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Philosophy Talk Starters
11 minutes | 3 days ago
455: Trolling, Bullying, and Flame Wars - Humility and Online Discourse
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/trolling-bullying-and-flame-wars. Open up any online comments section and you’ll find them: internet trolls, from the mildly inflammatory to the viciously bullying. It seems that the ease of posting online leads many to abandon any semblance of intellectual humility. So can we have intellectual humility on an anonymous forum with little oversight and accountability? Does current online behavior portend the end of humility in the public domain? How do we encourage greater humility and less arrogance in any public discourse? The Philosophers open up the comments section for Michael Lynch from the University of Connecticut, author of "The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data."
10 minutes | 13 days ago
517: Democracy By Numbers
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/democracy-numbers. The United States prides itself on being “the world’s greatest democracy,” which adheres to the principle, “one person, one vote.” Despite this, its elections are often highly contentious—presidents can be elected after losing the popular vote, there is widespread gerrymandering and voter purging, and not everyone has equal representation in the Senate. So what can we do to make elections in the US more fair? And how do we decide what counts as fair in the first place? Is there some test or algorithm we can use to determine equal representation? Josh and Ray watch the polls with Moon Duchin from Tufts University, Director of the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Research Group.
14 minutes | 17 days ago
502: Comforting Conversations (Part 2)
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/comforting-conversations-pt2. In troubling, uncertain times, the arts and humanities are more important than ever. Engaging with works of literature can provide both much needed insight into our current struggles and a sense of perspective in a crisis. In what ways do novels or plays help us come to terms with human suffering? Can fictional narratives about past pandemics shed light on our current situation? And how can storytelling or music help bring us together in isolation? Josh and Ray converse with a range of Stanford faculty members about how philosophy, music, drama, and literature can provide comfort, connection, and a sense of community. • Ge Wang on making music across great distances • Laura Wittman on Alessandro Manzoni's "The Betrothed" • Harry Elam on August Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" • Antonia Peacocke on the surprising philosophy of meditation
13 minutes | 24 days ago
501: Comforting Coversations (Part 1)
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/comforting-conversations-pt1. In troubling, uncertain times, the arts and humanities are more important than ever. Engaging with works of literature can provide both much needed insight into our current struggles and a sense of perspective in a crisis. In what ways do novels or plays help us come to terms with human suffering? Can fictional narratives about past pandemics shed light on our current situation? And how can storytelling or music help bring us together in isolation? Josh and Ray converse with a range of Stanford faculty members about how philosophy, music, drama, and literature can provide comfort, connection, and a sense of community. • Lanier Anderson on Albert Camus' The Plague • Michaela Bronstein on narrative and fiction as imaginative tools • Ato Quayson on the social value of oral storytelling
19 minutes | a month ago
516: The Examined Year – 2020
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/examined-year-2020.
12 minutes | a month ago
457: Faith and Humiity
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/faith-and-humility. Some would argue that faith requires that one blindly—rather than rationally— believe. Faith in one ‘true’ religion often entails rejection of all others. Given this, can there ever be humility when it comes to religious faith? How unwavering should the faithful be when it comes to their religious convictions, attitudes, and actions? Should we encourage religious humility, or would it taint the very concept of faith? Can religious faith and intellectual humility ever be reconciled? The Philosophers humbly believe in talking to Joshua Hook from the University of North Texas, co-author of "Cultural Humility: Engaging Diverse Identities in Therapy."
10 minutes | 2 months ago
515: Minds and Matter
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/minds-and-matter. Everything that seems to have a mind also has a body made of flesh and blood. But if we look at the diversity of animals found in the world, we find a huge variety of species that perceive and interact with the world in very different ways. Is there something all these species have in common? Are neurons and ganglia required, or can evolution generate consciousness in different ways? What can the study of evolutionary biology tell us about the nature of the mind? Josh and Ray sail away with Peter Godfrey-Smith from the University of Sydney, author of "Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind."
11 minutes | 2 months ago
456: Are We Alone?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/are-we-alone. News that life might exist or have existed on Mars or somewhere else in our universe excites many. But should we really be happy to hear that news? What are the philosophical implications of the possibility of extraterrestrial life? If life can blossom in our own cosmic backyard, then that means that the universe is most likely saturated with life forms. And if that’s the case, why haven’t we found any evidence of other civilizations? Is it because all civilizations are prone to suicidal destruction at a certain point in their development? If so, how might we avoid this fate? The Philosophers search for life with Paul Davies from Arizona State University, author of "The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence."
11 minutes | 2 months ago
514: The Arts For All?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/arts-all. When we think of “real” art, we often think of expensive, highbrow pieces that are displayed in museums and galleries, and critiqued by the elite. In fact, people commonly lament that they don’t know enough about art to truly understand or appreciate the works that they encounter. So should art aim to be accessible to everyone? Or is it ever okay to sacrifice accessibility for other competing aims that art can pursue? Do artists have a duty to make their work more available or accessible in other ways? Josh and Ray paint their masterpiece with Catharine Abell from the University of Oxford, author of "Fiction: A Philosophical Analysis."
7 minutes | 2 months ago
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/spinoza. Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century Dutch philosopher who laid the foundations for the Enlightenment. He made the controversial claim that there is only one substance in the universe, which led him to the pantheistic belief in an abstract, impersonal God. What effect did Spinoza have on Enlightenment thinkers? What are the philosophical – and religious – consequences of believing that there is only one substance in the universe? And why do scientists today still take him seriously? John and Ken welcome back Rebecca Goldstein, author of "Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity."
9 minutes | 2 months ago
513: Are We All to Blame?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/are-we-all-blame. It’s easy to identify the pressing issues facing our world today, but it’s much more difficult to assign responsibility for them. Often the blame is placed on collectives — on entire governments, nations, and societies. But does the responsibility truly all fall to them? How can we identify precisely whose fault it is, for example, that we are experiencing climate change, or that hate crimes occur, or that there is a gender wage gap? Or do we as individuals hold a certain amount of responsibility for such pervasive, systemic issues? Josh and Ray avoiding pointing fingers with Maron Smiley from Brandeis University, author of "Moral Responsibility and the Boundaries of Community."
11 minutes | 3 months ago
367: Camus and the Absurd
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/camus-and-absurd. Albert Camus is most famous for his existential works of fiction including The Stranger as well as his philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus. He led the French resistance press during Nazi Occupation and became one of the youngest Nobel laureates in literature. His contemporary, Hannah Arendt, described him as “head and shoulders above the other intellectuals.” How does Camus' philosophy of Absurdism compare and contrast with Sartre’s popular existentialism, especially in their conceptions of freedom? What political and philosophical issues of his time were he deeply involved in, and what relevance does his thinking still hold for the problems of contemporary life? John and Ken remain sensible with Robert Zaretsky from the University of Houston, author of "A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning."
11 minutes | 3 months ago
454: Monstrous Technologies?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/monstrous-technologies. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein raises powerful questions about the responsibilities of scientists to consider the impact of their inventions on the world. Are these questions as relevant now as they were 200 years ago? What insights, if any, should today’s technologists and disrupters glean from Shelley's story? What does it mean to take responsibility for one’s scientific or technological innovations? And what role should university educators play in ensuring that no new monsters are unleashed onto the world? The hosts have a monstrously fun conversation with Persis Drell, Provost and former Dean of Engineering from Stanford University.
12 minutes | 3 months ago
512: What's in a Game?
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/whats-game. Games have been an integral part of human society since the earliest civilizations. They are played around the world by people at every rank and station, at every stage of life, from childhood to old age. Why do we love games so much? Are they just a pleasant way of whiling away some empty hours or escaping the daily grind? Or do we play games to form social bonds and build important life skills? Are there some games we should never play? And what exactly makes something a “game” in the first place? Josh and Ray team up with Thi Nguyen from the University of Utah, author of "Games: Agency as Art."
9 minutes | 3 months ago
511: Why We Hate
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/why-we-hate. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the number of hate groups operating in the U.S. has risen to a record high. There has also been a corresponding increase in hate crime violence. So where does all this hate come from? Do we hate others because we feel a deeper sense of alienation or fear towards them? Is hating always the wrong response, or is there an appropriate kind of hate? Can we love and hate at the same time? And what's the difference between hate and other reactive attitudes like anger, disgust, and contempt? Josh and Ray shake off the haters with Berit Brogaard from the University of Miami, author of "Hatred: Understanding Our Most Dangerous Emotion."
6 minutes | 4 months ago
164: Hannah Arendt
More at http://philosophytalk.org/shows/hannah-arendt. 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. John and Ken tackle Arendt'eyla Benhabib from Yale University, editor of "Politics in Dark Times: Encounters with Hannah Arendt."
10 minutes | 4 months ago
510: Science and Skepticism
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/science-and-skepticism. In recent decades, we’ve witnessed intense cultural wars waged on scientifically established phenomena, such as climate change and the benefit of vaccines. Of course, we might agree that some degree of skepticism about the world around us is good—it would be impractical and even dangerous for us to blindly accept everything we are told as fact. But is skepticism always healthy? Or is there a point at which one’s skepticism regarding a given phenomenon becomes unwarranted or even detrimental form of denialism? And if there does exist such a point, how do we know when we’ve crossed it? Josh and Ray won't deny their discussion with Michael Shermer, author of "Giving the Devil his Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist."
11 minutes | 4 months ago
452: How to Humbly Disagree
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/how-humbly-disagree. People like to argue, especially Philosophy Talk listeners! But no matter how hard we try to resolve disputes through rational discourse, sometimes we may still disagree about important issues. One response to this predicament is simply to agree to disagree. But should the mere fact of disagreement lower our confidence in our views? Should we change how we judge our own beliefs when we realize that other people disagree? Or do we only have reason to doubt our beliefs when we learn that experts disagree with us? The Philosophy humbly welcome Nathan Ballantyne from Fordham University, author of "Knowing Our Limits" (forthcoming).
7 minutes | 4 months ago
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/heidegger. Best known for his work "Being and Time," Martin Heidegger has been hailed by many as the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century. He has also been criticized for being both nearly unreadable and a Nazi. Yet there is no disputing his seminal place in the history of Western thought. So what did Heidegger mean when he wrote about world, being, and time? What significance does he still hold as a thinker today, especially as a philosopher of modern technology? Should we even read the works of a Nazi? John and Ken are present and ready with Thomas Sheehan from Stanford University, author of "Making Sense of Heidegger: A Paradigm Shift."
0 minutes | 4 months ago
509: Citizenship and Justice
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/citizenship-and-justice. Securing citizenship to a developed country could guarantee people enormous privileges and opportunities. Some condemn those who try illegally to reap the benefits that come with such citizenship. But are our ways of determining who gets to enter borders arbitrary and unfair? Should we grant border access to people born in a nation’s territories, or also on people whose parents were citizens? Or should we favor the highly skilled who can contribute the most to the nation? What is the most just way to determine citizenship? Josh and Ray cross the border with Arash Abizadeh from McGill University, author of "Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics."
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