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Program Website: http://www.philosophytalk.org/
Philosophy Talk is a weekly, one-hour radio series hosted by
Ken Taylor, Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University,
and John Perry, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
at the University of California at Riverside. The program is not a lecture
or college course—it's philosophy in action! Philosophy Talk
is a fun opportunity to explore issues of importance in a thoughtful,
Identities Lost & Found in a Global Age
Throughout human history, people have tended to live and die in the place they're born. Place is an important part of identity. But what happens when people are deprived of this sense of place? What psychological effects do emigrants, exiles, and expatriates endure? What happens to the importance of place when community membership can be based on common interests among people linked by email and facebook? John and Ken situate themselves with UC Berkeley English Professor Bharati Mukherjee, author of Miss New India and other novels exploring migration, alienation, and identity.
We are faced with decisions all the time in life. Normally, we think about the possible outcomes and chose a course of action that matches what we take to be of most value to us. However, one might think that some decisions—like whether or not to have a child—can so profoundly transform our lives that we cannot possibly know what the outcome will be like until it actually happens. Are these the kind of decisions in which our regular approach to decision-making becomes useless? Can life-changing decisions ever be made rationally? If not, can we still make good choices? John and Ken make some major decisions with Laurie Paul from UNC Chapel Hill, author of Transformative Experience.
The right to bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment, is at once both distinctly American and highly controversial. Incidents such as the Sandy Hook school shooting force the nation to think hard about how the law should balance gun ownership with the risk these deadly weapons present to society. What kind of right is the right to bear arms, if it is a right at all? What responsibilities ought to come with gun ownership? And what can philosophical thinking contribute to such delicate policy decisions? John and Ken stand their ground with Hugh LaFollette from the University of South Florida, author of The Practice of Ethics.
Hypocrites believe one thing, but do another. Jefferson opposed slavery, but owned slaves. Jesus professed universal love, but cursed an innocent fig tree. Jerry Brown opposes the death penalty, but as governor of California will be responsible for executions. Hypocrites all – but vile hypocrites? Surely it was better that Jefferson was a hypocrite, and articulated the case against slavery, than not opposing it at all. Does it take courage to defend a view that you, yourself, don't have the courage or the character to follow through on? John and Ken try to practice what they preach with Lawrence Quill from San Jose State University, author of Secrets and Democracy: From Arcana Imperii to Wikileaks.
The Lure of Immortality
Would you like to live forever? It is a tempting notion that has been explored and imagined for centuries. Perhaps immortality is desirable, but it might also be that death is a significant part of what gives meaning to life. So what would a society of immortal individuals look like? What might some of the challenges or rewards of an immortal life be? How would living forever affect our relationships with one another, our life goals, or simply the way we perceive time? Would the impacts of immortality ultimately be beneficial or detrimental to us? John and Ken tempt fate with John Fischer from UC Riverside, author of Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will.
Gut Feelings and the Art of Decision-Making
We may think of ourselves as rational decision-makers, but we often base even high-stakes decisions on intuitions or "gut feelings" rather than explicit reasoning. Decisions based on intuition are not highly esteemed in business, politics, or medicine – which may lead decision-makers to construct elaborate post facto rationalizations to explain their intuitive choices. What place should intuitions have in important decision-making? Is there a role for expertise in developing reliable gut-feelings? John and Ken trust their instincts with Gerd Gigerenzer from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, author of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious.
Humans tend to treat other humans who differ from them, even in seemingly small and insignificant ways, as less than fully human. Our tendency to dehumanize the "other" has sometimes led to great atrocities like the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave trade. It is arguably responsible for such widespread social ills as racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Where does our tendency to dehumanize others come from? Is it based on bad arguments that can be rationally refuted, or are its origins deeper in the human psyche? Are we bound to see the "other" as less than fully human? John and Ken take a human approach with David Livingstone Smith from the University of New England, author of Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others.
January 1, 2015
Prostitution and the Sex Trade
Some consider the commodification of sexual services inherently wrong, something that ought to be abolished outright. Others claim that prostitution is a legitimate form of commerce and that changing its legal status would reduce or eliminate most harms to sex workers. So in a just society, are there any conditions under which buying and selling sex are morally acceptable? Does the sex trade inevitably involve coercion of some kind, or can becoming a sex worker ever be a free, fully autonomous choice? John and Ken explore the complexities of the world's oldest profession with novelist, columnist, and former sex worker Tracy Quan, author of the best-selling Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl. This program was recorded live at the Public Radio Program Directors Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Examined Year - 2014
A new year offers an opportunity to reflect on significant moments of the past twelve months. But what ideas and events that took shape over the past year have prompted us to question our assumptions and to think about things in new ways? What significant events – in politics, in science, and in philosophy itself – have called into question our most deeply-held beliefs? Join John, Ken, and their special guests as they celebrate the examined year with a philosophical look back at the year that was 2014.