THE BLOG @ PHILOSOPHERS' CORNER

Kant's Guide to Morality

Can you reason your way into being a good person? Or are your feelings a better guide for doing the right thing? This week we’re thinking about German enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant and his view of a universal morality based on reason.

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The Staying Power of Poetry

I was delighted when Louise Glück, one of the great poets of our age, won the Nobel Prize in Literature. I wrote about one of my all-time favorite poems, "Ithaca," for this week's episode, "Why Poetry Matters," with Louise as guest!

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Mourning a Lost Culture

When we are grieving, is it a good idea or a bad idea to engage with art that takes grief to be its subject? Does this help us to cope, or does it rip out whatever stitches we have managed to sew in while we try to bear an unbearable loss?

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Tackling Sexual Violence

How do we achieve justice for victims of sexual assault? Can we change the legal system to make it more effective? Or should we turn to social media instead? This week, we're thinking about the #MeToo movement and the criminal justice system.

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The Value of Anger

Shouldn’t we get angry at injustice? Don’t some things deserve our rage? Or will rage just beget more rage? These are some of the questions we're thinking about on this week's show, "Righteous Rage."

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Who Wants to Be a Stoic?

What can we learn from the Stoics about living a good life? Should we all try to become indifferent to pain, suffering, and death? This week we’re thinking about the Stoic philosophy of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.

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Digital Persons?

Could robots ever have feelings that we could hurt? Should we hold them responsible for their actions? Or would that just be a way to let humans off the hook? This week, we’re asking “Could Robots Be Persons?”

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2021: The Year in Sound

Every once in a while I like to step out from behind the mixing board to give a behind-the-scenes look at some aspect of the program. For our annual end-of-year special, we tried something a bit different, though not unprecedented.

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Virtual Reality, Real Feelings

Can virtual reality make people more empathetic, train students in the scientific method, and help people overcome their fears? This week’s episode asks whether VR is a force for good, a force for ill, or not much of a force at all.

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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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