“What Makes a Movie Good?” with guest Jinhee Choi

Watching movies is one of the great pleasures of life, but we all tend to pay attention to the latest Marvel blockbuster without recognizing that there is a world of cinema out there that sees itself as art, not just entertainment. Is an Avengers movie good in the same way that The Godfather or a low-budget indie film are, and are there objective standards of quality that are separate from popularity and ticket sales? Should movies from one country be thought of as distinct from movies in other countries? When does a movie begin and end, with the action or with the credits? What does it mean to look at a film philosophically, in the first place? This episode discusses these questions and more with an eye towards global cinema.Continue reading “What Makes a Movie Good?” with guest Jinhee Choi

“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

“Ask Me Anything” with co-hosts Jack Russell Weinstein and Ashley Thornberg

On this month’s episode we do something different: Jack Russell Weinstein does an “Ask Me Anything”! Why? Radio solicited questions from listeners, students, internet followers, and even the Prairie Public staff to explore philosophy on their terms. From contemporary politics to questions about religion, hot dogs, and even Star Wars, no question is off the table. What results is a funny, quirky, surprising, and challenging series of seemingly-random questions that illustrate the philosophical method, and the pleasure of exploring the philosophy of our day-to-day lives.Continue reading “Ask Me Anything” with co-hosts Jack Russell Weinstein and Ashley Thornberg

“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

“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

“The Politics of Crisis: How Police Reform, Covid-19, and Climate Change are all Related” with Guest Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò

We are not living in a calm time. Coronavirus, police violence and protest, and climate change: they all seem to be coming from different directions, but are they? Might there be a common thread that unifies all of our current crises and is there a way of understanding them that helps us change things for the better? In this episode we explore the nature of radical ideas and consider what changes can be made to cultivate justice, and improve everyone’s quality of life before crises happen. Continue reading “The Politics of Crisis: How Police Reform, Covid-19, and Climate Change are all Related” with Guest Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò

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

“What’s it like to be a University President?” with guest John Ettling

Why? Radio host Jack Russell Weinstein has been a faculty member at the University of North Dakota for almost nineteen years, yet he can’t remember a single moment when the school has not been the subject of criticism or controversy. As he explains it, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the voice of the university in the face of this disagreement. I can’t fathom how it feels to have every word and gesture represent your institution, and not your own life and work.” Yet, this is exactly what this episode is inspiring people to do, imagine what it’s like to be in charge. So, join Jack and his guest, John Ettling, the recently-retired President of the State University of New York, Plattsburgh for a discussion about university leadership in the modern age. Continue reading “What’s it like to be a University President?” with guest John Ettling

“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”

“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

“The Rise of Writing: What happens when people write more than they read?” with Deborah Brandt

Have you noticed how much you’ve been writing lately? How many emails, texts, and Facebook posts you compose on any given day? Have you realized how much more you write than you read? Deb Brandt has and she wants us to all understand that we are experiencing a mass-writing revolution that will change our culture forever. On this episode we discuss the shift of focus from reading to writing and look at how it has changed both the workplace and the ways in which people express themselves.Continue reading “The Rise of Writing: What happens when people write more than they read?” with Deborah Brandt

“Are there too many people for our environment?” with Philip Cafaro

Right now waters are rising around the world, chemicals are seeping into our food and people are going hungry. Right now, wilderness is diminishing and cities are increasing in both size and density. In short we have an overpopulation problem and we have way too many environmental crises and no one seems to know what to do about any of it. On this’s episode of Why? we are going to tackle all of this at once by talking about overpopulation from an environmentalist’s perspective. Continue reading “Are there too many people for our environment?” with Philip Cafaro