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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
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
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.

8. 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.

9. Philosophy Talk. Reparations [2017] Online

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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
The United States brutally enslaved African Americans for its first hundred or so years of existence. For the next hundred years, black Americans were lynched, deprived of basic rights, and widely discriminated against. Now, while there are still certainly racial injustices to deal with, how are we to respond to the racial injustices of the past? Does time really heal all wounds? Could it ever be legitimate to compensate the descendants of slaves for burdens they themselves did not bear? Likewise, why should the descendants of slave-owners be made to pay for crimes they did not commit? John and Ken welcome Michael Dawson from the University of Chicago, author of Not in Our Lifetimes: The Future of Black Politics.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
If beliefs can be described as having a goal or purpose, then surely that is something like aiming at the truth. Yet we all hold many false beliefs too. Do these false beliefs fail to meet their goal? Or are there some things we believe simply because they make us feel good? Could the goal of beliefs sometimes be to provide comfort? Or must all beliefs—unlike, say, desires and wishes—be based on some kind of justification or evidence? Our host philosophers truly believe their guest is Ray Briggs from Stanford University.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Summer is the perfect time to dig in to deep reading. Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism may be a bit much for the beach, but there are lots of readable classics and new titles that could make your summer reading a transformative experience. Stanford literature professor Josh Landy on Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon Philosophy Talk's film blogger, #FrancisOnFilm (aka Leslie Francis from the University of Utah), on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and the new TV series based on it Roving Philosophical Reporter Holly J. McDede investigates the graphic novel behind this summer's blockbuster Wonder Woman movie Other recommendations from the Community of Thinkers
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Our annus horribilis is over. But what ideas and events took shape in 2016 that challenged our assumptions and made us 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 a year of triumph and defeat. The Year in Athletic Agony and Ecstasy with journalist David Johnson The Year in Political Disruption with philosopher Debra Satz The Year in Technology and Labor with political scientist Margaret Levi.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
In our healthcare system, parents normally make medical decisions for their kids because, we think, children are not competent to make such decisions for themselves. Similarly, we permit doctors to violate or defer consent for mentally incompetent adults. But where do we draw the line for what constitutes ‘incompetence’? Should severely depressed patients, for example, have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want treatment? What makes a patient so incompetent, they should be precluded from making their own decisions? John and Ken consent to talk to Jodi Halpern from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, author of From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Phenomenology is the philosophical study of experience and consciousness, performed by philosophers ranging from Sartre and Heidegger to contemporary analytic philosophers of mind. But what methods do phenomenologists use to study the mind and experience in general? How can phenomenology help us understand a range of human experiences from agency to awe? And why does neuroscience and cognitive science need phenomenology? John and Ken learn what it’s like to talk to Shaun Gallagher from the University of Memphis, author of How the Body Shapes the Mind.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Strange things are said about time: that it's illusory, that it has no direction. But what about space, or the space-time continuum? What exactly is space-time? Are space and time fundamental features of the world? How do Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity change our understanding of space-time? Is there a distinction to be made between space and time, or must the two concepts be united into a single interwoven continuum? John and Ken fill time and space with Tim Maudlin from NYU, author of Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
With 43.3 million Americans burdened with a total of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, high school students thinking about attending college are faced with a daunting decision. Should they risk joining the ranks of the indebted in order to get a college degree? The answer depends on the value of a college education. Are college graduates happier, or better prepared for life? Is it the government’s job to ensure that investing in college is worth it for students? Should public colleges be free? Or would that decrease their value? And would studying philosophy increase or decrease the value of a college education? John and Ken get collegial with outgoing Stanford president John Hennessy, in a program recorded live at De Anza High School in Richmond, California.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Addressing our nation’s history of racial injustice can be a truly backbreaking endeavor. Race-based affirmative action is usually thought of as one such effort, and colleges and universities often use it in their admissions process. However, affirmative action does seem to lower standards for certain under-represented minorities like Blacks and Hispanics. Should we think of affirmative action as patronizing those minorities, or rectifying the injustices they face? Is affirmative action enough to redress racial injustice, or is it simply the best we can do for the time being? John and Ken welcome Glenn Loury from Brown University, author of The Anatomy of Racial Inequality.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
Aldous Huxley explains his conception of the brain as a "reducing valve" of consciousness in his provocative book, The Doors of Perception. His famous experiment with the psychedelic substance mescaline was an attempt to open this valve and expand his capacity for knowledge. However, many drugs and psychedelics today are seen as simply tools for pleasure or the source of bad habits. Do drugs possess the capability to expand our consciousness and provide meaningful insight? Or are they nothing more than a route to empty delirium? Ken and guest co-host Alison Gopnik take a trip with artist, scientist, and founder of the Beckley Foundation, Amanda Feilding.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, there are more people living with mental illness in prisons than in psychiatric hospitals across the country. Despite the fact that prisoners can have significant medical needs, healthcare services are often woefully inadequate, which can turn a minor sentence into a death sentence. And for those dying in prison, few receive any hospice or palliative care. So what kinds of patients’ rights should prisoners have? Could improved healthcare in prisons actually reduce recidivism rates? How can we ensure dignity for prisoners in the age of for-profit prisons? John and Ken maintain their dignity with filmmaker Edgar Barens, whose documentary Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall was nominated for an Academy Award.
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Philosophy Talk, 2002-2014
John and Ken look beyond the horse race at some of the bigger questions raised by this year’s campaign: • Do we always have a duty to vote? with Stanford political scientist Emilee Chapman • Can our democracy survive the amount of money in politics? with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich • How do we justify the two-party system? with Elaine Kamarck from the Brookings Institution.