Eric Schwitzgebel and Brie Gertler

Eric Schwitzgebel (left) and Brie Gertler (right) on introspection.

How well do we know our own minds? According to an optimistic view associated with Descartes and Locke, introspection is a reliable and profoundly special source of self-knowledge. According to a pessimistic view associated with Wittgenstein and Ryle, introspection is like ordinary perception: a confluence of fallible processes, and therefore not especially trustworthy. In this conversation, Gertler defends a version of the optimistic view, while Schwitzgebel defends a version of the pessimistic view.

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Jason Brennan and Neil Sinhababu

Jason Brennan (left) and Neil Sinhababu (right) on political liberties and hedonism.

In this episode, Brennan and Sinhababu air two different arguments on two different topics. First, Brennan argues, contrary to a widely held view, that a given individual’s political liberties should not be considered valuable for that individual: he contends that political liberties do not achieve the ends that would give them such value. Then (starting at 35:21) Sinhababu presents his argument in favor of universal hedonism: he contends that emotional perception (which often seems contrary to hedonism) is unreliable, whereas phenomenal introspection (which he thinks supports hedonism) is reliable.

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Dale Jamieson and Jay Odenbaugh

Jay Odenbaugh (left) and Dale Jamieson (right) on climate change.

In this conversation, Jamieson and Odenbaugh discuss how climate change raises novel philosophical concerns and underscores traditional ones.  Climate change, they explain, poses a challenge for both consequentialism and its alternatives, and brings out questions about our obligations to future generations and about the moral status of non-humans. Further, the public controversy over climate science involves questions about the epistemology of testimony, the value-neutrality of science, and action under uncertainty.

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Andy Egan and Joshua Knobe

Joshua Knobe (left) and Andy Egan (right) on moral relativism.

Knobe explains his surprising research suggesting that folk intuitions are more closely aligned with relativism than philosophers often assume. Egan describes his ongoing work on relativist semantics. Knobe presses Egan on whether Egan’s views provide a satisfactory account of moral disagreement and of the grounds for criticism of an ideally coherent sadist. Along the way, they discuss whether philosophical analysis of shared concepts ought to be “hermeneutic” or “revolutionary.”

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Kenneth Aizawa and Mark Rowlands

Kenneth Aizawa (left) and Mark Rowlands (right) on the extended mind.

Is your appointment notebook simply a helpful tool, or is it partly constitutive of your memory process? According to the extended mind thesis, the mind and its processes can and do extend beyond the brain. Rowlands defends a version of that view. Aizawa doubts that extended cognition ever actually occurs, although he grants that it is conceptually possible. In this conversation, they examine their disagreement, and discuss the importance of establishing a  “mark of the cognitive” to resolve the debate.

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Peter Singer and Michael Slote

Peter Singer (left) and Michael Slote (right) on the ethics of famine relief.

Singer is famous for his brand of utilitarianism, his case of the drowning child, and his radical views on famine relief. Slote has developed a version of moral sentimentalism that provides a basis for criticism of Singer’s views. In this conversation, Singer and Slote debate the nature of our obligations to those in need, the place of empathy in our moral concepts, and the proper goal of philosophical argument.

Production note: Due to technical difficulties, this episode had to be lightly edited. It was not edited for content.

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New site features

We have gotten a lot of great feedback about the site and are very happy to announce that we are now offering all episodes of Philosophy TV as video podcasts. These podcasts can be accessed through iTunes by clicking the link in the right column.

Some viewers have asked us to provide audio versions of our episodes. We are working on this and hope to offer it in the near future.

iTunes is not required to subscribe to our podcasts. Non-iTunes users can manually subscribe to the podcast feed. For instructions, as well as answers to some other frequently asked questions, please see our new FAQ.

Craig Callender and Jonathan Schaffer

Craig Callender (left) and Jonathan Schaffer (right) on meta-metaphysics.

Do mereological sums constitute objects? Questions like this are hotly debated in contemporary metaphysics — yet such questions seem utterly disconnected from science. Has metaphysics gone in the wrong direction? Callender and Schaffer explore the issue.

Continue reading Craig Callender and Jonathan Schaffer

Jamie Dreier and Mark Schroeder

Jamie Dreier (left) and Mark Schroeder (right) on metaethical contextualism, expressivism, and relativism.

Why are we motivated to do what we believe to be morally right? Relativism, contextualism, and expressivism provide straightforward answers to that question. But each of these views must face its own distinctive challenges. Dreier and Schroeder provide a guided tour of those challenges with a focus on problems arising from competing accounts of moral truth and moral disagreement. They finish by addressing a meta-metaethical question: Are disagreements between rival metaethicists substantive?

Continue reading Jamie Dreier and Mark Schroeder

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