“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

“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

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

“What is the role of philosophy during a global crisis?” with guest Susan Neiman

We are all preoccupied with the Covid-19 global pandemic and justly so. Everyone in the world has lots of little decisions to make, and many are facing life and death situations. What is the use of philosophy in all of this? Is it helpful? Is it a distraction? Can philosophy solve problems or even make a better world? In this wide-ranging discussion, our host Jack Russell Weinstein and guest Susan Neiman explore the absurdity of “trolley problems,” whether we should use the term “evil” to to describe a pandemic, and how we can best support Amazon employees. This episode is both a compelling and accessible philosophical exploration, and a historical artifact that records a unique moment in time. It has been described by one listener as “our most human of episodes.”Continue reading “What is the role of philosophy during a global crisis?” with guest Susan Neiman

“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

“Does accepting the theory of evolution mean there is no meaning of life?” with guest Michael Ruse

What is the meaning of life? Believe it or not, after more than ten years on the air, we at Why? Radio have never asked this question. But to make it more complicated, we want to know not just what it is, but how we can discover it in the age of evolution. If science gives us answers instead of religion, where do we look for meaning? Can Darwin provide us with what the holy scriptures have not? On this episode we will ask these very questions, while exploring the limits of science and going head to head with the most ineffable aspects of the human experience. Continue reading “Does accepting the theory of evolution mean there is no meaning of life?” with guest Michael Ruse

“Who Should we Blame and Who Should we Forgive?” with guest Miranda Fricker

We’ve been told that forgiveness is a part of psychological wellness, that blaming people is a form of hostility. But if these things are true, doesn’t that let people off the hook too easily? We’ve also been led to believe that forgiving others is the great legacy of Christianity, but other religions do the same thing. Can’t we imagine a secular theory of blame and absolution, as well? On this episode of Why? Radio, we discuss these core questions about human relationships and how we are held accountable for our actions.Continue reading “Who Should we Blame and Who Should we Forgive?” with guest Miranda Fricker

“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

“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

“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”

“How Does Misinformation Spread?” with guests Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall

The term fake news is so ubiquitous, that sometimes it seems like we should be labeling the true stuff instead of the lies. But misinformation doesn’t just come from politics. It is found in science, in marketing, and even in fourteenth-century memoirs. Why do we believe obvious falsities and how do these alternative facts gain such momentum? On this episode, we look going to look at the networks of knowledge and trust that we rely on to arbitrate between fact and fiction, and examine how they are manipulated, both consciously and not.Continue reading “How Does Misinformation Spread?” with guests Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall

“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

“Philosophy Changing Lives” with guest Peter Singer

Peter Singer has made a career out of making controversial claims. From calling for animal liberation to justifying euthanasia, he has been remarkably consistent in his attempts to minimize suffering. Now he is talking about charity and global responsibility. The results are just as compelling.  In this episode, Why? Radio talks with Peter about the moral demand to minimize harm and the expectations that ethics can make all of us better of. Listen as we engage in a wide-ranging discussion about the relationships between ethical theory and practice, the utilitarian justification for rights, and Peter’s own non-profit.Continue reading “Philosophy Changing Lives” with guest Peter Singer

“Is Aging a Disease that Can be Cured?” with guest Aubrey de Grey

What would you say if we told you that aging is a disease that could be cured? How about if we predicted that you’d live to be 1,000 years old. Would that be scary? Would it be perverse? Aubrey de Grey doesn’t think so. He believes that medical technology will soon help people live indefinitely, and that we should welcome it. He also believes that calling the search for a cure unrealistic is short sighted and a betrayal of the next generation. On this episode we discuss these issues, examine the the science behind anti-aging research, and address concerns about global warming, overpopulation and other effects of living longer.Continue reading “Is Aging a Disease that Can be Cured?” with guest Aubrey de Grey

“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 Philosophy Won’t Go Away” with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

2500 years ago, Plato wrote the central texts of the discipline we call philosophy. He asked the questions that people still ask today and set the tone for a conversation that has continued, unabated, for two and a half millennia. On this episode we look at Plato’s work and ask why, despite all the threats, violence, censorship, and even the marginalization, philosophy still exists, why Plato is still at the center of it all, and what it would look like if he were still here, walking among us. Continue reading “Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away” with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

“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

“Metaphors We Live By: A Classic Revisited” with George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

We use metaphors all the time, from describing friends as two peas in a pod, to old age as a chapter in someone’s life. We think of argument as war and move forward into the future. Would our understanding of friendship, argument and the future change if we used different metaphors? Could we even talk about them if we didn’t use metaphors at all? On this episode, we ask these questions and consider how deeply metaphors influence our understanding.Continue reading “Metaphors We Live By: A Classic Revisited” with George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

“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

“The Moral Argument for Revenge” with Thane Rosenbaum

We’ve been told time and time again that revenge is wrong, but is it? We’ve been taught that it’s savage, but if so, why do people turn to it so frequently? And, we’ve been encouraged to demand justice, even though most of us can’t tell the difference between it and vengeance. On this episode of Why? we’ll take a fresh look at one of the oldest practices in history, asking about the nature of revenge, honor, and the emotions that surround them both.Continue reading “The Moral Argument for Revenge” with Thane Rosenbaum

“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

“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

“The Urbanization of Happiness” with Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman

Think about those that work and those that are falling apart. What influences their character, and, perhaps, more importantly, why do some succeed and others fail? On today’s episode of Why? we are going to ask these question and take a special look at how design creates urban problems, how what and where they build encourages violence, poverty, and unhappiness. Continue reading “The Urbanization of Happiness” with Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman

“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

“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

“A Secular Theory of Evil” with Claudia Card

Years ago, Alan Bloom wrote that Hitler was the worst thing that ever happened to ethics classes, because when philosophers asked their students for an example of evil, they would just say “Hitler” and never actually have to think about the question. He may have had a point. We all use the word evil as if we know what it means, and more often than not, we use it in a religious context. On this episode of WHY? we’ll examine the concept of evil and ask, not just what how to define it, but how we think about it as philosophers and outside religion. Continue reading “A Secular Theory of Evil” with Claudia Card

“The Public Philosophy Experiment” Guest Clay Jenkinson interviews host Jack Russell Weinstein

The next episode of Why? is a special one–our 50th–and to celebrate we’re changing things around. Our most frequent guest Clay Jenkinson interviews host Jack Russell Weinstein. That’s right, after almost four years of asking other people about their research, it’s his turn on the hot seat. So tune in for a s spirited and spontaneous discussion. Continue reading “The Public Philosophy Experiment” Guest Clay Jenkinson interviews host Jack Russell Weinstein

“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

“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

“Philosophy of Violence” with Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker argues that the world is less violent today than it has ever been before. For some of his critics, this claim is more than false, it’s bizarre. What is Pinker’s argument, what does it tell us about human nature, and how should we think about violence in general? Join WHY? as we explore Steven’s newest book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined, and come face to face with one of the contemporary world’s most important questions: is there moral progress? Continue reading “Philosophy of Violence” with Steven Pinker

“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

“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

“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

“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

“What is Critical Thinking?” with Harvey Siegel

Is it ever possible to actually persuade anybody? How do we best critically analyze our own opinions? Is human rationality really that which lies at our decision making process? Is there a right answer and how do modern diversity considerations interfere with arguments seeking the Truth? These questions mark only the beginning of discussions regarding critical thinking and the role of informal logic in people’s day to day life. Join Harvey Siegel for a discussion on how people think, whether thinking skills can actually be improved, and coping with relativism in an argument. Continue reading “What is Critical Thinking?” with Harvey Siegel

“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

“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

“America’s So-Called Decline” with Mark Stephen Jendrysik

Today’s pundits and politicians love to tell us that America is in decline. Michael Moore, Bill O’Reilly, Patrick Buchanan, Bill Clinton, and even philosophers like Allan Bloom and Noam Chomsky work to persuade us that America has lost its way. But this message is nothing new. From the earliest moments of North American settlement people have been preaching American downfall, yet this “jeremiad” – the use of the theme of downfall named after the biblical Book of Jeremiah – “does not invite discussion. It is not designed to create debate. It preaches to the converted, or at best draws in those who have not considered the issues before and are ready to be converted.” So writes Mark Jendrysik, author of the book Modern Jeremiahs: Contemporary Visions of American Decline.” Continue reading “America’s So-Called Decline” with Mark Stephen Jendrysik

“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