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Episode 97: Meghan Sullivan discusses time biases

This month, Meghan Sullivan (University of Notre Dame) urges us to consider how we feel about the past, present, and future. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Remember the marshmallow test? Back in the 1970s, some psychological experiments suggested that people who opted to delay short-term rewards if it meant a bigger reward in the future were likely to have more successful lives. These days, we’re all prepared to believe that we should try to ignore that voice inside our heads telling us to prefer instant gratification, and instead save up for the future, like the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable. But Meghan Sullvian thinks that is just the tip of the iceberg. Caring more about pleasant experiences when they’re in the here and now, she thinks, is just a special case of a more general phenomenon: namely, caring differently about whether something happens based only on when it happens. And if we recognize that that more general bias is irrational, then we’re on the hook for way more than just saving up for the future. We should instead strive to be temporally neutral. So for example, a temporally neutral person wouldn’t prefer a traumatic experience that already happened over a traumatic experience that was coming up next week.

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Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on the role of belief in reasoning

To do a deep dive into what I discussed with Nic Koziolek, check out the following papers:

Inferring as a Way of Knowing,’ Nic Koziolek
Coming to Believe,’ Nic Koziolek
Belief, Judgment, and Rational Explanation,’ Nic Koziolek

He has a treasure trove of other work up on his website, which I would encourage you to visit.

Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 96: Nic Koziolek discusses the role of belief in reasoning

This month, we talk to Nic Koziolek (Auburn University) about some big, meaty topics, including but not limited to thought, judgment, belief, reasoning, and knowledge. Click here to listen to our conversation.

We engage in reasoning on a constant basis. Here’s an example of the kind of reasoning I engage in all the time: they’re working on the water main, my car is parked right in front of the water main, I want them to be able to work on the water main, so I guess I have to go move it. Whenever you combine different things you know and ‘project’ from them onto a new thing that you end up learning, you’re reasoning. Our guest this month is interested in the fact that there are different ways this process can go wrong. There might be a conclusion you should draw, but you fail to draw it. That’s one kind of mistake. Another kind of mistake happens when you go ahead and draw some conclusion, but it’s the wrong conclusion. It may seem simple, but coming up with an account of what belief and reasoning are that neatly explains how you can reason incorrectly in those two different ways is a lot trickier than it looks.

Join us as our guest navigates these deep and interesting philosophical waters!

Matt Teichman

Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on the genealogy of color

Those of you who would like to follow up on the history of color concepts can do no better than to check out Zed Adams’ fascinating book on the topic!

On the Genealogy of Color, Zed Adams

Happy reading.
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 95: Zed Adams discusses the genealogy of color

This month, we talk to Zed Adams (New School for Social Research) about colors like red, blue, and green. Click here to listen to our conversation.

What is the color red? Is it a physical property of certain chemicals–the fact that they tend to reflect light with a wavelength of about 670 nm and absorb the rest? Or does the subjective experience of seeing something that looks red figure somehow into the definition of what it is to be red? Believe it or not, it is possible to produce a painting that looks like a blank red canvas in daylight but a big X in artificial light, because of the different ways slightly different shades of red paint respond to different kinds of light. So are the two reds in the painting the same or different? Kind of hard to say, since the both conditions are considered equally ‘standard’ or ‘normal.’

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Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on fictional names

If you’d like to follow up on our interview with Zsofia Zvolenszky, check out her paper:

Fictional Characters, Mythical Objects, and the Phenomenon of Inadvertent Creation, Zsofia Zvolenszky

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 94: Zsofia Zvolenszky discusses fictional names

This month, we talk to Zsofia Zvolenszky (Eötvös University) about fictional characters and places. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Han Solo and Luke Skywalker sneak on board the Death Star and attempt to rescue to Princess Leia. The escape plan goes awry, and pretty soon it looks more like Princess Leia is rescuing them. That was me summarizing the plot of Star Wars: A New Hope . But what was I talking about, exactly? We know that Princess Leia doesn’t actually exist–she’s a character that George Lucas made up. But she also isn’t the same thing as, for example, a person I made up a lie about as part of a con. Anyone who hears the above plot synopsis knows that I’m talking about a fictional character, and agrees to play along with me in pretending that this person exists, so that we can all enjoy the movie. The difficult question is: what does it mean to ‘play along’ in this way?

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Posted in Podcast.


Episode 93: Barry Lam discusses obligations after death

This month, we talk about whether we owe the dead anything with Barry Lam. Barry Lam is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vassar College, Story Lab Fellow at Duke University, and creator, producer, and lead host of Hi-Phi Nation, an exciting new philosophy podcast that turns stories into ideas. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Barry LamIf your relative asks you to do something just before passing away, chances are you’ll feel like you owe it to them, or to their memory, to do it. Especially if it’s a small thing. But are there any limits to how far an obligation like this can extend? Here’s a simple case that reveals those limits: if your relative asked you to steal money from someone who was impoverished, you’d probably refuse to honor their wishes.

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Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on epistemic oppression

If you’d like to do a deep dive into some of our esteemed guest’s writings on epistemic oppression, here are links to some of her papers on the topic:

Conceptualizing Epistemic Oppression,’ Kristie Dotson
A Cautionary Tale: On Limiting Epistemic Oppression,’ Kristie Dotson
Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing,’ Kristie Dotson

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 92: Kristie Dotson discusses epistemic oppression


Note: this episode was recorded in 2016, prior to the US presidential election. Kristie Dotson will be coming back in a future episode to give us her latest thoughts on these topics in light of recent developments in US politics!

This month, we talk to Kristie Dotson (Michigan State University) about how people’s ability to gather and share information can be negatively impacted under oppressive social systems. Click here to listen to our conversation.

minidotsonWe human beings rely on each other for most of our information. I think I can say I know that Tanzania exists–in fact, according to our records, someone from Tanzania has listened to this podcast–even though I’ve never flown out there myself to check. How do I know? I get information about what’s happening there by a mix of historical records, news reporting, testimony from people who have been there, and even testimony from people who come from Tanzania. What’s more, this information about what’s happening in the world that I learned from testimony is often of crucial importance, both for me and other people. It affects my voting decisions, to be sure, but it can also impact my day-to-day decisions.

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Posted in Podcast.