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Program Website: http://www.philosophytalk.org/
Philosophy Talk is a weekly, one-hour radio series hosted by
Ken Taylor, Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University,
and John Perry, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
at the University of California at Riverside. The program is not a lecture
or college course—it's philosophy in action! Philosophy Talk
is a fun opportunity to explore issues of importance in a thoughtful,
The Demands of Morality
We all want to lead a moral life. But even if we all agreed on what that would mean, we still have to balance our own self-interest with the competing demands of morality. This becomes even more challenging when the decks are stacked against us, or when everyone around us is only looking out for themselves. So in the real world, what does it mean to live a moral life? Do we have a responsibility to act morally when others around us are not? And what do we do if morality makes excessive demands of us? John and Ken balance their own self-interests with Tamar Schapiro from Stanford University, for a program recorded live as part of the Stanford Continuing Studies series The Art of Living.
Good, Evil, and the Divine Plan
A theodicy is an explanation by a philosopher or theologian about why a world created by a kind and all-powerful God contains so much suffering. It forces us to think about the nature of good and evil, about whether the kind of knowledge an all-knowing God has leaves room for human freedom. Why do people who suffer often find their faith in God growing stronger? Is evil an illusion? Does God really need a defense attorney? John and Ken search for insight with Andrew Pinsent from the University of Oxford.
The Extended Mind
An increasing number of psychologists and philosophers believe that to understand how the mind really works, we must understand it as both embedded in a body and as situated in an environment. According to some, in fact, the body and the environment do not just house the mind, but are an essential part of the mind in the sense that workings of the mind depend upon and exploit the body and the environment. John and Ken probe the extended mind, embodied cognition, and the situated self with renowned cognitive scientist George Lakoff, co-author of Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley.
Faith vs. Reason
It sounds plausible to require that all our beliefs be based on evidence and sound reasoning. Yet some people's most cherished beliefs, like their belief in a deity, are based on faith alone. Does that make those beliefs fundamentally irrational, or could there be some rational justification for such faith? And what about reason itself—are there limits to what can be known rationally? Does our reliance on reason demand a kind of faith of its own? Is there a way to reconcile faith and reason, or does the well-lived life demand that we choose one over the other? John Ken put reasonable faith in Howard Wettstein from UC Riverside, author of The Significance of Religious Experience. This program was recorded live as part of the Stanford Continuing Studies series The Art of Living.
Summer Reading List
Summer is the perfect time to dig in to deep reading. Martin Heidegger's Being and Time may be a bit much to take on vacation, but there are lots of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your summer reading. Not to mention new and classic fiction books with a philosophical bent. John and Ken share some of the philosophically-minded titles on their reading list and take suggestions from listeners and special guests.
Gay Pride and Prejudice
Gay Rights has become a hot button issue, with opposition taking on the air of a moral panic and support taking on the air of a righteous crusade. John and Ken attempt to dispassionately examine the competing scientific, religious, and philosophical visions of the nature of gayness. They explore the consequences of those competing arguments for and against gay rights with cultural and psychological anthropologist Gilbert Herdt, editor of Moral Panics, Sex Panics: Fear and the Fight over Sexual Rights. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley.
Physics, Philosophy, and Theology
The world disclosed by the physical sciences can seem depressing. Modern physics, for example, has undermined the religious idea that the universe has a spiritual dimension. Quantum physics in particular seems to present the world as more paradoxical than rational. Is there room within – or in addition to – the world presented to us by the physical sciences for philosophical and religious ideas such as values, freedom, dignity, justice, and even God? Or should these all be regarded as useful illusions? John and Ken peer into the cosmos with Tim O'Connor from Indiana University, author of Theism and Ultimate Explanation.
Education and the Culture Wars
In contemporary democracies, the state is responsible for providing children with an education. But parents surely have both the right and responsibility for instilling appropriate morals and values in their children. How should we reconcile conflicts between the state’s responsibility to properly educate minors and the parents’ rights to influence their children's values and ideals? Should the government’s approach to education in areas such as history and science always trump that of the child’s most direct guardians? Or should parents hold some veto power when it comes to education about evolution, sex, and other issues that bear on religious and personal values? John and Ken do their homework with Stanford political scientist Rob Reich, co-editor of Education, Justice, and Democracy, for a program recorded live at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco.
Nations and Borders
One’s country of birth has a profound effect on life prospects. It's often best to go elsewhere. But moving is not always so easy. Borders and immigration control restrict people from going where they want to pursue a better life. On the one hand there is the state’s need for security, self-determination, and a functioning economy. But why should arbitrary boundaries, based on past thefts of territory, limit a person's opportunities? Are borders essential to nationhood, or do they form an exclusive club that unfairly keeps certain people from pursuing a better life? John and Ken lift the gate for UC Berkeley Law Professor Sarah Song, author of Justice, Gender, and the Politics of Multiculturalism. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco.
Whodunit: The Language of Responsibility
Who is responsible for the broken vase in the foyer? How harshly should criminals be punished for their crimes? Did Justin Timberlake mean to disrobe Janet Jackson during her infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’? Cognitive scientists have recently discovered some surprising ways in which the language we use influences how we think about responsibility and agency. John and Ken welcome back Stanford psychologist Lera Boroditsky for a probing look at cross cultural variations in the language of responsibility. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley.