“How to Think Like a Hindu,” with guest Swami Sarvapriyananda

When people talk about Hinduism, they usually do so in very spiritual and vague language. They mention meditation and enlightenment, oneness and karma. But what does these mean and what’s it like to see the world through a Hindu lens? In this episode, philosopher Jack Russell Weinstein interviews Swami Sarvapriyananda. Together they make the religion and its ideas accessible, interesting, and relevant to everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs.Continue reading “How to Think Like a Hindu,” with guest Swami Sarvapriyananda

“What is a Model Minority?” with guest Emily S. Lee

American politics tells us that being a member of an ethnic minority means being poor, marginalized, and less successful than those in the majority, except for one caveat. Model-minority members are ultra-successful, role models for others, and most of the time, Asian-American. Their members are presumed to have mastered the skills to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Is all of this accurate? Is being held out as special really a compliment? Or, does treating success as a foregone conclusion only punish individual and make their failure seem even worse?Continue reading “What is a Model Minority?” with guest Emily S. Lee

“How do Philosophers Talk About Sex, Love, and Desire?” with guest Sarah LaChance Adams

Discussing sex can be quite difficult, even embarrassing, but philosophers have been doing it for thousands of years. We love questioning how culture and biology combine to establish what’s normal, and examining the various justifications for transgression. Now, with mainstream acknowledgment of pornography, marginalized sexual identities and orientations, and newfound openness to kinky play, it’sContinue reading “How do Philosophers Talk About Sex, Love, and Desire?” with guest Sarah LaChance Adams

“Why Do Conspiracy Theories Work?” with Guest Quassim Cassam

We are living in a time of conspiracy theories that fuel a divisive and increasingly violent politics, even when they’re obviously untrue. They are spouted by our representatives; they’re believed by our neighbors. How do conspiracy theories ensnare people so effectively and why are believers so reluctant to change their minds? Can we assume that the truth will win out, or is there something else going on, something beyond logic and reason?Continue reading “Why Do Conspiracy Theories Work?” with Guest Quassim Cassam

“Is Free Speech worth it?” with guest Thane Rosenbaum

Free speech is probably the most valued and cited right in the U.S. Constitution, yet it faces a tremendous backlash from the younger generation. The Supreme Court has expanded free speech to include almost all forms of expression just as the internet makes it virtually impossible to distinguish truth from lies. And, as we face powerful protests from Black Lives Matter, white supremacists, and people who oppose wearing masks in public, we’re forced to ask, if one of these groups has the freedom to express themselves, must they all?Continue reading “Is Free Speech worth it?” with guest Thane Rosenbaum

“Why does income equality make society stronger?” with guests Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Income inequality is bad for the poor, sure. But did you know that it’s also bad for the well-off? Did you also know that unequal societies have less trust, more violence, and more illness than egalitarian ones? In fact, it turns out that more equal societies are stronger, healthier, and happier across the board. Although inequality affects the poor most, even the better-off benefit from greater equality. On this episode, we explore why this is and look at the global data that explains it.Continue reading “Why does income equality make society stronger?” with guests Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

“A Philosophical Look at Immigration and Migration” with guest Adam Hosein

Immigration controversies never end. If we’re not worried about Syrian refugees or Mexicans looking for a better life, we’re concerned with Jews escaping genocide or the Irish seeking food. And whatever we do, we always seem to get it wrong. We are blamed for not doing enough, condemned for doing too much, scoffed at for focusing on other people’s problems, instead of own. How do we sort all of this out? How should we treat people who want or need to relocate to our homeland? What are our obligations to migrants and refugees? Continue reading “A Philosophical Look at Immigration and Migration” with guest Adam Hosein

“How do the arts contribute to capitalism and economic development?” with guest Patrick Kabanda

Famous paintings sell for hundreds of millions of dollars. The most popular musicians become rich off of their fame. Is the only way to value art as investments or commodities, or can they be useful on other ways? Is art a product to sell, or are the arts as a whole, a way of developing human capabilities, skills, and even empathy? Can the arts promote equality, help developing countries, or bring about peace and social cohesion? On this episode, we examine these and other questions, looking at creativity through the lenses of economics and public policy.Continue reading “How do the arts contribute to capitalism and economic development?” with guest Patrick Kabanda

“What is Sharia Law?” with guest Robert Gleave

What is sharia law? You’d think we’d all be able to answer that question, given how much we hear the name. But most non-Muslims known almost nothing about it. Is it the Muslim version of a catechism? Is it a legal system that directs Islamic politicians and the courts? And, how does it manage interpretive disagreements? Are its precepts obvious or does it inspire deep controversies even among its adherents? These are the questions that will guide this episode of Why? Radio.Continue reading “What is Sharia Law?” with guest Robert Gleave

“What is Literacy?” with guest Kim Donehower

When people think of literacy, they usually refer to simple reading and writing. They regard it as a mechanical skill that is mostly about deciphering letters on a page. But, in fact, literacy is a lot more complicated than that. It involves culture, power, and the opinion of others. It is defined by communities and can be used as a weapon to disregard the marginalized. On this episode of Why? Radio, we’ll discuss what literacy means, investigate it’s many competing definitions, and explore how it plays into stereotypes. Continue reading “What is Literacy?” with guest Kim Donehower

“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

“Why We Need More Jokes In Our Lives” with guest Al Gini

Human beings are joke tellers. We take great satisfaction in making people laugh and have warm feelings for those who we think are funny. But what makes a joke work and why can only some people tell them? Are there subjects we shouldn’t joke about and is it true that humor is dangerous? On this episode of Why? Radio, we ask these questions, examining the philosophy of jokes, and host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Al Gini even get to swap some of their favorites (and some that might be a bit controversial). Continue reading “Why We Need More Jokes In Our Lives” with guest Al Gini

“Can we know things better?” with guest Ernest Sosa

We live in the days of “alternative facts,” what does this say about human knowledge? People think that climate change is a myth, even though most scientists claim the evidence for it is overwhelming. What does this tell us about our ability to know what we know? To answer these questions, Why? Radio looks past the facts and the disagreements to examine the human faculty of knowledge itself. In today’s episode we introduce and explore epistemology–the philosophical investigation into the nature and limits of knowledge Continue reading “Can we know things better?” with guest Ernest Sosa

“Feminism as Philosophy, Politics, and Friendship” with guests Gloria Steinem and Suzanne Braun Levine

It is Why? Radio’s 100th episode; a powerful milestone for a monthly show. To help us celebrate, we are joined by writers, activists, and feminist icons Gloria Steinem and Suzanne Braun Levine. As the founder and the first editor of Ms. Magazine, Gloria and Suzanne left an indelible mark on the American consciousness, but they weren’t with stopping there. They have spent almost a half century fighting for political, social, and even philosophical equality, and did so as friends with a joint mission.Continue reading “Feminism as Philosophy, Politics, and Friendship” with guests Gloria Steinem and Suzanne Braun Levine

“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

“Philosophy and Disability” with Anita Silvers

In 2003 there was a fire at a Russian boarding school, 28 deaf children were killed. In a published analysis, two philosophers claimed that it was their deafness that caused their death. They had to be woken up individually and they couldn’t hear instructions to run. The rest was inevitable. Anita Silvers not only takes issue with this interpretation, but describes this analysis as emblematic of everything wrong about our thinking on disability. On this episode of Why? we talk with her about the philosophical errors in our discussions about the disabled and how to learn from these mistakes.Continue reading “Philosophy and Disability” with Anita Silvers

“Women and Men: Talking, Arguing, Loving, and Politicking” with guest Deborah Tannen

Sixteen years ago, Deborah Tannen published the bestselling You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, a book that ushered in a very public face to a prolific scholarly career. Her work on gender and communication has expanded to focus on romantic and work life, relations between mothers and daughters, siblings, and the role of argument in talking, all through the lens of gender. On this episode of Why? we look at her work over the last couple of decades and explore what it can tell us about our lives, our relationships, and our politics.Continue reading “Women and Men: Talking, Arguing, Loving, and Politicking” with guest Deborah Tannen

“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

“How do Muslims, Christians, and Jews See Each Other?” David Nirenberg

Muslims, Jews, Christians: they’ve been fighting for millennia and living next to each other for just as long. They share the same prophet—Abraham—and have many of the same beliefs. Yet, they define themselves in opposition to one another, demonizing and even killing each other along the way. Is this intrinsic to who they are or is this something that can be changed? Can they coexist or must they be enemies? These questions are the focus of this episode of Why? Radio.Continue reading “How do Muslims, Christians, and Jews See Each Other?” David Nirenberg

“Equality and Dialogue in American High Schools” with Nel Noddings

If you believe the news, you would think that American children are stupid and that schools only make them worse. Is this true? And, more importantly, what should learning look like? Do we continue to teach a specialized and standardized program or can we find a more integrated way to teach students about home and family, their future occupation, and civic life, all at the same time? On this episode of Why?, we discuss the future of education and what High Schools can do to education the whole person. Continue reading “Equality and Dialogue in American High Schools” with Nel Noddings

“The Intelligence in Everyday Work” with Guest Mike Rose

Mike Rose’s mother was a waitress. She worked for years negotiating the complex world of planning around, strategizing about, delivering to, and socializing with customers. She had to master timing, memory, efficiency, and psychology, but if you asked just about anyone, they would have said her work involved no deep thought at all. She had to master timing, memory, efficiency, and psychology, but if you asked just about anyone, they would have said her work involved no deep thought at all. In his important book The Mind at Work. Mike challenges the idea that waitressing is thoughtless, while also looking at the complex intellect of hairdressers, electricians, carpenters, and others in similar professions. This episode of Why? asks us to relearn everything we claim to know about manual laborers and reexamine our assumptions about the role of thinking in jobs. Continue reading “The Intelligence in Everyday Work” with Guest Mike Rose

“How to Think about Antisemitism” with Daniel Goldhagen

Almost two decades ago, Daniel Goldhagen wrote a book about the holocaust that changed the entire discussion. For the first time, people were forced to consider how everyday Germans influenced the genocide. Since then, he’s written more books on related topics and watched as global antisemitism got worse and worse, publishing, finally, a powerful study called The Devil that Never Dies. On this episode Danny and Jack have a wide-ranging discussion about antisemitism itself, Israel, the use of language to describe Jews, and even Microsoft Word! Continue reading “How to Think about Antisemitism” with Daniel Goldhagen

“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

“Are Indian Tribes Sovereign Nations?” with George Tinker

It is no secret that there are strained relations between Native American tribes and the U.S. Government. In fact, many tribes want to be considered sovereign nations, free from US law and expectations. Even more so, most Americans understand little about American Indian life, traditions, and history. How are we to have a serious conversation about Indian liberation if we don’t know the basic facts? On this episode, we look not only at political question of tribal sovereignty, but delve deeply into its relationship to Native American culture, theology and history. Continue reading “Are Indian Tribes Sovereign Nations?” with George Tinker

“Can there be a world without borders?” with Seyla Benhabib

Our world is getting smaller and people are migrating from place to place. It feels like the old ideas of ethnicity and national origin just don’t hold the same power that they used to. Instead, the real question may turn out to be, how can we all be world citizens? On this episode we investigate cosmopolitanism and ask what it means to live without national boundaries and travel restrictions. Continue reading “Can there be a world without borders?” with Seyla Benhabib

“Should there be a national standard for education?” with Michael Apple

Education in the United States has changed radically in the last twenty years – standardized tests and the new Common Core goals have changed the way students are taught. At the heart of the debate is a complex philosophical question: should there be national standards for education or should educational goals be determined on the local level? Does the federal government have the best idea of what students should learn, or do local school boards, towns, cities, and counties? Should politicians and policy makers determine standards, or should teachers and parents? On this episode we discuss the Common Core, the purpose and nature of education, necessary educational goals, and Michael Apple’s new book “Can Education Change Society?” Continue reading “Should there be a national standard for education?” with Michael Apple

“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

“A Conversation with a Playwright” with Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner is probably the most important and most influential living American playwright. At this year’s UND Writers Conference, WHY?’s host Jack Russell Weinstein had the pleasure and honor of talking to him about the Pulitzer Prize winning play Angels in America, his movie Lincoln, and writing for the theater in general. It was a remarkable conversation in front of a very large appreciative audience. Continue reading “A Conversation with a Playwright” with Tony Kushner

“The Case for Religious Moderation” with William Egginton

We are, people will tell us, in the midst of a religious war. Depending on who you believe either science is making us immoral heathens or religion is making is ignorant rubes. William Egginton however challenges this view. He not only claims that this dichotomy is false, he asserts that the two sides are both fundamentalists and cut from the same cloth. Egginton argues that we should all be religious moderates combining scientific truth with religious belief. Continue reading “The Case for Religious Moderation” with William Egginton

“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

“WHY? Goes to China: Confucius and Today’s China” with Daniel Bell

Confucian philosophy plays an important role in the Chinese family, but what role does it play in politics? Chinese is a traditional society, but modern China is built on a break from the past. China holds dearly to its own past, but is experiencing more change than ever before. Join us for a discussion about how tradition works in a changing China and the importance of cities in moral life. This interview was recorded at The American Culture Center at The University of Shanghai for Science and Technology before a live audience. Continue reading “WHY? Goes to China: Confucius and Today’s China” with Daniel Bell

“Lies My Teacher Told Me” with James W. Loewen

In 1995, James Lowen published Lies My Teacher Told Me, a powerful critique of how American history is taught in schools. He surveyed twelve leading textbooks and found, in his words, ”an embarrassing amalgam of bland optimism, blind patriotism, and misinformation pure and simple, weighing in at an average of four-and-a-half pounds and 888 pages.” His book won the American Book Award, the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship, and the AESA Critics’ Choice Award. The book has sold over 1,250,000 copies. Continue reading “Lies My Teacher Told Me” with James W. Loewen

“Marriage and the Family” Stephanie Coontz

Is the “traditional” marriage between one man and one woman really the most preferred form of marriage? History suggests it is not. In addition to polygamy (the most valued, historically), there is also polyandry (one woman, many husbands), ghost marriages, “female husbands,” and many others, and almost none of them had anything to do with love. Join WHY? as we talk with Stephanie Coontz about her research on the history of marriage, family, and the moral systems that justify the choices. Continue reading “Marriage and the Family” Stephanie Coontz

“Teaching Philosophy for Children” with Maughn Gregory

How young can children learn philosophy? How should it be taught in the schools? What does philosophy offer that other curricula do not? For decades, the international movement known as “philosophy for children” has had tremendous success teaching in both public and private schools. Emphasizing moral education, critical thinking, and concept development, P4C, as it is know, has inspired even the youngest children to speak out in class, think about the most difficult subjects, and come to their own conclusions about controversial issues. Join WHY? as we examine this fascinating topic and ask whether a subject like philosophy is compatible with schooling built on standardized testing. Continue reading “Teaching Philosophy for Children” with Maughn Gregory

“In A Different Voice and After” with Carol Gilligan

Do men think differently than women? Is moral reasoning inherently male? Is psychology biased against relationships and the women who value them? Thirty years ago, Carol Gilligan asked these questions and shook the foundations of philosophy, psychology, and feminism. This month on WHY?, we revisit Gilligan’s classic study In A Different Voice and ask whether her answers still hold true. How was the classic text received? How is it viewed now? And, what does it (and Gilligan) still have to teach us? Join us for a challenging and important conversation that may be as powerful today as it was when the book was first released. Continue reading “In A Different Voice and After” with Carol Gilligan

“Honor Codes and Moral Revolutions” with K. Anthony Appiah

How does the concept of honor inspire moral revolutions? What is the ethical code at the core of dueling? How does dishonor lead to fundamental changes in behavior and shifts in entire moral systems? These questions lie at the core of a fascinating discussion about the nature and origin of ethical practices. Join WHY? as we interview K. Anthony Appiah, as he discusses his new book The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen. Talk with us as we draw lines between British aristocratic duels, “honor killings’ in Pakistan, the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, and foot-biding in turn-of-the-century China. As Appiah shows, by focusing on the age-old question of honor, we can see, more clearly than ever, why moral beliefs are what they are.
Continue reading “Honor Codes and Moral Revolutions” with K. Anthony Appiah

“Empathy, the Constitution, and Sexual Orientation” with Martha Nussbaum

Should America allow gay marriage? Are demands for civil rights by homosexuals analogous to earlier movements for equality by black Americans, women, and others? How have personal attitudes – particularly disgust – shaped law in the United States? This episode of Why? will focus on the enlarging sphere of respect that American culture is cultivating for all of its members, as well as the role the humanities play in articulating political rights. Join us for a discussion about constitutional interpretation regarding same-sex relations, and the role that the ethical and sympathetic imagination plays in recognizing the humanity of others. Continue reading “Empathy, the Constitution, and Sexual Orientation” with Martha Nussbaum

“Ideology and Curriculum: 30 Years of a Discussion” with Michael W. Apple

What political and economic forces affect teachers as they write their lesson plans? How does socialization create the kind of education we give our children? Why isn’t school politically neutral? In our next episode of Why? we will ask these questions and more, focusing on Michal Apple’s influential book Ideology and Curriculum. For thirty years, the book has challenge educators, directed policy conversations, and inspired those who want to think differently about schools and their roles in a democracy. Continue reading “Ideology and Curriculum: 30 Years of a Discussion” with Michael W. Apple

“Justice, Caring, and the Mentally Disabled” with Eva Feder Kittay

Modern political philosophy has argued that justice requires full equality for those who can both carry the burdens and get the benefits from participating in social cooperation. But what about those who cannot fulfill these obligations because of limited mental capacities? Are these people still due justice, and if so, what sort of equality could we expect to grant them? In other words, what do we owe to those among us who are not capable of participating in society in typical ways because of their cognitive limitations? These and other questions will focus the discussion with Eva Kittay, author of the highly influential book Love’s Labor: Essays on Women, Equality, and Dependency. Does justice presuppose participation, and what happens when we shift the obligation from duty to caring for others? This discussion will get to the core of what we believe we owe others and what it means to live in a society where difference means more than just religious, ethnic, or political difference. It goes to the heart of what it means to be human in society. Continue reading “Justice, Caring, and the Mentally Disabled” with Eva Feder Kittay