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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Sometimes, we struggle to tell the truth -- especially when it's the truth about ourselves. Why did James Baldwin, a prominent Civil Rights-era intellectual and novelist, believe that telling the truth about ourselves is not only difficult but can also be dangerous? How can truth deeply unsettle our assumptions about ourselves and our relations to others? And why did Baldwin think that this abstract concept of truth could play a concrete role in social justice? The Philosophers seek their own truth with Christopher Freeburg from the University of Illinois, author of Black Aesthetics and the Interior Life.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Despite tremendous strides made towards civil and political rights in the United States, discrimination and exclusion based on race, class, gender, and sexuality are still pervasive. As a result, individuals seen as "the other" often experience a painful inner fracturing W.E.B. Du Bois called "double consciousness." So, how does one shape a coherent identity in a world where one is considered "other"? What effects do micro aggressions have on the ability to develop a unified self? And what role might community play in helping heal fractured identities? The Philosophers identify with Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of Real American: A Memoir.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Frantz Fanon is a thinker who has inspired radical liberation movements in places ranging from Palestine to South Africa to the United States. Most famous for his work The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon is often understood as a proponent of revolutionary violence. But is this a fair characterization of Fanon, or is it an oversimplification of a deeper and richer body of work? What exactly is Fanon’s philosophy of violence, and how does it relate to his philosophy and psychology of the colonial subject? How has Fanon shaped how we think of identity politics? The Philosophers welcome Nigel Gibson from Emerson College, author of Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Many of us look forward to retirement, that time in life when we stop working for a living. But what exactly is retirement and why do we retire? Does retirement always mean an end to work, or can it sometimes just mean a shift to a different kind of work? Ought we retire for purely selfish reasons, such as to give ourselves more leisure time? Or ought we retire for the public good, to give younger people greater opportunities for employment?
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Work: a lot lot of people do it, and a lot of people don’t seem to like it very much. But as computers and artificial intelligence get increasingly sophisticated, more and more of our workers will lose their jobs to technology. Should we view this inevitability with hope or with despair? Without the order and purpose that meaningful work provides in our lives, would we end up bored and restless? What obligations does government have to deal with these changes? What about providing all citizens with a basic income? The Philosophers work hard with Juliana Bidadanure from Stanford University, Faculty Director of the Stanford Basic Income Lab.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Free speech is one of the core tenets of our democracy. We’re inclined to think that more speech is always better. Although the Supreme Court has outlined some minor restrictions to our right to free speech, the most courts are willing to admit is that speech can lead to violence—it cannot itself do violence. But is it possible for speech to do both? If hate speech is used against a marginalized group, couldn’t the speech act literally do harm? And how does the answer to this question affect our commitment to free speech in a liberal democracy? The Philosophers do no harm with Lynne Tirrell from the University of Connecticut, author of “Genocidal Language Games.”
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Aristotle thought that rationality was the faculty that distinguished humans from other animals. However, psychological research shows that our judgments are plagued by systematic, irrational, unconscious errors known as ‘cognitive biases.’ In light of this research, can we really be confident in the superiority of human rationality? How much should we trust our own judgments when we are aware of our susceptibility to bias and error? And does our awareness of these biases obligate us to counter them? John and Ken shed their biases with Brian Nosek from the University of Virginia, co-Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Open Science.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
From airplanes flying overhead to the cellular activity inside us, all events that take place in the world obey the laws of physics. Physicists seem to be getting closer and closer to understanding the physical laws that govern our universe. But what if our physical laws changed? Could that even be possible? How might changing of physical laws affect us? Or is just that what we take to be laws changes over time? Should we still call the laws of physics “laws”? The philosophers conserve mass with Massimo Pigliucci from the City University of New York, author of Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Autonomous vehicles are quickly emerging as the next innovation that will change society in radical ways. Champions of this new technology say that driverless cars, which are programed to obey the law and avoid collisions, will be safer than human controlled vehicles. But how do we program these vehicles to act ethically? Should we trust computer programmers to determine the most ethical response to all possible scenarios the vehicle might encounter? And who should be held responsible for the bad − potentially lethal − decisions these cars make? Our hosts take the wheel with Harvard psychologist Joshua Greene, author of "Our Driverless Dilemma: When Should Your Car be Willing to Kill You?" Recorded live at Cubberly Auditorium on the Stanford campus with support from the Symbolic Systems Program and the McCoy Center for Ethics in Society.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
In the last few years, conservatives and liberals alike have accused activists on college campuses of silencing contrary opinions. Many have argued—quite vociferously—that activists’ unwillingness to hear from people with opposing opinions endangers freedom of speech in higher education. But is there really an Orwellian threat to free speech on college campuses? Are activists’ demands for respect actually quashing freedom of thought? And when does one person’s freedom of speech impinge on another’s? John and Ken create a safe space for Greg Lukianoff, co-author of "The Coddling of the American Mind."
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Jürgen Habermas is regarded as one of the last great public intellectuals of Europe and a major contributor to the philosophy of democracy. A member of the Frankfurt School, Habermas argues that humans can have rational communication that will lead to the democratization of society and consensus. But should we be so optimistic? Why does Habermas have faith in our ability to establish this so-called rational communication and to reach consensus? And how should we reform our liberal democracies to make them more democratic? John and Ken reach for consensus with Matthew Specter from Central Connecticut State University, author of Habermas: An Intellectual Biography.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
It seems like we know many facts about ourselves and the world around us, even if there vastly many others we know that we don’t know. But how do we know if what we believe to be true is really knowledge? Can our beliefs be both justified and true, yet still not count as genuine knowledge? If so, then how much confidence should we really have in our beliefs? Is there a way to strike a balance between paralyzing skepticism, on the one hand, and dogmatic conviction, on the other? John and Ken know that their guest is Baron Reed from Northwestern University, author of "The Long Road to Skepticism."
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
At some point or another, the midlife crisis comes for us all. But what is it really about? Is it a sense of our mortality, the fear of not achieving what we hoped to, or the sinking feeling that we’ve been spending our whole adult lives chasing our tails? And what is the solution: a new car, a new life goal, or the choice to give up goals altogether? Ken and Josh entertain the possibilities with Kieran Setiya from MIT, author of Midlife: A Philosophical Guide.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Human rights—like freedom from discrimination and slavery— are fundamental rights and freedoms that every person enjoys simply because they're human. But what about other animals, like monkeys, elephants, and dolphins? Should they enjoy similar fundamental rights? If we can extend the legal notion of personhood to inanimate, abstract objects like corporations, then shouldn’t we also extend it to other sentient creatures? How should we understand the concept of a “person” when it’s applied to nonhumans? What kind of cognitive and emotional complexity is required for nonhuman personhood? John and Ken extend rights to their human guest, Steven Wise, author of Rattling The Cage: Toward Legal Rights For Animals.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
In 1994, Congress eliminated federal funding for college education in prisons. It was, they argued, unjust for prisoners to be eligible for Pell grants when ordinary citizens could not afford higher education. However, research suggests that education in prisons has positive consequences, such as lower recidivism rates and an improved prison environment. So should we have education programs in prisons? Or is the point of prison to punish inmates for their crimes rather than giving them the education many non-felons never receive? John and Ken take a lesson from Jennifer Lackey, who teaches philosophy at Northwestern University and at Stateville Correctional Center near Chicago.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
"One man's trash is another man's treasure," or so the saying goes. But what makes something trash to begin with? The word can be used to describe disposable objects, pieces of culture, or even people. Underlying each of these uses, however, are feelings of indifference, disdain, or disgust. How do the things that we call trash reflect our values, as individuals, and as a society? What can we learn about ourselves by examining the things we deem worthy of throwing away? The Philosophers go dumpster diving with Elizabeth Spelman from Smith College, author of Trash Talks: Revelations in the Rubbish.

17. Philosophy Talk. Polyamory [2017] Online

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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
In most if not all modern Western societies, monogamy is the dominant form of romantic relationship. In polyamorous or "open" relationships, however, each person is free to love multiple partners at once. Just as our friendships are non-exclusive, advocates of polyamory believe our romantic relationship should be too. So why do so many people find polyamory distasteful, or even despicable? Is it immoral to love more than one person at a time? Or is our society's commitment to monogamy simply a fossil of tradition that could one day be obsolete? The Philosophers welcome back Carrie Jenkins from the University of British Columbia, author of What Love Is: And What It Could Be.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
You've probably heard about the dangerous effects of fake news, and the spread of sensational and targeted falsities. But what about "legitimate" news, one might still ask? Well, do you want the "liberal truth" or the "conservative truth"? Just stick to the facts? What if my "facts" differ from yours? Listen to science? Those scientists are all in someone's pocket, you know. Can we know anything anymore in this age of epistemic nihilism? Have we entered the "post-truth" era? What does this mean for politics, policy, and accountability? The Philosophers don't fake it with Christopher Meyers from CSU Bakersfield, editor of Journalism Ethics: A Philosophical Approach.

19. Philosophy Talk. Queerness [2017] Online

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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual… it is safe to say that new ideas of gender and sexuality have broken into mainstream consciousness within the past few decades. What underlies each of these identities, however, is the notion of Queerness. But what defines what it means to be queer? Is it as much a political identity as it is a sexual or gender identity? How does ‘queerness’ subvert or challenge our notions of gender and sexuality? John and Ken welcome Susan Stryker from the University of Arizona, editor of The Transgender Studies Reader.

20. Philosophy Talk. Race Matters [2017] Online

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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Started in the wake of George Zimmerman's 2013 acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has become a powerful campaign demanding redress for the mistreatment of African-Americans by law enforcement in the United States. But it has also inspired deep antipathy from those who claim it overemphasizes racial issues. So how much does – and should – race matter? Does #BlackLivesMatter speak for all black people? How should we respond to counter-movements like #AllLivesMatter? Ken and Debra discuss matters with Chris Lebron from Johns Hopkins University, author of The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea.