On Christmas #4

Michael Boylan on Christmas as a time for reflection.

This is the fourth monolog in our series on Christmas. Visit Boylan’s homepage here.

On Christmas #3

Roy Sorensen on Christmas and the thrill of recursion.

This is the third monolog in our series on Christmas. Visit Sorensen’s homepage here.

On Christmas #2

Jason Brennan on the moral point of the Christmas story.

This is the second monolog in our series on Christmas. Visit Brennan’s homepage here.

On Christmas #1

Don Fallis on Christmas as the season for lying.

Christmas—a worldwide phenomenon with profound social, political, and economic significance—is fast approaching. What do philosophers have to say about it? Stay tuned to found out. This week we’ll host a series of short monologs on the topic of Christmas. This is the first episode in that series.

Fallis’s homepage is here. View the “You know it’s a myth” billboard here. View all Christmas monologs here.

Kimberley Brownlee and David Lefkowitz

Kimberley Brownlee and David Lefkowitz on civil disobedience.

To begin, Brownlee and Lefkowitz characterize civil disobedience and distinguish it from common crime, conscientious objection, and revolution. Then (starting at 22:58) they consider a series of moral issues. Do citizens in a liberal democracy have a moral right to engage in civil disobedience? Should civil disobedients be ready to accept the legal consequences of their actions?

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Ben Bradley and Dale Dorsey

Ben Bradley (left) and Dale Dorsey (right) on well-being.

According to subjectivism, something is good for you only if you value it. According to hedonism, pleasure is good for you—regardless of whether you value it. In this conversation, Dorsey defends a version of subjectivism against Bradley’s objections, and Bradley defends a version of hedonism against Dorsey’s objections.

Production note: Bradley’s audio is imperfect. It will sound better on some speakers than others. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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Michael Boylan and Charles Johnson

Michael Boylan (left) and Charles Johnson (right) on philosophy and literature.

Although philosophy has been presented in narrative form since Plato, today it is often regarded as being closer to science than literature. Should philosophers do more to cultivate their literary heritage? In this conversation, Boylan and Johnson examine the tradition of narrative philosophy and consider ways in which storytelling can enrich philosophical discourse.

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Don Marquis and Michael Tooley

Don Marquis (left) and Michael Tooley (right) on abortion and personhood.

According to Tooley, abortion is morally permissible: a fetus is not a person, so it cannot have a right to continued existence. To support his view, he defends a neo-Lockean account of personhood grounded in psychological continuity. Against Tooley, Marquis defends an animalistic view of personhood, and argues that most instances of abortion are wrong for the same reason that killing you or me would be wrong: an abortion deprives a fetus of a future of value.

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Barry Loewer and Tim O’Connor

Barry Loewer (left) and Tim O’Connor (right) on emergence, quantum mechanics, and consciousness.

O’Connor defends, and Loewer opposes, strong emergentism: the view that there are properties and laws beyond those which can be captured by any fundamental physical theory. After clarifying their positions, they discuss (starting at 30:01) whether quantum mechanics supports or undermines O’Connor’s view. Then (starting at 43:27) they turn to phenomena of consciousness, and consider whether the immediacy and simplicity of conscious experience provide evidence of strong emergence.

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Edouard Machery and Jesse Prinz

Edouard Machery (left) and Jesse Prinz (right) on concepts.

Machery and Prinz discuss whether a single theory of concepts can satisfy the different explanatory needs of both philosophers and psychologists. Then (starting at 30:52) Machery argues for the surprising thesis that psychologists ought to do away with talk of concepts altogether. Finally (starting at 49:41) Prinz explains his empiricist view of concepts and takes on Machery’s objections to it.

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