Episode 131: Greg Salmieri discusses egoism and altruism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, Greg Salmieri (University of Texas at Austin) returns for his third (!!) appearance on Elucidations, this time to talk about doing right by yourself. Click here to download Episode 131 of Elucidations. What was the last thing you did? The last thing I did was pull a shot of espresso....

Episode 130: Jessica Tizzard discusses weakness of the will

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, Long Dang and I sit down to talk to Jessica Tizzard (University of Connecticut, Storrs) about weakness of the will. Click here to download Episode 130 of Elucidations. You’re at a party hosted by a close friend. It’s been three hours since you got there, and the evening thus far has been chock full of scintillating conversation, a fun round of Charades followed by Assassins, first rate cocktails, and a dessert to die for....

Episode 129: Nethanel Lipshitz discusses discrimination

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, Ben Andrew and I are joined by Nethanel Lipshitz (Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University) to talk about discrimination. Click here to download Episode 129 of Elucidations. If someone treats me unequally—that is, if they give other people a relative advantage but not me—am I the victim of discrimination?...

Episode 128: Melissa Fusco discusses free choice permission

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. In this episode, Melissa Fusco (Columbia University) and I discuss a difficult problem in philosophical logic called the puzzle of free choice permission. Click here to download Episode 128 of Elucidations. One of the foundational ideas behind philosophical logic is that when you say something, that has further implications beyond the single thing you said....

Episode 127: Nic Koziolek discusses self-knowledge

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here.In this episode, Nic Koziolek (Washington University in St. Louis) returns to talk to me and Nora Bradford about self-consciousness. Click here to download Episode 127 of Elucidations. Self-consciousness, as philosophers use the term, is a word for when you know something about one of your own mental states....

Episode 126: Listener Q&A with Agnes Callard and Ben Callard

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Episode transcript here. Three philosophers. Eight head-scratchers. 50 minutes. In this episode, Agnes Callard, Ben Callard and I respond to the world’s most awesome listener-recorded questions. Click here to download Episode 126 of Elucidations. A lot of people have the impression that philosophy is, first and foremost, an enterprise in which college professor types read books that no one can understand, then issue a response in the form of more books that no one can understand....

Episode 125: James Koppel discusses counterfactual inference and automated explanation

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Episode transcript here. In this episode, James Koppel (MIT, James Koppel Coaching) joins me and Dominick Reo to talk about how we can write software to help identify the causes of disasters. Click here to download Episode 125 of Elucidations. These days, there’s often a tendency to think of software primarily as a venue for frivolous pleasures....

Episode 124: Graham Priest discusses Buddhist political philosophy

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. In this episode, Graham Priest returns to discuss Buddhist political philosophy with me and Henry Curtis. (Last month, we talked with him about Buddhist metaphysics.) Click here to download Episode 124 of Elucidations. Last month, we discussed the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism: that suffering happens, that this suffering is (partially) caused by emotional attachment, that you can deal with it by changing your headspace, and that you can change your headspace by understanding the world, understanding your mind and body, and treating other people well....

Episode 123: Graham Priest discusses Buddhist metaphysics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, Henry Curtis and I sit down with Graham Priest (CUNY Graduate Center) to get the straight dope on Buddhist metaphysics. Click here to download Episode 123 of Elucidations. Buddhism isn’t just a religion—it’s an entire family of philosophical traditions that took root all over the Asian continent for thousands of years....

Episode 122: Frithjof Bergmann and David Helmbold discuss new work, new culture

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, we sit down with Frithjof Bergmann (University of Michigan) and David Helmbold to talk about work that we really, really want. Not just kind of, but like, really really. Click here to download Episode 122 of Elucidations. Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work....

Episode 121: Aaron Ben Ze'ev discusses the arc of love

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, Julia Liu and I talk to Aaron Ben Ze’ev (University of Haifa) about romantic love: what it is, what makes it last for a long time when it lasts for a long time, what makes it end when it ends, and so on. Click here to download Episode 121 of Elucidations....

Episode 120: Robin Dembroff on going beyond the gender binary

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Episode transcript here. This month, I talk to Robin Dembroff (Yale University) about the gender binary: what it is, what people mean when they say they’re outside of it, and what political motivation there may be for resisting it. Click on this link to download Episode 120 of Elucidations....

Episode 119: Stephanie Kapusta Discusses Misgendering

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Episode transcript here. This month, Henry Curtis and I sit down to talk to Stephanie Kapusta (Dalhousie University) about misgendering. Click here to download the episode. In the ordinary sense of the term, misgendering is when someone addresses someone else in a way that corresponds to the wrong gender. Like if Elizabeth Warren was on the street in front of me, dropped her wallet, and I picked it up and yelled: “Sir, you dropped your wallet,” then I would be misgendering her....

Episode 118: Tyler Cowen Discusses Stubborn Attachments

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Episode transcript here. This month, we’re joined by Tyler Cowen (Professor of Economics at George Mason University), to talk about utilitarianism, economic growth, and the future. Click here to download the episode. Utilitarianism is the name we give a family of normative ethical theories, most of which are variations on the idea that doing the right thing involves imparting the greatest amount of benefit to the greatest number of people....

Episode 117: Brian L. Frye says to plagiarize this podcast

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Brian L. Frye (University of Kentucky College of Law) about how we deal with and react to plagiarism. Click here to listen to our conversation. Plagiarism is obviously terrible, and plagiarizers should be punished to the full extent of the law. Or should they? Our guest this month thinks there are a number of issues with that position....

Episode 116: Tommy Curry discusses black male studies

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, we sit down with Tommy Curry (University of Edinburgh currently; Texas A&M at the time of the recording) to discuss a new area of academic research called black male studies. You can see his full bio at the end of this entry, and you can click here to listen to our conversation....

Episode 115: Katherine Ritchie discusses social groups

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, I sit down with Katherine Ritchie (CUNY Graduate Center, City College) to talk about what a social group is. Click here to listen to our conversation. What is there to being a group of people? Does being in a group basically just mean you’re on the list of people who are in the group, or is there more to it?...

Episode 114: Sally Haslanger discusses ideology

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, Emily Dupree and I talk to Sally Haslanger (MIT) about ideology. Click here to listen to our conversation. We throw the word ‘ideology’ around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Well, unfortunately, different people mean different things by it at different times. One thing we often mean by it is ‘a person’s political outlook or worldview....

Episode 113: Tom Pashby discusses quantum mechanics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Ever wonder what quantum mechanics is? You are not alone. This month, we talk to Tom Pashby (University of Chicago) about what makes quantum mechanics so hard to interpret, despite the fact that it makes incredibly accurate empirical predictions. Click here to listen. Quantum mechanics is hard to interpret for a number of reasons, but very high on the list is the way it uses the notion of probability....

Episode 112: Myisha Cherry discusses the skill of conversation

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, Myisha Cherry (UC Riverside) and I talk about talking. What makes someone good at at, and what makes someone bad at it? Click here to listen to our conversation. We don’t always think of conversation as a skill. Often, we think of it as something that just happens automatically; I need to talk someone, and I walk over and just tell them what’s on my mind....

Episode 111: Greg Kobele discusses mathematical linguistics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Greg Kobele (Universität Leipzig) about what linguistics is and how abstract mathematics can be of use to it. Click here to listen to our conversation. Linguists study the rules that speakers of a given language actually follow when they speak. Not made-up rules like “never end a sentence with a preposition,” which no one ever follows (including the teachers who shame their students for not following them), but the actual rules you need to know in order to understand English....

Episode 110: Chike Jeffers discusses the social and political philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we sit down with Chike Jeffers (Dalhousie University) to discuss the work of W.E.B. Du Bois. Click here to listen to our conversation. It’s the end of the American civil war. 4 million slaves have just been freed. Now what do we all do? The question still wasn’t settled by the turn of the century, when an interesting debate between Booker T....

Episode 109: Bonus episode with Matt Teichman and Toby Buckle

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, Toby Buckle of the Political Philosophy Podcast and I are doing a joint episode. Click here to listen to it! Instead of the usual format wherein I draw that month’s guest out about a particular topic, Toby Buckle and I have a freeform conversation about why we do podcasts, the universality of fundamental moral principles, and the nature of political disagreement....

Episode 108: Mariam Thalos discusses freedom

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, I sit down with Mariam Thalos (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) to discuss freedom. What is it, why do we want it, and how do we attain it? Click here to listen to our conversation. We all categorize ourselves. You might think of yourself as a student, or as a painter, or as being good with numbers, or as being civic-minded....

Episode 107: Linda Martín Alcoff discusses identity and history

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, Emily Dupree and I had the pleasure of talking to Linda Martín Alcoff (Hunter College & CUNY Graduate Center) about identity. Click here to listen to our conversation. Let’s start with some terminology. ‘Identity’ means different things in different contexts, but in this episode we use it to mean something like: ‘the social demographic a person belongs to....

Episode 106: R. A. Briggs discusses gender

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, it is our privilege to have R. A. Briggs (Stanford University) back on a second time to discuss the nature of gender. Click here to listen to our conversation. What exactly is gender? Simone de Beauvoir drew a distinction between gender and biological sex, and encouraged us to think of the former as the social significance of the latter....

Episode 105: R. A. Briggs discusses epistemic decision theory

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we are joined by R.A. Briggs (Stanford University), who is here to discuss an interdisciplinary area of study called epistemic decision theory. Click here to listen to our conversation. Epistemic decision theory is an area of study that brings together two sub-disciplines. The first is decision theory, which tries to mathematically study the best principles for deciding what to do: what are the costs and benefits of each option you’re considering, and how can you optimize the decision process so as to at least the worst options?...

Episode 104: Seth Yalcin discusses the question-sensitivity of belief

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we learn that there’s more to a person’s beliefs than just one big blob of information! Seth Yalcin (University of California, Berkeley) sits down with us to talk about how a person’s beliefs are sorted into answers to various questions. Click here to listen to our conversation....

Episode 103: Brian Leiter explains why we should think about Marx

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, Brian Leiter (University of Chicago) makes his third (!) appearance on the program to talk about how Karl Marx can help us understand our current political moment. Click here to listen to our conversation. Karl Marx thought that industrial capitalism had an in-built self-destructive tendency....

Episode 102: Josh Knobe discusses the true self

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we get right into it with Josh Knobe (Yale University) about the notion of a person’s true self. Click here to listen to our conversation. Who are you, deep down, in your core? Maybe it isn’t fully clear what would count as an answer to that question, but it’s still a question we ask all the time....

Episode 101: Miranda Fricker discusses blame and forgiveness

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, Emily and Matt chat with Miranda Fricker (CUNY Graduate Center) about blame and forgiveness. Click here to listen to our conversation. We have a lot of conflicting feelings about blame. When someone does something bad, we feel a strong urge to blame them, and when it all goes down as intended, the person deserves the blame, and they learn that what they did was wrong, we intuitively feel that justice has been done....

Episode 100: Agnes Callard discusses aspiration

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we sit down with Agnes Callard (University of Chicago) to talk about aspiration. Click here to listen to our conversation. Have you ever wanted to get into something? Maybe you find it really boring to sit through an opera right now, but you think you might be missing something and want to learn how to appreciate opera....

Episode 99: Steven Nadler discusses Spinoza on freedom

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we delve back into the early modern period with Steven Nadler, William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy, Evjue-Bascom Professor of the Humanities, and Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Click here to listen to our conversation. Baruch Spinoza is known for his views about how the mind and body are the same thing (see our Episode 70), and for coming up with a completely non-anthropomorphic notion of God....

Episode 98: Jennifer Lackey discusses credibility

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern University) about what it means to be too trustful of another person. Click here to listen to our conversation. For some time, feminist authors have been concerned about the fact that women tend to be believed less than men, simply because they’re women....

Episode 97: Meghan Sullivan discusses time biases

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, Meghan Sullivan (University of Notre Dame) urges us to consider how we feel about the past, present, and future. Click here to listen to our conversation. Remember the marshmallow test? Back in the 1970s, some psychological experiments suggested that people who opted to delay short-term rewards if it meant a bigger reward in the future were likely to have more successful lives....

Episode 96: Nic Koziolek discusses the role of belief in reasoning

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Nic Koziolek (Auburn University) about some big, meaty topics, including but not limited to thought, judgment, belief, reasoning, and knowledge. Click here to listen to our conversation. We engage in reasoning on a constant basis. Here’s an example of the kind of reasoning I engage in all the time: they’re working on the water main, my car is parked right in front of the water main, I want them to be able to work on the water main, so I guess I have to go move it....

Episode 95: Zed Adams discusses the genealogy of color

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Zed Adams (New School for Social Research) about colors like red, blue, and green. Click here to listen to our conversation. What is the color red? Is it a physical property of certain chemicals–the fact that they tend to reflect light with a wavelength of about 670 nm and absorb the rest?...

Episode 94: Zsofia Zvolenszky discusses fictional names

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Zsofia Zvolenszky (Eötvös University) about fictional characters and places. Click here to listen to our conversation. Han Solo and Luke Skywalker sneak on board the Death Star and attempt to rescue to Princess Leia. The escape plan goes awry, and pretty soon it looks more like Princess Leia is rescuing them....

Episode 93: Barry Lam discusses obligations after death

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk about whether we owe the dead anything with Barry Lam. Barry Lam is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vassar College, Story Lab Fellow at Duke University, and creator, producer, and lead host of Hi-Phi Nation, an exciting new philosophy podcast that turns stories into ideas. Click here to listen to our conversation....

Episode 92: Kristie Dotson discusses epistemic oppression

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Note: this episode was recorded in 2016, prior to the US presidential election. Kristie Dotson will be coming back in a future episode to give us her latest thoughts on these topics in light of recent developments in US politics! Full transcript here. This month, we talk to Kristie Dotson (Michigan State University) about how people’s ability to gather and share information can be negatively impacted under oppressive social systems....

Episode 91: Paolo Santorio discusses counterfactuals

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Paolo Santorio about counterfactuals, also known as statements of the form ‘If A were, then B would be.’ Click here to listen to our conversation. Counterfactual statements, those funny conditional statements where the word ‘would’ comes after the word ‘then,’ play an absolutely central rule both in everyday commonsense reasoning and in our more formal scientific theorizing....

Episode 90: Ásta Sveinsdóttir discusses social construction

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Ásta Sveinsdóttir (San Francisco State University) about social-institutional entities, like money, the economy, political borders, nation states, and, interestingly, categories of people. Click here to listen to our conversation. For a while now, philosophers have been interested in the status of things like money. A $5 bill has the purchasing power it has not because of any intrinsic features that belong to the paper it’s printed on, but because we all agree to treat it as having that purchasing power....

Episode 89: John Collins discusses language universals

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This time, we have the privilege of talking to John Collins (University of East Anglia) as we shift our attention to the human language faculty. Click here to listen to our conversation. Human beings are the only animal in the world that can natively acquire a language like English, French, Czech, Nahuatl, Yoruba, or Tamil....

Episode 88: Kent Bach discusses jumping to conclusions

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Episode transcript here. This month, we talk to Kent Bach (San Francisco State University) about his picture of how beliefs relate to particular thoughts. Click here to listen to our conversation. In this episode, Kent Bach discusses two of his big ideas at the border between the philosophy of mind and epistemology....

Episode 87: Susanna Schellenberg discusses perceptual particularity

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we sit down with Susanna Schellenberg to talk about what ordinary perception does and doesn’t have in common with hallucination. Click here to listen to our conversation. When you picture to yourself how vision works, you probably imagine something along the following lines. There’s some light which gets projected into your eyes, and the light stimulates the rod and cone cells in your retina....

Episode 86: Daniel Smyth discusses photographs and their vicissitudes

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss photographs and their vicissitudes with Daniel Smyth, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Sage School of Philosophy of Cornell University. (And yes, Smyth used to study and teach at the University of Chicago!) Click here to listen to the episode. In this episode, Smyth asks: What does a photograph evidence?...

Episode 85: Bryce Huebner discusses race and cognitive science

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss race and cognitive science with Bryce Huebner, associate professor of philosophy at Georgetown University. Click here to listen to our conversation. Of course, we as individuals can be racist. Of course, so can our institutions. But when do we realize this, so that we might get something done about it?...

Episode 84: Amanda Greene discusses the legitimacy of democracy

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Last year, we talked about anarchism. This year, we turn to democracy with Amanda Greene, Lecturer in Philosophy at University College, London, and Law and Philosophy Fellow at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our discussion. In the West, at least, most of us consider democracy to be the obvious choice for the best form of government, but we rarely take a step back to think about why....

Episode 83: Bob Simpson discusses genealogical anxiety

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss genealogical anxiety with Bob Simpson, lecturer in philosophy at Monash University. Click here to listen to our conversation. If you listen to this podcast, then for better or worse, you have likely been exposed to some Nietzsche (hopefully at a safe level!). In the nineteenth century, Friedrich Nietzsche (perhaps notoriously) introduced an epistemological sense of genealogy – a genealogy of what we purport to know – by telling a story about how we have come to know the things we purport to know....

Episode 82: Robert May discusses Frege and the problem of identity

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we pull up our chairs and sit down once again with Robert May, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of California, Davis. Click here to listen to our conversation. It seems sublime, unbelievable, groundbreaking – but maybe it actually doesn’t mean anything at all:...

Episode 81: Cathy Legg discusses what Peirce's categories can do for you

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk with Catherine Legg, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at New Zealand’s University of Waikato. She teaches us about the philosophical categories of Charles Sanders Peirce’s (pronounced like the bag “purse”). Click here to listen to our conversation. At Legg’s university, philosophy is part of the School of Social Sciences....

Episode 80: Mark Hopwood discusses love and moral value

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss love and moral value with Mark Hopwood, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Sewanee: The University of the South, and former co-host of this podcast! Click here to listen to our conversation. In discussing rights, religion, politics, and much more, we ask: Who has moral value? Who are we obliged to accommodate, support, even love?...

Episode 79: Thony Gillies discusses conditionals

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss conditionals with Anthony (Thony) Gillies, Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. Click here to listen to our conversation. Lately, philosophers have resurrected interest in formal theories of what’s meant by conditional statements, or if-then statements. Conditionals are basic, because they relate conditions – knowns and unknowns, actions and results, etc....

Episode 78: Stephen Engstrom discusses the categorical imperative

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Episode transcript here. This month, we discuss the categorical imperative with Stephen Engstrom, professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Click here to listen to our conversation. True to the Chicago tradition, we philosophers spend a lot of time asking – but perhaps not so much time answering – an everyday question: What’s the right thing to do?...

Episode 77: Mark Schroeder discusses reasons for action and belief

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss reasons for action and belief with Mark Schroeder, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. Click here to listen to our conversation. Consider one question from this episode. Can we decide what to believe, the way we decide how to act? We can, for instance, decide to worship at a church or temple....

Episode 76: Barbara Herman discusses gratitude

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss gratitude with Barbara Herman, Griffin Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles. Click here to listen to our conversation. Is our subject this week, well, gratuitous? Given the dearth of philosophical attention to it in the last century or two, gratitude might not seem worth studying....

Episode 75: Malte Willer discusses non-monotonic logic

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss non-monotonic logic with Malte Willer, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation. If you have been so lucky as to take an introductory logic class, then you will learn a conception of logic that is, well, downright logical....

Episode 74: Christina Van Dyke discusses gender and medieval mysticism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss gender and medieval mysticism with Christina Van Dyke, professor of philosophy, director of gender studies, and executive director of the Society of Christian Philosophers at Calvin College. Click here to listen to our conversation. How might the notion of God to have meaning to us? God today can increasingly seem to us a mere historical phenomenon–a subject of past peoples’ energy, but presently only a subject of professors’ study....

Episode 73: Greg Salmieri discusses Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy with Greg Salmieri, who teaches at Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology and is co-secretary of the American Philosophical Association’s Ayn Rand Society. Click here to listen to our conversation. But wait: Ayn Rand is most famous for her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged....

Episode 72: Robert May discusses pejorative expressions

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss pejorative expressions with Robert May, distinguished professor of philosophy and linguistics at University of California, Davis. Click here to listen to our conversation. So pejorative expressions are politically incorrect. We should not, say, call Jews kikes. How should we understand why we should not? May says we should not for the simple reason his mother taught him as a child: “There are no such things as kikes....

Episode 71: Kent Schmor discusses Rudolf Carnap's Logische Aufbau

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss Rudolf Carnap’s Aufbau with Kent Schmor, visiting philosophy instructor at the University of Pittsburgh. Click here to listen to our conversation. Why, Carnap would ask, did independent philosophers keep attempting to rehash huge domains? Scientists, Carnap noticed, each work on a focused problem, broadening knowledge collaboratively....

Episode 70: Susan James discusses Spinoza on the good embodied life

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss Benedict de Spinoza’s work on the good embodied life with Susan James, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. Click here to listen to our conversation. Spinoza (1632-1677) was born in what was then one of Europe’s most free Jewish communities, in Holland. Perhaps thanks to that, he developed ideas centuries ahead of his time....

Episode 69: Christel Fricke discusses Adam Smith's theory of moral sentiment

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we discuss the moral philosophy of Adam Smith with Christel Fricke, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oslo, and Research Director at the Center for the Study of Mind in Nature in the Department of Philosophy, Classics, and History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo....

Episode 68: Mark Lance discusses anarchism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk political philosophy with Mark Lance, Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Justice and Peace at Georgetown University. Click here to listen to our conversation. Anarchy. Sounds like the wild west or something, doesn’t it? Lawlessness indeed sounds pretty terrifying. But our guest argues that anarchism isn’t at all about lawlessness; that anarchists are indeed very much in favor of society being governed....

Episode 67: John Protevi discusses Darwin, disaster, and prosociality

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we chat with John Protevi (Professor of Philosophy and Phyllis M. Taylor Professor of French Studies at Louisiana State University) about whether human beings may have evolved an altruism instinct. Click here to listen to our conversation. Thomas Hobbes famously argued that deep down, we’re all selfish creatures....

Episode 66: Haim Gaifman discusses mathematical reasoning

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk recreational mathematics with Haim Gaifman, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Click here to listen to our conversation. Are numbers mind-independent entites, or are they just social constructs? A mountain is definitely real–you can climb it, take pictures of it, fall off it, show it to your friends, and so on....

Episode 65: Julian Savulescu discusses doping in sports

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we consider the role of enhancement in sports with Julian Savulescu, Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. Click here to listen to our conversation. These days, we take it for granted that taking drugs to enhance athletic performance is wrong. After all, it’s cheating: the rules of all professional sports place strict limits on which drugs their athletes are allowed to use, and for good reason....

Episode 64: James Conant and Jay Elliott discuss the analytic tradition

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk analytic philosophy with James Conant (Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Chicago) and Jay Elliott (Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Classical Studies at Bard College). Click here to listen our conversation. A lot of us learned a certain story about what analytic philosophy is when we were in college....

Episode 63: Michael Devitt discusses reference

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Joining us this month to talk about a foundational topic in the philosophy of language is Michael Devitt, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Some animals make noises to express emotions they’re having. But other animals–notably, we humans–make utterances that do more....

Episode 62: Sally Sedgwick discusses Hegel's critique of Kant

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Sally Sedgwick Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Affiliated Professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago) about Hegel’s critique of Kantian ethics. Click here to listen to our conversation. Over 200 years after Immanuel Kant published his work on ethics, it still represents one of the most influential perspectives in the field....

Episode 61: Jeff Buechner discusses Kripke and functionalism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk computers, brains, and minds with Jeff Buechner, Permanent Lecturer in Philosophy at Rutgers University, Newark. Click here to listen to our conversation. Back in the 50s and 60s, a lot of philosophers were attracted to the idea that the human mind is basically a computer. Why would they find that idea attractive?...

Episode 60: Fabrizio Cariani shares some thoughts about oughts

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, Fabrizio Cariani (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University) comes back for his second appearance on the program, this time to tell us about the meaning of the word ‘ought.’ You can listen to our conversation by clicking here. ‘Ought’ is a pretty important word in human affairs....

Episode 59: Rebecca Kukla discusses reproductive risk

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Rebecca Kukla, Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, about some of her work on reproductive risk. Click here to listen to our conversation. A pregnant woman is usually advised to be cautious about what products to purchase, whether to drink alcohol, and which locations to frequent....

Episode 58: Stewart Shapiro discusses vagueness (part II)

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we are delighted to make our return to the topic of vagueness, this time in conversation with Stewart Shapiro, Professor of Philosophy at The Ohio State University. Click here to listen to our discussion. You may remember from our previous episode on vagueness that most of the adjectives, common nouns, verbs, and prepositions we use are vague....

Episode 57: Julia Annas discusses virtue ethics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we sit down with Julia Annas, Regents Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, to talk about virtue ethics. Click here to listen to our conversation. Today we’re used to thinking of ethics as the study of how to act in certain situations. Given any particular hypothetical scenario, what would be the right thing for you to do?...

Episode 56: Philip Pettit discusses corporate rights and responsibilities

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we sit down with Philip Pettit to discuss some of his work on whether corporations have rights. Click here to listen to our conversation. Much of what goes on in today’s world is the work of corporations, which command far more money and power than any individual person can....

Episode 55: Branden Fitelson discusses paradoxes of consistency

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we are delighted to have Branden Fitelson back for his second appearance on the program. The topic was some recent work he has been doing with Rachel Briggs, Fabrizio Cariani, and Kenny Easwaran on paradoxes of consistency. Click here to listen to our conversation. Imagine you’re a scientist, and you publish a huge book presenting the results of your research over the past decade....

Episode 54: Patricia Blanchette discusses Frege's logicism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, we sit down with Patricia Blanchette to discuss the work of Gottlob Frege, one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. Click here to listen to our conversation. We saw in our episode on the philosophy of mathematics how difficult it was to say what numbers are....

Episode 53: Martin Stokhof discusses formal semantics and Wittgenstein

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk semantics with Martin Stokhof, Professor of Philosophy of Language at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam. Click here to listen to our conversation. Formal semanticists are in the business of spelling out the rules by which the meaning of a sentence in English (or French, or Spanish, or some other human language) are derived from the words in it and the way they’re put together....

Episode 52: Rafeeq Hasan discusses Rousseau on freedom and happiness

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk political philosophy with Rafeeq Hasan, Harper-Schmidt Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation. In today’s political discussions, we tend to assume that there are two ways a person can lean....