Open thread

What features would you like to see added to this site? What topics would you like to see discussed? Which philosophers would you like to see? Let us know in today’s open thread!

We’ve heard from several viewers who want mp3 versions of our episodes. We’re working on this, so stay tuned.

Some viewers want a way to watch videos at 1.4x speed. We might provide this option in the future. In the meantime, there is a DIY method: download the mp4 version and then view it in a player (such as Windows Media Player) that allows you to adjust play speed settings.

Thanks for watching!

–Philosophy TV

40 comments to Open thread

  • Errol Lord

    First, thanks so much for putting all of this together!

    My suggestion is to include the topic of the episodes that are coming soon in the Coming Soon section.

  • john

    Errol,

    You are more than welcome. Thanks for visiting and thanks for the suggestion.

  • MS

    I’d love to see, among others, if at all possible:

    Leiter
    Nussbaum
    McDowell
    Lowe

  • Tom Frost

    I think this site looks *very* promising, having listened to the first first discussion on empirical psychology and beliefs twice. I do however, have a couple of suggestions that might make the site better. In annoucing the upcoming discussions it would be great if you would list not only who the philosophers will be but also what the topic will be and possibly a key publication on the topic by both participants so one could read ahead if one has time. Somehow seeing what is coming seems to breed anticipation in me, and I think it might do the same in others, especially if one can see something in his or her own areas of specialization/interest coming in the near future. My primary areas of interest are modal epistemology, dualism/consciousness, and personal identity. Is anything on the schedule for such topics?

  • Tom Frost

    Another quick thought. I don’t know what ‘open thread’ is supposed to mean, and hence it doesn’t strike me as clearly conveying much of anything. Perhaps it’s a techie term I’m unfamiliar with. Not sure what to suggest: possibly “Open Forum” or “Feedback” or “Comments” or “Suggestions”, although you ask for suggestions to be sent to “contact@philostv.com” in the upper right, so I’m not sure exactly what this “section” is for that is distinct from the “suggestion box” via email.

  • john

    @MS and Tom: Thanks for the suggestions. I don’t want to give away too much, but I think you’ll be happy with some of the coming episodes. We’ll be keeping a list of philosophers and topics that people suggest in this thread.

    @Tom: Open thread is a common term used for threads of messages that are available to discuss what is on their mind. We think it might be useful to have multiple mediums for people to offer suggestions about the site. Emails will be taken into account the same as information in this thread.

  • Tom Frost

    Thanks, John. But why secrecy rather than explication relative to future topics? I’m just curious what the potential gain is to the former over the latter, since I see the value of the latter but not the former.

  • john

    Hey Tom,

    I could probably give one reason, though I don’t think it is our reason. That reason would be that by not giving the topic, people don’t decide in advance whether to watch or not watch the episode, or at least come read the summary. Maybe we can do a better job of convincing people to watch with the summary than a single sentence topic.

    The real reason? In order to accurately describe the topic, we all watch the video and someone writes a draft of the summary and topic sentence. As of now, we’ve rewritten topic sentences several times (since there are often multiple ways to frame the topics). We want to be careful to frame the topic accurately and concisely (there isn’t much space in that sidebar and we don’t want it getting too long). It won’t be useful for us to say “Singer and Slote on Ethics” since that is about as useful as what is there now.

    Since we are still working on summaries and topic sentences for a variety of future posts, it makes sense for us to wait until we have something clean to post the topic. I assume once we get better at this, the topics will be more forthcoming.

    Hope that helps.

  • david

    Question: How many of you would find it useful for us to have very broad topic headings (e.g. “ethics” or “epistemology”) in the “coming soon” list?

  • Mike

    Derek Parfit would be amazing if you could get him!

  • Tom Frost

    OK John. Thanks for the explication. I can feel the force of some of the points you mention. Perhaps a midway ground is suggested by David and yourself with just a general heading, such as “ethics” or “epistemology” or the like. You suggest that that wouldn’t be particularly useful, but, personally, I would prefer it to nothing at all, while you work on the precise summaries and topic sentences and update them as you have them. But perhaps others differ from me in this; I don’t know.

    Re: Mike’s comment above, I have already suggested via “contact@philostv.com” that it would be great to hear Parfit and Trenton Merricks on “The Criteria of Personal Identity: Are There Any and Does it Matter?” Merricks thinks that there are not any useful criteria and Parfit thinks that there are criteria but they don’t matter for survival.

  • JX

    Philosophy TV? No way! Too good to be true!
    Kudos for creating the site.

    Since there is much interest in selfhood and identity, I’d love to see what Thomas Metzinger “Being No One” is up to. Quite a character himself.

  • This is very promising! I will subscribe to your feed immediately.

    I second JX’s suggestion for seeing something with Thomas Metzinger. And I would love to see Antti Revonsuo, a Finnish cognitive scientist with radical ideas of great philosophical significance.

  • Another suggestion: It would be nice to have a way to easily follow a comment thread. Like the way that wordpress gives you the option when posting a comment to receive new comments in the same thread by email.

  • C. Lains

    This is great!

    I’d love to see Parfit too. As a young viewer I feel the need to stress that you should prioritize the ones not already available online. Another place for the philosopher as public intellectual is superfluous.

    Set a standard early that suits philosophers as philosophers in a way that allows for the occasional pause and original reflective thought.

    Though our media influences dictate otherwise, I think most philosophers would like to see discussions close to this form:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oorGdMVO7zE&p=51FAAE0A16C8574B

  • Podcast feeds for these would be great.

  • john

    Thank you all for the suggestions and comments.

    @gorm: I’ll look into the comment issue. Not sure why the option isn’t showing up. I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

    @c.lains: I’m not sure what you mean by “prioritize the ones not already online.” Do you mean philosophers who haven’t already been online?

    I disagree that another place for the philosopher as public intellectual is superfluous, but that isn’t our goal. We will take your suggestion about format into account, but for the near future will probably stick with what we have. That said, the philosophers having the conversations aren’t expected to philosophize on the fly. Episodes aren’t scripted, but participants are in contact with another so they can decide on a general focus.

  • C. Lains

    I meant people who do not already have a video of themselves available online. Many philosophers do. It seems to me they are a select(ed) subset that don’t reflect actual philosophical diversity.

    Since they will naturally gravitate here, I suggest prioritizing the un-initiated. There’s much to be said for early diversity.

    The point about form was more about the subtle social aspect. A philosophy friend said to me once “you are a philosopher. you’re allowed to pause and think for a moment before you speak.” This brief realization really changed our interaction for the better.

    Not that everyone has to stop and think, just that there won’t be pressure against it (as seems deafult in these kinds of contexts).

    Anyway, such norms as has settled over at ted and bigthink and edge and so on seem to evolve on their own accord. Lets just be aware/conscious of it happening.

  • Justin

    Jonathan Dancy
    Martha Nussbaum

  • JX

    @Gorm

    You are totally Right! And Revonsuo would also be a blockbuster episode since there are virtually no videos of him in english.

    Revonsuo is the perfect example for C.Lains suggestion.

  • Justin Moss

    I second the request for a podcast feed. Having it available in the iTunes Store, for example, would make it trivially easy to get a new episode.

  • I just want to make sure you know how much interest there is for a podcast feed available through iTunes. I am much more likely to watch them on the go than when I am at my computer getting work done.

  • Roger3

    I would like to request a non-video feed. There could be some difficulty in getting purely video feeds into non-video enabled .mp3 players. Not to mention, video files are very large and that can still be a concern for some people. No reason to do anything special, just strip off the audio and package up.

  • Joe S

    This looks like a cool site and I’ll be watching. A few small things struck me. Can you put up an “About” page with a description? It’s useful to help first-time visitors (like me) get an idea of what the website is about.

    A nit-picky thing, I find the paragraph blurb for each video a bit dense and not very descriptive, for someone not working in that particular sub-field. Perhaps you could have two paragraphs, one introducing/motivating the talk, and a second describing the contents/flow of the talk.

    Thanks, this was a great idea, and keep up the good work!

  • Joe

    What’s the trick to downloading the mp4? I tried opening the latest video (meta-metaphysics) in vimeo, but I got a message saying the video is private.

    • john

      Hey Joe,

      If you scroll to the bottom of the post, you should see a link to the .mp4 that is hosted by us. Right click>save as should do the trick. Let us know.

      • Joe

        Ah. So my problem was that I wasn’t clicking on the post itself, so I didn’t see that extra paragraph about the mp4. I see it now.

        Perhaps you would consider putting the link before the jump, to prevent people from making the same mistake I did? On second thought, you probably prefer to have people watch the vimeo version, as bandwidth might be cheaper through them than through your web host. If so, that’s totally understandable.

        On the subject of cost: I’d be curious to know how this project is being funded, if you don’t mind. Are you guys funding it out-of-pocket for now (perhaps until you get some advertising up?), or did you get some kind of grant? If out-of-pocket, maybe you could put a paypal link on the main page, sell some swag (maybe have a logo contest, could be tied to an aesthetics discussion 🙂 ), etc? I’m sure you’ve already thought about all of that. I just thought it would be worth bringing up in this thread, in case anyone else has a more novel idea!

        In any case, I think this is a great project, and a nice alternative to bloggingheads, which is obviously problematic for giving voice to ID folks on science chats, etc. Perhaps partially as a result of those problems, chats by philosophers have been pretty rare on bloggingheads as of late.

        So I’d be totally happy to donate, buys stuff, or whatever, if it would help. And I’m sure many others would as well. Keep up the good work!

        • M

          “Perhaps partially as a result of those problems, chats by philosophers have been pretty rare on bloggingheads as of late.”

          Why philosophers? I understand why scientists wouldn’t want to hear about ID, but isn’t it still an interesting subject for those who are interested in philosophy of science, metaphysical naturalism, the existence of God etc? I mean, it wouldn’t bother me nearly as much if ID was discussed in a philosophy class than if it was discussed in a science class.

  • stuart

    I strongly second Roger3.

    Large files are a problem for “some people”, people living in developing countries for instance…

  • xas

    Team up Kamm and Parfit!

  • john

    We are working on an FAQ that will answer many of your questions (though not all). We will let you know when that gets posted.

  • Rich

    Some issues in the history of philosophy should be included. Some suggestions for people:

    Modern and Early Modern:

    Michael Forster
    Paul Franks
    Frederick Beiser
    Michael Rosen
    Margaret Atherton
    Daniel Garber
    Michael Della Roca
    Yizhak Melamed
    Louis Loeb

    Ancient:

    John Cooper
    Terence Irwin
    C.D.C. Reeve
    Alexander Nehamas
    Jonathan Lear

    • brynn

      Hi, Rich.

      We’ve been actively looking for suggestions in this area, so we really appreciate this. Thanks!

      • Rich

        Here are a few other names that I forgot when writing the original post, who would also be great contributors. All Modern:

        Christia Mercer
        Catherine Wilson
        Eric Watkins
        Don Garrett

        I also think that a discussion about method in the history of philosophy would make for a great episode. Especially if it were possible to get a pair of two proponents or practitioners of opposed methods, such as Jonathan Bennett and Quentin Skinner.

  • Would it be possible for your videos to be embeddable? I’d love to highlight the videos regularly but in my experience, readers are far less inclined to click through to a website to watch a video than to watch an embed right on the blog.

  • Rob

    Galen Strawson ( –the revised and updated version of first book, “Freedom and Belief”, has just been published) and Eddy Nahmias on free will

    David Benatar (“Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence”) and Saul Smilansky (“Should we be sorry that we exist?”)

    Brian Leiter and Paul Katsafanas on Nietzsche’s drive psychology

    Feminist philosophers

    Experimental philosophers

  • Erik

    My main request is for a podcast feed. If you do an mp3 version, then two podcast feeds (like BhTV does). iTunes store and rss feeds aren’t just good for making things more efficient, they make it much easier to get on a mobile device or phone.

  • Peter

    A couple philosophers of biology on the nature of selection/fitness/cultural evolution would be nice. It might also be interesting to get their takes on the relationship between metaphysics and science.
    Samir Okasha
    Andre Ariew
    Mohan Matthen
    Peter Godfrey-Smith
    Robert Brandon
    Elliot Sober

  • Katrin

    Very nice to be able to download the videos. : )

    I noticed that the mp4 download of the Singer/Slote video is incredible 878MB in size. As a suggestion: you might want to compress the file a bit to save bandwidth and make the download faster for users. The viemo version is only 168 MB (OK, the original file probably has much better quality but maybe there’s a middle way).

    Then another hint to all: normally, everybody can download vimeo videos via the browser cache. If you don’t know how to do it without extra tools, check “Downloadhelper” as a Firefox addon, for example.

    Looks like a great site, thanks!

  • Rob

    Appiah on his new book “The Honor Code”

    Julian Savulescu on drugs in sports

    Thomas Hurka on his forthcoming book “The Best Things in Life: A Guide to What Really Matters”