Philosophy Talk

Program Schedule

KSFC 91.9
Wednesday 9pm - 10pm

Philosophy Talk is radio that celebrates the value of the examined life.  Week after week, our two philosopher-hosts invite listeners to join them in conversations about a wide variety of issues-- ranging from popular culture to our most deeply held beliefs about science, morality, and the human condition.  Philosophy Talk challenges listeners to identify and question their assumptions and to think about things in new ways.   We are dedicated to reasoned conversation driven by human curiousity.  Philosophy Talks is  broadly accessible, intellectually stimulating and, most of all, fun!  

Philosophy talk is hosted by Ken Taylor, P
rofessor of Philosophy at Stanford University, and John Perry, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Riverside and  Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Stanford University.

Program Listings:
April 9, 2014
Poetry as a Way of Knowing

What is poetry? Mere word play? A pretty, or at any rate striking, way of expressing thought and emotion? Or does great poetry involve an approach to the world that provides insight and information not available in other ways? Ken and John explore how poetry can illuminate what we know with award-winning poet Jane Hirshfield, author of Come, Thief and other poetic works of philosophical richness. This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley.

April 16, 2014
The Right to Privacy

Is the right to privacy – the right to be left alone and to control one’s personal information – really a right? Is privacy just a privilege that can be revoked any time it conflicts with other more important needs, like the need to protect our security? Who has the right to infringe upon our privacy and for what particular purposes? How much public surveillance do we really need to stay safe and does that count as an infringement on our privacy? How does our use of social media undermine our claims to privacy? John and Ken talk openly with George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen, author of The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America.

April 23, 2014
Conspiracy Theories

Some claim that the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11 was actually caused by a controlled demolition orchestrated by the U.S. government. Dramatic conspiracy theories of this kind are all over the place, but they are often dismissed as crazy. Sometimes, however, they turn out to be true: the NSA, as we have learned, conducted secret surveillance of millions of people for more than ten years. Does this show that we shouldn’t be so dismissive of conspiracy theories after all, or that we simply refuse to accept the existence of coincidence? What is a conspiracy theory, anyway, and how is it different from other kinds of theories? John and Ken form a cabal with Brian Keeley from Pitzer College, author of "On Conspiracy Theories."

April 30, 2014
Risky Business: The Business of Risk

There is an element of risk – either to ourselves or to others – in almost everything we do. By deciding to go to the grocery store, for example, we take a (very small) risk of getting into a car accident. Many risks are acceptable, of course, but how do we know when a risk is worth taking? The most important decisions, after all, are often risky ones. What about risks to others' welfare? How do we, and should we, take risk into account when we make decisions? John and Ken take their chances with Lara Buchak from UC Berkeley, author of Risk and Rationality.

May 7, 2014
Seeing Red: The World in Color

Is the red you see indeed the very same red that anyone else does? What is the redness of red even like? These sorts of questions are not just amusing, if worn-out, popular philosophical ponderings. Thinkers in the philosophy of perception take such questions as serious windows into the nature of the world and of the mind. Although we are constantly surrounded by colors, the experience of perceiving them – what it is like to see red, for example - remains a mysterious phenomenon. Where are colors: in objects, or in our minds? Could color experiences ever be explainable in terms of raw physical facts? Or is there something about color that goes beyond what science can teach us? John and Ken go full spectrum with Jonathan Cohen from UC San Diego, author of The Red and the Real: An Essay on Color Ontology.

May 14, 2014
Epicurus and the Good Life

Though his name is often misleadingly associated with indulgence in sensual pleasures, the Greek philosopher Epicurus developed a far-reaching system of thought that incorporated an empiricist theory of knowledge, a description of nature based on atomistic materialism, and views about the importance of friendship. His notions of what constitutes a good life have preserved the relevance of Epicurean philosophy for contemporary life. A diverse array of thinkers, including Thomas Jefferson, Diderot, and Jeremy Bentham, have considered themselves Epicureans. So what is the legacy of Epicurus, and how have his ideas become integrated into the fabric of modernity? With great pleasure John and Ken welcome David Konstan from NYU, author of A Life Worthy of the Gods: The Materialist Psychology of Epicurus.

May 21, 2014
The Reality of Time

St. Augustine suggested that when we try to grasp the idea of time, it seems to evade us: "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know." So is time real or merely an artificial construct? Is time a fundamental or emergent property of our universe or a part of our cognitive apparatus? Do we live in a continuum with a definite past and present, or do we live in a succession of ‘Nows’, and if the latter is the case, how does it affect our perception of memory or recollection? John and Ken take their time with Julian Barbour from the University of Oxford, author of The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics.

May 28, 2014
Summer Reading List 2014

What philosophers, philosophies, or philosophical issues would you like to read up on over the summer? Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus may not be the obvious choice to take on vacation, but there are a lot of readable, beach-friendly classics and non-classics to add philosophical depth to your vacation reading – not to mention new and classic fiction with a philosophical bent. You are invited to join John, Ken, and their special guests as they share some of the philosophically-minded reading on their summer reading lists.

June 4, 2014
Am I Alone?

A popular theme in science fiction is the eerily lifelike robot: a piece of machinery so well engineered that its outputs pass for genuinely human behaviors. Technology is not yet so advanced, but these robots might cause us to wonder how we could possibly justify our belief in the minds of others. You’re most likely sure that your family, friends, and boss are really people just like you, with similarly rich inner mental lives. But how can you be so sure? If we only have access to our own private thoughts, can we ever know that our minds are not unique? I think, therefore I exist – but what about everybody else? John and Ken step outside themselves with Anita Avramides, from the University of Oxford, author of Other Minds.

June 11, 2014
Is Democracy a Universal Value?

Americans value democracy, and expect others to value it. But is it a universal value? Does God, or rationality, or something very basic about human sensibility, dictate that states should be organized democratically? What if there were empirical evidence that some non-democratic form of government is more likely to produce human happiness, cultural achievement, and sound money? John and Ken consider the universality of democratic values with Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World. This program was recorded live at the Marsh theatre in San Francisco.

June 18, 2014
Art and Obscenity

What do Marcel Duchamp, Damien Hirst, and Andres Serrano have in common? They’ve all created modern works of art that have shocked and outraged the general public, causing many to question whether these works have any artistic value at all. But isn’t it the purpose of art to incite inquiry and question conventional moral wisdom? If so, then a strong public reaction would seem to prove the artistic merit of these works. So, is there a clear line to be drawn between genuine art and mere obscenity? Or has shock value simply replaced cultural value in the world of contemporary art? John and Ken curate their conversation with Stanford art historian Richard Meyer, author of What Was Contemporary Art? This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley.

June 25, 2014
Pantheism

Pantheism is the doctrine that the world is either identical with God or an expression of His nature. Pantheistic ideas appear in many schools of Buddhism and Hinduism, and in the Tao-te-Ching. Pantheism also has had defenders in Western philosophy, including Heraclitus, Spinoza, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Many of the Romantic poets, like Shelley, Keats, and Wordsworth, were considered pantheists. In modern times, the ecological movement has led to new interest in pantheism and its emphasis on nature as sacred. Is there a consistent world view that all these philosophies have in common? And how should we understand the claim that nature is to be worshipped? John and Ken welcome back Philip Clayton from the Claremont Graduate School, co-author of The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy and Faith.

July 2, 2014
Anatomy of a Terrorist

Since George W. Bush first declared a "war on terror," the US has been engaged in a global campaign to rid the world of terrorists. But what exactly is a “terrorist,” and how do we distinguish illicit terrorist organizations from legitimate freedom fighters? Do terrorists exhibit particular psychological patterns of behavior, or are there some tactics that only terrorists use? And what is the most effective way to combat terrorism – by waging war, engaging in "de-radicalization" processes, or some other means? John and Ken agree to negotiate with Stanford political scientist Martha Crenshaw, author of Explaining Terrorism: Causes, Processes, and Consequences, for a program recorded live at the Marsh Theatre in Berkeley.

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