Created with Sketch.
You've Got It All Wrong
55 minutes | Nov 15, 2015
Ep 22: Paradoxes Part II - Buford, Beethoven and Brothers
All handsome people enjoy a good paradox, so we decided to open up our paradox box again and pick out a few new ones for this episode. A lot of paradoxes have to do with the way language works, and how it fails us when we try to describe certain aspects of our experience. Often a series of statements seems to make sense when we analyze them in a vacuum, only to find that they don’t square with our everyday experience of the world around us. This is true in the Unexpected Hanging Paradox, which shows us that there is something wrong with the way we use simple words like “surprise.” In the Paradox of Analysis, we find that statements can be true or informative, but not both. And in the Bootstrap Paradox, we learn that the way we talk about causality can lead us in circles. Along the way we discover Delaware has some dark secrets, that Beethoven might never have existed and that our podcasting studio is now protected by armed guards and is only accessible by footbridge.
44 minutes | Nov 1, 2015
Ep 21: Halloween Spooktacular—From Aardvark to Zombies!
Are zombies real? Could we all be zombies? On this special Halloween episode, we raise topics from the dead—specifically we’re reanimating our discussion of philosophical zombies from Episode 2. This time we take a closer look at qualia, a technical term for the experiences that are unique to us as individuals, such as “what it’s like for Mark to be scared by Gremlins.” Can qualia be explained in physical terms? Do they even exist? We dig up the work of philosophers such as Daniel Dennett, David Chalmers and G.F. Stout, and continue to ponder why so many philosophers shun their first names. Hit play … if you dare!
44 minutes | Oct 26, 2015
Ep 20: Listener Mail - Sam Harris and the Ethics of Jabba's Droid Dungeon
In this episode we sort through some listener mail and attempt to answer your most pressing questions. A number of fans wanted to know why we didn’t mention Sam Harris’s book, “The Moral Landscape,” in our episode about moral realism. In order to answer that question, we had to watch his TED talk and then wing it. We also revisit some questions about the ethics of robot torture, and take a closer look at what’s happening in Jabba the Hutt’s droid dungeon. And last but not least, we wrestle with one listener’s emphatic need to know if America's Sweetheart is actually Australian.
54 minutes | Oct 19, 2015
Ep 19: Ontological Argument for the Existence of God - The Everything Bagel
In this episode we jump around in time. From a conversation last year at a bagel shop, to Paco’s college years and all the way back to the middle ages. What do an everything bagel and the ontological argument for the existence of God have to do with each other? We discuss Saint Anselm’s extremely analytical argument for God and how his contemporary, Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, challenged it directly with an equally objective critique. We follow this argument all the way up modern day with the work of Alvin Plantinga. And it wouldn’t be one of our shows without a fascinating Bertrand Russell anecdote. Also find out about the latest exciting developments in the world of Michigan-based philosophy. A jam-packed episode.
45 minutes | Oct 12, 2015
Ep 18: Moral Realism - Vampire Socrates
Are moral statements objectively true? When we say “stealing for fun is wrong,” are we making a factual claim about the world, or are we just voicing an opinion? Many philosophers, known as moral realists, have attempted to show that “stealing for fun is wrong” is true in exactly the same way that “two plus two equals four” is true. In this episode we examine two different types of moral realism, and take a look at the arguments for and against. Along the way try to figure out why so many philosophers hate their first names and who wins the prize for nicest philosopher ever. We also answer some reader mail about robot torture and give Anne Rice some free ideas for philosopher/vampire plotlines.
56 minutes | Oct 5, 2015
Ep 17: Rationalism vs. Empiricism - Kevin Spacey Eyes
Do we learn everything we know from the world around us, or are there some things we learn independently of our sensory experiences? Rationalists argue that some of our knowledge, like concepts in algebra and trigonometry, is innate or intuitive. We know that two plus two equals four independently of our specific observations of the world around us. Empiricists argue that all knowledge comes from experience, and that even basic principles of mathematics would be unknowable to us if it weren’t for our interactions with the external world. In this episode we provide an overview of both positions and talk about philosophers who have lined up on both sides of the debate. We also provide a complete guide to casting an action adventure movie about British Empiricism and Continental Rationalism (spoiler alert: John Locke is portrayed by Adrien Brody). We answer some listener mail about fax machines and personal identity, and unlock the secret of Mark’s favorite doughnut (spoiler alert: it’s the Bear Claw).
49 minutes | Sep 28, 2015
Ep 16: Descriptivist Theory of Names - The Howie Mandel Effect
This is our second show about how proper names work (check out episode 10 for part one). It’s an important topic because much of philosophy is built around the concept of assigning truth values to sentences such as “Socrates is mortal.” And we can’t know if that sentence is true or false unless we know what “Socrates” means. In this episode we look at how Bertrand Russell developed his Descriptivist theory of names, and how that theory came to dominate the philosophy of language for much of the 20th century. Along the way we speculate on the outcomes of hypothetical professional wrestling matches, including Frege vs. Mill and Zappa vs. Hogan. We get yet another dose of Mark’s research on weird names and learn about the books that Bertrand Russell while serving hard time in a British prison.
48 minutes | Sep 21, 2015
Ep 15: Possible Worlds - Better call Saul Kripke
You might say it’s possible that Tom Selleck could have played Indiana Jones. But what does that actually mean? Can you prove that this statement is true or false in the some way? In today’s episode we look at how truth functional statements can be evaluated in the context of more than just our world. We look at the role of Possible Worlds and Modal Logic through the work of Saul Kripke, Ruth Barcan Marcus and David Lewis with a little help from the creative vision of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. How do we describe the world where the role of Indiana Jones, not might have been, but actually was played by the actor Tom Selleck? And how do we tell the difference between a possible world and the alternate reality of the Multiverse? We also discuss some listener mail about our use of the term ‘Handsome’ and we get a unique first look at Chad’s personal definition of the three types of luck. Music and Sound Effects Attribution: Gun noise http://soundbible.com/2091-MP5-SMG-9mm.html Whip Crack http://soundbible.com/1375-Whip-Crack.html Music: https://www.facebook.com/musicbyscottbuckley
65 minutes | Sep 14, 2015
Ep 14: Paradoxes - Infinite Oranges, Paradise Trunk
Paradoxes have confounded philosophers and handsome people for ages, perhaps since the dawn of language. The oldest ones we have on record come from the ancient Greeks. These paradoxes are thousands of years old, yet many of them remain unresolved. In this show we examine famous paradoxes from the ancient Greek philosophers Zeno and Eubulides, as well as a modern paradox from Bertrand Russell. Some of these paradoxes purport to have solutions, while others remain unsolved. We examine the paradoxes and the people who developed them, and vote on whether or not they’ve been solved. Along the way we find out whether or not Mark could beat a tortoise in a foot race, imagine a world where beards are illegal and wonder what it’s like to have a famous philosopher bite off your ear.
51 minutes | Sep 7, 2015
Ep 13: Categorical Imperative - From Prussia With Love
One of the great debates in philosophy is whether or not moral rules are created by humans or exist independently from us as absolute truths. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that we could discover objective moral principles, and his theory of the Categorical Imperative was meant to give us a framework for distinguishing between right and wrong. In this episode we give an overview of the Categorical Imperative, including some famous thought experiments that argue both for and against Kant’s idea. We also learn about Kant’s rules for throwing a good dinner party, marvel at Mark’s absolute lack of knowledge about all things Scottish and answer some listener mail about our tagline.
69 minutes | Aug 30, 2015
Ep 12: Personal Identity - What happens on Risa stays on Risa
If all of the cells in your body get replaced every ten years, will you still be the same person a decade from now? If all of your memories get erased today, will you still be the same person tomorrow? In this episode we take a look at tough questions about personal identity and the nature of the self. We review the work of some of the great philosophers who have tackled these problems, including John Locke, Thomas Reid and Derek Parfit. Along the way we also learn a lot about Star Trek’s greatest hairstylist, read some poems about fish and learn how to pronounce teletransportation with an Australian accent.
56 minutes | Aug 23, 2015
Ep 11: Listener Mail - Gary Busey Syndrome
Questions from our listeners have been stacking up, and in this episode we tackle a few of your your most pressing concerns. Is there such a thing as an evil person, and if so, does Gary Busey have anything to do with it? What’s up with Thomas Aquinas's DDE (doctrine of double effect), and does it apply to Jake the Snake’s famous DDT (Demonic Death Trap)? Last but not least, we address our sporadic use of the f-bomb on the show, and hear what the Allen Brothers’ mom has to say about it.
63 minutes | Aug 17, 2015
Ep 10: Sense and Reference - The Superman Paradox
What’s in a name? In his 1892 paper, “Sense and Reference,” the German philosopher Gottlob Frege gave an unconventional answer to this question. Up until that point, most philosophers thought of names as simple labels or pointers that referred to physical objects. If you wanted to know the meaning of “Clark Kent,” you just had to look at the guy typing away behind his desk at the Daily Planet. But Frege asked us to think about the fact that sometimes a single object has two names that mean very different things. For example, “Superman” refers to the same physical object as “Clark Kent,” but Superman can fly, while Clark Kent can’t. In this episode we explore Frege’s response to the puzzle of how names work. We also get the inside scoop on some of DC Comic’s most ridiculous super villains, learn about Frege’s mysterious secret diaries and complete a crash course in how elections should really work.
67 minutes | Aug 10, 2015
Ep 9: The New Riddle of Induction - Eaten by a Grue
Inductive reasoning is the process whereby we take a lot of specific observations and use them to form more general conclusions. For example, because we’ve seen millions of black ravens, we conclude that all ravens are black. In this episode we review some of the problems with inductive reasoning. We start with Hume’s observation that we can never know for sure if the future will be like the past, so we can never know for sure if our inductive conclusions will continue to be true. We then review some of the more contemporary work on the problem of induction, namely Nelson Goodman’s “New Riddle of Induction.” Along the way we learn about the history of video games, why you should avoid Grues in the dark, the number of times Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote “ejaculate” in the Sherlock Holmes stories and which member of the show can do the best Scottish accent (hint: nobody).
57 minutes | Aug 3, 2015
Ep 8: Ship of Theseus - One Ship, Two Ship, Old Ship, New Ship
The Ship of Theseus is one of longest-standing paradoxes in philosophy. It asks us to consider how something can change over time, but still remain the same thing. If we take a ship, like the Ship of Theseus, and gradually replace all of the planks and sails and other parts, is there a point at which it’s no longer the Ship of Theseus? Are we something more than just the sum of our parts? We try to solve this age-old riddle on today’s show with the help of Leibniz, Wittgenstein and others. We also provide suggestions for naming your new boat, from “The Codfather” to “Cirrhosis of the River.” Along the way we uncover some interesting trivia about another famous boat, “The S.S. Minnow” from Gilligan’s Island.
44 minutes | Jul 27, 2015
Ep 7: Compatibilism - To-do list: Cake, Ketamine, Gym, Podcast
The problem of free will has long haunted philosophers who also want to believe that the laws of physics govern everything in the universe. According to determinism, once set in motion the universe is essentially a giant “clockwork” where all future events can be predicted. But if that’s true, then why do we feel like we can change the course of future events through our decisions? A relatively recent movement in philosophy called “compatibilism” tries to reconcile the concepts of free will and determinism. But is it just an artful dodge? In this episode we take a close look at the main arguments for compatibilism, and philosophers behind those arguments, including David Hume, Daniel Dennett, Peter Strawson and Harry Franfurt. Mark tries to get off the hook for making bad food choices (Paco ordered those doughnuts!) while Chad notes that nachos are “compatible” with both the concept of “entree” and the concept of “appetizer.” We also dig into some listener questions about the existential state of running shoes, which doesn’t really have anything to do with free will at all.
52 minutes | Jul 20, 2015
Ep. 6: Thomas Kuhn – Losing my Saganity
In his 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn argued that the history of science is not the history of a steady march towards the truth that we usually imagine. Rather, science moves in fits and starts, which Kuhn famously described as “paradigm shifts.” Often the new paradigm is “incommensurable” with the old one; the two worldviews are so different that it’s hard to even compare them. In this episode we review Kuhn’s work and the enormous impact it had on the philosophy of science in the 20th century. We also talk about how glassblowing led to the Enlightenment and what to do when famous philosophers decide to hurl heavy objects at you. Mark also gives us the inside tip on how to tell one Ptolemy from the other, and where to find science experiments in the Bible.
61 minutes | Jul 13, 2015
Ep. 5: Time Theory – A Time, B Time, C All-Of-The-Above Time
Time is a fundamental part of how we experience the world. But when we try to describe what time actually is, things get murky pretty fast. The philosopher J.M.E. McTaggart laid out a framework that underpins much of the contemporary debate about the nature of time. In “A-series” time, the concept of “now” is a real thing, and we are constantly moving from the past to the present to the future. In “B-series” time, everything exists all at once, like the frames on a movie reel where the “present” is just the projector light shining on a particular image. McTaggart himself thought that time was just an illusion. In this episode we review these two theories of time and try to work out which one is right. We also try to figure out why McTaggart had the same name twice why looks so much like Higgins from Magnum, P.I. You’ll get to hear a real live Socratic dialog and learn what happens when you put an atomic clock on a commercial airliner.
42 minutes | Jun 22, 2015
Ep. 4: Supererogation - The Spiritual Bank Account
In traditional moral philosophy there are three kinds of actions: Good actions you’re required to do, bad actions you’re not allowed to do, and permittable actions that are neither good nor bad. The philosopher J.O. Urmson introduced a fourth category: Good actions that you’re not required to do. These include things like giving to charity or helping a stranger in distress, and in technical philosophical jargon they are known as supererogatory acts. In this episode we dig into the concept of supererogation and try to figure out if it’s a real thing or just a red herring. We also get the story-behind-the-story of the “good samaritan” and learn all about the church’s secret bank of moral goodness. There’s some good stuff in here for fans of Back to the Future II, and you’ll also learn which member of the cast owns a brand new speedboat.
53 minutes | Jun 22, 2015
Ep. 3: Gettier Problems - A Squishy Dodge
The traditional definition of “knowledge,” first put forward by Plato, is a “justified, true belief.” That definition stuck for a few thousand years until Edmund Gettier wrote a famous paper in 1963. The eponymous “Gettier problems” outlined in the paper threw a wrench in the works for the field of epistemology, and philosophers have been trying to get things back on track ever since. In this episode we review some examples of Gettier problems and try to come up with our own responses. We also take a look at how elephants, Bruce Lee, Doctor Who, and Donald Rumsfeld help us understand how we know what we know.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2022