Philip Goff (left) and David Papineau (right) on physicalism.
Goff rejects physicalism. Papineau accepts it. In this episode, they examine the arguments on each side. They consider the much-discussed “knowledge argument” against physicalism (10:28), explore Goff’s own reasons for rejecting physicalism (17:23), weigh the dualist arguments of Chalmers and Jackson (27:21), discuss Papineau’s reasons to reject the transparency of phenomenal concepts (32:48), ponder what Levine calls the “explanatory gap” (36:19), and confront the specter of epiphenomenalism (47:35).
Continue reading Philip Goff and David Papineau
Kristin Andrews (left) and Robert Lurz (right) on animals and mindreading.
In this two-part conversation*, Andrews and Lurz discuss whether (and to what extent) non-human animals are able to mindread, i.e., understand others’ mental states. In Part 1, they begin with a review of the history of inquiry into animal mindreading, and then examine (starting at 28:18) Andrews’s views about the evolutionary origins and explanatory and predictive roles of mindreading. In Part 2, they discuss Lurz’s plans for experimental investigation of animal mindreading (14:54), Andrews’s and Lurz’s differing views of the abilities of great apes (32:49), and the relative importance of fieldwork and laboratory evidence (48:47).
The drawing to which Lurz refers at 18:44 is in this paper (p. 25).
*=The conversation was interrupted by a tech snafu, so we divided the video in two.
Continue reading Kristin Andrews and Robert Lurz
Shaun Gallagher (left) and Karsten Stueber (right) on empathy.
Most people possess a substantial (although also limited) ability to know and understand the actions, intentions, and desires of other people. This ability, some think, is explained by our capacity to empathize with one another. In this conversation, Gallagher and Stueber examine the notion of empathy and its importance for debates in the philosophy of mind. They ask: What is empathy? Is empathy an automatic process, or does it require effort? What are the neurological and psychological processes involved in empathy? Does our ability to empathize provide us with a reliable guide to the contents of others’ minds, or does empathy routinely mislead us?
Continue reading Shaun Gallagher and Karsten Stueber
Katherine Thomson-Jones (left) and George Wilson (right) on cinematic narration.
Some films feature voice-over narration, but most fictional films appear to lack a narrator. And it seems that a narrative requires a narrator. Yet film, like literature, is widely regarded as a narrative art—a story-telling art. So who (if anyone) tells the story conveyed by a film? Relatedly: Perhaps when we engage a fictional film, we imagine that we see the people, places, and events that make up the film’s fictional world. Yet we do not seem to imagine ourselves to be present in the film’s fictional world. (If it’s raining on screen, we do not reach for our umbrellas.) How can we imagine that we see events without imagining that we are present in the same world in which those events occur? In this conversation, Thomson-Jones and Wilson discuss these and other puzzles as they explore the nature and role of narrativity in film.
Continue reading Katherine Thomson-Jones and George Wilson
Mark Alfano (left) and Abrol Fairweather (right) on virtue epistemology.
A long line of virtue ethicists believe that we need to understand the moral virtues—courage, benevolence, temperance, etc.—in order to address core questions in moral philosophy. Lately, there has been a surge of interest in virtue epistmeology, which holds that core questions in epistemology should be addressed in terms of epistemic virtues. In this conversation, Alfano and Fairweather discuss the advantages and challenges of virtue epistemology, with a special focus on issues arising from results in empirical psychology.
Continue reading Mark Alfano and Abrol Fairweather
Avram Hiller (left) and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (right) on anthropogenic climate change.
Earth’s climate is changing as a result of human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). How much of this is your fault? For instance, suppose you go on a Sunday drive in a gas-guzzling car just for fun. Then have you done any harm? Sinnott-Armstrong argues (starting at 9:43) that such an action is utterly harmless. But Hiller argues that every GHG-emitting activity—even one Sunday drive—is quantifiably harmful. After discussing their disagreement, Hiller and Sinnott-Armstrong consider a range of other philosophical issues related to climate change: the moral significance of nature (25:32); the ethics of species destruction (31:03); the influence of evolution on our moral intuitions (41:33); and the connections between global warming and global poverty (52:54).
Continue reading Avram Hiller and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Elizabeth Brake (left) and Simon May (right) on marriage.
As same-sex marriage gains acceptance, a greater number of caring relationships enjoy legal recognition. But what about polygamous and polyamorous relationships? What about non-romantic relationships, such as friendships? In this episode, Brake and May discuss Brake’s controversial view that individuals should be allowed to assign the rights and privileges of marriage to whomever they want, so long as the purpose is to support a caring relationship. They also discuss the case for same-sex marriage (4:30), whether legal marriage should be abolished (33:48), caring relationships as Rawlsian primary goods (45:40), and May’s objection to polygamy (54:49).
Read an excerpt from Brake’s forthcoming book, Minimizing Marriage: Morality, Marriage, and the Law.
Announcement: Jeremy Garrett, Elizabeth Brake, Martha Fineman, and Simon May will participate in a group session entitled “After Marriage” at the Eastern APA meeting, Group Session XIII, Fri., Dec. 30, 1:30pm.
Continue reading Elizabeth Brake and Simon May