“The Politics of Crisis: How Police Reform, Covid-19, and Climate Change are all Related” with Guest Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò

We are not living in a calm time. Coronavirus, police violence and protest, and climate change: they all seem to be coming from different directions, but are they? Might there be a common thread that unifies all of our current crises and is there a way of understanding them that helps us change things for the better? In this episode we explore the nature of radical ideas and consider what changes can be made to cultivate justice, and improve everyone’s quality of life before crises happen. Continue reading “The Politics of Crisis: How Police Reform, Covid-19, and Climate Change are all Related” with Guest Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò

Heather Augustyn

“A Philosophical Look at Ska and Jamaican Music” with guest Heather Augustyn

Jamaica is the home of a great musical tradition. Most people know about reggae, but before that, there was dancehall, rocksteady, and our host’s personal favorite, ska. It’s a rich and diverse dance music that mixes Caribbean sounds with jazz, R&B, and punk rock, to explore politics, history, and the legacy of slavery. Join Why? Radio and our guest Heather Augstyn as we explore how this little-known genre spread around the world, racking up hit, after hit, after hit.Continue reading “A Philosophical Look at Ska and Jamaican Music” with guest Heather Augustyn

“The Logic of Jazz” with guest Mark Weinstein

This episode celebrates Why? Radio’s tenth birthday with a musical exploration of the origins, meaning, experience, and, of course, music of jazz. How do newcomers start listening to the music? How do musicians discover new ways to play? And, what makes the best jazz tracks important and enjoyable? Join us as Mark Weinstein, jazz flutist, philosopher, and our host’s father, explores America’s music, explaining music theory, improvisation, and whether music is discovered or invented.Continue reading “The Logic of Jazz” with guest Mark Weinstein

“Is There A Right to Education and Literacy?” with guest Derek W. Black

Is there a right to education? Do all students have a right to literacy and other basic knowledge, regardless of who they are or even how hard they work? And, do zero-tolerance policies undermine kids’ access to schools? Is suspending and expelling students violations of their rights, even with due process? These are the questions that focus this episode of Why? Radio. In it, we ask both whether there is a constitutional right to an education and whether there is a moral right to one.Continue reading “Is There A Right to Education and Literacy?” with guest Derek W. Black

“Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?” with guest Adam Kitzes

Should we still read Shakespeare? That is a harder question than one might think. As universities focus on diversity, marginalized writers, and widening literary traditions, the so-called “dead-white man” becomes the symbol of everything unjust. Is this fair in Shakespeare’s case and does he still have stuff to teach us? And, how should we read him anyway? How do we approach someone whose work is so vast and so intimidating?Continue reading “Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?” with guest Adam Kitzes

“Colin Kaepernick’s Football Protests and America” with guest Eric Burin

America is in the midst of a ferocious debate about protests on the football field. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality against African Americans, inspiring others to do the same. Some think he is justified, others claim he is just a belligerent employee. On this episode, we look at the philosophical issues behind this debate, and have a discussion that focuses on race, sports, patriotism, the history of the United States, and the nature of democracy itself.Continue reading “Colin Kaepernick’s Football Protests and America” with guest Eric Burin

“An Immigrant Defends America” with guest Jason D. Hill

Many people in the United States feel hopeless about their future, arguing that capitalism, police brutality, and racism prevent them from reaching their goals. Some even suggest that the American Dream is a lie and that the game is rigged against African-Americans, in particular. Jason D. Hill challenges this skepticism. He argues that success is a personal choice and that the vast numbers of upwardly-mobile immigrants are all the proof one needs of boundless American potential. He also takes issue with Ta-Nehisi Coates and writers like him, claiming that their fame and wealth undermine their own charges of victimization.Continue reading “An Immigrant Defends America” with guest Jason D. Hill

“Thinking Philosophically About the Black Church” with guest J. Kameron Carter

People have been thinking a lot about race lately and we’ve also been thinking about the role of religion in elections. What we haven’t been doing is examining what happens when the two intersect. On the next episode of Why? we are going to do just this, examining specifically the role of the church in the lives, politics, and self-image of the African-American community (and everyone else).Continue reading “Thinking Philosophically About the Black Church” with guest J. Kameron Carter

“Should Prostitution Be Legal?” with Peter de Marneffe

We can all agree that forced prostitution is morally repugnant, but does it become more acceptable when it is voluntary? Many countries have legalized prostitution and many people think that the freedom to do what one wants with one’s own body should include the freedom to sell sex. But many others don’t, suggesting that no one can consent to sell their body, no matter how it might seem. Join Why? Radio for this controversial and interesting discussion.
Continue reading “Should Prostitution Be Legal?” with Peter de Marneffe

“How to Think Philosophically About Black Identity” with Tommie Shelby

In the face of the tremendous violence of the last few days, in an election season like the current one, and with movements like Black Lives Matters, America and the world are focused on issues related to the African-American experience. But what happens when ask about the deeper foundations of what it means to be black? On this episode of Why? We are going to focus on these questions and Africana philosophy, the new branch of philosophy that explores the experiences and concerns people of African descent. Continue reading “How to Think Philosophically About Black Identity” with Tommie Shelby

“What does Buddhism Offer an African-American Woman?” with Jan Willis

Jan Willis was raised in the Jim Crow south and had crosses burnt on her lawn when she received a scholarship for Cornell University. But her life didn’t just take her through the civil rights movement and the Ivy League, it also took her to India which led her to become a professor of Buddhism and a practicing Buddhist. How did her new religion fit with her Baptist upbringing? How does being a religious scholar relate to being a practitioner? Should we think of Buddhism as an “Eastern” religion with little to do with Western philosophy? On this next episode of Why?, we’ll ask these and other related questions, as we talk memoir, belief, and religious experience with a foremost scholar of Tibetan Buddhism. Continue reading “What does Buddhism Offer an African-American Woman?” with Jan Willis

“Are We Morally Obligated to Live in A Racially-Integrated Society?” with Elizabeth Anderson

Are we living in a post-racial America? How important is integration to democracy and why do we tend to live in such segregated enclaves? Do we have a moral obligation to integrate our society, even if it means some people might not want to live next to the neighbors they end up with?Continue reading “Are We Morally Obligated to Live in A Racially-Integrated Society?” with Elizabeth Anderson

“Saying ‘No’ Through Civil Disobedience” with Jason D. Hill

When Jason Hill was in Turkey, he met a family with a gregarious nine year old daughter. When he compared her lively personality with the distant, quite, and isolated behavior of her burka-clad mother and sister, he began to shudder. He realized that in a few years, she too would be expected to put on similar outfits and withdraw from the world. Continue reading “Saying ‘No’ Through Civil Disobedience” with Jason D. Hill

“Holding the Police Accountable” with Guest Samuel Walker

Samuel Walker has spent his career asking who polices the police. His books and paper titles read like a laundry list of horror stories – police abuse of teenage girls, the unsuccessful nature of police “sweeps” – but he also expresses an optimism about community influence and citizen involvement. On today’s episode, we will dive headfirst into the controversial and complicated world of law enforcement. Continue reading “Holding the Police Accountable” with Guest Samuel Walker

“The NCAA and its Universities” with Taylor Branch

The college sports industry is worth fifty to seventy billion dollars annually and is governed by a single organization, the National Collegiate Athletics Association. What happens if they’re not fair? What happens if there are deep systematic problems that no one has the power to fix and they won’t budge? Taylor Branch noted civil-rights historian, claims that the NCAA is immoral, that it’s racist, and that it has, the “unmistakable whiff of plantation on it.” On this episode of WHY? we’ll talk about the philosophy of college sports and the controversial agency that governs how college athletes live their lives. Continue reading “The NCAA and its Universities” with Taylor Branch

“WHY? Goes to China: Music Without Borders” with Noukilla

Music crosses cultures, but how about the messages it imparts? How do you get an audience to dance, laugh, or even think, when you sing to them in a different language? And what if the music that one person thinks of as a relaxing party-soundtrack is actually regarded as dangerous and revolutionary? Join WHY? as we talk with the Shanghai band Noukilla and ask how five African musicians are breaking ground new ground in the Chinese world music scene while remaining true to their own roots, experiences, and music.Continue reading “WHY? Goes to China: Music Without Borders” with Noukilla