THE BLOG @ PHILOSOPHERS' CORNER

Age, Ageism, and Equality

Is age discrimination always wrong? Or it is fair to treat different ages differently? How do we take people's age into account without being ageist? These are the questions we’re asking this week, in an episode called “Should All Ages Be Equal?”

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Socially Intelligent Robots

Would you like a robot to assist you with tasks around the home? What kinds of jobs would you be comfortable leaving a robot to do? Would you trust one to take care of your child or an elderly parent? This week's show is "The Social Lives of Robots."

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Persons, Community, and the Akan

Is your inner life what makes you, you? Or is your identity about connecting to your community? How can West African philosophy help us think about the self? This week, we’ll be thinking about Akan Philosophy, specifically its conception of personhood.

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Why Is Math So Useful?

Is math a realm of timeless, universal truths? Or are mathematicians just making it up as they go? If equations are made up, why are they so useful? We’ll be discussing these questions, and more on this week’s episode, “The Mysterious Timelessness of Math.”

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On Awesomeness

Is “awesome” just an overused word for things we like? Or does it refer to a particular kind of excellence? Would the world be a better place if we all tried to be more awesome and less sucky? This week, we’re thinking about awesomeness.

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Is Facebook Morally Responsible?

If you’ve been following the news, you’re aware that the Delta variant of the Coronavirus is all around us. While it only poses a very minor risk to the vaccinated, it is wreaking havoc on the unvaccinated. 

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Microaggressions and Intention

Can subtle slights cause serious harm? Does it matter if no harm was intended? Are microaggressions in the eye of the beholder? Or are they a way to keep certain groups in their place? This week we’re thinking about Microaggressions.

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The Slow Miracles of Thought

How can the human mind think about objects outside itself? How is it possible to talk about things that don’t even exist? This week, we’re thinking about reference—specifically, an “opinionated” theory of reference by our dear departed friend, longtime Philosophy Talk host Ken Taylor.

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Literary Minds

What can neuroscience tell us about novels, poems, and plays? Can fiction help us develop real-world cognitive skills? And can writers exploit our mental weaknesses—for our own good? These are some of the questions we'll be asking on this week’s show, “Your Brain on Literature.”

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Summer Dylan Reading

Every once in a while, I sneak out from behind the mixing board to offer some insights into the process of producing the program. This week, however, I’m chiming in as part of our annual Summer Reading special to let you in on some of my own reading plans.

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Nonduality

What does it mean to say everything is one, not two? Doesn’t it seem like the world is full of many different things? Or is separateness just an illusion? This week we’re thinking about Nonduality and the Oneness of Being.

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Unnecessary Necessities

During the pandemic, you may have been watching Schitt’s Creek. Its characters inspired this month’s pandemic puzzle, which is about how to figure out the ideal balance between feeling like you need a lot to be happy, and feeling like you need very little.

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The Philosophy of the Vienna Circle

Is metaphysics just a bunch of nonsense? Is it okay to believe something you could never prove? Could logic be a solution to the world’s problems? This week on Philosophy Talk, we’re thinking about the Vienna Circle, a group of Austrian philosophers from the 1920s who debated these questions.

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Cracking Down on Disinformation

In a world of fake news and disinformation, how can anyone make informed political decisions? Is it possible for us all to come together as a nation if we can’t even agree on what’s true? This week, we’re thinking about Disinformation and the Future of Democracy.

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What Montaigne Knew

Are essays a good way to do philosophy? What if they’re full of digressions and contradictions? Could that possibly make them more philosophical, not less? This week we’re thinking about Michel de Montaigne and the art of the essay.

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Is Meritocracy Possible? (A Solution)

Last time, I asked: Given that meritocracy as traditionally defined is practically impossible, is there any point in appealing to it as a social ideal? This time, I suggest a way to peel off two ideas from the mirage ideal of meritocracy that might actually be feasible and worth striving for.

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What Makes A Man?

Does masculinity need a makeover for the 21st century? Should your gender matter to who you are as a person? Why think there’s just one thing it means to be a man? This week on Philosophy Talk, we’re discussing masculinity and what makes a man.

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#FrancisOnFilm: Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of the FBI murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton, aided by informant William O’Neal. The film bears its theme in the title: betrayal. But what exactly is betrayal? And what is its relation to trust, loyalty, and promises?

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Replacing Freud

What’s the latest scientific insight about unconscious beliefs, desires, and motivations? Do contemporary experimental psychologists do any better than Freud? Could anyone do worse? On this week’s show we’re asking: What has replaced Freud?

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#FrancisOnFilm: The Mole Agent

The Mole Agent is a charming documentary about a private investigator hired to find out whether elder abuse is happening at a nursing home in Chile. At the heart of the film is a deception, which raises questions about trust beyond the question whether lies can ever be justified by good intentions.

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What Tech Says

Are tech companies really “making the world a better place”? Isn’t “disruption” just code for circumventing legal regulations and ignoring labor laws? Does Silicon Valley really believe its own hype? On this week's show we’re thinking about “The Rhetoric of Big Tech.”

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Is Meritocracy Possible? (Pt. I)

Modern economic life—where people have careers, advancements, successes, and failures—will always end up failing to be meritocratic, as traditionally defined. Given that, is there any point to appealing to meritocracy as a social ideal? And if not, why do people find this ideal so appealing?

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The Mathematics of Democracy

Shouldn’t everybody have an equal vote? Isn’t majority rule just an excuse to keep minorities down? Is a truly fair democracy even possible? And how do we decide what counts as fair in the first place? This week on Philosophy Talk, we’ll explore answers to these questions!

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When Do False Beliefs Exculpate? (Pt. II)

In my last pandemic puzzle, I posed the question: When do false beliefs exculpate? I floated a principle—the false belief criterion of exculpation—that tried to explain when false beliefs make someone not guilty of a moral offense, but it didn't work in every case. So how do we solve this puzzle?

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Gaining Knowledge without Learning

You can come to know something by observation, by testimony, or by working it out in your head. But there’s another way of knowing something that doesn’t involve learning because it doesn’t involve coming to know a pre-existing fact. This way of knowing arises when you do something intentionally.

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