“Why Did Homo Sapiens Evolve Into Artists?” with guest Valerius Geist

Many people regard art as a luxury. They think of it as fancy paintings, abstract installations, or the fashion that changes every few months. What few of us ever attend to is that fact that art is as old as humanity itself. It started with homo sapiens and developed alongside every other human ability. This episode of Why? Radio looks at  art from an evolutionary perspective and ask what necessary purpose it served.Continue reading “Why Did Homo Sapiens Evolve Into Artists?” with guest Valerius Geist

Sarah Williams Goldhagen

“What Makes a Building Beautiful?” with guest Sarah Williams Goldhagen

We are surrounded by buildings and live in rooms. We build spaces that we want to be pleasing as well as functional. In the process, we engage, not only our senses, but our brain. Architecture has massive neurological consequences, effects that are not as well known but should be. How do we balance these aesthetic, functional, and neurological needs? Architecture is art, but it also influences and even directs our behavior. Does it limit our free will? How much can design control its inhabitants and inspire a specific outcome?Continue reading “What Makes a Building Beautiful?” with guest Sarah Williams Goldhagen

“What Animals Can Teach Us about Free Will” with guest Helen Steward

For millennia, human beings have believed that we have free will-that we are agents who can choose our own paths. But what does this mean in the age of antidepressants and identity politics? Perhaps more intriguing, does this imply that people are unique, that we are the only animals that are undetermined? Our guest on this episode says “no,” asking not what it means to be a free person, but what it means to be a free animal. This conversation combines a classical philosophical debate with new insights in cognitive science to rethink what it means to choose an action. Continue reading “What Animals Can Teach Us about Free Will” with guest Helen Steward

“What a food magazine tells us about the world” with guest Kerry Diamond

Food is more than just sustenance. It is a culture unto itself. It is our identity and our aspirations, pleasure and a tool. Members of the food industry know this and make money bringing us both the food we want and the food they want us to want. On this episode we examine it all through the perspective of a food magazine, Cherry Bombe. We’ll look at how the restaurant industry change when it magnifies the voices of women and what happens to culture when we embrace trends along side the classics.Continue reading “What a food magazine tells us about the world” with guest Kerry Diamond

“Can ordinary people understand advanced logic?” with guest Otávio Bueno

Formal logic is complicated, abstract and daunting. Its precise language makes it virtually impossible to read without significant training. Yet, it’s also tremendously important and at its best, it provides a focused framework for understanding the most human of abilities: rational thought. Is it really out of the reach of the general public? On this episode we find out that it isn’t. We ask what logic is, how it works, and investigate how it holds the key to good and bad thinking.Continue reading “Can ordinary people understand advanced logic?” with guest Otávio Bueno

“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

“An Argument for Moral Relativism” with guest David. B. Wong

Nothing could be more common than people asserting that their own ethical beliefs are right while others are wrong. From abortion, to vegetarianism, to pacifism, to democracy, people and cultures are convinced that their way of life is morally superior. But what happens when we consider the possibility that there is more than one way to live ethically? What happens when we are charitable about others’ way of life? On this episode we are going to do just that. Continue reading “An Argument for Moral Relativism” with guest David. B. Wong

“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