Pat Churchland Braintrust Video Roundup

For folks that just wanted to hear Pat talk a bit more about her book, focusing on the bits she wants to focus on rather than what we pushed her toward, here are a few video selections: In this video from her publisher’s web site, she gives a short monologue summarizing Braintrust. In this one, […]

Neurobiology and Criminal Justice

At about 30 minutes into the most recent episode with Pat Churchland, the discussion touched on how the neurochemistry of people who are well socialized differs from those who aren’t.   More specifically, there was a point made about how people who are well socialized and have the Humean (as we will soon discover, actually Smithian) […]

Secular News Daily Responds to Our Churchland Episode

I see Ken Perrot of the Secular News Daily has cogitated on our Churchland episode and raised some follow-up questions. Read the article here. To respond to one of his points: 1: Is consciousness over-rated? Pat Churchland devoted little of her discussion to the unconscious, or subconscious, aspects of human morality. The conscious aspects are […]

The Feminist Music Challenge

In preparation for the feminism discussion, I decided to reconfigure my iPod so as to listen only to female artists from the moment we finished recording the previous episode (so, for about three weeks in total). Irritatingly, I both forgot to announce this shtick on that previous episode, and then entirely forgot to bring it […]

Moral Psychology vs. Normativity

Given that Churchland focuses on the causal story (physiological, evolutionary, psychological, cultural) for where we get our moral sense, does that mean that the causal story is all there is to it, i.e. that by understanding the causal theory, you understand morality itself? Certainly Kant thought not: the causal story is only relevant for him […]

Topic for #42: Feminists on Human Nature and Moral Psychology

This episode will feature Azzurra Crispino, whom you might recall from our Kant on epistemology episode. We’re reading two works that were significant for the development of her interest in feminist philosophy: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland(1915) is a utopian novel about a society of all women. Gilman thought that when classic philosophers describe human nature […]

From Technologist to Humanist: Google’s “In-House” Philosopher

I had been thinking about the PEL debate on the value of higher education, and came across this compelling story by Damon Horowitz. Did you know that Google has an “in-house philosopher”? Horowitz shares his personal story of self-transformation in this article for the Chronicle of Higher Education. With a background in software engineering, he […]

“Softballs” on the Churchland Episode

Faraone, a commenter on our Facebook page, says: The Churchland episode was disappointing. You had a controversial academic who has made some bold and dubious claims during her career, and you spent your time tossing softballs to-and-fro. If you could not think-up challenging questions on your own, you could have read the many reviews of […]

Churchland Ep. Name Drop #2: Chris Eliasmith

Around 55 min into the episode, Pat described one of the possible roles of a philosopher re. the sciences is “the analogue of doing theoretical physics,” and she mentioned Chris Eliasmith as a paradigm example of this. He’s the Director for the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. I quote from their […]

Churchland Ep. Name Drop #1: W.D. Ross

Our Churchland episode was exceptional in that we suspended some of our regular rules, including, I think, the one on name dropping, so I want to fill in some of the gaps through this blog by giving you readers an idea who some of these people are. I brought up W.D. Ross in the context […]

20 Versions of “The Cave:” A Video Roundup

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (which we didn’t get around to spelling out on our Plato’s Republic episode) has been given scads of video treatments, both professional and amateur. Here are some I found on YouTube before getting too irritated to look at any more: Easily the best of this bunch, here’s Orson Welles narrating […]

Michael Sandel on Kant’s Morality (Like Plato?)

In response to my Steven B. Smith post, Facebook commenter Robinson K. recommended Michael Sandel of Harvard as another great lecturer in political philosophy. He’s got a whole course on “Justice” available for online viewing. Though there doesn’t appear to be a lecture on Plato in there, I noted that episode 7 was described by […]

Myles Burnyeant (and Bryan Magee) on Plato

Here’s another old Bryan Magee video where he interviews Myles Burnyeant: Watch on YouTube. Anyone who’s listened to our Plato episodes will find nothing new in this first clip, which is just about who Plato and Socrates were, how Socrates died, and what Plato’s dialogues look like. Around 5 minutes in, Burnyeant lays out the […]

Steven B. Smith Lectures on Plato’s “Republic”

After our Locke episode, I blogged re. this Steven B. Smith introduction to political philosophy course from Yale, but in the case of the Plato episode, I actually used these three lectures as part of my preparation and discussed them on the show: Watch the first Plato lecture on Youtube. Get the audio from iTunes.

A Database of “Philosophy Ideas”

Ever lose track of all those crazy ideas philosophers come up with? Do you like databases? Peter Gibson says yes, and developed I quote the explanation on his site: This database has been compiled by Peter Gibson from many years of philosophy reading. These studies led him to two MA’s from London University, and […]

More Fun Debating Free Will (and Bashing Dan Dennett)

Pop science journalists / authors Bob Wright and John Horgan have an interesting debate on free will from a, well, pop science point of view. Nothing gets resolved, as always, but I like hearing well-informed middle-aged guys argue the same debate we’ve been hearing since the university dorm room. Highlights include Wright’s assessment of Daniel […]

Mark on the Diet Soap Podcast

Some months back, author Douglas Lain (targeted at a future guest on P.E.L., probably for Zizek, but this won’t happen particularly soon) and I chatted off-the-cuff for a podcast that I for once did not have to edit. I can’t promise what I had to say there to be particularly new to any consistent P.E.L. […]

Applied Ontology?

I stumbled across a presentation from the National Center for Ontological Research (NCOR)’s Ontology Summit 2011 which declares NCOR’s goals to “advance ontology as a science” and “foster development of high quality ontologies” and “develop measures of quality for ontologies to establish best practices.” Clearly, these people mean something different by “ontology” than, say, Husserl. […]

Roger Scruton on Religion and Politics

The recent interest here in Roger Scruton (who I’d really only known due to his Kant scholarship)led me to this interview with him from 2002 from The London Times in light of his book The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat.His conservative political philosophy is outlined as such: …He rejects the western […]

Roger Scruton on Religion and Politics

The recent interest here in Roger Scruton (who I’d really only known due to his Kant scholarship)led me to this interview with him from 2002 from The London Times in light of his book The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat.His conservative political philosophy is outlined as such: …He rejects the western […]

Stephen Fry on Philosophy and Unbelief

Check out my post on featuring Stephen Fry. Here’s the longer video referred to there, where comedian Fry (who apparently knows something about philosophy) casts himself as a bit of a new atheist, sort of a more gentle George Carlin: Watch on (That site doesn’t seem to let me embed videos in posts.)

Paul Tillich on Religious Existentialism

A name commonly thrown around when discussion liberal Christianity is Paul Tillich, famed for a Christian version of something like Heidegger’s philosophy of religion. Here’s a very long and slow-to-get-going (not to mention very dark on my screen) interview with him: Watch on youtube. In this first clip (around 5 minutes in), he describes how […]