Jack Russell Weinstein and Emily S. Lee
American politics tells us that being a member of an ethnic minority means being poor, marginalized, and less successful than those in the majority, except for one caveat. Model-minority members are ultra-successful, role models for others, and most of the time, Asian-American. Their members are presumed to have mastered the skills to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Is all of this accurate? Is being held out as special really a compliment? Or, does treating success as a foregone conclusion only punish individual and make their failure seem even worse?
Emily S. Lee is Professor and Chair in the Philosophy Department of California State University, Fullerton. She is the author of numerous articles, and editor of two volumes, specializing in philosophy of race, phenomenology, and feminism.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Andrew Seidel
The first amendment guarantees that one religion is not privileged over another, so why does it feel like personal beliefs dominate the public sphere? Private conviction is supposed to guide our moral lives, so why is the Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade? On this episode of Why? Radio we ask about these issues and more. We explore the nature and limits of the US constitution and examine the democratic justification for toleration. Ultimately, we come face to face with one of the great questions of the moment: is the first amendment obsolete?
Andrew L. Seidel is a constitutional attorney and the Director of Strategic Response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He is the author of two books, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American and American Crusade: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing Religious Freedom, which will be published in 2022.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Sarah Lachance
Discussing sex can be quite difficult, even embarrassing, but philosophers have been doing it for thousands of years. We love questioning how culture and biology combine to establish what’s normal, and examining the various justifications for transgression. Now, with mainstream acknowledgment of pornography, marginalized sexual identities and orientations, and newfound openness to kinky play, it’s time for philosophy to take another look at what sex means in our lives. With all of these in mind, this episode explored the meaning behind sex, reconsider the questions that are worth asking, and even addresses the issues teachers face when they discuss sexuality with their classes.
Sarah LaChance Adams is the Florida Blue Distinguished Professor and Director of the Florida Blue Center for Ethics at the University of North Florida. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, the author of the book Mad Mothers, Bad Mothers, and What a Good Mother Would Do and co-editor of three anthologies including New Philosophies of Sex and Love: Thinking through Desire.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Emily Sullivan
We rely on computers for everything from games, to avoiding traffic, to curing disease. This is sped up by machine-learning: the process by which computers adjust their programming without human input. But providing conclusions isn’t the same as explaining them, and offering answers isn’t a substitute for teaching. What more do we need from machine learning and how does our relationship with computers mirror the difficulties we have in understanding one another?
Emily Sullivan is an Assistant Professor of philosophy and Irène Curie Fellow at both the Eindhoven University of Technology and the Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute, in The Netherlands. She is also a fellow in the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies Research Program consortium, as well as an Associate Editor for the European Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Kathy Kelly
Elvis Costello famously asked, “what’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” It’s a really good question. The idea of peace is all-too-frequently dismissed as superficial and utopian. It’s perceived as a hippie pipe-dream and a waste of resources. Most schools never teach peace as its own subject and it’s very difficult to get politicians to take the idea seriously. On this episode, we explore the idea of peace, and ask about its relationship to activism and current political controversies.
Kathy Kelly is a peace activist, pacifist, and author. She is a founding member of Voices in the Wilderness, and was a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She has traveled to war-torn Iraq, Afghanistan, and regularly publishes on issues of social justice. She has been arrested over sixty times for taking a stand in the name of peace.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Quassim Cassam
We are living in a time of conspiracy theories that fuel a divisive and increasingly violent politics, even when they’re obviously untrue. They are spouted by our representatives; they’re believed by our neighbors. How do conspiracy theories ensnare people so effectively and why are believers so reluctant to change their minds? Can we assume that the truth will win out, or is there something else going on, something beyond logic and reason?
Quassim Cassam is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, in England. He has written six books on a range of subjects, including 2019’s aptly titled Conspiracy Theories. His upcoming book Extremism: A Philosophical Analysis is available as a pre-order now.
More information on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the antisemitic book that purports (falsely) to recount a secret meeting of Jewish world leaders can be found on Wikipedia (click here).
The book Quassim mentioned Warrant for Genicide by Norman Cohn is out of print.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò
We are not living in a calm time. Coronavirus, police violence and protest, and climate change: they all seem as if it’s they’re coming from different directions, but are they? Might there be a common thread that unifies all of our current crises and is there a way of understanding them that helps us change things for the better? In this episode, we explore the nature of radical ideas and consider what changes can be made to cultivate justice, and improve everyone’s quality of life before crises happen.
Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. He publishes both scholarly and public research on current controversies, with special emphasis on power, race, radical thought, and social change. His new book Reconsidering Reparations will be published in November.
Two of the articles we discuss in this episode are:
“Cops, Climate, Covid: Why There is Only One Crisis” in The Appeal (June 16, 2020): click here.
“Who Gets to Feel Secure?” in Aeon (October 20, 2020): click here.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Bob Colleran
It seems like every business in the world uses consultants, but what do they really do and what makes one consultant better than another? Are there overarching ethical standards that guide the industry or is the ultimate motivation profit? On this episode of Why? Radio we ask what makes a good consultant. We come face-to-face with the inherent conflict of interest in the industry, and examine the pros and cons of business education.
Bob Colleran is founder and CEO of Alithi Management Consulting. He has an MBA and a M.A. in International Studies. Bob specializes in developing strategy and executing tactics across a wide range of industries, including global philanthropies, media & entertainment, high-tech, consumer products, retail, telecommunications, government and financial institutions.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Danielle Lasusa
Motherhood. It seems both complicated and simple. The most natural thing in the world, but also the biggest responsibility one can imagine. The history of philosophy has largely ignored motherhood, so where does one start, and what does it look like under a philosophical lens? Can a philosopher help coach and guide mothers in their journeys? Can they work together to find meaning and commonality in the more difficult aspects of parenting?
Danielle LaSusa calls herself a ‘practical philosopher.” She has been a teacher and philosophical coach for thirteen years, has a Ph.D. in philosophy, and is certified in philosophical counseling form the American Philosophical Practitioners Association. She hosts workshops and teaches courses on a range of issues, but specializes in discussion about motherhood.
Find out more about her work and see how to schedule time with Danielle at https://www.daniellemlasusa.com/
Read her opinion piece in The New York Times, “Death Was a Theory, Until I Became a Mother,” here.
Three podcasts were mentioned in the episode. The episode of Why? Radio, “Plato Not Prozac: What is Philosophical Counseling with guest Lou Marinoff,” is here.
Our other discussion of motherhood, in the context of raising a special-needs child, “Justice, Caring, and the Mentally Disabled with guest Eva Kittay,” is here.
Danielle and Jack’s discussion about doing philosophy with the general public can be heard via this video:
Jack Russell Weinstein and Andrew Torrez
It seems like Congress can do something one day, but not the same thing the day after. It often feels like the law is only about loopholes rather than a tool for everyday people. Are we wrong to think these things? Are we mistaken when we view legislation as a willy-nilly collection of self-interested victories from politicians with no true vision of justice? On this episode of Why?, we ask these questions and more, exploring the philosophy of law and it’s overlap will real-world legal decisions.
P. Andrew Torrez is a founding partner at the Law Offices of P. Andrew Torrez LLC., which focuses on business law. He is the host of the popular podcast Opening Arguments during which he explores the legal background of our contemporary political controversies, and the newer podcast Clean-up on Aisle 45, which reports on the Current Department of Justice’s attempt to roll-back actions made by the Trump administration.
The book Jack referenced during the discussion about the history of gun rights is The Second Amendment: A Biography, by Michael Waldman. You can find it on Amazon here. The interview with Jack on Fox News radio that inspired a backlash because of the meaning of protected classes is here.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Heather Augustyn
Jamaica is the home of a great musical tradition. Most people know about reggae, but before that, there was dancehall, rocksteady, and our host’s personal favorite, ska. It’s a rich and diverse dance music that mixes Caribbean sounds with jazz, R&B, and punk rock, to explore politics, history, and the legacy of slavery. Join Why? Radio and our guest Heather Augstyn as we explore how this little-known genre spread around the world, racking up hit, after hit, after hit.
Heather Augutyn is an author, photographer, and a continuing lecturer at Purdue University, Northwest. She’s written seven books on Jamaican music, including Ska: An Oral History, Ska The Music of Liberation, and Women in Jamaican Music, was just released this past May. She maintains a blog at Skabook.com
Jack Russell Weinstein and Patricia Churchland
Are the brain and mind really different things? If not, is there free will? Where does conscience come from? Is altruism a myth? These are question in neurophilosophy, research that uses the modern science of the brain to explore philosophical dilemmas. Join host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Patrician Churchland, the founder of nuerophilosophy, as they explore the boundaries between philosophy and cognitive science.
Patricia Churchland is University of California President’s Professor of Philosophy Emerita at the University of California, San Diego, where she has taught since 1984. She is the author of six books, including most recently, Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Jason Stanley
There is a fine line between political speech and propaganda, but where do we draw it, and are we always wrong to propagandize? Is there a natural division between spin and lies, and when is it acceptable to appeal to political emotions? On this episode, we cap off a tumultuous election by exploring the nature and morality of political speech, and ask how far is too far.
Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky Prof of Philosophy at Yale University. He is the author numerous books, including How Propaganda Works, published in 2015. Most recently, he published How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Berit Brogaard
Hate groups, hate mongers, hate crimes. Self-hatred. Being stuck between love and hate. No emotion inspires as visceral a reaction as hatred. It is, after all, a plague on society that divides people and stokes violence. But does it have to be? Is hate irredeemable? Could it not serve important moral and social purposes if we only knew more about it? Listen to this episode to find out, and to see how hate relates to our other emotions and even our some of our mental disorders.
Berit “Brit” Brogaard is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Brogaard Lab at the University of Miami. Her areas of research include philosophy of perception, philosophy of emotions, and philosophy of language. She is the author of numerous books including, Transient Truths, On Romantic Love, The Superhuman Mind, Seeing & Saying, and the forthcoming Hatred: Understanding Our Most Dangerous Emotions.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Thane Rosenbaum
Free speech is probably the most valued and cited right in the U.S. Constitution, yet it faces a tremendous backlash from the younger generation. The Supreme Court has expanded free speech to include almost all forms of expression just as the internet makes it virtually impossible to distinguish truth from lies. And, as we face powerful protests from Black Lives Matter, white supremacists, and people who oppose wearing masks in public, we’re forced to ask, if one of these groups has the freedom to express themselves, must they all?
Thane Rosenbaum is an essayist, law professor, and author of numerous books and novels. He is a Distinguished University Professor at Touro College where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society; and the moderator of an annual series of discussions on culture, world events, and politics at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Hist most recent book Saving Free Speech…From Itself was just released in March.
This is Thane’s second visit to Why? Radio. You can listen to his first, “The Moral Argument for Revenge,” by clicking here.
The story about Jack’s family and the swastika mentioned after the break has been documented along with other hate crimes, in his comments to the North Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. You can read his testimony at PQED.org, by clicking here.
Jack Russell Weinstein, Richard Wilkinson, and Kate Picket
Income inequality is bad for the poor, sure. But did you know that it’s also bad for the well-off? Did you also know that unequal societies have less trust, more violence, and more illness than egalitarian ones? In fact, it turns out that more equal societies are stronger, healthier, and happier across the board. Although inequality affects the poor most, even the better-off benefit from greater equality. On this episode, we explore why this is and look at the global data that explains it.
Richard Wilkinson is professor Emeritus at the University of Nottingham Medical school in England, and has spent more than four decades researching health inequalities, and their impact on people and society. Kate Pickett is a professor of epidemiology at the University of York. She was a career scientist at the National Institute for Health Research. Together they founded of the UK-based charity The Equality Trust and are co-authors of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger and the newly released The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being.
Jack Russell Weinstein and Susan Palmer
We throw the words ‘religion’ and ‘cult’ around, like we know what they mean, but do we? Sure, Judaism and Buddhism are religions, but why not the Branch Davidians or Scientology? And, why should we trust the charismatic pastor of a mega-church, but not the quirky but powerful spokesman who is selling his faith on a street corner? Why do new religions make us so uncomfortable? These are important questions, not just because they help us understand the human experience, but because we use them to approve or condemn others’ choices.
Susan J. Palmer is a researcher, sociologist and writer in the area of new religious movements. She is a member of the Religious Studies Faculty at McGill University, and an Affiliate Professor and Part-time Instructor at Concordia University. She is the author of numerous books, most recently Storming Zion: Government Raids on Religions with co-author Stuart Wright.
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 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 Omar 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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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