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Philosophy Talk: Select Episodes

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"The program that questions everything -- except your intelligence." Philosophy on the radio? You've got to be kidding? Well, sometimes we do (kid, that is). Mostly we look at today's important ideas with an eye to thinking them through. Philosophy Talk is a weekly, one-hour radio series. The hosts' down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach brings the richness of philosophic thought to everyday subjects. Topics are lofty (Truth, Beauty, Justice), arresting (Terrorism, Intelligent Design, Suicide), and engaging (Baseball, Love, Happiness). This is not a lecture or a college course; it's philosophy in action! Philosophy Talk is a fun opportunity to explore issues of importance to your audience in a thoughtful, friendly fashion, where thinking is encouraged.

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Description:

"The program that questions everything -- except your intelligence." Philosophy on the radio? You've got to be kidding? Well, sometimes we do (kid, that is). Mostly we look at today's important ideas with an eye to thinking them through. Philosophy Talk is a weekly, one-hour radio series. The hosts' down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach brings the richness of philosophic thought to everyday subjects. Topics are lofty (Truth, Beauty, Justice), arresting (Terrorism, Intelligent Design, Suicide), and engaging (Baseball, Love, Happiness). This is not a lecture or a college course; it's philosophy in action! Philosophy Talk is a fun opportunity to explore issues of importance to your audience in a thoughtful, friendly fashion, where thinking is encouraged.

Language:

English


Episodes
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This Week: Righteous Rage

6/15/2024
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/righteous-rage. Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote that anger is a form of madness. Other philosophers share this suspicion, viewing anger as a destructive emotion that leads to cruel and vengeful acts. But don't certain kinds of injustice, like the murders of Black and Brown people in the US, deserve our rage? What's the difference between righteous indignation and a destructive urge for revenge? And how can activists channel their anger toward political good? Josh and Ray keep their cool with Myisha Cherry from UC Riverside, author of "The Case for Rage: Why Anger is Essential to Anti-racist Struggle."

Duration:00:51:34

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Mary Wollstonecraft

5/6/2024
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/mary-wollstonecraft. Mary Wollstonecraft is often labeled as a “liberal feminist” because of her concern for women’s rights and conceptions of freedom. But that label narrows her work, which was broadly critical of all social inequalities that distort human relations. So why did Wollstonecraft think that virtue is not truly possible unless we are all free? What did she think was key to the liberation of women? And what were her criticisms of the powerful institutions of her day, like the monarchy? Josh and Ray explore the life and thought of Mary Wollstonecraft with Sylvana Tomaselli from the University of Cambridge, author of "Wollstonecraft: Philosophy, Passion, and Politics." Part of the "Wise Women" series, generously supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Duration:00:51:38

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Could Robot Be Persons?

4/10/2024
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/could-robots-be-persons. As we approach the advent of autonomous robots, we must decide how we will determine culpability for their actions. Some propose creating a new legal category of “electronic personhood” for any sufficiently advanced robot that can learn and make decisions by itself. But do we really want to assign artificial intelligence legal—or moral—rights and responsibilities? Would it be ethical to produce and sell something with the status of a person in the first place? Does designing machines that look and act like humans lead us to misplace our empathy? Or should we be kind to robots lest we become unkind to our fellow human beings? Josh and Ray do the robot with Joanna Bryson, Professor of Ethics and Technology at the Hertie School of Governance, and author of "The Artificial Intelligence of the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence: An Introductory Overview for Law and Regulation."

Duration:00:50:49

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Shakespeare's Outsiders

3/28/2024
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/shakespeares-outsiders. Over 400 years after his death, Shakespeare is still widely regarded as the greatest dramatist of all time. His many plays tackle questions about power, influence, identity, and moral and social status. His characters—be they villains or heroes—are often disdained because of their race, religion, class, disability, or gender. So what do Shakespeare’s plays reveal about identity and status in his time? How might they shed light on who we include and who we exclude today? Could Shakespearian dramas have more in common with modern day soap operas than we think? Ray and guest-host Adrian Daub go inside with David Sterling Brown from Trinity College in Hartford, author of "Shakespeare's White Others."

Duration:00:51:16

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What Can Virtual Reality (Actually) Do?

3/20/2024
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-can-virtual-reality-actually-do. VR transports users into all kinds of different realities, some modeled on the real world, others completely invented. Though still in its infancy, the technology has become so sophisticated, it can trick the brain into treating the virtual experience as real and unmediated. So what is the most prudent way to employ this cutting edge technology going forward? Could VR help solve real world problems, like implicit bias or the climate crisis? And as the technology becomes more widely available, are there potential dangers we ought to be seriously thinking about? Josh and Ray strap on their headsets with Jeremy Bailenson, Director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford, and author of "Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do."

Duration:00:51:12

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Mind Sharing

3/12/2024
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/mind-sharing. Mind reading might sound like the stuff of science fiction. But in philosophy and psychology, mind reading is something that human beings do whenever we try to guess what another person is thinking. Could it be that people are also natural born mind sharers, unconsciously shaping our behavior to be understood by others? How do we change or exaggerate our actions when others are present? And how can we use these insights to communicate better with our loved ones? Josh and Ray share their mind(s) with Julian Jara-Ettinger, Director of the Computational Social Cognition Lab at Yale University.

Duration:00:51:02

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Margaret Cavendish

3/7/2024
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/margaret-cavendish. Margaret Cavendish was a writer of poetry, philosophy, polemics, histories, plays, and utopian fiction. She employed many different genres as a way to overcome access barriers for women and build an audience for her subversive philosophical ideas. So, what was so radical about Cavendish's views? Why did she think all matter, even rocks, was at least partially rational? And how did she anticipate the term "epistemic injustice" 400 years before it was coined? Josh and Ray explore the life and thought of Margaret Cavendish with Karen Detlefsen from the University of Pennsylvania, co-editor of "The Routledge Handbook of Women and Early Modern European Philosophy."

Duration:00:51:27

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Im Yunjidang

2/17/2024
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/im-yunjidang. 18th-century Korean philosopher Im Yunjidang was the first Confucian to argue for women’s equality in matters of morality and to claim that women, just like men, can be sages. She also argued that it isn't just what you do that matters morally—it's also how you decide. So what does it mean to be a sage and how does someone become one? How did Im Yunjidang use traditional Confucian texts to argue for women's spiritual equality? And what did she think was important when it comes to making difficult moral choices? Josh and Ray explore her life and thought with Hwa Yeong Wang from Duke Kunshan University, editor of "Korean Women Philosophers and the Ideal of a Female Sage: The Essential of Writings of Im Yungjidang and Gang Jeongildang."

Duration:00:50:52

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Can A.I. Help Us Understand Babies?

1/29/2024
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/can-ai-help-us-understand-babies. Artificial intelligence is everywhere in our day-to-day lives and our interactions with the world. And it's made impressive progress at a variety of visual, linguistic, and reasoning tasks. Does this improved performance indicate that computers are thinking, or is it just an engineering artifact? Can it help us understand how children acquire knowledge and develop language skills? Or are humans fundamentally different from machines? Josh and Ray decode the babble with Michael Frank, Professor of Human Biology at Stanford University and Director of the Symbolic Systems Program.

Duration:00:50:43

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20th Anniversary Quiz Show

1/20/2024
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/20th-anniversary-quiz-night. Philosophy Talk made its radio debut on August 20, 2003 with a live pilot on KALW San Francisco and weekly broadcasts beginning in January 2004. To celebrate two decades on the air, in November 2023 we held our first-ever Quiz Night. Longtime listeners and first-time fans filled KALW's popup space in downtown San Francisco as Director of Research Laura Maguire ran eight teams through the gauntlet of a philosophical pub quiz. In this special 20th anniversary episode, Josh and Ray (who participated in the quiz as regular contestants) revisit the drama and intellectual derring-do from that evening with their guest quiz-taker, host emeritus John Perry.

Duration:01:00:24

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American Futures (Ken Taylor Memorial Episode)

12/29/2023
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/american-futures. When Ken Taylor passed away suddenly in 2019, he was working on a manuscript titled "Farewell to the Republic We Once Dreamed of." Was Ken right to think the American experiment is on the verge of collapse? Are we heading for authoritarian rule, a national divorce, or even a civil war? Or could better days be on the horizon? In Ken’s honor, Josh and Ray devote their 2023 end-of-year special to probing the future of the American republic with Barbara Walter from UC San Diego, Tamsin Shaw from New York University, and Rob Reich from Stanford University.

Duration:00:55:50

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Impossible Worlds

11/30/2023
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/impossible-worlds. Philosophers often speculate about possible worlds: ways that things could be. Some of them also believe in impossible worlds: ways that things couldn't be. Are impossible worlds places where strange things happen, or descriptions, or abstract objects, or something else entirely? How can you describe an impossibility without contradicting yourself? Could we imagine worlds where even the laws of logic are different? Josh and Ray imagine the unimaginable with Koji Tanaka from the Australian National University, author of "Logically Impossible Worlds."

Duration:00:50:45

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Mary Astell

11/20/2023
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/mary-astell. Mary Astell (1666–1731) was an English philosopher and writer who advocated for equal rights for women. While she described marriage as a type of “slavery,” she was also a staunch conservative who claimed that women who did marry should accept subordination to their husbands. So what was Astell's vision for the education of women? How did she reconcile her seemingly conflicting views on marriage? And why did philosopher John Locke criticize her views on natural law? Josh and Ray explore her life and thought with Allauren Forbes from McMaster University, author of the Oxford Bibliography on Mary Astell. Part of the "Wise Women" series, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Duration:00:50:45

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Elisabeth of Bohemia

10/16/2023
More at www.philosophytalk.org/shows/elisabeth-bohemia. Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618–1680) is best known for her correspondence with René Descartes. In her letters, she articulated a devastating critique of his dualist theory of mind, in particular on the impossibility of mind-body interaction. So what was Elisabeth's own position on the nature of mind? What can we ascertain about her moral and political concerns based on her various correspondences? And how are her ideas still relevant to current debates in philosophy? Josh and Ray explore Elisabeth's life and thought with Lisa Shapiro from McGill University, editor of "The Routledge Handbook of Women and Early Modern European Philosophy."

Duration:00:50:58

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Can Architecture Be Political?

10/12/2023
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/can-architecture-be-political. It’s common to judge a piece of architecture based on its functional and aesthetic values, and how the two might complement or compete with one other. It’s less common to judge architecture based on its political values. But can’t a building’s design also express a political viewpoint? Why are different styles of architecture associated with different ideologies? And can a historical edifice's social purpose change over time? Josh and Ray build a foundation with Vladimir Kulić from Iowa State University, editor of "Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980." This episode is generously sponsored by the Stanford Global Studies program.

Duration:00:51:16

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Hypatia of Alexandria

7/28/2023
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/hypatia-alexandria. Hypatia of Alexandria, late antiquity public figure and scholar, made significant contributions to mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy. Her embrace of Neoplatonism was seen as such a threat to the political elite in Alexandria that she was murdered by a mob of Christians. So what made her ideas so dangerous and revolutionary for her time? As a woman in Ancient Egypt, how did she exert power over her own narrative? And should she really be considered a "martyr" for philosophy? Josh and Ray explore Hypatia's life and thought with Edward Watts, Professor of History at UCSD and author of "Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher."

Duration:00:51:30

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Can Art Save Us?

6/9/2023
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/can-art-save-us. The world is facing an unprecedented environmental crisis, and we urgently need good ways to address it. Courageous politicians would help, of course, as might scientific innovations. But how much of the problem is a failure of imagination? Could the arts help us see our way out of the problem? How can literature, painting, and movies redraw the landscape in our minds? Josh and Ray imagine a conversation with Harriet Hawkins, Professor of Human Geography and Co-Director of the Centre for GeoHumanities at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Duration:00:51:22

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The Philosophy of Smell

3/19/2023
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/philosophy-smell. When philosophers think about human perception, they tend to focus on vision and turn their noses up at olfaction, the sense of smell. So what insights can we gain about perception, thought, and language by focusing on olfaction? How culturally variable is the ability to distinguish one scent from another? Do we need to learn certain concepts before we can detect certain odors, or can our noses pick up things we can’t yet name? And why do we have so many words to describe what we see, yet so few to describe what we smell? Josh and Ray sniff out the details with experimental psychologist and olfaction expert Asifa Majid from the University of Oxford.

Duration:00:51:31

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Liberty and Justice For Who?

10/21/2022
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/liberty-and-justice-who. Many democracies are founded on the ideals of 18th- and 19th-Century British Liberalism: the idea that human beings deserve the right to self-government because we are born free, equal, and capable of rationality. Yet Liberalism was used to justify colonialism, which deprived people around the world of the right to govern themselves. How could a political philosophy that claims to be pro-freedom be used to take freedom away from so many people? Was Liberalism misunderstood, or were its moral flaws built-in from the beginning? How can we design a political philosophy that liberates everyone, not just the citizens of a few wealthy and powerful nations? Josh and Ray talk liberally with Uday Singh Mehta from the CUNY Graduate Center, author of "Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought," for an episode generously sponsored by the Stanford Global Studies program.

Duration:00:51:02

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The Changing Face of Antisemitism

6/17/2022
More at https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/changing-face-antisemitism. Antisemitism is an old problem with roots that reach back to medieval Europe. While earlier forms focused more on religious bigotry, antisemitism in the modern period became increasingly racialized and politicized. So what is the connection between older ideas about Jews and Judaism, and contemporary antisemitic tropes and stereotypes? How are conspiratorial fears about Jewish invisibility and global control related to the emergence of finance capitalism? And what can history teach us about how to confront antisemitism today? Josh and Ray ask historian Francesca Trivellato from the Institute for Advanced Study, editor of "Jews in Early Modern Europe" (forthcoming), in a program recorded live at the Stanford Humanities Center.

Duration:00:51:40