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The Philosopher & The News

Philosophy Podcasts

Leading philosophers bring to the surface the ideas hidden behind the biggest news stories.

Leading philosophers bring to the surface the ideas hidden behind the biggest news stories.


United Kingdom


Leading philosophers bring to the surface the ideas hidden behind the biggest news stories.




Nancy Tuana & The Inequities of the Anthropocene

According to the received narrative, we have entered a new geological era in the history of our planet, the Anthropocene. Human beings, so the theory goes, have become geological agents, having an impact on the planet so profound that it can only be compared to past ice ages and the early stages of the planet’s formation. But this narrative implies that all humans have had a hand in changing the planet, and that that all humans are affected in the same way by climate change. Philosophers,...


Sarah Conly & The One Child Policy

In 1825 the planet’s human population was 1 billion. In 2011, there were 7 billion human beings on the planet. With the current projections estimating that by the year 2050 the human population will be 9.6 billion, there is a pressing question: Can climate change be stopped simply by moving to greener energy sources and reducing the consumption levels of the developed world? Or is something more drastic in order, like curbing the human population growth ? Given the grim history of states...


Alexander Douglas & Planning the Green New Deal

In 2019 the US Congress representative Alexandria Occasio Cortez and US senator Edward Markey put forward a resolution called the Green New Deal. Borrowing the name from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s, a massive state-led plan to save the economy from the 1929 crash, the Green New Deal proposes an even more ambitious state plan, this time to save the planet from climate change. The aim of a net-zero carbon emissions economy within the next thirty years, the argument goes, can...


Thom Brooks & There is no Solving Climate Change

What if we’re been thinking about climate change the wrong way? What if it’s not a problem that can be solved, but something that can only be managed? What if climate change is here to stay? Thom Brooks is the author of Climate Change Ethics for an Endangered World. He is professor of Law and Government at the University of Durham, and the outgoing Dean of the Durham Law School. He is also a public policy advisor and the founding Director of the Labour Academic Network. This podcast is...


Brexit and Freedom with The Political Philosophy Podcast

January 1st this year marked the end of the transition period in the UK’s long and tortured journey of leaving the European Union. Four and a half years after the 2016 Brexit referendum the UK began a new chapter in its history, sovereign and independent, as the Leave campaign might have put it, no longer constrained by the EU’s laws and courts. Underneath those claims lies a variety of different conceptions of freedom. As Isaiah Berlin explained in his famous essay “Two Concepts of...


Brian Patrick Green & The Ethics of Space Exploration

On February 22nd, NASA released video footage of the car-sized Rover Perseverance, landing on the surface of Mars. After a journey of seven months and 293 million miles, the robot vehicle finally reached the red planet, with the aim of searching for ancient signs of life on Mars. A couple of weeks later, Elon Musk’s company Space X tested a prototype of Starship, a vehicle meant to enable mass interplanetary travel, and the eventual colonisation of other planets by humans. This, according...


Ann Sophie Barwich & Smelling the World

One of the many things that the pandemic forced us to rethink is the importance of a sense we usually don’t give much attention to: Our sense of smell. More than half of people with Covid-19 experience the loss of smell or taste and while two-thirds recover within six to eight weeks, many are left without much improvement months down the line. Some of the people who regain their sense of smell, experience it as hugely altered (parosmia) — aromas that they used to enjoy are now overbearingly...


Emily Thomas & The Meaning of Travel

The reason Covid-19 became the pandemic it did had to do with a distinctly modern phenomenon: global mass travel. Until about a year ago, getting on a plane and travelling thousands of miles across the Earth for a business meeting, or a short holiday in a different country, was something millions of people didn’t think twice about. These days, travel is one of the things the pandemic has deprived us of, reminding us what a privilege it was to be able to roam freely around the world, making...


Jonathan Wolff & Pandemic Policy Ethics

One set of ethical questions has been looming large since the start of the pandemic: How do we evaluate the costs and benefits that result from lockdown measures? Is it possible to weight the lives saved by lockdown measures against the unemployment, damage to mental health and education that they resulted in? Or are such comparisons impossible to make? Is there a price to human life, and if so, how do we arrive at it? What are the ethical principles that we should follow when making...


Richard Kearney & The Importance of Touch

One of the first things we lost as the Covid pandemic began was the handshake. It foreshadowed what would follow in the months ahead: Social distancing, the loss of human touch and our longing for the physical presence of others. As we began living an increasingly disembodied existence on Zoom meetings and video calls with friends and family, many of us had a similar realization: The tactile sensation cannot be replaced with vision and sound. Historically, much of philosophy downgraded the...


Jeffrey Howard & Dangerous Speech

Two days after the storming of the Capitol, following a Trump rally, and with the former president seemingly continuing to glorify the events of January 6, Facebook and Twitter decided to ban him from the social media platforms, in Twitter’s case permanently. Many welcomed this move, while others cried that this constituted a violation of the former President’s free speech. Some argued that Twitter and Facebook are private companies, and therefore can enforce their terms of service however...


Elizabeth Anderson & Talking to the Other Side

In the era of populism and political polarisation, listening to the other side has become harder than ever. Even agreeing to a common starting point, a set of facts about the world, has come to seem impossible. To many of us it seems that our political and cultural opponents just live in a different world, a different reality from us. Facts have become politicised, and their acceptance or denial a sign of one’s political identity. On top of that, much of political discourse takes place in...


Maya Goldenberg & Vaccine Hesitancy

Most commentators treat vaccine hesitancy as part of a bigger problem: the death of expertise. Maya Goldenberg disagrees: vaccine hesitancy has to do with trust. According to the received narrative, people have stopped listening to experts, relying instead on Google searches and social media influencers for advice on important topics. There is an ongoing war, the narrative continues, between knowledge and ignorance, and the way to win the war it is by educating the public, those who think a...


Quassim Cassam & Conspiracy Theories

The SARS-Covid-2 pandemic brought to the surface something that has accompanied other pandemics in the past: conspiracy theories. Now, with several vaccines having been developed, the conspiracy theories have turned to them. But how should we understand conspiracy theories? And why do people find them so attractive? Do the producers of conspiracy theories really believe in them? And what does the rise of populism have to do with the proliferation of conspiracy theories? Quassim Cassam, is...


David Runciman & Political Representation

On January the 6th, what started as a Trump rally in Washington DC, ended up in the violent storming of the Capitol, with, members of Congress being rushed to safety. Fuelled by the president’s words, calling the 2020 election results fraudulent, Trump’s followers took over the Capitol, shouting among other things “This is our house!” and “They work for us!” referring to the members of Congress, their representatives. Commenting on the events President-elect Joe Biden, said “The scenes of...


Understanding Our Times

A new podcast where leading philosophers bring to the surface the philosophy hidden behind the biggest news stories. Together we'll be exploring the ideas that can help us understand the times we're living through. Welcome to The Philosopher & The News. This podcast is made in partnership with The Philosopher journal: Music by Pataphysical: Artwork by Nick Halliday: