“Philosophical Concerns About Today’s Supreme Court” with guest Andrew Seidel

As the New Supreme Court term gets underway, everyone is wondering just how far to the right they will shift. Join philosopher Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Andrew Seidel for a discussion about the role of religion and politics, and the ways in which Christian Nationalism is using the court to impose their ideology on a diverse American public. Why? Radio is a public radio show in it’s fifteenth year. Visit http://www.whyradioshow.org for a complete archive of past episodes. Continue reading “Philosophical Concerns About Today’s Supreme Court” with guest Andrew Seidel

“On the Separation of Church and State” with guest Andrew Seidel

The first amendment guarantees that one religion is not privileged over another, so why does it feel like personal beliefs dominate the public sphere? Private conviction is supposed to guide our moral lives, so why is the Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade? On this episode of Why? Radio we ask about these issues and more. We explore the nature and limits of the US constitution and examine the democratic justification for toleration. Ultimately, we come face to face with one of the great questions of the moment: is the first amendment obsolete?Continue reading “On the Separation of Church and State” with guest Andrew Seidel

“Is the law consistent?“ with guest P. Andrew Torrez

It seems like Congress can do something one day, but not the same thing the day after. It often feels like the law is only about loopholes rather than a tool for everyday people. Are we wrong to think these things? Are we mistaken when we view legislation as a willy-nilly collection of self-interested victories from politicians with no true vision of justice? On this episode of Why?, we ask these questions and more, exploring the philosophy of law and it’s overlap will real-world legal decisions. Continue reading “Is the law consistent?“ with guest P. Andrew Torrez

“Is Free Speech worth it?” with guest Thane Rosenbaum

Free speech is probably the most valued and cited right in the U.S. Constitution, yet it faces a tremendous backlash from the younger generation. The Supreme Court has expanded free speech to include almost all forms of expression just as the internet makes it virtually impossible to distinguish truth from lies. And, as we face powerful protests from Black Lives Matter, white supremacists, and people who oppose wearing masks in public, we’re forced to ask, if one of these groups has the freedom to express themselves, must they all?Continue reading “Is Free Speech worth it?” with guest Thane Rosenbaum

“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

“What is Sharia Law?” with guest Robert Gleave

What is sharia law? You’d think we’d all be able to answer that question, given how much we hear the name. But most non-Muslims known almost nothing about it. Is it the Muslim version of a catechism? Is it a legal system that directs Islamic politicians and the courts? And, how does it manage interpretive disagreements? Are its precepts obvious or does it inspire deep controversies even among its adherents? These are the questions that will guide this episode of Why? Radio.Continue reading “What is Sharia Law?” with guest Robert Gleave

“What Are the Limits of Police Power?” with guest Luke William Hunt

The police play a profound role in our lives, from entertaining us on television to assisting us at our most vulnerable. As a result, we give them a lot of leeway and a lot of trust. What justifies this trust and what are the boundaries they cannot cross? On this episode Why? Radio we ask these and other questions about the source of police authority, and the permission we give them to investigate crimes. This includes extended discussions about using informants, surveillance, and entrapment.Continue reading “What Are the Limits of Police Power?” with guest Luke William Hunt

“Who is Responsible for War Crimes?” with guests Matthew Talbert and Jessica Wolfendale

War is a tragedy and an exercise in brutality, but it still has rules. It is a crime to attack non-combatants, to rape, and to torture prisoners. But what happens when soldiers do these and other heinous acts? And, how do you hold someone accountable for breaking the laws of war if they were following orders at the time? On this episode of Why? we ask about war crimes, who should be held responsible, and how we prevent them.Continue reading “Who is Responsible for War Crimes?” with guests Matthew Talbert and Jessica Wolfendale

“Is There A Right to Education and Literacy?” with guest Derek W. Black

Is there a right to education? Do all students have a right to literacy and other basic knowledge, regardless of who they are or even how hard they work? And, do zero-tolerance policies undermine kids’ access to schools? Is suspending and expelling students violations of their rights, even with due process? These are the questions that focus this episode of Why? Radio. In it, we ask both whether there is a constitutional right to an education and whether there is a moral right to one.Continue reading “Is There A Right to Education and Literacy?” with guest Derek W. Black

“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

“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

“Are There Just Wars?” with guest Michael Walzer

The philosopher William James once remarked that those who think that war is inevitable suffer from a lack of imagination. What about those who think that war is never justified, do they suffer from a lack of imagination as well? Can war ever be the moral thing to do? Is it ever justified to be the attacker, or is war only a matter of defense? Given the modern nature of war, can we really distinguish between civilians and combatants, and, given the dangers of terrorism, is pre-emptive war now permissible? Join WHY? as we engage in the thousand-year old quest for a definition of just war with one of the most influential thinkers on the subject: Michael Walzer. Continue reading “Are There Just Wars?” with guest Michael Walzer

“Domestic Violence and the Law: China vs. the U.S.A.” with Robin Runge

In March of 2010, Robin Runge traveled to Beijing to train Chinese judges to better deal with issues of domestic violence in the law; this was her second such visit. In comparing the Chinese and American systems, she has able to see those areas in which American law better responds to the needs of the community and those areas in which the Chinese system does. In this episode of Why? we will discuss her experiences and address central questions in the philosophy of law. What counts as evidence? How ought the court deal with a he said/she said situation? In what ways can judges work with the police to promote better investigations? How do cultural differences affect legal frameworks, and to what extent is domestic violence a violation of human rights? Continue reading “Domestic Violence and the Law: China vs. the U.S.A.” with Robin Runge

“Exporting Democracy Revisited: A Report From Romainia” with Paul Sum

Last year, Paul Sum joined us to talk about the possibilities of exporting the American model of democracy to other countries. He was about to embark on a one-year trip to Romania to examine their transition to democracy. Now he’s back and ready to share what he learned. Join us for a conversation about what democracy looks like in Eastern Europe now, at this very moment, and how the reality compares to our hopes and theories. Continue reading “Exporting Democracy Revisited: A Report From Romainia” with Paul Sum

“The Morality (and Legality) of Universal Healthcare” with guest Sharona Hoffman

Very few issues are more on the American mind than health care right now. But what are the philosophical issues behind the politics? Does the state have a moral obligation to provide health care to others? Do citizens have the duty to pay for it? And given that the constitution is silent on the question of health care, what is the relationship between legality and morality? Sharona Hoffman will join us to ask these and other timely questions for what is bound to be a controversial but exciting show. Continue reading “The Morality (and Legality) of Universal Healthcare” with guest Sharona Hoffman

“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