About Us

The Team

Philosophy Talk celebrates the value of the examined life.

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 joined the Philosophy Talk team as co-host in 2017 when John Perry retired from the show. 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. He is currently writing a second book on Proust for Oxford’s Very Short Introductions series.

Ray Briggs


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.

Blakey Vermuele


Blakey Vermeule is the Albert Guérard Professor of Literature in the English department at Stanford, and she lectures in the Philosophy and Literature program. She teaches and writes about evolutionary moral psychology and ethics from the 17th century to the present. She has written three books on topics related to moral psychology and is finishing a long project on mind science in the age of behavioral economics.

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

Co-founder and Co-host

John Perry is the Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Stanford University, and a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at University of California Riverside. He is author of over 100 articles and books on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. He received a Jean Nicod Prize (France), a Humboldt Prize (Germany), and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1983, he co-founded Stanford's Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI) and served as its director. He also wrote the internet’s most popular essay on procrastination.

Ken Taylor

Co-founder and Co-host

Ken Taylor (1954-2019) was the co-founder of Philosophy Talk and its co-host for almost 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 is the author of many books and articles, including Truth and Meaning, Reference and the Rational Mind, and Referring to the World

Laura Maguire

Director of Research

Laura Maguire is Philosophy Talk's Director of Research and an occassional co-host. She hails from Dublin, Ireland, but has called the Bay Area home for decades. After graduating with distinction at Trinity College Dublin, she earned her PhD in Philosophy at Stanford University. She has taught in Stanford's Philosophy Department, Introduction to the Humanities program, and Structured Liberal Education program.

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 J. 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.

Shereen Adel

Roving Philosophical Reporter

Shereen Adel is a former literature student turned radio producer. She came to the Philosophy Talk team after joining KALW's newsroom as a producer on Crosscurrents and fell in love with reporting on how philosophical ideas take shape in practical applications. In addition to her work with Philosophy Talk, she still works behind the scenes in the KALW newsroom and manages the station's radio training programs for adults.

Sarah Lai Stirland

Roving Philosophical Reporter

Sarah Lai Stirland is a freelance writer and producer, a graduate of Medill at Northwestern University, and the Director of Digital Community at broadband.money. She's a 2020 alumna of KALW's Audio Academy and co-teaches and edits KALW's tbh podcast with fellow Roving Philosophical Reporter Holly J. McDede.

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.

Leslie Francis

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.