Elizabeth Anderson (left) and David Schmidtz (right) on equality.
Anderson and Schmidtz begin with a critical assessment of Amartya Sen’s influential view that every theory of justice must strive for equality of something. Then they discuss Anderson’s form of egalitarianism, which privileges social relations over mere distributive equality (although it also allows that distributive components of justice are important). Finally, they consider various problems facing our own society. What sorts of inequality exist in our democracy, and what sorts of inequality should we aim to eliminate?
Tony Coady (left) and Stephen Nathanson (right) on terrorism.
What is terrorism? Do all terrorist acts aim to terrify? Is it possible for terrorism to be morally justifiable? Can state actions (such as the controversial Allied bombings of World War II) count as terrorist acts? Coady and Nathanson consider such questions in the course of attempting to define “terrorism.” Then (starting at 31:11) they discuss the doctrine of double effect, which Nathanson attacks and Coady defends. Finally (starting at 42:29) they critically examine Michael Walzer’s view that non-combatants may be targeted in conditions of supreme emergency.
Alex Byrne (left) and Brie Gertler (right) on self-knowledge of beliefs.
In this conversation, Byrne and Gertler closely examine Gareth Evans’s “transparency procedure” for gaining self-knowledge of beliefs. According to the transparency procedure, one determines whether one believes that p simply by considering whether p is true (rather than via direct access to one’s own beliefs). At first glance, the transparency procedure looks reliable. It also seems to capture ordinary thinking about one’s own beliefs. (For instance, the question “Do you believe that there will be a third world war?” typically prompts consideration of whether there will be a third world war.) However, the transparency procedure involves an invalid inference: from p, it does not follow that I believe that p. Given this, can the transparency procedure be a way to gain genuine self-knowledge?
Tamar Gendler (left) and Stephen Stich (right) on gender and philosophical intuition.
Empirical evidence collected by Stich and Buckwalter suggests that “standard” intuitions about philosophical thought experiments (e.g. Gettier cases) are more common among men than women. Stich and Gendler examine the merits of this evidence. They consider what might explain gendered differences in intuitions, and whether such differences can help to explain why women are underrepresented in professional philosophy. They also discuss alternative explanations for the gender gap, including the effects of sexism and the shortage of female professors and graduate students to serve as role models for female undergraduates. Finally, they ask why a gender gap has been a larger problem in philosophy than other fields.
Adam Elga (left), Joshua Schechter (middle), and Roger White (right) on the problem of contingency.
Your beliefs about matters such as politics, religion, and morality are contingent on epistemically irrelevant factors like the time and place of your birth. Does this worry you? Should it? Elga maintains that this sort of contingency of our beliefs should not by itself undermine our confidence in them. Schechter and White challenge that position.
David Christensen (left) and Roy Sorensen (right) on the epistemology of disagreement.
Christensen is a prominent defender of conciliationism, the view that you ought to give the same weight to the opinions of your epistemic peers as to your own opinions. Accordingly, if you believe that p is true while your peer disagrees—and if your peer has been exposed to all the same evidence as you—then you ought to give up your belief that p. This position has a wide range of skeptical consequences. After all, we seem to have peer disagreements about all sorts of issues: politics, philosophy, religion, and even conciliationism itself. Sorensen and Christensen discuss whether the case for conciliationism is strong enough to justify its troubling implications.
Michael Boylan (left) and Rosemarie Tong (right) on reproductive rights and artificial reproduction.
Boylan and Tong begin by discussing Mary Beth Whitehead, a surrogate mother who decided, after her baby was born, not to uphold her agreement to give the child to adoptive parents. As Boylan and Tong show, this case raises difficult questions about whether surrogate mothers are in a position to give informed consent, whether commercial surrogacy commodifies children or unjustly oppresses women, and the role that biological relatedness plays in determining reproductive rights, among other issues.
We are still trying to resolve several technical issues with our episode on artificial reproduction featuring Michael Boylan and Rosemarie Tong. We will make their conversation available as soon as possible.
Peter Carruthers (left) and Eric Schwitzgebel (right) on self-knowledge of attitudes.
According to an intuitively plausible and widely accepted view, we have direct, privileged, and highly reliable access to our own beliefs. In the first part of this conversation, Carruthers and Schwitzgebel both reject that view, while disagreeing about the exact implications of empirical studies that are commonly cited in debates on privileged access. But their positions raise a nagging question: If we lack privileged access to our own beliefs, then why does it seem to us that we have such access? They defend different views (starting at 29:31) about the best answer to that question.