Skip to content


Episode 103: Brian Leiter explains why we should think about Marx

This month, Brian Leiter (University of Chicago) makes his third (!) appearance on the program to talk about how Karl Marx can help us understand our current political moment. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Karl Marx thought that industrial capitalism had an in-built self-destructive tendency. Capitalism would lead to great technological progress, which would in turn lead to more menial and repetitive careers being replaced by automation processes. Remember how in Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin develops a twitch in his wrists from doing nothing but tightening pairs of bolts for months on end? Why not have a robot do that? The idea was that after the technological boom, we’d be able to get robots to do this type of stuff for us. But then what? It seems we’ll get a big vacuum in the job market for people without elite educational degrees. And if we don’t do anything about that, presumably, we’ll get mass unemployment. And if there’s mass unemployment, no one will be able to buy anything, which will tank the entire economy, including the fortunes of the one percenters, who rely on people purchasing things to continue turning a profit.

Continued…

Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on the true self

If you want to follow up on the research Josh Knobe has been doing with his colleagues on the true self, you can check out the following piece for the New York Times:

In Search of the True Self,’ Josh Knobe

Or, for a more detailed presentation, you can read:

Beliefs About the True Self Explain Asymmetries Based on Moral Judgment,” George E. Newman, Julian De Freitas, and Joshua Knobe

Happy reading!
-Matt

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 102: Josh Knobe discusses the true self

This month, we get right into it with Josh Knobe (Yale Univeristy) about the notion of a person’s true self. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Who are you, deep down, in your core? Maybe it isn’t fully clear what would count as an answer to that question, but it’s still a question we ask all the time. There seems to be some kind of folk intuition that we’re all guided by an inner force, and that this inner force is who we really are. My superficial behavior upon waking up, when I’m in a cranky mood, isn’t indicative of who I really am. Only my behavior once I’ve had my coffee tells you about my ‘true self.’

Continued…

Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on blame and forgiveness

For those of you who want to delve further into our esteemed guest’s views about blame and forgiveness, check out the following two papers:

What’s the Point of Blame?,’ Miranda Fricker
Forgiveness—an ordered pluralism,’ Miranda Fricker

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 101: Miranda Fricker discusses blame and forgiveness

This month, Emily and Matt chat with Miranda Fricker (CUNY Graduate Center) about blame and forgiveness. Click here to listen to our conversation.

We have a lot of conflicting feelings about blame. When someone does something bad, we feel a strong urge to blame them, and when it all goes down as intended, the person deserves the blame, and they learn that what they did was wrong, we intuitively feel that justice has been done. On the other hand, we also have the sense that blaming can be a corrosive or self-destructive activity–a feeling that is manifested in common expressions like ‘let’s not play the blame game.’ So what’s the deal? Is blaming people a useful activity or isn’t it?

Continued…

Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on aspiration

To whet your appetite for Agnes Callard’s incredible forthcoming book on aspiration, here is a chapter-by-chapter summary.

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 100: Agnes Callard discusses aspiration

This month, we sit down with Agnes Callard (University of Chicago) to talk about aspiration. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Have you ever wanted to get into something? Maybe you find it really boring to sit through an opera right now, but you think you might be missing something and want to learn how to appreciate opera. Or maybe you don’t know anything about how to play football, but you’d really like to learn. In this episode, Agnes Callard argues that both examples are cases of having one set of values, wanting to have a different set of values, and going through the long process of revising the values you’re living according to. You don’t currently know anything about what makes a great opera great, but you hope that after this process is over, you’ll be able to just see it. And you don’t know what being an athlete fully involves, but you want to be in a position where you can truly recognize what makes a great play worthy of admiration.

Continued…

Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on Spinoza

Those of you who are interested in following up on Spinoza will definitely enjoy this incredible graphic book by Ben and Steven Nadler:

The Graphic Spinoza,’ Ben Nadler and Steven Nadler

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 99: Steven Nadler discusses Spinoza on freedom

This month, we delve back into the early modern period with Steven Nadler, William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy, Evjue-Bascom Professor of the Humanities, and Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Baruch Spinoza is known for his views about how the mind and body are the same thing (see our Episode 70), and for coming up with a completely non-anthropomorphic notion of God. But these ideas were really in the service of his moral philosophy, and that’s our focus for this episode. Like Aristotle, Spinoza is most interested the difference between being a good person and being a bad person, rather than the difference between doing something wrong and doing something right. Freedom, rationality, power, and virtue get identified with each other. He also thinks that all our actions are determined, which you might think means nobody ever really does anything freely. But strikingly, he seems to think it’s possible to recover a new notion of freedom that’s totally compatible with a person’s actions being determined. That is, there can still be a difference between something you did for the right reason, understanding why you did it, and something you did just because you were pressured into doing it without understanding why–even though the laws of physics kind of set it in stone what’s going to happen in the future.

Continued…

Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on credibility

If you’d like to delve further into Jennifer Lackey’s views about credibility excesses, she has generously made her excellent paper ‘Credibility and the Distribution of Epistemic Goods‘ available for you to download.

Enjoy!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.