About Us

The Team

Philosophy Talk celebrates the value of the examined life.

Ken Taylor


Ken Taylor was the co-founder and co-host (with John Perry) of Philosophy Talk for fifteen years. He was the Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University and director of Stanford's interdisciplinary program in Symbolic Systems. His work lies at the intersection of the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, with an occasional foray into the history of philosophy. He was the author of many books and articles, including Truth and Meaning, Reference and the Rational Mind, and Referring to the World.

Josh Landy


Josh Landy is the Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French, Professor of Comparative Literature, and co-director of the Literature and Philosophy Initiative at Stanford University. He is also director of Stanford's Structured Liberal Education program. His research focuses on the intersection of philosophy and literature. Among many other publications, he is the author of Philosophy as Fiction: Self, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust and How to Do Things with Fictions.

Debra Satz


Debra Satz is the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society at Stanford University and dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. She is a political philosopher whose work addresses contemporary public policy debates. In addition to authoring many articles and co-editing books, she is the author of Why Some Things Should Not be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets and co-author of Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy and Public Policy.

John Perry

Host Emeritus

John Perry is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Riverside, and Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Stanford University. He is the author of over 100 articles and books, including A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality, Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness, and Reference and Reflexivity. He also has the internet’s most popular essay on procrastination.

Laura Maguire

Director of Research

Laura originally hails from Ireland, but has called San Francisco home for many years. After graduating with distinction in Philosophy from Trinity College Dublin, she moved to the Bay Area to pursue her doctoral studies at Stanford University and received her PhD in 2005. She has taught in the Introduction to the Humanities (IHUM) and Structured Liberal Education (SLE) programs and in the Department of Philosophy at Stanford.

Devon Strolovitch

Senior Producer

Born and raised in Montreal, Devon studied medieval Judeo-Portuguese manuscripts and earned a PhD in Linguistics from Cornell University before pursuing radio professionally. Since then he has been the primary studio producer for Philosophy Talk, while also contributing as a writer, editor, occasional Roving Philosophical Reporter, and manager of the program's day-to-day operations.

Merle Kessler

Sixty-Second Philosopher

Merle Kessler is a writer, humorist, and performer, best known perhaps by his pen name, Ian Shoales. As Ian Shoales he has been churning out cranky yet strangely humorous commentaries since 1979. First heard on NPR's All Things Considered, he has been featured on Morning Edition, ABC's Nightline, and the online magazine, Salon. In addition, his pieces have been published in the New York Times, LA Times, the San Francisco Examiner, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Minneapolis Tribune, among other publications.

Holly McDede

Roving Philosophical Reporter

Holly J. McDede is the criminal justice reporter for KALW public radio in San Francisco. She studied Creative Writing and Literature at the University of East Anglia in Norfolk, England, where she wrote her dissertation on Don Quixote and a radio drama about public radio. She also works as an editor and producer at KCBS radio, sometimes very late at night when it’s difficult not to ponder life’s existential questions.

Liza Veale

Roving Philosophical Reporter

Liza Veale covers housing and homelessness stories in the Bay Area for the local news show Crosscurrents on KALW public radio. She's a Bay Area native whose undergraduate degree was in "Critical Theory and Social Justice" which is confusing to define but decidedly not analytic philosophy. 

David Livingstone Smith

Featured Contributor

David Livingstone Smith is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of London, Kings College, where he worked on Freud’s philosophy of mind and psychology. His current research is focused on dehumanization, race, propaganda, and related topics.

Neil Van Leeuwen

Featured Contributor

Neil Van Leeuwen is an empirically-oriented philosopher of mind at Georgia State University. He did his graduate work at Oxford University, where he studied classics, and at Stanford University, where he studied philosophy. Prior to his appointment at Georgia State, he held postdoctoral fellowships at Rutgers University and Tufts University. He has also taught at University of Johannesburg, where he has an ongoing appointment as Senior Fellow.

Antonia Peacocke

Featured Contributor

Antonia Peacocke is currently a Bersoff Faculty Fellow in the Philosophy Department at New York University and is looking forward to joining the Philosophy Department at Stanford in 2019 as an Assistant Professor. She writes about philosophy of mind, epistemology, metaphysics, and aesthetics—especially as they relate to literature and poetry. Recently she has written about special first-personal knowledge, the nature of aesthetic value, and how mental actions can have several contents at once. She writes short stories as well as philosophy.

Ray Briggs

Featured Contributor

Ray Briggs is a Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. Their research explores how formal models can help us reason better about practical and theoretical matters; they are particularly interested in decision theory, measurement theory, and the philosophy of probability. In addition to over 20 philosophy articles, Ray has published two poetry collections and been nominated for a Pushcart.

Leslie Francis

Film Editor/Featured Contributor

Leslie Francis is a philosophy professor and law professor at the University of Utah. Her fields include applied ethics of all types, disability, philosophy of law, and law and health care. She is the editor of the Oxford Handbook of Reproductive Ethics and co-author of Privacy: What Everyone Needs to Know and Sustaining Surveillance: the Ethics and Politics of Public Health Data Use. Her overall approach to philosophy involves thinking about what matters in contexts of injustice; movies are a great laboratory for this.