“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

“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

Danielle LaSusa

“A Philosophy of Motherhood” with Guest Danielle Lasusa

Motherhood. It seems both complicated and simple. The most natural thing in the world, but also the biggest responsibility one can imagine. The history of philosophy has largely ignored motherhood, so where does one start, and what does it look like under a philosophical lens? Can a philosopher help coach and guide mothers in their journeys? Can they work together to find meaning and commonality in the more difficult aspects of parenting?Continue reading “A Philosophy of Motherhood” with Guest Danielle Lasusa

Patricia Churchland

“How Important is the Brain to the Great Philosophical Questions?” with guest Patricia Churchland

Are the brain and mind really different things? If not, is there free will? Where does conscience come from? Is altruism a myth? These are question in neurophilosophy, research that uses the modern science of the brain to explore philosophical dilemmas. Join host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Patrician Churchland, the founder of nuerophilosophy, as they explore the boundaries between philosophy and cognitive science. Continue reading “How Important is the Brain to the Great Philosophical Questions?” with guest Patricia Churchland

“Can there be a philosophy of hate?” with guest Berit Brogaard

Hate groups, hate mongers, hate crimes. Self-hatred. Being stuck between love and hate. No emotion inspires as visceral a reaction as hatred. It is, after all, a plague on society that divides people and stokes violence. But does it have to be? Is hate irredeemable? Could it not serve important moral and social purposes if we only knew more about it? Listen to this episode to find our, and to see how hate relates to our other emotions and even our some of our mental disordersContinue reading “Can there be a philosophy of hate?” with guest Berit Brogaard

“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

“Can we change social norms?” with guest Cristina Bicchieri

Every community has behaviors that are considered normal and each of them enforces these actions in a variety of ways. Why do cultures converge on particular actions and how much choice do individuals have to obey? Is it possible to identify which are norms and which are just idiosyncrasies? Most importantly, if we determine that these social expectations are immoral, is it possible to intentionally change them? This episode of Why? Radio explores behaviors ranging from child marriage to when it’s appropriate to yell at one another, and asks how and when to change social norms.Continue reading “Can we change social norms?” with guest Cristina Bicchieri

“What does wellness mean and how do we get there?” with guest John Ratey

Our culture has shifted from talking about health to seeking wellness, but what does that entail? How should we understand what it means to be healthy holistically and what are the consequences for our culture’s commitment to the separation of mind and body? On this episode of Why? Radio, we examine wellness from a neurological perspective, looking at the relationship between exercise and brain activity, while also discovering what we can learn from prehistoric humans about how to heal ourselves.Continue reading “What does wellness mean and how do we get there?” with guest John Ratey

“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

“Requiem for A Philosophy Professor: Remembering David N. Mowry”

Host Jack Russell Weinstein remembers his professor and mentor, David N. Mowry who passed away on April 23, 2019, at the age of 78. In a powerful and emotional tribute to their relationship, Jack reflects both on David’s career and his own life. David was a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Plattsburgh, and the founding director of their university’s honors program. Jack graduated from Plattsburgh State in 1991, with a B.A. in philosophy.Continue reading “Requiem for A Philosophy Professor: Remembering David N. Mowry”

“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

“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

“Living Authentically in an Inauthentic Age” with guest Gordon Marino

One in six Americans take psychiatric drugs, yet the country is becoming less happy. As a people, we are angry, suspicious, and alienated, but we are not the first generation to feel this way. The existentialists got there first. On this episode of Why? Radio, we look at this 19th and 20th century philosophical movement to consider what its adherents might have to say about Facebook, happiness, and integrity. We consider the meaning of freedom, agency, success, and even boxing, to explore what it means to live full, honest lives in an age of social networks and materialism. Continue reading “Living Authentically in an Inauthentic Age” with guest Gordon Marino

“A Philosophical Look at the Midlife Crisis” with guest Kieran Setiya

The phrase “midlife crisis” has become a clichéd joke. It inspires images of men with sports cars and trophy wives. Yet, however much we make fun of it, there is a lot of evidence to show that it, or something like it, exists for many men and women., What does a midlife crisis look like through a philosophical lens? Does philosophy give us tools to help us mitigate or even cure the angst that comes from being halfway done with one’s life? Continue reading “A Philosophical Look at the Midlife Crisis” with guest Kieran Setiya

“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

“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

“Are Sports Destroying American Universities?” with Murray Sperber

When we think of college, we think of sports: of the big 10, of the NCAA, of the draft. We identify schools by their colors and mascots. Yet, the more money college sports earns and the more professionalized it becomes, the more horrified many are by the impact they have on universities. On the next episode of Why? Radio we’re going to examine this head on, asking about the impact of sports on academics, looking at how they have complete changed student culture.

Continue reading “Are Sports Destroying American Universities?” with Murray Sperber

“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

“What is courage?” with Ryan Balot

We describe people as brave all the time, but what do we really mean? Does the bravery of a firefighter have anything in common with the courage of reading books that challenge our deepest beliefs? Is there a specific kind of courage that comes from living in a democracy? What do we learn from looking at the Greek roots of the word and how is their experience relevant to ours? On this episode of Why? we’re going to look at the classical roots of courage and examine its meaning in modern democracies.Continue reading “What is courage?” with Ryan Balot

“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

“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

“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

“The Moral Demands we Make On Others” with guest Stephen Darwall

What allows us to make moral demands on other people? How important are relationships in ethical decision-making and why should people act ethically in the first place? Join WHY?’s host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Yale professor Stephen Darwall, as they ask these and your questions during an important exploration into the very foundations of morality. Continue reading “The Moral Demands we Make On Others” with guest Stephen Darwall

“WHY? Goes to China: Young, Female, and Upwardly Mobile in Shanghai.” with Catherine Gao and Sheryl Jiang

Catherine and Sheryl are in the early twenties, studying at a major university, and are ready to take on the world. They are two Chinese women with every opportunity in the world, and they, like everyone their age, want to know how to proceed. How does it feel to be the hope of a nation, the first generation to experience economic security and freedom of movement? Join WHY? as we ask what it’s like to grow up amidst the fastest changes in Chinese history.Continue reading “WHY? Goes to China: Young, Female, and Upwardly Mobile in Shanghai.” with Catherine Gao and Sheryl Jiang

“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

“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

“Plato Not Prozac: What is Philosophical Counseling?” with guest Lou Marinoff

Can philosophy make our lives better? Can it help us develop better senses of self? Can it ever be used as a therapy-like tool to heal us psychologically or inspire us to change our behavior? In this episode of WHY? we will look at the role of belief, worldview, and intellectual choices, to see how they contribute to a healthy, well-balanced personality. Join host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Lou Marinoff, as we investigate the philosophical counseling movement. Continue reading “Plato Not Prozac: What is Philosophical Counseling?” with guest Lou Marinoff

“Growing Up North Dakotan” with Joshua Boschee, Kathryn Joyce, Jessie Veeder Schofield, Prairie Rose Seminole

North Dakota is a complex state. It is mostly rural but fifty percent of its population lives in cities. There is a strong sense of identity and place, but significant hostility between the eastern and western regions. For a long time, it had a very powerful federal congressional delegation, but it is usually regarded as a “fly-over state” with little electoral importance. How is all of this viewed by younger North Dakotans and how much pressure is there to stay in the state or leave? Join WHY? as we discuss these questions with a panel of four involved, successful, and native-born North Dakotans. Continue reading “Growing Up North Dakotan” with Joshua Boschee, Kathryn Joyce, Jessie Veeder Schofield, Prairie Rose Seminole

“Is Ghostwriting Ethical?” with Deborah Brandt

Everyday, politicians publish books telling the stories of their lives and their political views. But more often than not these “autobiographies” are written by ghost writers, unnamed people who imitate the voice of the author for money and a brief acknowledgement in the introduction. Is this lying? Is this ethical? Should it diminish the politician’s credibility. Join WHY? as we examine this complicated issue with one of America’s foremost experts on literacy and its connection to politics. Continue reading “Is Ghostwriting Ethical?” with Deborah Brandt

“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

“Fiction as Philosophy” with Rebecca Goldstein

Philosophy tries to discover Truth, but more often than not it tells stories, relying on allegories, parables, and dialogues at key moments. What happens when a professional philosopher decides to embrace this method, and how does it affect the philosophy at the core of the story? Join WHY? as we interview Rebecca Goldstein, author of such novels as 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, The Mind-Body Problem, Mazel, and Strange Attractors. How do truth and fiction relate? How does one move back and forth from scholarly research to popular fiction, and, most of all, how does fiction relate to discovery? Continue reading “Fiction as Philosophy” with Rebecca Goldstein

“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

“A Secular Age” with guest Charles Taylor

Even the most religious of people understand that their belief is only one option of many; a different attitude than those who lived 500 years ago when theological commitments were so automatic as to not be questioned. What caused this radical cultural shift? This is the question Charles Taylor seeks to answer in his new book A Secular Age. In doing so, he asks about the nature of religion, the meaning of secularism, and the history of how much of the world shifted from the former approach to the latter. Join WHY? as we ask about this innovative and important topic, and connect it to Taylor’s long career of influential philosophical study.Continue reading “A Secular Age” with guest Charles Taylor

“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

“On Self-Deception” with Amelie Rorty

Amelie Rorty tells us that self-deception is useful, yet this belief runs counter to much that we hold dear. What of truth and integrity? What of self-knowledge? These question lie at the core of a wide-ranging discussion about who we are, how we relate to the world around us, and our relationship with knowledge. Join Why? for a discussion that helps distinguish self-deception from delusion, ambivalence from skepticism, and how we actually live from how we think we do.Continue reading “On Self-Deception” with Amelie Rorty

“Philosophy of Hunting” with Lawrence E. Cahoone

What happens when a philosopher raised outside of a culture that promotes hunting takes up the sport? What philosophical lessons can he learn from the experience and how can he describe them in existential terms? Lawrence Cahoone asks these questions and more. Growing up in the urban and suburban Northeast, he had no experience of hunting. But in middle-age, after moving to a rural area, he decided that if he was going to eat meat he ought to find some himself. It seemed only fair. So, he began to hunt. But as a philosophy professor, he was forced to reflect on the experience in a very particular way. Was it moral to shoot animals? What does it feel like to seek and to kill? What was involved in entering the “wild on wild” business? Philosophers have debated whether hunting is a violation of animal rights, a friend to the environment, or a sport. But what Larry ended up asking was something more basic. In the end, he wanted to know: what does hunting mean? Continue reading “Philosophy of Hunting” with Lawrence E. Cahoone