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 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 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
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, 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 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 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 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 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, Matthew Talbert, and Jessica Wolfendale
War is a tragedy and an exercise in brutality, but it still has rules. It is a crime to attack non-combatants, to rape, and to torture prisoners. But what happens when soldiers do these and other heinous acts? And, how do you hold someone accountable for breaking the laws of war if they were following orders at the time? On this episode of Why? we ask about war crimes, who should be held responsible, and how we prevent them.
Jessica Wolfendale is a Professor of Philosophy at Marquette University. Matthew Talbert is Chair and Associate Professor of Philosophy at The University of West Virginia and Senior Researcher in the Department of Philosophy at Lund University, Sweden. They are co-authors of the book, War Crimes: Causes, Excuses, and Blame.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Derek W. 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 Adam H. 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 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 Gordon Daniel 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 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.
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 Kieran Setiya
The phrase “midlife crisis” has become a clichéd joke. It inspires images of men with sports cars and trophy wives. Yet, however much we make fun of it, there is a lot of evidence to show that it, or something like it, exists for many men and women., What does a midlife crisis look like through a philosophical lens? Does philosophy give us tools to help us mitigate or even cure the angst that comes from being halfway done with one’s life? On this episode of Why? Radio, we find out.
Kieran Setiya teaches Philosophy at M.I.T., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He focuses on ethics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind. He is the author several books, including his most recent “self-help book,” Midlife: A Philosophical Guide. His work on midlife has been featured in numerous publications including The Guardian, and The New York Times.
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 Heather E. Douglas
Every day we hear politicians make scientific claims that support their policies, but many of them contradict each other. Our lives are full of images of people in lab coats who are above politics, but we know they also make choices about what to study and which conclusions to call attention to. Does this mean that science and politics are enemies? And, does government policy tell citizens what to believe or do citizens’ convictions determine the government’s positions? On this episode of Why? we look at the claim that science is objective, examine the values that make it successful, and ask whether there should be absolutely free inquiry in a modern democracy.
Heather Douglas is the Waterloo Chair in Science and Society at the University of Waterloo. She is the author of the book Science, Policy, and the Value Free Ideal. Her work focuses on the role of values in science, the relationship between science and policy, and the history of the philosophy of science.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Peter Singer
Peter Singer has made a career out of making controversial claims. From calling for animal liberation to justifying euthanasia, he has been remarkably consistent in his attempts to minimize suffering. Now, he is talking about charity and global responsibility. The results are just as compelling.
In this episode, Why? Radio talks with Peter about the moral demand to minimize harm and the expectations that ethics can make all of us better off. Listen as we engage in a wide-ranging discussion about the relationships between ethical theory and practice, utilitarianism, whether animals have rights, and Peter’s own non-profit.
Peter Singer is one of the most well-known philosophers today. He is known for his stalwart public voice and his clear moral conclusions. He is the author of many books, from accessible accounts of the philosophers Marx and Hegel, to Animal Liberation, that some people read as manifestos. His book The Most Good You Can Do tells the story of effective altruism.
Peter is both the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and a Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. He is also co-founder of the non-profit organization, The Life You can Save.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Aubrey De Grey
What would you say if we told you that aging is a disease that could be cured? How about if we predicted that you’d live to be 1,000 years old. Would that be scary? Would it be perverse? Aubrey de Grey doesn’t think so. He believes that medical technology will soon help people live indefinitely, and that we should welcome it. He also believes that calling the search for a cure unrealistic is short sighted and a betrayal of the next generation. On this episode we discuss these issues, examine the the science behind anti-aging research, and address concerns about global warming, overpopulation and other effects of living longer.
Aubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist and the chief science officer for the SENS Foundation in Mountain View California. He is editor-in-chief of the academic journal Rejuvenation Research and co-author of Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in our Lifetime.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Rutger Bregman
Politicians agree that there is something wrong with the welfare system; they all suggest that we should give less public assistance with stricter rules. But what if they have it backwards? What if the solution is not to limit entitlements’ help but expand them? This is the solution offered by those who advocate for a Universal Basic Income, the government program that gives the poor the money they need to rise above the poverty level, every year, no strings attached. This episode’s guest is one of the most compelling advocates for this position.
Rutger Bregman (1988) is a historian and author. He has published four books on history, philosophy, and economics. His History of Progress was awarded the Belgian Liberales prize for best nonfiction book of 2013. The Dutch edition of Utopia for Realists became a national bestseller and sparked a basic income movement that soon made international headlines. The book will be translated in 22 languages. Bregman has twice been nominated for the prestigious European Press Prize for his journalism work at The Correspondent. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Guardian and on the BBC.
Click to watch his Ted Talk: “Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash.”
His webpage can be found at: https://www.rutgerbregman.com/
Buy his book Utopia for Realists at Amazon.com
This episode was made possible, in part, by a generous donation from William Sheridan of Grand Forks, North Dakota. If you would like to help keep Why? on the air, please donate today. Click here to donate.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Valerius Geist
Many people regard art as a luxury. They think of it as fancy paintings, abstract installations, or the fashion that changes every few months. What few of us ever attend to is that fact that art is as old as humanity itself. It started with homo sapiens and developed alongside every other human ability. This episode of Why? Radio looks at art from an evolutionary perspective and ask what necessary purpose it served.
Host Jack Russell Weinstein says, “I learned so much from this episode, but more than that it surprised me…because everything Val said simply made sense. Philosophy rarely gives us clearcut answers. Evolution, however, is a very understandable science.”
Valerius Geist is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary. He is the author of more than a dozen books, a specialist on the biology, behavior, and social dynamics of North American large mammals. He is also a champion of ethical hunting and a wildlife artist.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Sarah Williams Goldhagen
We are surrounded by buildings and live in rooms. We build spaces that we want to be pleasing as well as functional. In the process, we engage, not only our senses, but our brain. Architecture has massive neurological consequences, effects that are not as well known but should be. How do we balance these aesthetic, functional, and neurological needs? Architecture is art, but it also influences and even directs our behavior. Does it limit our free will? How much can design control its inhabitants and inspire a specific outcome?
These are the questions at the core of this wide ranging discussion before a live studio audience at the Cornell University, School of Architecture, Art and Planning, in downtown Manhattan. Listen until the end, when we are joined Mark Ginsberg, an award winning architect and partner at Curtis and Ginsberg Architects LLP, and Richard Roberts, Director of Business Development at Red Stone Equity Partners and a former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Host Jack Russell Weinstein says, “Doing Why? Radio in front of a live audience is always spectacularly fun. But doing it with someone like Sarah who makes me rethink everything I thought I knew about architecture and design–well, that’s a dream come true. The sound quality of this episode is poor and I’m really disappointed by that. But if you are willing to listen a little harder than you usually do, you will be rewarded with a unique, challenging, and inspirational discussion.”
Sarah Williams Goldhagen taught at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design for ten years and was the New Republic’s architecture critic until recently. Currently a contributing editor at Art in America and Architectural Record, she is an award-winning writer who has written about buildings, cities, and landscapes for many national and international publications, including the New York Times, the American Prospect, and Harvard Design Magazine. She lives in New York City.
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.
Printing is not supported at the primary Gallery Thumbnail page. Please first navigate to a specific Image before printing.