Jack Russell Weinstein and Liza Herzog
We live in a world with such complicated corporations and organizations, that it’s hard to even start talking about making them ethical. Verizon, Microsoft, Facebook, they’re all so big, How can we expect them to be moral? And then there are so many rules, the pressure of culture, the overwhelming nature of living in a democracy where everyone else seems to find self-interested loopholes. How can we be good when we have so little control?
Liza Herzog is Associate Professor and Rosalind-Franklin-Fellow of the Faculty of Philosophy at University of Groningen, Netherlands. She is the author and editor of numerous books including, Reclaiming the System: Moral Responsibility, Divided Labour, and the Role of Organizations in Society.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Adam Hosein
Immigration controversies never end. If we’re not worried about Syrian refugees or Mexicans looking for a better life, we’re concerned with Jews escaping genocide or the Irish seeking food. And whatever we do, we always seem to get it wrong. We are blamed for not doing enough, condemned for doing too much, scoffed at for focusing on other people’s problems, instead of own. How do we sort all of this out? How should we treat people who want or need to relocate to our homeland? What are our obligations to migrants and refugees?
Adam Hosein is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Northeastern University. He is the author of The Ethics of Migration, An Introduction.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Susan Neiman
We are all preoccupied with the Covid-19 global pandemic and justly so. Everyone in the world has lots of little decisions to make, and many are facing life and death situations. What is the use of philosophy in all of this? Is it helpful? Is it a distraction? Can philosophy solve problems or even make a better world? In this wide-ranging discussion, our host Jack Russell Weinstein and guest Susan Neiman explore the absurdity of “trolley problems,” whether we should use the term “evil” to to describe a pandemic, and how we can best support Amazon employees. This episode is both a compelling and accessible philosophical exploration, and a historical artifact that records a unique moment in time. It has been described by one listener as “our most human of episodes.”
Susan Neiman is Director of the Einstein Forum, in Potsdam Germany. She has been a professor of philosophy at Yale and Tel Aviv University, and is the author of numerous books, most recently, Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil.
Jack Russell Weinstein
Host Jack Russell Weinstein remembers his professor and mentor, David N. Mowry who passed away on April 23, 2019. In a powerful and emotional tribute to their relationship, Jack reflects both on David’s career and his own life. David was a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Plattsburgh, and the founding director of their university’s honors program. Jack graduated from Plattsburgh State in 1991, with a B.A. in philosophy.
The full text of this tribute can be found at the Why? Radio blog www.PQED.org, along with pictures of David and Jack. The tribute first appeared on the blog on April 24.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Robert Alter
The Bible is the most famous book we all think we know, but there are dozens of translations to choose from. Every religious denomination has its own preference. What makes one better than the other and what are the rules of biblical translations anyway? Why do we need another version? What’s wrong with the ones we have already? On this episode of Why? Radio, we ask these questions and more, as we take an extended look at one man’s decades’ long effort to give us a new edition of sacred scriptures.
Robert Alter is Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1967. He has twice been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, and Old Dominion Fellow at Princeton University. He writes on the European novel from the eighteenth century to the present, on contemporary American fiction, and on modern Hebrew literature. He has also written extensively on literary aspects of the Bible.
Among his more than twenty published books, are two prize-winning volumes on biblical narrative and poetry, and award-winning translations of Genesis and of the Five Books of Moses. His complete translation of the Hebrew Bible, with commentary, was published in December, 2018. It is available in a beautiful three volume set.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Cristina Bicchieri
Every community has behaviors that are considered normal and each of them enforces these actions in a variety of ways. Why do cultures converge on particular actions and how much choice do individuals have to obey? Is it possible to identify which are norms and which are just idiosyncrasies? Most importantly, if we determine that these social expectations are immoral, is it possible to intentionally change them? This episode of Why? Radio explores behaviors ranging from child marriage to when it’s appropriate to yell at one another, and asks how and when to change social norms.
Cristina Bicchieri is the Sascha Jane Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of the Philosophy, Politics and Economics program. Her research focuses on rational choice and philosophy of social science, as well as behavioral ethics. She consults and trains through UNICEF, the Gates foundation, the World Bank, DFID and other organizations to develop measures of social norms in the field. She is the author of numerous books, most recently Norms in the Wild: How to Diagnose, Measure, and Change, Social Norms.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Cory Doctorow
The internet has become central to our way of life, but how much do we know about it? Is it really the free-for-all we claim it is, or is it actually dominated by a few voices? Is the Web just a vehicle for commerce or is it the most innovate platform for art every created? In this wide-ranging discussion Why? Radio host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Cory Doctorow investigate the economics, politics, technology, and future of the internet. From Marxian analyses to a discussion of the predictability of science fiction, this conversation will change the way you think about the internet. It will inspire you to ask whether the internet is really different from what has come before it or if it’s just another vehicle for the same human problems we’ve had all along.
Cory Doctorow is a novelist, activist and journalist. Co-editor of BoingBoing, one of the internet’s biggest blogs, Cory has written numerous books including Information Doesn’t Want to be Free: Laws for the Internet Age, and, most recently, Radicalized. His personal blog can be found here and an index of his posts on BoingBoing can be found here.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Kim Donehower
When people think of literacy, they usually refer to simple reading and writing. They regard it as a mechanical skill that is mostly about deciphering letters on a page. But, in fact, literacy is a lot more complicated than that. It involves culture, power, and the opinion of others. It is defined by communities and can be used as a weapon to disregard the marginalized. On this episode of Why? Radio, we’ll discuss what literacy means, investigate its many competing definitions, and explore how it plays into stereotypes.
Jack Russell Weinstein and John Ettling
Why? Radio host Jack Russell Weinstein has been a faculty member at the University of North Dakota for almost nineteen years, yet he can’t remember a single moment when the school has not been the subject of criticism or controversy. Now the university is getting another president, even though the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members cannot agree on what the school is supposed to be or do. As he explains it, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the voice of the university in the face of this disagreement. I can’t fathom how it feels to have every word and gesture represent your institution, and not your own life and work.” Yet, this is exactly what this episode is inspiring people to do, imagine what it’s like to be in charge. So, join Jack and his guest, John Ettling, the recently-retired President of the State University of New York, Plattsburgh for a discussion about university leadership in the modern age.
John Ettling received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University and made his way up the university ranks, as a professor at the University of Houston, then as Dean and Provost at the University of North Dakota. He recently retired after fifteen years as President of the State University of New York, Plattsburgh, a small public University in Northern, New York.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Miranda Fricker
We’ve been told that forgiveness is a part of psychological wellness, that blaming people is a form of hostility. But if these things are true, doesn’t that let people off the hook too easily? We’ve also been led to believe that forgiving others is the great legacy of Christianity, but other religions do the same thing. Can’t we imagine a secular theory of blame and absolution, as well? On this episode of Why? Radio, we discuss these core questions about human relationships and how we are held accountable for our actions.
Miranda Fricker is Presidential Professor of Philosophy at CUNY Graduate Center and Honorary Professor at The University of Sheffield. She is the author and editor of numerous books on feminism, epistemology, and moral and political philosophy. She is most well-known for her work on epistemic injustice, exposing the ways marginalized people’s knowledge and experiences are ignored.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Robert Gleave
What is sharia law? You’d think we’d all be able to answer that question, given how much we hear the name. But most non-Muslims known almost nothing about it. Is it the Muslim version of a catechism? Is it a legal system that directs Islamic politicians and the courts? And, how does it manage interpretive disagreements? Are its precepts obvious or does it inspire deep controversies even among its adherents? These are the questions that will guide this episode of Why? Radio.
Rob Gleave is Professor of Arabic Studies and Principal Investigator on the Understanding Sharia and Law, Authority and Learning in Imami Shi’ite Islam projects. He is a member of the Center for the Study of Islam (CSI), and was its director from 2011 until 2018. His research interests include Islamic legal theory, particularly legal hermeneutics, and the history of Shi’ite legal thought and institutions. Click here to see his principal publications.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Patrick Kabanda
Famous paintings sell for hundreds of millions of dollars. The most popular musicians become rich off of their fame. Is the only way to value art as investments or commodities, or can they be useful on other ways? Is art a product to sell, or are the arts as a whole, a way of developing human capabilities, skills, and even empathy? Can the arts promote equality, help developing countries, or bring about peace and social cohesion? On this episode, we examine these and other questions, looking at creativity through the lenses of economics and public policy.
Patrick Kabanda aims to link the arts and international affairs. He has earned bachelors and master’s degrees at the Julliard School of Music, and a masters of law and diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. He has consulted for the World Bank and the United Nations, performs as a musician around the world, and is the author, most recently of the book The Creative Wealth of Nations: Can the Arts Advance Development.
Jack Russell Weinstein, Cailin O'Connor, and James Owen Weatherall
The term fake news is so ubiquitous, that sometimes it seems like we should be labeling the true stuff instead of the lies. But misinformation doesn’t just come from politics. It is found in science, in marketing, and even in fourteenth-century memoirs. Why do we believe obvious falsities and how do these alternative facts gain such momentum? On this episode, we look going to look at the networks of knowledge and trust that we rely on to arbitrate between fact and fiction, and examine how they are manipulated, both consciously and not.
Cailin O’Connor is associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine. James Owen Weatherall is professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine, and author of the New York Times best-seller The Physics of Wall Street. Both are members of the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Science and co-authors of the book The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread.
Jack Russell Weinstein and John J. Ratey MD
Our culture has shifted from talking about health to seeking wellness, but what does that entail? How should we understand what it means to be healthy holistically and what are the consequences for our culture’s commitment to the separation of mind and body? On this episode of Why? Radio, we examine wellness from a neurological perspective, looking at the relationship between exercise and brain activity, while also discovering what we can learn from prehistoric humans about how to heal ourselves.
Bestselling author, John J. Ratey, MD, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an internationally recognized expert in Neuropsychiatry. With the publication of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. Ratey has established himself as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the brain-fitness connection. His most recent book, Go Wild explores how we can achieve optimal physical and mental health by getting in touch with our caveman roots, and how we can “re-wild” our lives. He is also the author of A User’s Guide to the Brain and Driven to Distraction.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Michael Ruse
What is the meaning of life? Believe it or not, after more than ten years on the air, we at Why? Radio have never asked this question. But to make it more complicated, we want to know not just what it is, but how we can discover it in the age of evolution. If science gives us answers instead of religion, where do we look for meaning? Can Darwin provide us with what the holy scriptures have not? On this episode we will ask these very questions, while exploring the limits of science and going head to head with the most ineffable aspects of the human experience.
Michael Ruse is a philosopher and historian of science. He taught at the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada from 1965 to 2000. Since then. Ruse has served as Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He has written or edited almost fifty books including, The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw, Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion, and Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? His most recent book, the topic of today’s conversation, is A Meaning for Life.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Mark Weinstein
This episode celebrates Why? Radio’s tenth birthday with a musical exploration of the origins, meaning, experience, and, of course, music of jazz. How do newcomers start listening to the music? How do musicians discover new ways to play? And, what makes the best jazz tracks important and enjoyable? Join us as Mark Weinstein, jazz flutist, philosopher, and our host’s father, explores America’s music, explaining music theory, improvisation, and whether music is discovered or invented.
This episode was recorded before a live audience at the Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks, ND.
Mark Weinstein is a Professor of Education at Montclair State University, in New Jersey. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy and is the author of the book Logic, Truth, and Inquiry.. He is also an award-winning jazz flutist with 19 albums to his name. He plays World Jazz and Straight-Ahead with world-class musicians rooted in the music of Cuba, Brazil, Africa, Argentina and his Jewish heritage. A Latin-jazz innovator, Mark was among the first jazz musicians to record with traditional Cuban rhythm sections in the epic album, Cuban Roots, released in 1967.
Jack Weinstein and Eric Burin
America is in the midst of a ferocious debate about protests on the football field. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality against African Americans, inspiring others to do the same. Some think he is justified, others claim he is just a belligerent employee. On this episode, we look at the philosophical issues behind this debate, and have a discussion that focuses on race, sports, patriotism, the history of the United States, and the nature of democracy itself.
This episode is focused on the new anthology Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent and Patriotism in 21st Century America, which is available for free. To download, click on the name, or here.
Eric Burin is a Professor History at the University of North Dakota who works on American history, with special attention to slavery and race. He is the author of the book Slavery and the Peculiar Solution: A History of the American Colonization Society. and the editor of the free collection Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College which is available to download for free.
Jack Weinstein and Jason D. Hill
Many people in the United States feel hopeless about their future, arguing that capitalism, police brutality, and racism prevent them from reaching their goals. Some even suggest that the American Dream is a lie and that the game is rigged against African-Americans, in particular. Jason D. Hill challenges this skepticism. He argues that success is a personal choice and that the vast numbers of upwardly-mobile immigrants are all the proof one needs of boundless American potential. He also takes issue with Ta-Nehisi Coates and writers like him, claiming that their fame and wealth undermine their own charges of victimization.
Jason D. Hill is a Professor of Philosophy, member of the Honors Distinguished Faculty, and Director of Teaching Practicum at DePaul University. He is the author of four books, the most recent of which is the soon-to-be-released We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People, available for pre-order on Amazon.com
This is his second visit to Why? Radio. His first can be found here.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Derek Black
When we think about access to education, we think of “separate but equal,” locker searches, and gun safety, but there is a more basic question that too-often gets left out: is there a right to education in the first place? Do all students have a right to literacy and other basic knowledge, regardless of who they are or even how hard they work? And, do zero-tolerance policies undermine kids’ access to schools? Is suspending and expelling students violations of their rights, even with due process? These are the questions that focus this episode of Why? Radio. In it, we ask both whether there is a constitutional right to an education and whether there is a moral right to one.
Derek Black is a Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. His areas of expertise include education law and policy, constitutional law, civil rights, evidence, and torts. He is the author of numerous articles, and the books Zero Tolerance: The Crisis of Absolute School Discipline and Education Law: Equality, Fairness and Reform.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Al Gini
Human beings are joke tellers. We take great satisfaction in making people laugh and have warm feelings for those who we think are funny. But what makes a joke work and why can only some people tell them? Are there subjects we shouldn’t joke about and is it true that humor is dangerous? On this episode of Why? Radio, we ask these questions, examining the philosophy of jokes, while host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Al Gini swap some of their favorites.
Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. For over twenty-seven years he was the Resident Philosopher on National Public Radio’s Chicago affiliate, WBEZ-FM, and can currently be heard on WGN/Tribune Radio. His books include: My Job My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual (Routledge, 2000); The Importance of Being Lazy: In Praise of Play, Leisure and Vacations (Routledge, 2003); Why It’s Hard to Be Good (Routledge, 2003); Seeking the Truth of Things (ACTA, 2010); The Ethics of Business with Alexei Marcoux (Rowman Littlefield, 2012); and, 10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders with Ronald M. Green (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). His most recent book is The Importance of Being Funny: Why We Need More Jokes in our Lives.
Al’s website can be found at www.algini.net
Jack Russell Weinstein and Luke William Hunt
The police play a profound role in our lives, from entertaining us on television to assisting us at our most vulnerable. As a result, we give them a lot of leeway and a lot of trust. What justifies this trust and what are the boundaries they cannot cross? On this episode of Why? Radio we ask these and other questions about the source of police authority, and the permission we give them to investigate crimes. This includes extended discussions about using informants, surveillance, and entrapment.
Luke William Hunt is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Radford University. His primary research interests are at the intersection of political philosophy, jurisprudence, and criminal justice, and are informed by his professional background. He has a J.D., a Ph.D in philosophy, and was an FBI Special Agent and Supervisory Special Agent in Charlottesville, VA. He is the author of the newly published book The Retrieval of Liberalism in Policing. You can find out more information about him at his webpage: www.lukewilliamhunt.com.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Adam Kitzes
Should we still read Shakespeare? This is a harder question than one might think. As universities focus on diversity, marginalized writers, and widening literary traditions, the so-called “dead-white man” becomes the symbol of everything unjust. No one has been caught in this debate more than The Bard. Is this fair? In this episode we look at his canonical texts and ask, not only whether they should be taught, but whether they are deserving of universal praise. Is Shakespeare really the highest form of English language? Is Romeo and Juliet really a great romance? Is his work objectively good in the first place.
Adam Kitzes is a Professor of English at the University of North Dakota. He is the author of The Politics of Melancholy from Spenser to Milton and has written numerous articles about Shakespeare and teaching literature.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Gordon Marino
One in six Americans take psychiatric drugs, yet the country is becoming less happy. As a people, we are angry, suspicious, and alienated, but we are not the first generation to feel this way. The existentialists got there first. On this episode of Why? Radio, we look at this 19th and 20th century philosophical movement to consider what its adherents might have to say about Facebook, happiness, integrity, and, of course, authenticity. We consider the meaning of freedom, agency, success, and even boxing, to explore what it means to live full, honest lives in an age of social networks and materialism.
Gordon Marino is a Professor of Philosophy and curator of the Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota. He is author and editor of several books, including, The Existentialist’s Survival Guide, How to Live Authentically in an Inauthentic Age, which was just released a couple of weeks ago.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Scott McCloud
Comic books are much more than the silly distraction they are often thought to be. They are part of an art from with many sub-genres at the height of their maturity. Comics have become diverse, literary, sophisticated, adult-oriented, and in many cases, high-art, and they’re only getting better. On this episode, we ask how and why this happened, and explore how to recognize comics for the art they are.
Scott McCloud may be the world’s leading comic book theorist. He writes non-fiction books explaining the art, creates his own comics, and teaches and consults on the techniques, history, and importance of comics. His books Understanding Comics, Making Comics, and Reinventing Comics are impressive as both comics and analytic works. More information can be found about him at www.scottmccloud.com.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Cathy O'Neil
Most of us know that every time Facebook changes its algorithm, it chooses which friends we see, and that when a credit bureau changes their algorithm, it determines which houses we can buy. What most of us don’t know is that algorithms also determine who gets arrested and who bags our groceries. On this episode of Why? Radio, we examine what it means to be a data scientist and discuss the flaws and possibilities of mathematical analysis. We also gauge the moral and political impact of big data on our everyday lives, asking about the ways in which it can undermine equality and freedom.
Cathy O’Neil earned a Ph.D. in math from Harvard, was a postdoc at the MIT math department, and a professor at Barnard College where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry. She then switched over to the private sector, working as a quant for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw in the middle of the credit crisis, and then for RiskMetrics, a risk software company that assesses risk for the holdings of hedge funds and banks. She left finance in 2011 and started working as a data scientist in the New York start-up scene, building models that predicted people’s purchases and clicks. She wrote Doing Data Science in 2013 and launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia in 2014. She is a regular contributor to Bloomberg View and wrote the book Weapons of Math Destruction: how big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. She recently founded ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company. She maintains a blog at Mathbabe.org.
Airing since 2009, Why? Radio is a philosophical podcast hosted by Professor Jack Russell Weinstein. It aims to show that all philosophy is relevant to our day-to-day lives and that everyone is doing philosophy all the time, we just don’t know it. This collection archives all episodes from its inception to the present day.
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