“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

“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

“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

“How To Read A Comic Book” with guest Scott McCloud

Comic books are much more than the silly distraction they are often thought to be. They are part of an art from with many sub-genres at the height of their  maturity. Comics have become diverse, literary, sophisticated, adult-oriented, and in many cases, high-art, and they’re only getting better. On this episode, we ask how and why this happened, and explore how to recognize comics for the art they are. Continue reading “How To Read A Comic Book” with guest Scott McCloud

“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

“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

“What Does Science Policy Have to do With Democracy?” with guest Heather Douglas

Every day we hear politicians make scientific claims that support their policies, but many of them contradict each other. Our lives are full of images of people in lab coats who are above politics, but we know they also make choices about what to study and which conclusions to call attention to. Does this mean that science and politics are enemies? And, does government policy tell citizens what to believe or do citizens’ convictions determine the government’s positions? On this episode of Why? we look at the claim that science is objective, examine the values that make it successful, and ask whether there should be absolutely free inquiry in a modern democracy. Continue reading “What Does Science Policy Have to do With Democracy?” with guest Heather Douglas

“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