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A weekly show about philosophy, science and the history of ideas from the Allen Brothers and Mark Sanders (best known to listeners as “America’s Sweetheart”). If you can imagine what would happen if Plato and Carl Sagan were guests on The Daily Show, then you have a pretty good idea of what’s going on here. Each week the trio provides an overview of a philosophical topic, a history of the problem and insights into contemporary thinking. They also take a behind-the-scenes look at the philosophers who came up with these ideas: usually they are kind of nuts (the guy who pioneered Utilitarian ethics had his body mummified and put on display at his college). If you wish your Philosophy 101 course had been more informative, less boring and taught by a professor who drank during class, then this podcast is for you.

A weekly show about philosophy, science and the history of ideas from the Allen Brothers and Mark Sanders (best known to listeners as “America’s Sweetheart”). If you can imagine what would happen if Plato and Carl Sagan were guests on The Daily Show, then you have a pretty good idea of what’s going on here. Each week the trio provides an overview of a philosophical topic, a history of the problem and insights into contemporary thinking. They also take a behind-the-scenes look at the philosophers who came up with these ideas: usually they are kind of nuts (the guy who pioneered Utilitarian ethics had his body mummified and put on display at his college). If you wish your Philosophy 101 course had been more informative, less boring and taught by a professor who drank during class, then this podcast is for you.
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Location:

United States

Description:

A weekly show about philosophy, science and the history of ideas from the Allen Brothers and Mark Sanders (best known to listeners as “America’s Sweetheart”). If you can imagine what would happen if Plato and Carl Sagan were guests on The Daily Show, then you have a pretty good idea of what’s going on here. Each week the trio provides an overview of a philosophical topic, a history of the problem and insights into contemporary thinking. They also take a behind-the-scenes look at the philosophers who came up with these ideas: usually they are kind of nuts (the guy who pioneered Utilitarian ethics had his body mummified and put on display at his college). If you wish your Philosophy 101 course had been more informative, less boring and taught by a professor who drank during class, then this podcast is for you.

Language:

English


Episodes

Ep 22: Paradoxes Part II - Buford, Beethoven and Brothers

11/16/2015
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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,...

Duration:00:54:38

Ep 21: Halloween Spooktacular—From Aardvark to Zombies!

11/2/2015
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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,...

Duration:00:43:43

Ep 20: Listener Mail - Sam Harris and the Ethics of Jabba's Droid Dungeon

10/26/2015
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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...

Duration:00:43:38

Ep 19: Ontological Argument for the Existence of God - The Everything Bagel

10/19/2015
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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...

Duration:00:53:35

Ep 18: Moral Realism - Vampire Socrates

10/12/2015
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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...

Duration:00:45:24

Ep 17: Rationalism vs. Empiricism - Kevin Spacey Eyes

10/5/2015
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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...

Duration:00:56:11

Ep 16: Descriptivist Theory of Names - The Howie Mandel Effect

9/28/2015
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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...

Duration:00:48:46

Ep 15: Possible Worlds - Better call Saul Kripke

9/21/2015
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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...

Duration:00:48:10

Ep 14: Paradoxes - Infinite Oranges, Paradise Trunk

9/14/2015
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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...

Duration:01:04:43

Ep 13: Categorical Imperative - From Prussia With Love

9/7/2015
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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...

Duration:00:51:15

Ep 12: Personal Identity - What happens on Risa stays on Risa

8/31/2015
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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...

Duration:01:09:15

Ep 11: Listener Mail - Gary Busey Syndrome

8/24/2015
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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.

Duration:00:56:23

Ep 10: Sense and Reference - The Superman Paradox

8/17/2015
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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...

Duration:01:02:32

Ep 9: The New Riddle of Induction - Eaten by a Grue

8/10/2015
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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...

Duration:01:07:01

Ep 8: Ship of Theseus - One Ship, Two Ship, Old Ship, New Ship

8/3/2015
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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....

Duration:00:56:53

Ep 7: Compatibilism - To-do list: Cake, Ketamine, Gym, Podcast

7/27/2015
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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...

Duration:00:44:28

Ep. 6: Thomas Kuhn – Losing my Saganity

7/20/2015
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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...

Duration:00:52:28

Ep. 5: Time Theory – A Time, B Time, C All-Of-The-Above Time

7/14/2015
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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...

Duration:01:00:55

Ep. 4: Supererogation - The Spiritual Bank Account

6/23/2015
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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...

Duration:00:41:59

Ep. 3: Gettier Problems - A Squishy Dodge

6/23/2015
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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...

Duration:00:52:53