Philosophy Podcasts

Vaden Masrani, a PhD student in machine learning at UBC and Ben Chugg, a research fellow at Stanford Law School, get into trouble arguing about everything except machine learning and law. Coherence is somewhere on the horizon. Bribes, suggestions, love-mail and hate-mail all welcome at

Vaden Masrani, a PhD student in machine learning at UBC and Ben Chugg, a research fellow at Stanford Law School, get into trouble arguing about everything except machine learning and law. Coherence is somewhere on the horizon. Bribes, suggestions, love-mail and hate-mail all welcome at




Vaden Masrani, a PhD student in machine learning at UBC and Ben Chugg, a research fellow at Stanford Law School, get into trouble arguing about everything except machine learning and law. Coherence is somewhere on the horizon. Bribes, suggestions, love-mail and hate-mail all welcome at




#31 - The Fall of the Weinstein Republic

Today we take your twitter questions before doing a deep dive into the Weinstein fiasco (Bret and Eric, not Harvey.) If you haven't heard of the Weinstein's before, then we suggest you run away before we drag you down into a rabbit hole filled with acronyms, anti-vaxxers, and theories of ... everything? anything? literally anything at all? Topics we touch: - We take your twitter questions! - Filos with a weird one: ( I have a weird one...


#30 - Let's all just have a good cry (w/ Christofer Lövgren)

Christofer Lövgren, host of the marvelous Do Explain ( podcast and world's most famous Swede (second perhaps only to that Alfred fellow with the peace prize), joins us on the pod to teach us how podcasting is really done. And how to pronounce his last name. When we're not all sobbing, we touch on: Does Deutschian epistemology give us with Free Will? Should one identify as a critical rationalist? Does membership in a community, or identification with a label, affect...


#29 - Some Scattered Thoughts on Superforecasting

We're back! Apologies for the delay, but Vaden got married and Ben was summoned to be an astronaut on the next billionaire's vacation to Venus. This week we're talking about how to forecast the future (with this one simple and easy trick! Astrologers hate them!). Specifically, we're diving into Philip Tetlock's work on Superforecasting ( So what's the deal? Is it possible to "harness the wisdom of the crowd to...


#28 (C&R Series, Ch. 9) - Why is Logic Applicable to Reality?

Why do logic and mathematics work so well in the world? Why do they seem to describe reality? Why do they they enable us to design circuit boards, build airplanes, and listen remotely to handsome and charming podcast hosts who rarely go off topic? To answer these questions, we dive into Chapter 9 of Conjectures and Refutations: Why are the Calculi of Logic and Arithmetic Applicable to Reality?. But before we get to that, we touch on some of the good stuff: evolutionary psychology,...


#27 - A Conversation with Marianne

There are many overused internet keywords that could be associated with this conversation, but none of them quite seem right. So here's a poem instead: The Ogre does what ogres can, Deeds quite impossible for Man, But one prize is beyond his reach: The Ogre cannot master speech. About a subjugated plain, Among its desperate and slain, The Ogre stalks with hands on hips, While drivel gushes from his lips - August 1968, W H Auden ( Send us an email...


#26 - Moral Philosophy Cage Match (with Dan Hageman)

In a rare turn of events, it just so happened that one or perhaps both of your charming co-hosts spewed a bit of nonsense about Derek Parfit in a previous episode, and we had to bring in a heavy hitter to sort us out. Today we're joined by friend of the podcast Mr. Dan Hageman, immuno-oncologist by day and aspiring ethicist by night, who gently takes us to task for misunderstanding Parfit and the role of ethical theorizing, and for ignoring the suffering of pigeons. The critiques land, and...


#25 - Mathematical Explanation with Mark Colyvan

We often talk of explanation in the context of empirical sciences, but what about explanation in logic and mathematics? Is there such a thing? If so, what does it look like and what are the consequences? In this episode we sit down with professor of philosophy Mark Colyvan and explore How mathematical explanation differs from explanation in the natural sciences Counterfactual reasoning in mathematics Intra versus extra mathematical explanation Alternate logics Mathematical thought...


#24 - Popper's Three Worlds

This episode begins with a big announcement! Ben has officially become a cat person, and is now Taking Cats Seriously. Vaden follows up with some news of his own, before diving into the main subject for today's episode - Popper's Three Worlds. In this episode we discuss: TCStweet Having a quick glance at the following wikipedia pages will help ground the conversation: Formal systemsFormal languagesModular ArithmeticRules of inferenceAlternative Logics Errata: naturalformal Send us...


#23 - Physics, Philosophy, and Free Will with Sam Kuypers

We are joined by the great Sam Kuypers for a conversation on physics, philosophy, and free will. Vaden spends most of the episode preparing for a huge debate on free-will, and Ben spends it worried about what alternate versions of himself are up to in parallel universes. Still, we manage to touch on a few topics: Links: recent paperFrom Micro to MacroConstitution of Liberty Sam Kuypers is a DPhil student at the University of Oxford, where he researches foundational issues in quantum...


#22 - Thinking Through Thought Experiments

In this episode, we discuss Peter Singer's famous drowning child thought experiment, the role of moral theories, and the role of thought experiments in moral reasoning. From our perspectives, the conversation went something like this: Ben's POV: Bravely and boldly trying to think through problems, Ben puts forward a stunningly insightful theory about the role of moral argumentation. Vaden, jealous of the profundity of Ben's message, tries to disagree but can't. Vaden's POV: What the eff is...


#21 (C&R Series, Ch.1) - The Problem of Induction

After a long digression, we finally return to the Conjectures and Refutations series. In this episode we cover Chapter 1: Science: Conjectures and Refutations. In particular, we focus on one of the trickiest Popperian concepts to wrap one's head around - the problem of induction. References: Wiki on scientific laws Hume's dialogues concerning natural religionProof of the impossibility of probability inductionYouTube videosAnd in case you were wondering what happened to the two...


#20 (HTI crossover episode) - Roundtable Longtermism Discussion

Hello and sorry for the delay! We finally got together with Fin and Luca from the excellent HearThisIdea podcast for a nice roundtable discussion on longtermism. We laughed, we cried, we tried our best to communicate across the divide. Material referenced in the discussion: - 80k Hours Problem Profiles - Jon Hamm imprisons us in an Alexa - The Case for Strong Longtermism - A Case Against Strong Longtermism - Nick Bostrom's seminal paper on existential risks Quote: "[Events like...


#19 - Against Longtermism FAQ

Back in the ring for round two on longtermism! We (Ben somewhat drunkenly) respond to some of the criticism of episode #17 and our two essays (Ben's, Vaden's) We touch on: piece on cliodynamicsThe Pasadena gameYou will, dear listener, be either pleased or horrified to learn that this will not be our last foray into longtermism. It's like choose your own adventure ... except we're choosing the adventure, and the adventure is longtermism. Next stop is the Hear this Idea podcast! Send us best...


#18 - Work Addiction

Bit of a personal episode this one is! Ben learns how to be a twitter warrior while Vaden has a full-on breakdown during quarantine. Who knew work addiction was actually a real thing? And that there are 12 step programs for people who identify as being "powerless over compulsive work, worry, or activity"? And that mathematics can create compulsive behavior indistinguishable from drug addiction? Vaden does, now. People mentioned in this episode: - Andrew Wiles (look at his face! the face of...


#17 - Against Longtermism

Well, there's no avoiding controversy with this one. We explain, examine, and attempt to refute the shiny new moral philosophy of longtermism. Our critique focuses on The Case for Strong Longtermism by Hilary Greaves and Will MacAskill. We say so in the episode, but it's important to emphasize that we harbour no animosity towards anyone in the effective altruism community. However, we both think that longtermism is pretty f***ing scary and do our best to communicate why. Confused as to why...


#16 - Social Media II: Conversation, Privacy, and Odds & Ends

Vaden comes battle-hardened and ready to debate and is met with ... a big soft hug from Ben. Ben repents his apocalyptic sins and admits that Vaden changed his mind. Again. God dammit this is getting annoying. To his credit, Vaden only gloats for 10 minutes. Eventually we touch on some other topics: Much love to everyone and stay safe out there! Send us some feedback at


#15 - Social Media I: Manipulation, Outrage, and Documentaries

Alright spiders, point this at your brain. Ben and Vaden do a deep dive into the recent Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma and have a genuine debate, just like the good ol' days. Topics touched: Outraged? Polarized? Radicalized, even? We want to hear about it at Quotes referenced in episode: "This point being crossed is at the root of addiction, polarization, radicalization, outrageification, vanityification, the entire thing. This is overpowering human...


#14 (C&R Series, Ch.16) - Prediction, Prophecy, and Fascism

The third in the Conjectures and Refutations series, we cover Chapter 16: Prediction And Prophecy in the Social Sciences. There's a bit more Hitler stuff in this one than usual (retweets ≠ endorsements), but only because he provides a clear example of the motherlode of all bad ideas - historicism. We discuss: Plus a little easter egg! As always send us a little sumptin' sumptin' at Quotes: "In memory of the countless men, women and children of all creeds or...


#13 - Privacy with Stephen Caines

Stephen is back for round two! In this episode we learn that Vaden wants to live in a panopticon and Ben in a high tech surveillance state. Also, we're all going to use Bing from now on. Stephen Caines is a research fellow at Stanford law school's CodeX centre for legal informatics, where he specializes in the domestic use of facial recognition technology. He received a J.D. from the University of Miami with a concentration in the Business of Innovation, Law, and Technology. Bring on da...


#12 (C&R Series, Ch. 17) - Public Opinion and Liberal Principles

In the lead up to the American presidential election, one of the largest and most consequential expressions of public opinion, Ben and Vaden do what they always do and ask: "What does Popper say about this?" The second in the Conjectures and Refutations series, we cover Chapter 17: Public Opinion and Liberal Principles. Largely irrelevant and probably unhelpful, we touch Send us some hate or some love at Chapter excerpt: The following remarks were designed to...