“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

“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

“Why Do Conspiracy Theories Work?” with Guest Quassim Cassam

We are living in a time of conspiracy theories that fuel a divisive and increasingly violent politics, even when they’re obviously untrue. They are spouted by our representatives; they’re believed by our neighbors. How do conspiracy theories ensnare people so effectively and why are believers so reluctant to change their minds? Can we assume that the truth will win out, or is there something else going on, something beyond logic and reason?Continue reading “Why Do Conspiracy Theories Work?” with Guest Quassim Cassam

“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

“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

“How Does Propaganda Work?” with Guest Jason Stanley

There is a fine line between political speech and propaganda, but where do we draw it, and are we always wrong to propagandize? Is there a natural division between spin and lies, and when is it acceptable to appeal to political emotions? On this episode, we cap off a tumultuous election by exploring the nature and morality of political speech, and ask how far is too far.Continue reading “How Does Propaganda Work?” with Guest Jason Stanley

“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

“Why does income equality make society stronger?” with guests Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Income inequality is bad for the poor, sure. But did you know that it’s also bad for the well-off? Did you also know that unequal societies have less trust, more violence, and more illness than egalitarian ones? In fact, it turns out that more equal societies are stronger, healthier, and happier across the board. Although inequality affects the poor most, even the better-off benefit from greater equality. On this episode, we explore why this is and look at the global data that explains it.Continue reading “Why does income equality make society stronger?” with guests Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

“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

“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’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

“What Does it Mean to Keep The Internet Free?” with guest Cory Doctorow

The internet has become central to our way of life, but how much do we know about it? Is it really the free-for-all we claim it is, or is it actually dominated by a few voices? Is the Web just a vehicle for commerce or is it the most innovate platform for art every created? In this wide-ranging discussion Why? Radio host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Cory Doctorow investigate the economics, politics, technology, and future of the internet. From Marxian analyses to a discussion of the predictability of science fiction, this conversation will change the way you think about the internet. It will inspire you to ask whether the internet is really different from what has come before it or if it’s just another vehicle for the same human problems we’ve had all along.Continue reading “What Does it Mean to Keep The Internet Free?” with guest Cory Doctorow

“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

“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

“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

“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

“Do we live in a commercial republic? A Discussion about American Government and its Economy” with Mike O’Connor

If you believed the pundits, you’d think that America has always had one kind of economy; that our democracy has always relied upon the same kind of free market. But this isn’t the case. If you believe the politicians, you’d think capitalism and democracy are pretty much identical, that when you talk about one, you are really talking about the other. Are this episode of Why? Radio we are going take a journey through American history and examine the actual arguments that helped determine just what kind of economy America should have.Continue reading “Do we live in a commercial republic? A Discussion about American Government and its Economy” with Mike O’Connor

“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

“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

“Holding the Police Accountable” with Guest Samuel Walker

Samuel Walker has spent his career asking who polices the police. His books and paper titles read like a laundry list of horror stories – police abuse of teenage girls, the unsuccessful nature of police “sweeps” – but he also expresses an optimism about community influence and citizen involvement. On today’s episode, we will dive headfirst into the controversial and complicated world of law enforcement. Continue reading “Holding the Police Accountable” with Guest Samuel Walker

“Reinventing Government: Twenty Years Later” David Osborne

The American Government is a large. Many claim it is also slow to move and wasteful. In 1993, the book Reinventing Government took this monolith as its target and offered up a way to change it, to make government nimble, responsive, and efficient. In doing so, it brought the ideas of privatization and entrepreneurship out of the business world and into Democratic public policy. The Clinton Administration was one of the books most enthusiastic supporters and Vice President Gore spearheaded a reinventing government commission. On this episode, we revisit that book to ask about its solutions and its legacy. Continue reading “Reinventing Government: Twenty Years Later” David Osborne

“A Conversation with a Playwright” with Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner is probably the most important and most influential living American playwright. At this year’s UND Writers Conference, WHY?’s host Jack Russell Weinstein had the pleasure and honor of talking to him about the Pulitzer Prize winning play Angels in America, his movie Lincoln, and writing for the theater in general. It was a remarkable conversation in front of a very large appreciative audience. Continue reading “A Conversation with a Playwright” with Tony Kushner

“The NCAA and its Universities” with Taylor Branch

The college sports industry is worth fifty to seventy billion dollars annually and is governed by a single organization, the National Collegiate Athletics Association. What happens if they’re not fair? What happens if there are deep systematic problems that no one has the power to fix and they won’t budge? Taylor Branch noted civil-rights historian, claims that the NCAA is immoral, that it’s racist, and that it has, the “unmistakable whiff of plantation on it.” On this episode of WHY? we’ll talk about the philosophy of college sports and the controversial agency that governs how college athletes live their lives. Continue reading “The NCAA and its Universities” with Taylor Branch

“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

“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

“Should the Government Care About You?” with Virgina Held

Does the government have the responsibility to care about its citizens? Does it have an obligation to think of each of us as people, as individuals, and not just as interchangeable? Join WHY? as we talk with influential and ground-breaking philosopher Virginia Held about the ethics of care and how her approach change the way we think about the government, the law, and justice itself. Continue reading “Should the Government Care About You?” with Virgina Held

“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

“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

“The Philosophy of Water” with GUEST Clay Jenkinson

Water is a force for life and for destruction. We simultaneously take it for granted and infuse it with profound meanings. Some of the deepest political battles revolve around its access, yet for most of us, these debates are invisible or disregarded. What is the philosophy of water? How does it affect our lives, and what happens what we are denied it, face too much of it, and when it becomes our enemy? Join WHY? as we swim though these questions, asking about the legacy of Hurricane Katrina, the recent floods in Minot, North Dakota, and the struggle to supply clean, accessible water to the worldContinue reading “The Philosophy of Water” with GUEST Clay Jenkinson

“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

“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

“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

“Eric Sevareid and the Philosophy of Journalism” with Clay Jenkinson

What constitutes serious journalism? Can a reporter be a philosopher? How did broadcast journalism change the philosophy behind news reporting? These are just some of the questions that come to mind when one thinks about the life and work of Eric Sevareid. Born in Velva, North Dakota, Sevareid was one of America’s most influential broadcast journalists. One of “Murrow’s Boys” – named as such because of his extensive work with the legendary Edward R. Murrow – his reports on World War II captivated America. On this episode of Why?, Clay Jenkinson returns to examine Sevareid’s legacy and the ways in which journalism has changed since then. Discussing his current documentary project on the legendary reporter and Sevareid’s autobiography Not So Wild A Dream, Jenkinson will explore the impact journalism has on the world around us and ways in which autobiography reveals how one person, at least, crafted and pursued his personal mission. Continue reading “Eric Sevareid and the Philosophy of Journalism” with Clay Jenkinson

“Empathy, the Constitution, and Sexual Orientation” with Martha Nussbaum

Should America allow gay marriage? Are demands for civil rights by homosexuals analogous to earlier movements for equality by black Americans, women, and others? How have personal attitudes – particularly disgust – shaped law in the United States? This episode of Why? will focus on the enlarging sphere of respect that American culture is cultivating for all of its members, as well as the role the humanities play in articulating political rights. Join us for a discussion about constitutional interpretation regarding same-sex relations, and the role that the ethical and sympathetic imagination plays in recognizing the humanity of others. Continue reading “Empathy, the Constitution, and Sexual Orientation” with Martha Nussbaum

“The Humanities in America: The Case for Public Funding” with Brenna Daugherty

What are the humanities and why are they important? How can the National Endowment for the Humanities claim that their activities are “critical to our common civic life as a nation?” And most controversially, should the U.S. government fund such cultural endeavors? In this episode of Why? we examine the philosophical issues related to what has come to be called the public humanities: the effort of both private and governmental organizations to create and supports events that disseminate philosophy, history, literature, and other arts to the general public. Continue reading “The Humanities in America: The Case for Public Funding” with Brenna Daugherty

“Ideology and Curriculum: 30 Years of a Discussion” with Michael W. Apple

What political and economic forces affect teachers as they write their lesson plans? How does socialization create the kind of education we give our children? Why isn’t school politically neutral? In our next episode of Why? we will ask these questions and more, focusing on Michal Apple’s influential book Ideology and Curriculum. For thirty years, the book has challenge educators, directed policy conversations, and inspired those who want to think differently about schools and their roles in a democracy. Continue reading “Ideology and Curriculum: 30 Years of a Discussion” with Michael W. Apple

“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

“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