In the United States, summer is when we celebrate the thirteen American colonies freeing themselves from British imperial rule to become independent states. It's also a time of greater freedom and exploration for many. With those things in mind, we’re taking a deep dive into the archive to explore the topic of freedom.
In philosophy, when we talk about freedom, we often mean it in a metaphysical and not political sense. Do we human beings have free will, or the ability to choose our own actions? And if we accept determinism—the doctrine that everything that happens in the world has a cause—does that threaten free will? The first three episodes in our freedom playlist focus on these kinds of questions, as well as their implications for morality and responsibility. First the hosts welcome John Fischer, a philosopher well known for his view that free will and moral responsibility are compatible with determinism. Next, with Daniel Dennett they challenge the popular idea that neuroscience shows that the feeling of freely choosing our own actions is just an illusion. Then with Pamela Hieronymi they explore what kind of freedom is required to justify attitudes of resentment and blame.
The next three episodes focus more on political questions about freedom. Debra Satz joins the philosophers to question whether there ought to be governmental regulation on what can be bought and sold and what the moral costs of a free market might be. With Geoffrey Stone the hosts turn to the question of free speech and whether there are certain circumstances, like in times of war, where speech should be limited. Our last episode with Greg Lukianoff stays on the topic of free speech but asks whether political activists on college campuses are undermining it.
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