“What Does it Mean to be African?” with guest Firoze Manji

African has always been regarded two-dimensionally by Europe and the U.S. It’s been called “the dark continent” and described as primitive, consisting only of small villages without technology. It’s people are said to be unable to care from themselves, portrayed only as the recipients of charity. It’s countries are always called “developing.” It’s time to get past all of this. On this episode of Why? we explore Africa’s philosophy of liberation and ask whether there is a pan-African perspective. We move past the geography lessons and try to figure out how Africa and Africans can create their own unique identities while, at the same time, resisting the legacy of colonialism.Continue reading “What Does it Mean to be African?” with guest Firoze Manji

“A Philosophy of Consulting” with Guest Bob Colleran

It seems like every business in the world uses consultants, but what do they really do and what makes one better than another? Are their overarching ethical standards that guide the industry or is the ultimate motivation profit? On this episode of Why? Radio we ask what makes a good consultant. We come face-to-face with the inherent conflict-of-interest in the industry, and examine the pros and cons of business education.Continue reading “A Philosophy of Consulting” with Guest Bob Colleran

“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

“Does it make sense to blame the system” with guest Lisa Herzog

We live in a world with such complicated corporations and organizations, that it’s hard to even start talking about making them ethical. Verizon, Microsoft, Facebook, they’re all so big, How can we expect them to be moral? And then there are so many rules, the pressure of culture, the overwhelming nature of living in a democracy where everyone else seems to find self-interested loopholes. How can we be good when we have so little control?Continue reading “Does it make sense to blame the system” with guest Lisa Herzog

“What’s it like to be a University President?” with guest John Ettling

Why? Radio host Jack Russell Weinstein has been a faculty member at the University of North Dakota for almost nineteen years, yet he can’t remember a single moment when the school has not been the subject of criticism or controversy. As he explains it, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the voice of the university in the face of this disagreement. I can’t fathom how it feels to have every word and gesture represent your institution, and not your own life and work.” Yet, this is exactly what this episode is inspiring people to do, imagine what it’s like to be in charge. So, join Jack and his guest, John Ettling, the recently-retired President of the State University of New York, Plattsburgh for a discussion about university leadership in the modern age. Continue reading “What’s it like to be a University President?” with guest John Ettling

“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 Does it Mean to Keep The Internet Free?” with guest Cory Doctorow

The internet has become central to our way of life, but how much do we know about it? Is it really the free-for-all we claim it is, or is it actually dominated by a few voices? Is the Web just a vehicle for commerce or is it the most innovate platform for art every created? In this wide-ranging discussion Why? Radio host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Cory Doctorow investigate the economics, politics, technology, and future of the internet. From Marxian analyses to a discussion of the predictability of science fiction, this conversation will change the way you think about the internet. It will inspire you to ask whether the internet is really different from what has come before it or if it’s just another vehicle for the same human problems we’ve had all along.Continue reading “What Does it Mean to Keep The Internet Free?” with guest Cory Doctorow

“Does Big Data Threaten Our Democracy?” with guest Cathy O’Neil

Most of us know that every time Facebook changes its algorithm, it chooses which friends we see, and that when a credit bureau changes their algorithm, it determines which houses we can buy. What most of us don’t know is that algorithms also determine who gets arrested and who bags our groceries. On this episode of Why? Radio, we examine what it means to be a data scientist and discuss the flaws and possibilities of mathematical analysis. We also gauge the moral and political impact of big data on our everyday l lives, asking about the ways in which it can undermine equality and freedom. Continue reading “Does Big Data Threaten Our Democracy?” with guest Cathy O’Neil

“Is a Universal Basic Income too Utopian to Work?” with guest Rutger Bregman

Politicians agree that there is something wrong with the welfare system; they all suggest that we should give less public assistance with stricter rules. But what if they have it backwards? What if the solution is not to limit entitlements’ help but expand them? This is the solution offered by those who advocate for a Universal Basic Income, the government program that gives the poor the money they need to rise above the poverty level, every year, no strings attached. This episode’s guest is one of the most compelling advocates for this position.Continue reading “Is a Universal Basic Income too Utopian to Work?” with guest Rutger Bregman

“Why not socialism?” with Robert Paul Wolff

Anyone who lived through the 20th century will have a complex relationship with Karl Marx; some will see socialism as the glorious road not traveled and others will see him as the folly we defeated. Those who came to political consciousness in the 21st century, though, will have virtually no notion of him at all, he’s a relic, a demon from the past, and socialism is simply an epithet used during political debate. Continue reading “Why not socialism?” with Robert Paul Wolff

“Can A Philosopher Govern the United States? The Case of F.A. Hayek” with Bruce Caldwell

If you’ve paid any attention to politics, you’ll know that libertarians are convinced they have a better way to govern. Much of their philosophy is built on the work of Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian philosopher and economist who saw the free market as an antidote to Nazism and the Soviet Union. Those threats are gone, does that mean Hayek is no longer relevant? On this episode we ask about Hayek, about the nature of economics, and whether specialized researchers have a duty to be relevant. Continue reading “Can A Philosopher Govern the United States? The Case of F.A. Hayek” with Bruce Caldwell

“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

“Do we live in a commercial republic? A Discussion about American Government and its Economy” with Mike O’Connor

If you believed the pundits, you’d think that America has always had one kind of economy; that our democracy has always relied upon the same kind of free market. But this isn’t the case. If you believe the politicians, you’d think capitalism and democracy are pretty much identical, that when you talk about one, you are really talking about the other. Are this episode of Why? Radio we are going take a journey through American history and examine the actual arguments that helped determine just what kind of economy America should have.Continue reading “Do we live in a commercial republic? A Discussion about American Government and its Economy” with Mike O’Connor

“Civic Renewal in America” with guest Peter Levine

Every one of us has been encouraged to be an involved citizen, but what exactly does this mean? Every one of us has been told that small groups of thoughtful people are the only things that change the world? Is this true? Every one of us has been told that the government represents our interests, but the government doesn’t seem to know that. This episode of looks at all these puzzles and examine activism, democracy, the attempts to influence government policy.Continue reading “Civic Renewal in America” with guest Peter Levine

“Reinventing Government: Twenty Years Later” David Osborne

The American Government is a large. Many claim it is also slow to move and wasteful. In 1993, the book Reinventing Government took this monolith as its target and offered up a way to change it, to make government nimble, responsive, and efficient. In doing so, it brought the ideas of privatization and entrepreneurship out of the business world and into Democratic public policy. The Clinton Administration was one of the books most enthusiastic supporters and Vice President Gore spearheaded a reinventing government commission. On this episode, we revisit that book to ask about its solutions and its legacy. Continue reading “Reinventing Government: Twenty Years Later” David Osborne

“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: The View from a Private High School” with Yuyan Liu

Is Chinese education a mindless brainwashing free of critical thinking or is it a modern, pragmatic, well-rounded experience preparing world leaders for the future? Is it a single-monolithic entity treating all citizens alike, or is it more like America where people can choose their own way? Join WHY? and our guest Dr. Yuyan Liu, principal of the Camford Royal School in Beijing, China, as we look at Chinese education from the perspective of the reformer.Continue reading “WHY? Goes to China: The View from a Private High School” with Yuyan Liu

“On Liberty and Libertarianism” with James Otteson

Political freedom lies at the core of any democracy. Yet some people claim that even countries like America and England aren’t free enough. What does a free society look like and how much liberty is necessary for the moral life? What is the role of government, how big should it be, and what happens when individual interests clash? Join WHY?’s guest James Otteson as he examines these questions, talks about Adam Smith, the father of free-market theory, and discusses his own account of political morality with its roots in the “classical liberal tradition” (the political tradition that has led to everything from the American Tea Party to libertarians who argue for gun rights and drug legalization). Continue reading “On Liberty and Libertarianism” with James Otteson

“The Philosophy of Water” with GUEST Clay Jenkinson

Water is a force for life and for destruction. We simultaneously take it for granted and infuse it with profound meanings. Some of the deepest political battles revolve around its access, yet for most of us, these debates are invisible or disregarded. What is the philosophy of water? How does it affect our lives, and what happens what we are denied it, face too much of it, and when it becomes our enemy? Join WHY? as we swim though these questions, asking about the legacy of Hurricane Katrina, the recent floods in Minot, North Dakota, and the struggle to supply clean, accessible water to the worldContinue reading “The Philosophy of Water” with GUEST Clay Jenkinson

“Food and Sutainability” with Jay Basquiat

How much thought have you given to the idea of food? Why do we eat some things and not others, even though they are all edible? And, what exactly does it mean to be natural? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the philosophy of food and sustainability: What are the moral rules for manufacturing food, for farming, and for our agricultural priorities? Why does food play such important cultural and spiritual roles in virtually every society? What responsibilities do we have to provide food for other and to provide specific kinds of food for ourselves? And, to what extend is the creation of food – farming, baking, manufacturing, etc. – cultures in and of themselves, and how do those cultures effect the larger ones we live in? Continue reading “Food and Sutainability” with Jay Basquiat

“The Other Economics: Welfare, Development, and Justice” with Amartya Sen

It is easy to think that all economists believe the free market solves every problem and that government assistance is a detriment to distributive justice. Nobel Prize winning economist and philosopher Amartya Sen argues otherwise. His groundbreaking work on famine, human capabilities, gender equality, and justice are found at the core of “development economics.” In this episode of Why?, Sen will discuss all these issues and their connection to philosophy. How are human capabilities related to democracy? Why is famine a political problem rather than simply one of food supply? How does all of this stem from a misunderstanding of Adam Smith and the connections between morality and commercial structures? Join Amartya Sen for an exciting and timely discussion about justice and the economic structures that help bring it to everyone in the world. Continue reading “The Other Economics: Welfare, Development, and Justice” with Amartya Sen