring out what makes things funny is even harder. Still, a number of psychologists (e.g., Freud) and philosophers (e.g., Bergson) have tried. Now computer scientists are trying to learn enough about humor to construct programs that can write good jokes; maybe an artificial stand-up comedian is on the way. Ken and John discuss the art, philosophy and science of humor with Tony Veale, an Irish computer scientist who knows a good joke when his program produces one.
 

Existentialism 2006 Mar 7

Existentialism, 2006 Mar 7

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Being and Nothingness, the for-itself and the in-itself, bad faith, and the existential predicament: these existentialist concepts were central to the philosophical scene in Europe and America after World War II. Join the Philosophers as they examine the ideas of existentialism.
 

What are Numbers? 2006 Mar 14

What are Numbers?, 2006 Mar 14

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Plato claimed that numbers exist in some mind-independent abstract heaven. Nominalists claim that there is no such heaven. Clearly, we can't see, hear, taste or feel numbers. But if there are no numbers what is mathematics all about?
 

Suicide 2006 Mar 21

Suicide, 2006 Mar 21

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Taking human life is wrong. But what if it is one's own life? Is suicide worse or less bad than murder? Is it wrong at all? Can suicide be rational? How about helping another commit suicide? The Philosophers discuss the metaphysics and morality of taking one's own life.
 

The Philosophy of Hoops 2006 Mar 28

The Philosophy of Hoops, 2006 Mar 28

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Basketball, an American invention but a world-wide phenomenon, is sometimes characterized as the most athletic and aesthetic of sports. What makes a sport interesting? Valuable? Fun? Entertaining? What values does sport exemplify, and does basketball really measure up? Does commercialization undermine the values of sport? Ken and John discuss the philosophy of basketball with Frank Deford, one of America's premier sportswriters.
 

The Value of Truth 2006 Apr 4

The Value of Truth, 2006 Apr 4

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The pursuit of truth is often thought to be "intrinsically" valuable. Scientists and philosophers, who eschew religious rationales for their life's work, take the pursuit of truth to be obviously a worthwhile enterprise. But what's so great about truth? Sure, it's good to know what's for lunch, or the nature of the disease that plagues you, but is there any intrinsic or instrumental value in knowing how far away the farthest stars are? Or whether Milton's greatest works were written while he had a headache? Or what the next layer of basic particles are like? Truth telling on Philosophy Talk.
 

Philosophy and the Law 2006 Apr 11

Philosophy and the Law, 2006 Apr 11

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With what right do governments make and enforce laws? To what extent are citizens obligated to obey the law, even if a law is unjust? John and Ken talk about philosophy and the law with Jules Coleman from Yale University.
 

What Is Art? 2006 Apr 25

What Is Art?, 2006 Apr 25

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What is art? Anything someone wants to call art? Or are there some objective criteria, that not every instance of paint smeared on canvas and not every murder mystery meets? What are the main philosophies of art? Are any of them plausible? John and Ken talk about the nature of art with Alexander Nehamas from Princeton University.
 

Justice Across Boundaries 2006 May 9

Justice Across Boundaries, 2006 May 9

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Philosophical conceptions of justice have most often been directed at the nature of a just state. But many contemporary issues of justice reach across boundaries. Are our immigration policies fair and just? Can a just state invade another state in order to outfit it with a more just government? Can we defend economic policies that improve the lives of our citizens but an adverse impact on economies abroad?
 

Philosophical Summer Reading List 2006 May 16

Philosophical Summer Reading List, 2006 May 16

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Are there some philosophers, philosophies, or philosophical issues you want to bone up on over the Summer? Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit probably isn't a very good choice to take to the beach, but there are a lot of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your Summer Reading. Ken and John discuss some of their favorites and pass on suggestions from Philosophy Talk guests.
 

The Nature of Imagination 2006 May 30

The Nature of Imagination, 2006 May 30

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A lot of our thinking, and even our perception, has to do not only with what is, but what might be, and what would have been. That is, the imagination is an important part of our intellectual life. And learning to use our imaginations without losing sight of reality is part of growing up. What is the imagination, and what led Mother Nature to make it such an important part of our make-up? John and Ken discuss the imagination with Alison Gopnik, a leading scholar in the field of children s learning.
 

Hegel 2006 Jun 6

Hegel, 2006 Jun 6

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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is without doubt one of the most influential philosophers of all time. He has, however, been largely ignored by American "analytic" philosophers of the twentieth century. John and Ken don't know nearly as much about Hegel and his philosophy as they should. They will be lively if somewhat obtuse students for Allen Wood, Stanford's resident expert on virtually all aspects of modern philosophy, when Philosophy Talk goes to the bookshelf and pulls down the big volumes of Hegel's collected works.
 

Leadership 2006 Jun 27

Leadership, 2006 Jun 27

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At certain crucial times, such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II, America was blessed with great leaders. But now? What is leadership? How is it cultivated? What political processes bring great leaders to the top of the heap? And what processes will keep demonic leaders, like Hitler, from gaining ascendance? Can philosophy help us understand the nature of and limits of leadership? John and Ken welcome Deborah Rhode, Director of the Stanford Center on Ethics.
 

Stoicism 2006 Jul 25

Stoicism, 2006 Jul 25

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People who don't seem affected by emotions are often called "stoic." But there's a lot more to Stoicism than simply being unaffected. Stoicism dates back to ancient Greece and Rome and offers a comprehensive approach to living life. Who were the original Stoics? What were their arguments? And is being stoic a good idea? John and Ken delve deep into Stoicism in this episode with John Cooper from Princeton University.
 

The Future of Philosophy 2006 Aug 1

The Future of Philosophy, 2006 Aug 1

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Ken and John discuss the future of philosophy with three rising stars in American philosophy: Elizabeth Harman from New York University, Brian Weatherson from Cornell University, and Sean Kelly from Princeton University. This program was recorded at the American Philosophical Association Meetings before an audience of cranky and opinionated philosophers in Portland, Oregon.
 

Race, Class, and Inequality 2006 Aug 8

Race, Class, and Inequality, 2006 Aug 8

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The concept of equality is as important to America's self-conception as it is confusing. What sort of equality? Equality before the law; equality of opportunity; equal access to all the benefits of modern society? If we treat everyone the same, how can we take account of inequities due to race, class, gender and other factors? Guest Elizabeth Kiss from Duke University joins John and Ken in front of a live studio audience at Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland.
 

Athletic Beauty 2006 Aug 15

Athletic Beauty, 2006 Aug 15

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Figure skating is athletic and beautiful. How about a bone-crunching tackle? Or a spikes-high slide into second? Or a slam-dunk? Or an overweight sixty-year-old at a bowling alley? John and Ken discuss the nature of athletic beauty with Hans Gumbrecht, author of In Praise of Athletic Beauty.
 

Language in Action 2006 Aug 22

Language in Action, 2006 Aug 22

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How do we communicate ideas with language? Where does the literal meaning of a word end and the subtle connotation begin? John and Ken tackle the semantics, pragmatics, and mysteries of meaning.
 

100th Episode 2006 Aug 29

100th Episode, 2006 Aug 29

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It s our anniversary! Join the philosophers for a celebration of the program that questions everything except your intelligence with a look back on the issues and the people that have made Philosophy Talk a hit.
 

Liberty vs. Security 2006 Sep 5

Liberty vs. Security, 2006 Sep 5

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Edward Gibbon and James Madison both noted how liberties in Rome were among the victims of its growing empire. Is our society facing a similar problem, given what some public figures have said about choosing between how much liberty and how much security we want? Or is this a false choice put forward by those in power? John and Ken take a philosophical lens to the relationship between liberty and security.
 

War Crimes 2006 Sep 12

War Crimes, 2006 Sep 12

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In war, people do awful things to other people. But the concept of 'war crime' suggests that some things are worse than others. How do we disentangle what's fair play from what's criminal? What are the ethical justifications for regarding some of the evils of war as worse than others? John and Ken bring on noted guest David Luban to explore the challenging subject of war crimes.
 

The Philosophy of Music 2006 Sep 19

The Philosophy of Music, 2006 Sep 19

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Most people enjoy music daily and have strong listening preferences. Music along with love is often thought of as a universal language. But what makes a collection of sounds a piece of music as opposed to just noise? Can music teach us anything? And is the value of music objective? This program explores what philosophy has to tell us about music and vice versa.
 

Jewish Philosophy 2006 Oct 1

Jewish Philosophy, 2006 Oct 1

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Rabbis and Talmudic scholars have spent centuries puzzling over theology, texts, and life. In the process they came up with many philosophical ideas that have inspired the work of more recent philosophers such as Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas. Who or what is God? By what rules should people live? And what does Maimonides have to say about diets and bathing? Join John and Ken as they investigate the past, present, and future of Jewish philosophy with Paul Franks from the University of Toronto.
 

Karl Popper 2006 Oct 8

Karl Popper, 2006 Oct 8

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Karl Popper is a landmark figure in the philosophy of science.  His notion of "falsifiability" endures to this day and even appears in arguments about creation versus evolution.  But what does it mean for a theory to be falsifiable? And where does the idea stand in contemporary philosophy of science?  John and Ken test a few ideas on Popper and falsifiability with Denis Phillips from Stanford University.
 

Language and Thought 2006 Oct 22

Language and Thought, 2006 Oct 22

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You might think our thought simply determine what we say. But maybe the language we speak is what really determines the thoughts we can have. As Wittgenstein famously wrote, "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." And Benjamin Lee Whorf held that the language you speak has a systematic influence on how you think about and interact with reality. John and Ken wrestle with the relationship between language and thought with Lera Boroditsky from Stanford University.
 

Believing in God 2006 Oct 29

Believing in God, 2006 Oct 29

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Some have argued that there aren't any good arguments for believing in God. Is belief in God just an act of faith without reason? Plenty of philosophers would disagree. Why are philosophers so divided on the matter? In this episode Ken and John discuss the rational arguments for believing in God.
 

Separation of Powers 2006 Nov 5

Separation of Powers, 2006 Nov 5

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In America, there's not just one governing body, there are three: executive, legislative, and judicial. You might think that separating those powers is just less efficient. But the founding fathers put a lot of philosophical thought into coming up with a system of checks and balances. In this episode, John and Ken discuss the separation of powers with Stanford law professor Kathleen Sullivan in front of a live audience on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
 

Dreaming 2006 Nov 12

Dreaming, 2006 Nov 12

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A scary dream brings all the fears that a scary real situation can, and a happy dream can make us feel truly happy. But what are dreams? Where do they come from? And why do they feel so real? Thinkers from Descartes to Freud have been fascinated by dreams and their philosiphical significance. Join John and Ken as they explore one of the mind's greatest mysteries.
 

What is a Child? 2006 Nov 19

What is a Child?, 2006 Nov 19

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Back in the middle ages, people thought of children simply as little adults. Modern psychology has destroyed that theory. But then, what is a child? How are their minds different? And what are the moral implications of these differences for how we should treat them? Join John and Ken as they reflect on the nature of childhood.
 

American Pragmatism 2006 Dec 3

American Pragmatism, 2006 Dec 3

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Pragmatism is perhaps America's most distinctive contribution to philosophy. Developed by Pierce, Dewey, and James in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pragmatism holds that both the meaning and the truth of any idea is a function of its practical outcome. The pragmatists rejected all forms of absolutism and insisted that all principles be regarded as working hypotheses that must bear fruit in lived experience. Join John and Ken as they dig into this intellectually vibrant, still influential, and distinctly American philosophical tradition.
 

Philosophy and Neuroscience 2006 Dec 10

Philosophy and Neuroscience, 2006 Dec 10

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Philosophers have always been concerned with the mind. What is consciousness? Representation? Emotion? Now that neuroscience is making headway on these same questions, we should ask: how should philosophy and neuroscience relate? John and Ken discuss this question and more as they delve into neuroscientifically-minded philosophy.
 

Philosophy and Film 2006 Dec 17

Philosophy and Film, 2006 Dec 17

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Despite the crass commercialism that drives the production of many movies, there's no doubt that film is a distinctive and distinctively powerful art form. Cinematic representations move us in ways that few others do. Film has also proven to be an outstanding vehicle for conveying philosophical ideas. Join John and Ken as they explore both the philosophy of film and philosophy within film.
 

The Promise and Perils of the New Genomics 2007 Jan 7

The Promise and Perils of the New Genomics, 2007 Jan 7

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John and Ken welcome their special guest, noted scientist and entrepreneur, Craig Venter. From the mapping of the human genome, to the patenting of synthetic life forms, to bio-prospecting for genetic gold in the depths of the oceans and the deepest reaches of the world's rain forests, Craig Venter has been at the forefront of a revolution in genomics. Join the hosts and their guest as they explore the ethical, legal, and economic issues associated with the new genomics. This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
 

We've Been Framed: How Language Shapes Politics 2007 Jan 14

We've Been Framed: How Language Shapes Politics, 2007 Jan 14

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Does the hijacking of words by political forces tell us something interesting about the nature of language and meaning? Would liberals by some other name smell sweeter, or are they really tax-raising, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freaks? Ken and John welcome back Philosophy Talk favorite Geoff Nunberg, author of The Way We Talk Now and Going Nucular, to explain the ABCs of "talking right."
 

Legal Ethics 2007 Jan 21

Legal Ethics, 2007 Jan 21

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Lawyers are often thought to be hardly better than hired guns, who, in the words of Plato, are paid to "make the weaker argument the stronger" -- like the sophists of old. In fact, lawyers are legally and morally bound by stringent codes of ethics. Noted philosopher of law David Luban, of Georgetown University, is the guest as Philosophy Talk explores the ethical obligations of lawyers to their clients, to the court, and to society at large.
 

If Truth is so valuable, why is there so much BS? 2007 Jan 28

If Truth is so valuable, why is there so much BS?, 2007 Jan 28

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Everywhere we look -- in the media, in our political campaigns, in the hallowed halls of the academy -- we are confronted with an endless stream of BS, spin, propaganda, half-truths, and even outright lies. Yet for centuries, philosophers have argued that the pursuit of truth is both intrinsically good and instrumentally useful. But if truth is really both good and useful, then why is there so much BS around? John and Ken welcome Harry Frankfurt, author of On Bullshit and On Truth, to discuss the relative value and utility of Truth and its alternatives.
 

Mental Imagery 2007 Feb 4

Mental Imagery, 2007 Feb 4

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In the Early Modern period many philosophers took ideas to be mental images of the objects they stood for. During the 20th century, that notion fell into considerable disrepute. Yet recent cognitive science has revived the idea that at least some of our mental representations are highly imagistic in character, not just mental representations tied to vision and perception generally. Join John, Ken, and noted cognitive psychologist Lera Boroditsky of Stanford University to explore the imagistic nature of mental representations.
 

The Judiciary in Democracy 2007 Feb 11

The Judiciary in Democracy, 2007 Feb 11

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In many democracies, the judiciary is protected, to one degree or another, from the voters.  Our federal judges, for example, though appointed by elected officials, then have lifetime tenure.  In more local venues, however, many judges are directly elected.  What is the role of the judiciary in a democracy, and how much protection from democratic processes is needed?  John and Ken probe the judiciary branch of government with Larry Kramer, Dean of the Stanford Law School.
 

Wittgenstein 2007 Mar 4

Wittgenstein, 2007 Mar 4

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The Austrian/British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein exercised enormous influence over philosophy in the middle third of the last century, and his view and his life continue to fascinate thinkers around the world. What are the basic tenets of Wittgenstein's philosophy, and what is their enduring legacy? Join John and Ken as they investigate the ideas and implications of one of the great philosophers of language and thought.
 

Animal Minds 2007 Mar 11

Animal Minds, 2007 Mar 11

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People have strong but divergent opinions about the nature of animals' minds. Do dogs make plans? Do they remember specific events? Do they dream? Do cats recognize their owners as unified wholes, or just as collections of parts, some warm, some capable of providing food. Could it be that whales, dolphins, elephants, and various kind of monkeys have mental lives that approach -- or surpass -- those of humans in subtlety and richness? John and Ken explore thenature of non-human minds with guest Colin Allen from Indiana University.
 

Immortality and the Afterlife 2007 Mar 18

Immortality and the Afterlife, 2007 Mar 18

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Many religions contemplate some form of personal continued existence after death: reincarnation in another body, or continued being in some vastly different place like Heaven or Hell. Do any of these conceptions make sense? If so, is there any evidence for any of them? And why do people want continued existence, even immortality? Wouldn't it be a bore? John and Ken welcome back Anne Ashbaugh of Colgate University to explore the philosophy of eternal life.
 

Skepticism 2007 Mar 25

Skepticism, 2007 Mar 25

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Various forms of skepticism play important roles in the history of philosophy. Do we really know there are external objects? That there are other minds? That there is a distant (or even a not-so-distant) past? All the evidence we have for these things seems consistent with our being in a world in which they don't exist. What does this tell us about life? About philosophy? Our hosts discuss one of the deepest and most fertile philosophical traditions.
 

A Philosophical Shout-Out 2007 Apr 1

A Philosophical Shout-Out, 2007 Apr 1

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On this special pledge-week episode, John and Ken open the phones and the inbox to their listeners, answering questions about art, politics, proof, and philosophy itself.
 

Can Science Explain Consciousness? 2007 Apr 15

Can Science Explain Consciousness?, 2007 Apr 15

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Human are conscious, billiard balls are not, and computers aren't either. But all three are just collections of molecules, aren't they? What is consciousness, and does it go beyond what science can explain? Join John, Ken, and their guest, Joseph Levine from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as they probe the limits of scientific accounts of consciousness.
 

Ethics in Journalism 2007 Apr 29

Ethics in Journalism, 2007 Apr 29

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Freedom of speech tells us the government shouldn't restrict the journalist. But should anything restrict the journalist? Should the duty to inform be limited by the duty not to betray national security, not to injure the innocent, not to corrupt the jury pool, and similar considerations? How do we draw the line? John and Ken welcome Dale Jacquette from Pennsylvania State University to delve into the ethics of journalistic practice.
 

Autonomy 2007 May 6

Autonomy, 2007 May 6

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Philosophers call a person autonomous if she is responsible not just for what she does but also for the priciples and rules that guide her. But does this really make sense? Aren't we all just products of culture, education and genes? Join John and Ken as they investigate the nature of autonomy.
 

Science, Ethics, and Censorship 2007 May 13

Science, Ethics, and Censorship, 2007 May 13

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Science is, on the one hand, a huge enterprise funded to a great extent by the government and by industry. On the other hand, science is supposed to be the dispassionate, objective search for truth. What happens when the search for truth conflicts with the needs and desires of the funders? Should those funders be allowed to censor the science they pay for? Should scientists be free to publish the truth whatever its effect? John and Ken welcome Ronald Atlas, Past President of the American Society for Microbiology and Graduate Dean at the University of Louisville.
 

Artificial Intelligence 2007 May 20

Artificial Intelligence, 2007 May 20

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At least some versions of artificial intelligence are attempts not merely to model human intelligence, but to make computers and robots that exhibit it: that have thoughts, use language, and even have free will. Does this make sense? What would it show us about human thinking and consciousness? Join John and Ken as they uncover the philosophical issues raised by artificial intelligence.
 

Aging and the Well-Lived Life 2007 May 27

Aging and the Well-Lived Life, 2007 May 27

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Aging is a physical process that will always be with us. But conceptions of aging, views about the contributions older people can make to society, and what society owes them change from era to era and differ from culture to culture.In conjunction with the Stanford Humanities Center, John and Ken explore the issues involved in growing older with their guest, Stanford University psychologist Laura Carstensen and a live studio audience at the Hyatt Residence in Palo Alto.
 

Summer Reading List 2007 2007 Jun 10

Summer Reading List 2007, 2007 Jun 10

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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.
 

Where Does Morality Come From? 2007 Jul 1

Where Does Morality Come From?, 2007 Jul 1

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School teachers, preachers, parents, and even a few philosophers often claim to be authorities on the dictates of morality. But where does morality really come from? From society s customs? From God s commandments? From the cold, impersonal commandments of pure reason? Or from human emotions and sentiments? Join John as Ken as they explore the meaning and origins of morality.
 

Capital Punishment 2007 Jul 8

Capital Punishment, 2007 Jul 8

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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.
 

Philosophy Through Humor 2007 Jul 22

Philosophy Through Humor, 2007 Jul 22

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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.
 

Flirting with Philosophy 2007 Aug 12

Flirting with Philosophy, 2007 Aug 12

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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 ofThe Philosophy of Flirting.
 

Postmodernism 2007 Aug 19

Postmodernism, 2007 Aug 19

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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.
 

The Value of Art 2007 Sep 9

The Value of Art, 2007 Sep 9

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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?
 

Math and the Mind 2007 Sep 16

Math and the Mind, 2007 Sep 16

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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.
 

Love, Poetry and Philosophy 2007 Sep 30

Love, Poetry and Philosophy, 2007 Sep 30

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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, recorded in front of a live audience at Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon.
 

Faith, Reason, and Science 2007 Oct 14

Faith, Reason, and Science, 2007 Oct 14

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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 ofDid 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.
 

Predicting the Future 2007 Oct 21

Predicting the Future, 2007 Oct 21

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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.
 

Philosophy and Literature 2007 Oct 28

Philosophy and Literature, 2007 Oct 28

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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 philosophy professor Lanier Anderson to discuss the intersection of philosophy and literature.
 

Immigration and Citizenship 2007 Nov 11

Immigration and Citizenship, 2007 Nov 11

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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, in a program recorded before a live audience   at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA.
 

Islamic Philosophy 2007 Nov 18

Islamic Philosophy, 2007 Nov 18

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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  and The Essence of Islamic Philosophy .
 

Political Correctness 2007 Dec 2

Political Correctness, 2007 Dec 2

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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, Professor of Communication at American University.
 

Concept of God 2007 Dec 9

Concept of God, 2007 Dec 9

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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.
 

Personal Identity 2007 Dec 16

Personal Identity, 2007 Dec 16

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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 .
 

Work 2008 Jan 6

Work, 2008 Jan 6

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Is work the curse of the working class? Or a human's best opportunity for happiness and meaning? What is work, and what is leisure? Are you what you do? And how does American society differ in its attitude towards work, and holidays, from others? John and Ken discuss these issues and more with Al Gini from Loyola University Chicago, author of My Job, My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual . This program was recorded in front of a live audience at Centenary College in Shreveport, LA.
 

Why Music Matters 2008 Jan 13

Why Music Matters, 2008 Jan 13

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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, in a program recorded in front of a live audience  at Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco.
 

Persons, Selves, Souls, and Loops 2008 Jan 20

Persons, Selves, Souls, and Loops, 2008 Jan 20

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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.
 

St. Augustine 2008 Jan 27

St. Augustine, 2008 Jan 27

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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 .
 

Paradoxes 2008 Feb 3

Paradoxes, 2008 Feb 3

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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.
 

Connectionism 2008 Feb 17

Connectionism, 2008 Feb 17

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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.
 

Infinity 2008 Feb 24

Infinity, 2008 Feb 24

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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 .
 

Science vs. Pseudo-science 2008 Mar 2

Science vs. Pseudo-science, 2008 Mar 2

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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 .
 

Apologizing 2008 Mar 30

Apologizing, 2008 Mar 30

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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. 
 

Philosophy of Wine 2008 Apr 6

Philosophy of Wine, 2008 Apr 6

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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. 
 

Politics and Cognitive Science 2008 Apr 13

Politics and Cognitive Science, 2008 Apr 13

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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. 
 

Varieties of Love 2008 Apr 20

Varieties of Love, 2008 Apr 20

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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? Christopher Phillips, author of Socrates in Love , joins John and Ken for a program recorded live at Powell's City of Books  in Portland, Oregon.
 

Experimental Philosophy 2008 May 4

Experimental Philosophy, 2008 May 4

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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.
 

Promises 2008 May 11

Promises, 2008 May 11

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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 .
 

Summer Reading List 2008 2008 Jun 1

Summer Reading List 2008, 2008 Jun 1

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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 .
 

The Problem of Evil 2008 Jun 8

The Problem of Evil, 2008 Jun 8

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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 .
 

Hannah Arendt 2008 Jun 22

Hannah Arendt, 2008 Jun 22

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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.
 

Altruism 2008 Jun 29

Altruism, 2008 Jun 29

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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. 
 

The Luck of the Draw 2008 Jul 13

The Luck of the Draw, 2008 Jul 13

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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, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.
 

Giving and Keeping 2008 Jul 27

Giving and Keeping, 2008 Jul 27

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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, Associate Professor of Political Science and Ethics in Society at Stanford University, for a program recorded before a live audience at the Classic Residence by Hyatt in Palo Alto, CA
 

Philosophy and Pop Culture 2008 Aug 3

Philosophy and Pop Culture, 2008 Aug 3

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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 . This program was recorded before a live audience at the University of Delaware in Newark, DE.
 

Dualism 2008 Aug 10

Dualism, 2008 Aug 10

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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 .
 

Global Justice and Human Rights 2008 Aug 24

Global Justice and Human Rights, 2008 Aug 24

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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.
 

Utilitarianism 2008 Sep 7

Utilitarianism, 2008 Sep 7

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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 .
 

The Morality of Food 2008 Sep 21

The Morality of Food, 2008 Sep 21

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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 .
 

Overcoming the Terror of Death 2008 Oct 12

Overcoming the Terror of Death, 2008 Oct 12

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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 . This program was recorded before a live audience at The Marsh theater in San Francisco.
 

Digital Selves 2008 Oct 19

Digital Selves, 2008 Oct 19

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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, for a program recorded before a live audience at The Marsh theater in San Francisco.
 

Making Decisions 2008 Nov 2

Making Decisions, 2008 Nov 2

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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.
 

William James 2008 Nov 9

William James, 2008 Nov 9

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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 .
 

Gandhi 2008 Nov 16

Gandhi, 2008 Nov 16

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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." 
 

Levels of Reality 2008 Nov 23

Levels of Reality, 2008 Nov 23

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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 .
 

Bodies For Sale 2008 Dec 7

Bodies For Sale, 2008 Dec 7

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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 .
 

John Rawls 2008 Dec 14

John Rawls, 2008 Dec 14

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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, andLaw at Stanford University and co-author of Associations and Democracy .
 

The Idea of the University 2009 Jan 4

The Idea of the University, 2009 Jan 4

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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, in a program recorded before a live audience at the Annenberg Auditorium on the Stanford campus.
 

Philosophy of History 2009 Jan 11

Philosophy of History, 2009 Jan 11

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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 (forthcoming in March 2009) and Varieties of Social Explanation .
 

Civil Disobedience 2009 Jan 18

Civil Disobedience, 2009 Jan 18

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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.
 

Creativity 2009 Jan 25

Creativity, 2009 Jan 25

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What makes an idea or work of art creative? Can creativity be measured? Can a computer be creative? What is the relationship between creativity and consciousness? John and Ken explore their creative sides with Margaret Boden from the University of Sussex, author of The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms. 
 

Movie Show 2009 Feb 2

Movie Show, 2009 Feb 2

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Different Cultures, Different Selves 2009 Feb 22

Different Cultures, Different Selves, 2009 Feb 22

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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.
 

Bi-racial Identities 2009 Mar 1

Bi-racial Identities, 2009 Mar 1

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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 (forthcoming from Stanford University Press in 2009) and Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930 .
 

Challenges to Free Will 2009 Mar 8

Challenges to Free Will, 2009 Mar 8

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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.
 

The Copyright Wars 2009 Mar 22

The Copyright Wars, 2009 Mar 22

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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 .
 

The Root of All Evil? 2009 Mar 29

The Root of All Evil?, 2009 Mar 29

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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.
 

Too Much Information 2009 Apr 5

Too Much Information, 2009 Apr 5

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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.
 

Desire 2009 Apr 12

Desire, 2009 Apr 12

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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 , in a program recorded before a live audience at the Illahee Institute in Portland, Oregon.
 

Beliefs Gone Wild 2009 May 3

Beliefs Gone Wild, 2009 May 3

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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. This program was recorded before a live audience at the Illahee Institute in Portland, Oregon.
 

Worship 2009 May 10

Worship, 2009 May 10

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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.
 

Lincoln 2009 May 17

Lincoln, 2009 May 17

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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.
 

The Mind and the World 2009 Jun 7

The Mind and the World, 2009 Jun 7

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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. 
 

Summer Reading List 2009 2009 Jun 14

Summer Reading List 2009, 2009 Jun 14

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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.
 

Social Networking 2009 Jul 5

Social Networking, 2009 Jul 5

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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 , for a program recorded in front of a live audience at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.
 

The Prison System 2009 Jul 26

The Prison System, 2009 Jul 26

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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.
 

Money and Morality 2009 Aug 12

Money and Morality, 2009 Aug 12

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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 Business, in a program recorded in front of a live audience at the Classic Residence by Hyatt in Palo Alto, California.
 

Pornography 2009 Aug 30

Pornography, 2009 Aug 30

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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. 
 

The Postmodern Family 2009 Sep 13

The Postmodern Family, 2009 Sep 13

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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. 
 

Philosophy Talk Highlights 2009 Sep 20

Philosophy Talk Highlights, 2009 Sep 20

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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.
 

What are Words Worth? 2009 Sep 27

What are Words Worth?, 2009 Sep 27

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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 , for a program recorded in front of a live audience at the Marsh theatre in San Francisco.
 

War, Sacrifice, and the Media 2009 Oct 4

War, Sacrifice, and the Media, 2009 Oct 4

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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?  This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Marsh Theatre in San Francisco.
 

Schizophrenia and the Mind 2009 Oct 18

Schizophrenia and the Mind, 2009 Oct 18

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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. 
 

Health Care: Right or Privilege? 2009 Nov 1

Health Care: Right or Privilege?, 2009 Nov 1

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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? Ken and John 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.
 

200 and Counting 2009 Nov 15

200 and Counting, 2009 Nov 15

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The program that questions everything except your intelligence started off questioning the conventional wisdom that there would be no audience for a radio show about philosophy. One hundred and ninety-nine programs later, Ken and John are hanging in there with large loyal audiences in the Bay Area and Oregon, outposts at over fifty stations across North America, and a huge internet following. In their 200th program Ken and John compile a list of the Top 10 mostpressing philosophical issues for the 21st century with help from you, their listeners, and three past guests: Jenann Ismael, Brian Leiter, and Martha Nussbaum.
 

From the Minds of Babies 2009 Nov 29

From the Minds of Babies, 2009 Nov 29

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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 welcome back renowned developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, author of The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell us about Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life, for a program recorded live at the Marsh theatre in San Francisco.
 

Darwin 2009 Dec 6

Darwin, 2009 Dec 6

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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 .
 

How Relevant Is Jesus? 2009 Dec 20

How Relevant Is Jesus?, 2009 Dec 20

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Some people think Jesus was the son of God, though many who are skeptical about that still think he was a great moral teacher. But if we really knew what Jesus would think about moral issues that he didn't confront while he lived abortion, terrorism, euthanasia, gay marriage or the destruction of old-growth redwoods would it be that helpful? Would his moral vision have any implications for these issues? Ken and John discuss the moral philosophy of Jesus and its contemporary relevance with Andrew Fiala, Director of the Ethics Center at Fresno State University and author of What Would Jesus Really Do? The Power and Limits of Jesus' Moral Teachings.  This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California.
 

Is it Wrong to Wreck the Earth? 2010 Jan 3

Is it Wrong to Wreck the Earth?, 2010 Jan 3

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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 for a program recorded in front of a live audience  at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
 

Kierkegaard 2010 Jan 10

Kierkegaard, 2010 Jan 10

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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.
 

Nihilism and Meaning 2010 Jan 24

Nihilism and Meaning, 2010 Jan 24

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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? John and Ken welcome Hubert Dreyfus, co-author of All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age  , for a thought-provoking discussion of nihilism and meaning. This program was recorded live at the Marsh theatre in San Francisco.
 

Philosophy in Fiction 2010 Feb 7

Philosophy in Fiction, 2010 Feb 7

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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 3 6 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction   .
 

Mind Reading 2010 Feb 21

Mind Reading, 2010 Feb 21

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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. This program was recorded live at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.
 

The Movie Show 2010 2010 Feb 28

The Movie Show 2010, 2010 Feb 28

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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, John and Ken present their second annual Dionysus Awards for the most philosophically-rich films of the past year.
 

What Is 'Normal'? 2010 Mar 14

What Is 'Normal'?, 2010 Mar 14

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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.
 

Fear 2010 Mar 28

Fear, 2010 Mar 28

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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. 
 

What is a Wife? 2010 Apr 4

What is a Wife?, 2010 Apr 4

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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? Join John and Ken as they discuss the topic with Marilyn Yalom, author of A History of the Wife.  This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Marsh Theatre in San Francisco.
 

The Ethics of Torture 2010 Apr 11

The Ethics of Torture, 2010 Apr 11

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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. 
 

Faces, Feelings, and Lies 2010 Apr 18

Faces, Feelings, and Lies, 2010 Apr 18

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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  . This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in San Francisco.
 

Mental Illness and Culture 2010 May 9

Mental Illness and Culture, 2010 May 9

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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. 
 

Philosophy Talk "Live" Highlights 2010 May 16

Philosophy Talk "Live" Highlights, 2010 May 16

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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.
 

Summer Reading List 2010 2010 May 23

Summer Reading List 2010, 2010 May 23

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What philosophers, philosophies, or philosophical issues do you want to read up on over the summer? Heidegger's Being and Time  probably isn't the obvious choice to take on vacation, but there are a lot of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your vacation reading. Not to mention new and classic fiction books with a philosophical bent. You are invited to join John and Ken to share some of the philosophically-minded reading on your reading list.
 

The Corporation as a Person 2010 Jun 20

The Corporation as a Person, 2010 Jun 20

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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. 
 

What Are Human Rights? 2010 Jun 27

What Are Human Rights?, 2010 Jun 27

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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  .
 

Democracy and The Press 2010 Jul 4

Democracy and The Press, 2010 Jul 4

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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 for a program recorded in front of a live audience at the Marsh theatre in Berkeley, California.
 

Loyalty 2010 Jul 18

Loyalty, 2010 Jul 18

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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? John and Ken welcome back poet and philosopher Troy Jollimore, author of Love's Vision and Friendship and Agent-Relative Morality.
 

Social Reality 2010 Aug 1

Social Reality, 2010 Aug 1

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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 . This program was recorded live at the Marsh theatre in Berkeley.
 

Humanism 2010 Aug 22

Humanism, 2010 Aug 22

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Humanism as a movement arose with the Renaissance. It took powerful expressionwith the Enlightenment, and deeply influenced the founding of the United States. Butnow "secular humanism" is widely decried and even derided. What was Humanism, andwhat has it become? In an age of appreciating the interconnectedness of all nature, is theHumanist enterprise out of date? John and Ken are joined by Jennifer Bardi, editor of The Humanist magazine, for a program recorded live at the American Humanist Associationconference in San Jose, California.
 

Self-Deception 2010 Aug 29

Self-Deception, 2010 Aug 29

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Self-deception sounds like a contradiction: intentionally convincing yourself ofsomething you know to be untrue. But it is a pervasive aspect of human nature. Whatis the nature of self-deception, and what are its main patterns? Does it serve anypurpose? John and Ken confront the truths of self-deception with Neil Van Leeuwenfrom the University of Johannesburg, author of "Self-Deception Won't Make YouHappy."
 

Philosophy for the Young - Corrupting or Empowering? 2010 Sep 5

Philosophy for the Young - Corrupting or Empowering?, 2010 Sep 5

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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? John and Ken 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.
 

Meaning and the Revolution 2010 Sep 12

Meaning and the Revolution, 2010 Sep 12

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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. 
 

Philosophy and the Alma Mater 2010 Sep 19

Philosophy and the Alma Mater, 2010 Sep 19

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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.
 

Bargaining with the Devil 2010 Oct 24

Bargaining with the Devil, 2010 Oct 24

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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.
 

The Occult Philosophy 2010 Oct 31

The Occult Philosophy, 2010 Oct 31

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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 Occult Philosophy with Christopher Lehrich from Boston University, author of The Occult Mind: Magic in Theory and Practice.
 

Reading, Narrative, and the Self 2010 Nov 28

Reading, Narrative, and the Self, 2010 Nov 28

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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, for a program recorded in front of a live audience at Congregation Beth Shalom in San Francisco.
 

Disagreement 2010 Dec 5

Disagreement, 2010 Dec 5

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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. 
 

The Power of Thought 2010 Dec 12

The Power of Thought, 2010 Dec 12

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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.
 

Philosophy for Children 2010 Dec 19

Philosophy for Children, 2010 Dec 19

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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.
 

The Moral Costs of Free Markets 2011 Jan 2

The Moral Costs of Free Markets, 2011 Jan 2

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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. 
 

Abortion 2011 Jan 9

Abortion, 2011 Jan 9

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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. 
 

Derrida and Deconstruction 2011 Jan 16

Derrida and Deconstruction, 2011 Jan 16

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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. 
 

Procrastination 2011 Jan 30

Procrastination, 2011 Jan 30

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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. 
 

The Movie Show 2011 2011 Feb 13

The Movie Show 2011, 2011 Feb 13

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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.
 

John Locke 2011 Feb 27

John Locke, 2011 Feb 27

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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. 
 

Is It All Relative? 2011 Mar 20

Is It All Relative?, 2011 Mar 20

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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. 
 

What is an Adult? 2011 Apr 10

What is an Adult?, 2011 Apr 10

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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 , in a program recorded in front a live audience at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley, California.
 

The Extended Mind 2011 Apr 17

The Extended Mind, 2011 Apr 17

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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.  This program was recorded in front a live audience at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley, California.
 

Should Marriage be Abolished? 2011 May 1

Should Marriage be Abolished?, 2011 May 1

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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. 
 

Cities, Gentrification, and Inequality 2011 May 8

Cities, Gentrification, and Inequality, 2011 May 8

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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. 
 

Summer Reading List 2011 2011 May 29

Summer Reading List 2011, 2011 May 29

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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.
 

Gay Pride & Prejudice 2011 Jun 5

Gay Pride & Prejudice, 2011 Jun 5

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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, editor of Moral Panics, Sex Panics: Fear and the Fight over Sexual Rights  . This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley.
 

Whodunit: The Language of Responsibility 2011 Jun 12

Whodunit: The Language of Responsibility, 2011 Jun 12

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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. This program was recorded in front a live audience at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley, California.
 

Atheism and the Well-Lived Life 2011 Jul 10

Atheism and the Well-Lived Life, 2011 Jul 10

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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  . This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Engaging Philosophy conference  at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
 

The Psychology of Evil 2011 Jul 17

The Psychology of Evil, 2011 Jul 17

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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.
 

Philosophy and Everyday Life 2011 Jul 31

Philosophy and Everyday Life, 2011 Jul 31

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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. 
 

The State of Public Philosophy 2011 Aug 7

The State of Public Philosophy, 2011 Aug 7

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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.  This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Marsh theatre in San Francisco
 

Time, Space, and Quantum Mechanics 2011 Aug 14

Time, Space, and Quantum Mechanics, 2011 Aug 14

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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.
 

Deconstructing the College Admissions Rat Race 2011 Sep 4

Deconstructing the College Admissions Rat Race, 2011 Sep 4

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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.
 

Latin-American Philosophy 2011 Sep 18

Latin-American Philosophy, 2011 Sep 18

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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 Joesph Orosco from Oregon State University, author of Cesar Chavez and the Common Sense of Nonviolence.  This program was recorded live at OSU in Corvallis.
 

Wisdom 2011 Sep 25

Wisdom, 2011 Sep 25

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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.  
 

Morality and the Self 2011 Oct 2

Morality and the Self, 2011 Oct 2

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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. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in San Francisco.
 

Cooperation and Conflict 2011 Oct 16

Cooperation and Conflict, 2011 Oct 16

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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.
 

Thinking Inside the Box 2011 Oct 23

Thinking Inside the Box, 2011 Oct 23

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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.
 

Miracles 2011 Nov 6

Miracles, 2011 Nov 6

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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.
 

Is Nothing Sacred Anymore? 2011 Nov 13

Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?, 2011 Nov 13

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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. This program was recorded live at Pacific University's 15th annual undergraduate philosophy conference  in Forest Grove, Oregon.
 

The Military: What is it Good for? 2011 Nov 27

The Military: What is it Good for?, 2011 Nov 27

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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 Kennedy, for a program recorded live at the Marsh theatre in San Francisco.
 

Forgive and Forget 2011 Dec 11

Forgive and Forget, 2011 Dec 11

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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.
 

The Examined Year - 2011 2012 Jan 8

The Examined Year - 2011, 2012 Jan 8

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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.
 

Is Democracy a Universal Value? 2012 Jan 15

Is Democracy a Universal Value?, 2012 Jan 15

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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. This program was recorded live at the Marsh theatre in San Francisco.
 

The Right to Privacy 2012 Jan 29

The Right to Privacy, 2012 Jan 29

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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.
 

Black Solidarity 2012 Feb 5

Black Solidarity, 2012 Feb 5

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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.
 

The 2012 Dionysus Awards 2012 Feb 12

The 2012 Dionysus Awards, 2012 Feb 12

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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. Send your nominations to comments@philosophytalk.org .
 

The Movie Show 2012 Feb 12

The Movie Show, 2012 Feb 12

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Along with the blockbusters, summer is a great time to catch up on some of the deepermovies you may have missed over the past year. Whether you're out catching a late-nite feature or staying in on a hot August night, you'll want to know what recent movies have tackled big philosophical ideas. With the help of listeners and special guests, Johnand Ken turn a philosophical eye to the past year's cinematic offerings, and present theirannual Dionysus Awards for the most philosophically-rich films of the last year.
 

Pantheism 2012 Feb 26

Pantheism, 2012 Feb 26

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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.
 

Epicurus and the Good Life 2012 Mar 4

Epicurus and the Good Life, 2012 Mar 4

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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.
 

Poetry as a Way of Knowing 2012 Apr 1

Poetry as a Way of Knowing, 2012 Apr 1

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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. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley.
 

What Are Leaders Made of? 2012 Apr 15

What Are Leaders Made of?, 2012 Apr 15

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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. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley.
 

What Is Love? 2012 Apr 22

What Is Love?, 2012 Apr 22

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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. This program was recorded live at the Mill Valley Public Library, just north of San Francisco.
 

Freedom, Blame, and Resentment 2012 May 13

Freedom, Blame, and Resentment, 2012 May 13

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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."
 

Summer Reading List 2012 2012 May 27

Summer Reading List 2012, 2012 May 27

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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.
 

What Might Have Been 2012 Jun 10

What Might Have Been, 2012 Jun 10

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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.
 

Corporations and the Future of Democracy 2012 Jun 24

Corporations and the Future of Democracy, 2012 Jun 24

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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, for a program recorded live on the Stanford campus.
 

Identities Lost & Found in a Global Age 2012 Jul 1

Identities Lost & Found in a Global Age, 2012 Jul 1

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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 Indiaand other novels exploring migration, alienation, and identity. This program was recorded live at the Marsh theatre in Berkeley.
 

Hypocrisy 2012 Jul 8

Hypocrisy, 2012 Jul 8

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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 (forthcoming).
 

Gut Feelings 2012 Jul 22

Gut Feelings, 2012 Jul 22

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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. Decisionsbased on intuition are not highly esteemed in business, politics, or medicine which maylead decision-makers to construct elaborate post facto rationalizations to explain theirintuitive choices. What place should intuitions have in important decision-making? Isthere a role for expertise in developing reliable gut-feelings? John and Ken trust theirinstincts with Gerd Gigerenzer from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, author of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious.
 

Neuroscience and the Law 2012 Aug 12

Neuroscience and the Law, 2012 Aug 12

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Recent advances in neuroscience have revealed that certain neurological disorders, likea brain tumor, can cause an otherwise normal person to behave in criminally deviantways. Would knowing that an underlying neurological condition had caused criminalbehavior 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 sowith an identifiable brain disorder? John and Ken ask how the law should respond to thefindings of neuroscience with David Eagleman, author of Incognito: The Secret Livesof the Brain.
 

The Moral Costs of Climate Change 2012 Aug 19

The Moral Costs of Climate Change, 2012 Aug 19

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Global climate change confronts us not only with well-known pragmatic challenges,but also with less commonly acknowledged moral challenges. Who is responsible forresponding to environmental catastrophes around the world? What kind of help doesthe industrialized world owe developing nations? What values should we hold onto, andwhich must we discard, in response to the changing climate? John and Ken survey themoral landscape with Allen Thompson from Oregon State University, editor of Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future. This program was recordedlive at OSU in Corvallis, Oregon.
 

The Nature of Wilderness 2012 Aug 26

The Nature of Wilderness, 2012 Aug 26

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Nowadays we think of wilderness as a fully natural environment that contrasts sharplywith the designed and constructed environments in which we normally move. But doesthat vision of wilderness really exist anymore? What is natural and what is artificial aboutwilderness? Should humans be understood as a part of nature or distinct from it? Andhow should we approach conservation efforts so that we balance the needs of a growingworld population with the need to preserve some aspect of the wild in our lives? John andKen welcome Jay Odenbaugh from Lewis & Clark College, for a program recorded liveon campus in Portland, Oregon.
 

Why Be Moral? 2012 Sep 16

Why Be Moral?, 2012 Sep 16

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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. This program was recorded live at the 16th annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference  at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.
 

Regulating Bodies 2012 Sep 30

Regulating Bodies, 2012 Sep 30

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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.
 

Prostitution and The Sex Trade 2012 Oct 14

Prostitution and The Sex Trade, 2012 Oct 14

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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. This program was recorded live at the Public Radio Program Directors Conference  in Las Vegas, Nevada.
 

Forbidden Words 2012 Oct 21

Forbidden Words, 2012 Oct 21

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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 (forthcoming). This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley, California.
 

Disagreement 2012 Nov 11

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Sometimes people who seem to be 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? John and Ken search for common ground with Jennifer Lackey from Northwestern University, author of Learning From Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge.
 

Economics - Science or Cult? 2012 Nov 18

Economics - Science or Cult?, 2012 Nov 18

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With the recent global economic crisis, many people wonder if our economic policies are built on sound principles or on dubious, unscientific claims. What kinds of assumptions does Economics make about markets and the behavior of producers and consumers? What kinds of assumptions does it make about the rationality of individuals? How, if at all, are those claims empirically verified? Or are they just speculative theories proven false by the current crisis? John and Ken pursue their rational self-interest with Alex Rosenberg from Duke University, author of Economics: Mathematical Politics or Science of Diminishing Returns?
 

How Fiction Shapes Us 2012 Nov 25

How Fiction Shapes Us, 2012 Nov 25
How Fiction Shapes Us, 2012 Nov 25

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A good novel can do many things. It can distract us from the humdrum of daily existence, stimulate our imaginations, and delight us with its creative use of language. But isn’t there something more we gain from engaging with fictional worlds and characters? Do we, for example, use literary texts to morally improve ourselves? Is there some deeper truth we’re supposed to learn from a good novel? Or do we use fiction to fine-tune certain cognitive capacities? John and Ken entertain the possibilities with Joshua Landy, author of How To Do Things With Fictions, for a program recorded live at Litquake – San Francisco's Literary Festival.
 

Are Some People Smarter than Others? 2012 Dec 2

Are Some People Smarter than Others?, 2012 Dec 2

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Egalitarian principles play an important role in our moral and political discourse. Yet there’s no doubt that some people are smarter, stronger, or more talented in certain respects than others. So was Thomas Jefferson wrong to think that all men are created equal? Might we reasonably think that some people are better than others? If so, should the “elite” be treated differently? Should we, for example, find immoral acts committed by a great artist less reprehensible than the same acts committed by a common person? John and Ken level the playing field with Thomas Hurka from the University of Toronto, author of The Best Things In Life: A Guide To What Really Matters.
 

Unconditional Love 2012 Dec 9

Unconditional Love, 2012 Dec 9

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According to Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind and envies no one.” But is love always unconditional? Should it be? If unconditional love means that we love no matter what our beloved’s actions or traits are, doesn’t that suggest we should love everyone in this way? If not, how do we select just a few to love unconditionally? Perhaps the feeling we reserve for those we cherish most in the world is better described as selfless rather than unconditional love, in which case we are confronted with another challenge. What happens when our beloved changes radically and loses the very features that caused us to love in the first place? John and Ken talk unconditionally with Lynn Underwood, editor of The Science of Compassionate Love: Theory, Research and Applications.
 

Has Science Replaced Philosophy? 2012 Dec 16

Has Science Replaced Philosophy?, 2012 Dec 16

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Modern science has made astounding progress in our understanding of ourselves and the universe. Physics, neuroscience, and psychology now tackle questions that a few decades ago could only be explored through philosophical speculation. So some vocal members of the scientific community, and even members of the general public, have suggested that philosophy itself has become a superfluous, archaic practice. Is philosophy useful and applicable today? Or has it been reduced to a dissociated game of mental aerobics, a mere ping-pong game of arguments and counter-arguments? John and Ken question the modern-day viability of philosophy with Massimo Pugliucci from the City University of New York, author of Answers to Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life.
 

Turbo-charging the Mind 2012 Dec 30

Turbo-charging the Mind, 2012 Dec 30

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The rapid advance of computer technology in recent decades has produced a vast array of intelligent machines that far outstrip the human mind in speed and capacity. Yet these machines know far less than we do about almost everything. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Can we use new technologies to create a hybrid intelligence that seamlessly integrates the vast knowledge and skills embedded in our biological brains with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our mechanical creations? John and Ken examine the prospects for transcending the biological limits of the human mind with Anna Salamon from the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley, California.
 

The Examined Year - 2012 2013 Jan 6

The Examined Year - 2012, 2013 Jan 6

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A new year offers an opportunity to reflect on the significant events of the previous year. But what ideas and events took shape over the past twelve months that have prompted us to question our assumptions and to think about things in new ways? Join John, Ken, and their special guests as they celebrate the examined year with a philosophical look back at 2012.
• The Year in Philosophy: Barbara Grosz from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences discusses the legacy of Alan Turing, whose centennial was celebrated in 2012. • The Year in Politics: Jason Stanley from Rutgers University explores the precarious place of Truth in the presidential election and beyond. • The Year in Science: Hank Greely from the Stanford Law School talks about the ethical and legal implications of the year's advances in genetics.
 

The Linguistics of Name-Calling 2013 Jan 20

The Linguistics of Name-Calling, 2013 Jan 20

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Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can also hurt you. And language gives us surprisingly many ways to deride, hurt and demean – from a subtly sneering intonation to hurtful and offensive names. How does such language work? And why is there so much of it around these days? Has our acerbic political culture ushered in a new era of name-calling? Or is name calling a phenomenon as old as language itself? John and Ken welcome back linguist and NPR commentator Geoffrey Nunberg, author of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, The First Sixty Years, for a program recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley.
 

Bioethics: Myths and Realities 2013 Feb 10

Bioethics: Myths and Realities, 2013 Feb 10

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Recent advances in mapping the human genome suggest a vision of the future that might fill us with equal parts hope and dread. On the one hand, the possibility of identifying disease-causing genes may enable us to eradicate cancer, obesity, or depression before they ever develop. On the other hand, the idea that soon we could be “designing” our progeny, choosing physical and psychological traits we deem desirable, is fraught with deep moral complexities. But are these ideas realistic or just the stuff of science fiction? What real ethical problems does the current state of human genomics present? John and Ken map out the terrain with David Magnus, Director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and co-editor of Who Owns Life? This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley, California.
 

The Self 2013 Feb 24

The Self, 2013 Feb 24

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What is a self? Merely a human being? Or perhaps a soul? Hume claimed he could not find a self when he looked within, only a succession of impressions. But other philosophers seem to find transcendental selves, momentary selves, and objective selves, among others. Do the modern physical and biological sciences shed light on the self, or do they suggest there is no room – and no need – for such things? John and Ken examine their selves and others with Jenann Ismael from the University of Arizona, author of The Situated Self.
 

The Psychology of Partisan Politics 2013 Mar 10

The Psychology of Partisan Politics, 2013 Mar 10

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Are you a tax-raising, soy latte-drinking, Prius-driving, New York Times-reading, Daily Show-watching, corporation-hating liberal? Or a gun-toting, Bible-loving, Walmart-shopping, homophobic, climate-change-denying, immigrant-hating conservative? Why does it seem like all of American politics often boils down to these two absurd positions? Is it because of our particular political system, our culture, or deeper psychological impulses? John and Ken cross the aisle with Jonathan Haidt from NYU, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion.
 

God and the Fine-Tuned Universe 2013 Mar 17

God and the Fine-Tuned Universe, 2013 Mar 17

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If the precise value of many physical constants had been different, the universe would not have supported life, human life, consciousness, philosophy and us. Is it just luck – without which we wouldn't even be here to worry about it? Or is there a Creator who wanted things to turn out the way they did, and fine-tuned the universe to get that result? What if there were many universes, with many combinations of values for the basic constants, and we just exist in the one with the improbable combination for life? John and Ken fine-tune their arguments with Robin Collins from Messiah College, author of many book chapters on the fine-tuning argument, with the most extensive treatment in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology.
 

Truth and Other Fictions 2013 Mar 31

Truth and Other Fictions, 2013 Mar 31

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Most of us think we know the truth when we see it. But what exactly is truth, anyway? Philosophers have offered a blizzard of different answers, ranging from truth as correspondence or coherence all the way to the view that truth is a matter of pragmatic utility or just a compliment we pay to the things we're prepared to believe or to say. But what is the truth about truth? Is there really such a thing? Or is truth itself a fiction? John and Ken explore the fickle nature of truth with Alexis Burgess from Stanford University, co-author of Truth, for a program recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley.
 

Dance as a Way of Knowing 2013 Apr 14

Dance as a Way of Knowing, 2013 Apr 14

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Whether it be rhythmic or shuffling, athletic or pedestrian, erotic or just social, dance is an art form that utilizes movement of the body through space. Could the aesthetic experience of being physically present and embodied in the world be considered a way of knowing? Is there something in particular we can come to know by watching or performing dance? And are there broader lessons that dance can teach us about human perception and action? John and Ken hit the floor with Alva Noë from UC Berkeley, author of Varieties of Presence. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley.
 

The Demands of Morality 2013 Apr 28

The Demands of Morality, 2013 Apr 28

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We all want to lead a moral life. But even if we all agreed on what that would mean, we still have to to balance our own self-interest with the competing demands of morality. This becomes even more challenging when the decks are stacked against us, or when everyone around us is only looking out for themselves. So in the real world, what does it mean to live a moral life? Do we have a responsibility to act morally when others around us are not? And what do we do if morality makes excessive demands of us? John and Ken balance their own self-interests with Tamar Schapiro from Stanford University, for a program recorded live as part of the Stanford Continuing Studies course The Art of Living.
 

Good, Evil, and the Divine Plan 2013 May 5

Good, Evil, and the Divine Plan, 2013 May 5

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A theodicy is an explanation by a philosopher or theologian about why a world created by a kind and all-powerful God contains so much suffering. It forces us to think about the nature of good and evil, about whether the kind of knowledge an all-knowing God has leaves room for human freedom. Why do people who suffer often find their faith in God growing stronger? Is evil an illusion? Does God really need a defense attorney? John and Ken search for insight with Andrew Pinsent, Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University.
 

Faith, Reason and the Art of Living 2013 May 19

Faith, Reason and the Art of Living, 2013 May 19

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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. This program was recorded live on campus as part of the Stanford Continuing Studies course The Art of Living.
 

Summer Reading List 2013 2013 May 26

Summer Reading List 2013, 2013 May 26

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Summer is the perfect time to dig in to deep reading. Heidegger's Being and Time may be a bit much to take to the beach, but there are lots of readable classics that could make your summer reading a transformative experience. John and Ken ask a few of their favorite past guests about the book that has most transformed their life and thinking, and they take more recommendations for philosophically-rich summer reading from listeners around the country.
 

Physics, Philosophy, and Theology 2013 Jun 9

Physics, Philosophy, and Theology, 2013 Jun 9

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The world disclosed by the physical sciences can seem depressing. Modern physics, for example, has undermined the religious idea that the universe has a spiritual dimension. Quantum physics in particular seems to present the world as more paradoxical than rational. Is there room within – or in addition to – the world presented to us by the physical sciences for ideas such as freedom, dignity, justice, and even God? Or should these all be regarded as useful illusions? John and Ken search the heavens with Tim O'Connor from Indiana University, author of  Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency.
 

Education and the Culture Wars 2013 Jun 16

Education and the Culture Wars, 2013 Jun 16

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In contemporary democracies, the state is responsible for providing children with an education. But parents surely have both the right and responsibility for instilling appropriate morals and values in their children. How should we reconcile conflicts between the state’s responsibility to properly educate minors and the parents’ rights to influence their children's values and ideals? Should the government’s approach to education in areas such as history and science always trump that of the child’s most direct guardians? Or should parents hold some veto power when it comes to education about evolution, sex, and other issues that bear on religious and personal values? John and Ken do their homework with Stanford political scientist Rob Reich, co-editor of Education, Justice, and Democracy, for a program recorded live at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco.
 

Nations and Borders 2013 Jun 23

Nations and Borders, 2013 Jun 23

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One’s country of birth has a profound effect on life prospects. It's often best to go elsewhere. But moving is not always so easy. 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. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco.
 

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times 2013 Jul 7

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times, 2013 Jul 7

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If the Ancients found themselves transported to the modern world, they would have much to learn about science, technology, and human thinking. But is there something the Ancients can still teach us about how to live a good life? What relevance do the virtues – wisdom, courage, prudence, justice, and so on – have for our modern times? Could these ancient values help solve some of the most challenging problems of contemporary life? John and Ken talk old school with Melissa Lane from Princeton University, author of Eco-Republic: What the Ancients Can Teach Us about Ethics, Virtue, and Sustainable Living. This program was recorded live on campus as part of the Stanford Continuing Studies series The Art of Living.
 

Freedom and Free Enterprise 2013 Jul 21

Freedom and Free Markets, 2013 Jul 21

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“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.

Scope and Content Note

“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.
 

Finding Meaning in a Material World 2013 Aug 4

Finding Meaning in a Material World, 2013 Aug 4

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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. Recorded live on campus as part of the Stanford Continuing Studies series The Art of Living.
 

Life as a Work of Art 2013 Aug 18

Life as a Work of Art, 2013 Aug 18

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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, recorded live on campus as part of the Stanford Continuing Studies series The Art of Living.
 

Memes: Viruses of the Mind? 2013 Aug 25

Memes: Viruses of the Mind?, 2013 Aug 25

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Gangnam style, Lolcats, and Chuck Norris’ superhuman feats are all memes – units of cultural transmission – that spread through the internet. But when the term was originally coined, memes were posited as vehicles of a kind of evolution, similar to genes and biological evolution. So are the memes that colonize our brains simply those that survive natural selection? Don’t we get any say in the viruses that populate our minds? What happens if the 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.
 

Tenth Anniversary Special 2013 Sep 1

Tenth Anniversary Special, 2013 Sep 1

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Philosophy Talk debuted on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco on August 20, 2003, with regular broadcasts beginning a few months later. Over the course of a decade the Philosophers, their guests, and their listeners have discussed and debated everything from the meaning of life to pre-emptive military strikes and baseball. To celebrate ten years on the air, John and Ken listen back to some of their favorite conversations with the writers and thinkers who have joined them on the program, and they look ahead to the ongoing challenges of thinking hard on the radio.
 

The Moral Lives of Animals 2013 Sep 15

The Moral Lives of Animals, 2013 Sep 15

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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 C an Animals Be Moral?
 

Ancient Cynicism 2013 Sep 22

Ancient Cynicism, 2013 Sep 22

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Today, the term ‘cynic’ brings to mind a person who has little or no faith in the goodness of the human race. In ancient Athens, however, it meant something quite different: one who rejects all social conventions in order to live in accordance with nature. The Cynics believed that such a life was necessary for freedom and virtue. Why did they think so? What are the most important tenets of Cynic philosophy? And are there any reasons to live now as the Cynics once did? John and Ken sincerely welcome Luis Navia from the New York Institute of Technology, author of Diogenes the Cynic: The War Against the World.
 

The Limits of Self-Knowledge 2013 Oct 6

The Limits of Self-Knowledge, 2013 Oct 6

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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 Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious.
 

An Eye for an Eye: The Morality of Revenge 2013 Oct 13

An Eye for an Eye: The Morality of Revenge, 2013 Oct 13

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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 ofPayback: The Case For Revenge.
 

When Is It Wrong to Save a Life? Lessons from the Trolley Problem 2013 Oct 20

When Is It Wrong to Save a Life? Lessons from the Trolley Problem, 2013 Oct 20

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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.
 

The Dark Side of Science 2013 Oct 27

The Dark Side of Science, 2013 Oct 27

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Science aims tell us something about nearly everything, from the atoms in our cells to the motions of the stars. It assumes that knowledge is good for its own sake, and therefore takes as its sole purpose the acquisition of knowledge. But shouldn’t knowledge serve practical and ethical concerns, like ending conflict and feeding the hungry? Could some knowledge be interesting, but ultimately irrelevant? And isn’t there some knowledge we might be better off without, such as how to build nuclear weapons? John and Ken test their claims with UC Berkeley anthropologist Paul Rabinow. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco.
 

Dangerous Demographics: The Challenges of an Aging Population 2013 Nov 24

Dangerous Demographics: The Challenges of an Aging Population, 2013 Nov 24

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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, in a program recorded live as part of the Bay Area Science Festival.
 

Do Religions Deserve Special Status? 2013 Dec 15

Do Religions Deserve Special Status?, 2013 Dec 15

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In most Western democracies, religions are exempt from certain rules and regulations that most other organizations have to follow. For example, in the US, religious organizations are not required to pay taxes or follow non-discrimination employment laws. Some faithful go so far as to argue that their religious freedom means they shouldn’t have to provide birth control to their employees. But does religion truly deserve this preferential treatment? Should the demands for legal exemption based on religious freedom be treated any differently than those based on moral conscience? What special status, if any, should religion have in the eyes of the law? John and Ken grant guest status to Brian Leiter from the University of Chicago, author of Why Tolerate Religions? - See more at: http://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/do-religions-deserve-special-status#sthash.pU4PuEk7.dpuf 
 

Trust and Mistrust 2013 Dec 29

Trust and Mistrust, 2013 Dec 29

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If we couldn't trust each other, our lives would be very different. We trust strangers not to harm us, we trust our friends to take care of our most prized possessions, we even trust politicians (sometimes) to come through on their campaign promises. But trust may also come at a high cost: it can leave us vulnerable to lies, deception, and blackmail. So is it reasonable for us to be so trusting? And how should we treat those who trust us? John and Ken put their trust in Stanford philosopher Jorah Dannenberg, in a program recorded live at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco. - See more at: http://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/trust-and-mistrust#sthash.UlqAWwNp.dpuf 
 

The Examined Year - 2013 2014 Jan 5

The Examined Year - 2013, 2014 Jan 5

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A new year offers an opportunity to reflect on the significant events of the previous year. But what ideas and events took shape over the past twelve months that have prompted us to question our assumptions and to think about things in new ways? Join John, Ken, and their special guests as they celebrate the examined year with a philosophical look back at 2013.
• The Year in Philosophy and Gender: Linda Alcoff from City University of New York looks at events in 2013 that have higlighted the evolving but still-fraught nature of gender in academia. • The Year in Whistleblowing and Hacktivism: Peter Ludlow from Northwestern University examines the ethics of leakers like Edward Snowden and Pvt. Manning (sentenced in 2013) who have claimed the moral high ground in their actions. • The Year in Dysfunctional Democracy: Jon Elster from Columbia University explores the breakdown of democratic process in the US, including the work of political scientist Juan Linz, who passed away in 2013.
 

Moral Luck 2014 Jan 12

Moral Luck, 2014 Jan 12

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It seems reasonable to believe that we can only be blamed or praised for actions that are under our control. Nevertheless, in many concrete scenarios, we're inclined to base our moral assessment of people on circumstances that are ultimately beyond their control. Blind chance, or “moral luck,” as philosophers call it, may determine the difference between, say, murder and attempted murder. But do we think that a would-be murderer whose attempts are foiled by chance is really less morally culpable than someone who happens to succeed? How should moral luck affect our judgments of responsibility? John and Ken welcome back Susan Wolf from UNC Chapel Hill, author of Meaning in Life and Why It Matters. - See more at: http://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/past#sthash.49whNvTN.dpuf
 

Memory and the Self 2014 Jan 26

Memory and the Self, 2014 Jan 26

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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. - See more at: http://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/memory-and-self#sthash.TVYHfsCz.dpuf 
 

The Legacy of Freud 2014 Feb 9

The Legacy of Freud, 2014 Feb 9

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Did you really want to eat that last piece of cake, or were you secretly thinking about your mother? Sigmund Freud, who might have suggested the latter, established the unconscious mind as a legitimate domain for scientific research. He was the first to seriously study dreams and slips of the tongue, and he proposed that neurotic behavior could be explained by beliefs and desires that we repress. However, many of Freud’s theories have been rejected as unscientific, and his particular brand of psychoanalysis is all but obsolete. So why is Freud still worth remembering? John and Ken get Oedipal with Stanford historian Paul Robinson, author of Freud and His Critics, for a program recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley. - See more at: http://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/upcoming#sthash.52W0sKHO.dpuf 
 

Science and Gender 2014 Mar 2

Science and Gender, 2014 Mar 2

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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.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Schiebinger, Londa L.
 

Simone de Beauvoir 2014 Mar 9

Simone de Beauvoir, 2014 Mar 9

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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.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Beauvoir, Simone de, 1908-1986
 

Acting Together 2014 Mar 16

Acting Together, 2014 Mar 16

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Many goals are too complex for one person to accomplish alone. Every day, we pool together our planning abilities with those around us to get things done. It’s clear that without shared agency, none of our familiar social institutions could exist. However, philosophers are in disagreement about what shared agency actually entails. What is it about collective action that's unique, and why does it come about? How is acting together sometimes greater than the sum of its parts? John and Ken join forces with Margaret Gilbert from UC Irvine, author of Joint Commitment: How We Make the Social World.
 

Weapons of Mass Destruction 2014 Mar 30

Weapons of Mass Destruction, 2014 Mar 30

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The United States recently threatened military action against Syria in response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Similar threats have been made against states suspected of trying to develop nuclear arsenals such as North Korea and Iran. Yet the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, and China have thousands of active nuclear weapons of their own. Is there a morally significant difference between nuclear or chemical weapons and conventional weapons? Should we work toward total disarmament, or do we need these weapons as a deterrent to rogue states? What steps must we take to secure peace in a world rife with weapons of mass destruction? John and Ken go nuclear with Stanford political scientist Scott Sagan, co-author of The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: An Enduring Debate, for a program recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley.
 

Conspiracy Theories 2014 Apr 20

Conspiracy Theories, 2014 Apr 20

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Some claim that the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11 was actually caused by a controlled demolition orchestrated by the U.S. government. Dramatic conspiracy theories of this kind are all over the place, but they are often dismissed as crazy. Sometimes, however, they turn out to be true: the NSA, as we have learned, conducted secret surveillance of millions of people for more than ten years. Does this show that we shouldn’t be so dismissive of conspiracy theories after all, or that we simply refuse to accept the existence of coincidence? What is a conspiracy theory, anyway, and how is it different from other kinds of theories? John and Ken form a cabal with Brian Keeley from Pitzer College, author of "On Conspiracy Theories."
 

Risky Business: The Business of Risk 2014 Apr 27

Risky Business: The Business of Risk, 2014 Apr 27

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There is an element of risk – either to ourselves or to others – in almost everything we do. By deciding to go to the grocery store, for example, we take a (very small) risk of getting into a car accident. Many risks are acceptable, of course, but how do we know when a risk is worth taking? The most important decisions, after all, are often risky ones. What about risks to others' welfare? How do we, and should we, take risk into account when we make decisions? John and Ken take their chances with Lara Buchak from UC Berkeley, author of Risk and Rationality.
 

Seeing Red: The World in Color 2014 May 4

Seeing Red: The World in Color, 2014 May 4

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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.
 

The Reality of Time 2014 May 18

The Reality of Time, 2014 May 18

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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.
 

Am I Alone? 2014 Jun 1

Am I Alone?, 2014 Jun 1

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A popular theme in science fiction is the eerily lifelike robot: a piece of machinery so well engineered that its outputs pass for genuinely human behaviors. Technology is not yet so advanced, but these robots might cause us to wonder how we could possibly justify our belief in the minds of others. You’re most likely sure that your family, friends, and boss are really people just like you, with similarly rich inner mental lives. But how can you be so sure? If we only have access to our own private thoughts, can we ever know that our minds are not unique? I think, therefore I exist – but what about everybody else? John and Ken step outside themselves with Anita Avramides, from the University of Oxford, author of Other Minds.
 

Summer Reading List 2014 2014 Jun 8

Summer Reading List 2014, 2014 Jun 8

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What philosophers, philosophies, or philosophical issues would you like to read up on over the summer? John and Ken discuss one of this year's most talked-about books, Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty, with political scientist Shannon Stimson. They also get summer reading suggestions from author Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, whose new book is Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away, and Yale University philosopher Jason Stanley, author of the forthcoming Why Propaganda Matters. Plus more suggestions from members of our Community of Thinkers.
 

Art and Obscenity 2014 Jun 15

Art and Obscenity, 2014 Jun 15

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What do Marcel Duchamp, Damien Hirst, and Andres Serrano have in common? They’ve all created modern works of art that have shocked and outraged the general public, causing many to question whether these works have any artistic value at all. But isn’t it the purpose of art to incite inquiry and question conventional moral wisdom? If so, then a strong public reaction would seem to prove the artistic merit of these works. So, is there a clear line to be drawn between genuine art and mere obscenity? Or has shock value simply replaced cultural value in the world of contemporary art? John and Ken curate their conversation with Stanford art historian Richard Meyer, author of What Was Contemporary Art?
 

Anatomy of a Terrorist 2014 Jun 29

Anatomy of a Terrorist, 2014 Jun 29

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Since George W. Bush first declared a "war on terror," the US has been engaged in a global campaign to rid the world of terrorists. But what exactly is a “terrorist,” and how do we distinguish illicit terrorist organizations from legitimate freedom fighters? Do terrorists exhibit particular psychological patterns of behavior, or are there some tactics that only terrorists use? And what is the most effective way to combat terrorism – by waging war, engaging in "de-radicalization" processes, or some other means? John and Ken agree to negotiate with Stanford political scientist Martha Crenshaw, author of Explaining Terrorism: Causes, Processes, and Consequences, for a program recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley.
 

Tainted by the Sins of Our Fathers? 2014-07-20

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Imagine discovering that your grandfather was a serial killer. Would you feel guilty about it? Would you be at all tempted to contact the families of his victims? Philosophers have long thought that we can only be responsible for what is under our voluntary control, but sometimes we feel guilty about events we didn’t bring about, simply because we are connected in some way to those who did. Many Germans, for instance, feel guilty about their ancestors' participation in the Nazi regime. Can we really be responsible for things outside of our control? Or are these feelings just vestiges of a more primitive moral outlook? John and Ken play innocent with Larry May from Vanderbilt University, author of Sharing Responsiblity.
 

The New Surveillance Society - Big Brother Grows Up 2014-07-27

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Recent revelations confirm what many already suspected: not only is Big Brother watching you, he is also potentially reading your emails, listening to your phone calls, mapping your personal networks, and tracking your every move. While many see whistleblowers as heroes, others see them as criminals who ought to be severely punished. So, how should we treat whistleblowers who break the law for moral or political ends? How do we adjudicate between national or corporate security and individual rights? And what kind of rights and responsibilities does a proactive citizenry have when confronted with injustices committed by the state? John and Ken blow the whistle with Christopher McKnight Nichols from Oregon State University, author of Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age. This program was recorded live at OSU in Corvallis.
 

Captivity 2014-08-10

Captivity, 2014-08-10

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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.
 

Remixing Reality - Art and Literature for the 21st Century 2014-08-17

Remixing Reality - Art and Literature for the 21st Century, 2014-08-17

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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. This program was recorded live at the First Congregational Church in Portland, Oregon.
 

Is Intuition a Guide to Truth? 2014-08-31

2014-08-31

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Turns out that Galileo was right and Aristotle was wrong: in a vacuum, a feather and a bowling ball will fall from a tall building at exactly the same speed. This is not to say that Aristotle wasn’t a brilliant thinker; empirical evidence shows he just had a wrong intuition. Even the most powerful intuitions we have can be misleading. Why is it, then, that many philosophers treat them as crucial when arguing for a conclusion? Can intuitions lead us to important truths about the world, or do they merely teach us about ourselves? John and Ken trust their instincts with Alvin Goldman from Rutgers University, author of Knowledge in a Social World.
 

Babies and the Birth of Morality 2014-09-14

Babies and the Birth of Morality, 2014-09-14

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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.
 

Machiavelli 2014-09-21

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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.
 

Second-Guessing Ourselves 2014-09-28

Second-Guessing Ourselves, 2014-09-28

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We like to think of ourselves as self-aware, reflective beings, but psychological studies demonstrate that we’re usually overconfident in the accuracy of our own beliefs. Memory, for example, can be extremely unreliable, even when we feel certain we know what happened. Surprisingly, when we’re made aware of this, we adjust our level of confidence in ourselves only slightly. How, then, can we doubt ourselves in a rational and efficient manner to bring our beliefs closer to reality? And, just as importantly, how do we prevent ourselves from falling into the other extreme of constant second guessing? John and Ken don't think twice with Sherri Roush from UC Berkeley, author of Tracking Truth: Knowledge, Evidence, and Science. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley, California.
 

Racial Profiling and Implicit Bias 2014-10-05

Racial Profiling and Implicit Bias, 2014-10-05

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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? John and Ken share their profiles with Linda Alcoff from the City University of New York, author of Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self.
 

Philosophy as Therapy 2014-10-26

Philosophy as Therapy, 2014-10-26

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From Plato and Sextus Empiricus to Wittgenstein, many important thinkers have thought of philosophy as a type of therapy. By looking at our way of life through a philosophical lens, we can achieve a particular kind of understanding that can bring us peace of mind. But can philosophy really help those who experience mental anguish? Don’t we have shrinks and medication for that? If philosophy is more likely to raise more questions than it offers answers, how could it help us overcome suffering? What would it mean for an emotional or psychological problem to have a philosophical cure? John and Ken seek solace with David Konstan from NYU, author of The Emotions of the Ancient Greeks: Studies in Aristotle and Classical Literature.
 

The Fairness Fixation 2014-11-02

The Fairness Fixation, 2014-11-02

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magine that your eight-year-old son arrives home boasting that he won the race that day in gym class. Right as your heart begins to swell with pride, he reveals that he wasn’t the only winner—the whole class won the race. The gym teacher, it turns out, thought that naming just one winner would be unfair. If our obsession with fairness leads to absurdities like this, why should we be so committed to being fair? Why not reserve the best we have to offer for those who actually deserve it? Can there be justice, kindness, and compassion in a world without fairness? John and Ken play favorites with Stephen Asma from Columbia College Chicago, author of Against Fairness: In Favor of Favoritism.
 

Transformative Experiences 2014-11-16

Transformative Experiences, 2014-11-16

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We are faced with decisions all the time in life. Normally, we think about the possible outcomes and chose a course of action that matches what we take to be of most value to us. However, one might think that some decisions—like whether or not to have a child—can so profoundly transform our lives that we cannot possibly know what the outcome will be like until it actually happens. Are these the kind of decisions in which our regular approach to decision-making becomes useless? Can life-changing decisions ever be made rationally? If not, can we still make good choices? John and Ken make some major decisions with Laurie Paul from UNC Chapel Hill, author of Transformative Experience.
 

Papers

Scope and Content Note

Audio CDs of pilot #1, Can Machines Think, and pilot #2, Terrorism, 2002; promotional statement, 2003; and copies of two articles on the program.
Box 3, Folder 1

Philosophy Talk promotional material 2003