PODCAST

The Philosopher & The News

Alexis Papazoglou

Leading philosophers bring to the surface the ideas hidden behind the biggest news stories.

Play Trailer
Understanding Our Times
Dec 30 2020
3 mins
Lori Gruen & Animal Ethics in War and Peace
We don’t often think of animals as war casualties, but animals die in large numbers in every war. Sometimes as specific targets, to deprive the enemy of a food source, sometimes trapped in zoos and shelters, and other times as wildlife. But their deaths are never officially counted, and the senseless killing animals, unlike the killing of innocent civilians, is not considered a war crime. So do we have special moral duties towards animals in war, given that they have no conception of what war is, and it is something imposed on them by humans?  To what extent does our treatment of animals during war reflect our treatment of animals, particularly those raised for industrial farming, during peace time?  And why, despite the clarity of the moral arguments against the mistreatment of animals in industrial farming and the mass consumption of their meat, do so many of us keep eating animals? Lori Gruen is William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University, and a leading scholar in Animal studies and feminist philosophy. She is the author and editor of over a dozen books, including Ethics and Animals: An Introduction, Entangled Empathy (Lantern, 2015) and the forthcoming Animal Crisis (Polity, 2022) co-authored with the philosopher Alice Crary. Pease leave us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts.This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal. Check out the spring issue of the philosopher, and its spring online lecture series: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org Artwork by Nick HallidayMusic by Rowan Mcilvride
Apr 27 2022
1 hr 21 mins
Samuel Moyn & The Legal Constraints on War
On March 16th the UN’s International Court of Justice asked Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine. It had found no evidence to support Russia’s claim that Ukraine was conducting genocide against Russia Speakers in the East of the country, which has been Russia’s justification for the war. A day later Russia rejected the ruling. So, is international law completely impotent in preventing countries from going to war?  And why has the law been more effective in constraining the way that countries fight even illegal wars? Has the way that the US and other great powers defied international law undermined its effectiveness, and allowed countries like Russia to ignore it? And was Leo Tolstoy right in thinking that making war less brutal, and more humane, would in fact end up in causing more suffering and destruction, by perpetuating war into the future? Samuel Moyn is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at the Yale Law School and a Professor of History at Yale University. He has written several books on European intellectual history and human rights history, including Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (2018). His latest book is Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War. Pease leave us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts.This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal. Check out the spring issue of the philosopher, and its spring online lecture series: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org Artwork by Nick HallidayMusic by Rowan Mcilvride
Mar 26 2022
53 mins
Stathis Kalyvas & Making Sense of Putin
On February 24th, Russia invaded the country of Ukraine, in an unexpected escalation of a conflict that began in 2014. It is the largest conventional military attack in Europe since World War II.According to an influential analysis of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, this is all down to NATO’s overreach in the region, and Russia is simply defending itself from being encircled by Western power. But, pay closer attention to what Putin is actually saying, and a very different explanation emerges. Putin believes it’s his destiny to restore Russia to its former glory. So how should we interpret the actions of states like Russia? Are they merely driver by power and security concerns, like the realist school of thought claims? Or are the beliefs and worldviews of political leaders, like Putin, as well as the national identities of people like those of Ukraine, the real driving force of events? Is necessity and structural issues the motor of history, or is it contingency and uncertainty at the steering wheel? Stathis Kalyvas  is the Gladstone Professor of Government at the University of Oxford, and a fellow of All Souls College. He is a political scientist who’s written extensively on civil wars, ethnicity, and political violence. and is the author of, among other books,  The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Our conversation was based on an article Kalyvas wrote for the Institute of Art and Ideas, entitled “How we got Putin so wrong”. Pease leave us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts.This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal. Check out the spring issue of the philosopher, and order a copy: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org Artwork by Nick HallidayMusic by Rowan Mcilvride
Mar 11 2022
48 mins
Stephen John & Vaccine Mandates
On February 1st a national vaccine mandate took effect in Austria. Those over the age of 18 who haven’t been vaccinated could face fines of over €3,000. Several other countries have introduced similar mandates for the elderly, medical staff and care home workers. Those resisting vaccination say it should be their choice whether to get the jab, not the state’s. Others argue that in liberal societies, it’s the state’s a right to limit the freedom of individuals when their behaviour harms others.So are those resisting vaccination right in saying it’s a matter of their personal freedom? Or does the harm they might be causing others justify state intervention? Would mandating vaccines an act of paternalism by the state? And could ending the pandemic be a good enough reason for overriding other ethical concerns? Stephen John is the Hatton Trust lecturer in philosophy of public health at the University of Cambridge, and works on the intersection of philosophy of science, applied ethics, and political philosophy. He is author of the book Objectivity in Science, and is a regular contributor  to publications like The Conversation, and the online magazine of The Institute of Art and Ideas. Our conversation is based on an article Stephen wrote for the latter, asking “Are mandatory vaccines justified?”. Pease leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal. Check out the spring issue of the philosopher, and order a copy: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org Artwork by Nick HallidayMusic by Rowan Mcilvride
Feb 17 2022
56 mins
Robert Talisse & America's Real Polarization Problem
It’s been a year since the end Trump’s presidency, and the beginning of Biden’s. And while Biden pleaded for unity, and the healing of bitter political divisions in his inaugural speech, the country remains as divided as ever. 40% of Americans say in polls that they don’t believe Joe Biden is the legitimate president, and the International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy Report now classifies the United States a “backsliding democracy” sighting “runaway polarization” as one of the key threats. So is there still hope for American democracy to recover? How exactly should we understand polarization? Is it possible to overcome it by engaging more with the opposite side? And how might reading old philosophy books, about different political realities help? Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vandrbilt University, and author of a number of books on the nature of democracy, liberalism and the American pragmatist tradition. His most recent book is called Sustaining Democracy: What we Owe to the Other Side, by Oxford University Press. Talisse is also himself the host of two podcasts: New Books in Philosophy podcast as well as the Why We Argue podcast.The Institute of Art and Ideas article discussed in the episode can be found here: Democracy and the Polarization Trap.This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal. Music by Pataphysical: https://soundcloud.com/pataphysicaltransmissionArtwork by Nick Halliday: https://www.hallidaybooks.com/design
Feb 4 2022
1 hr 19 mins
Mollie Gerver & Decriminalising People SmugglingRami Ali & The allure of the metaverse
Mark Zuckerberg wants us to believe that soon enough, we’ll be connecting to each otehr in the metaverse,  a virtual reality in which our avatars will be able to meet in virtual space, have virtual meetings and share virtual experiences. It will seem to us as though we’re really there present  in virtual space, and our experience will feel real, even though they won’t be. But should we believe the hype? And even if virtual reality ends up being as exciting as Zuckerberg wants us to think, should we really trust him and his company to curate a whole new internet for us? If Facebook’s products proved to be masterful distraction machines, designed to keep us online and mine our private data, will the metaverse end up being a version of that on steroids? What is the value and significance of virtual experiences, compared to real ones? And what will be the moral status of virtual acts – like murdering someone’s avatar in the metaverse? Rami Ali is an assistant professor of philosophy at Lebanese American University in Beirut.And holds a PhD from the University of Miami in Florida.  He works on the phenomenological movement, the philosophy of technology and the philosophy of mind and perception. He is also an avid proponent of virtual reality technology. Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal. Check out the autumn issue on Thinking Otherwise: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org Artwork by Nick HallidayMusic by Rowan Mcilvride
Nov 19 2021
1 hr 11 mins
William Scheuerman & Climate Activism
Insulate Britain, a new climate change campaign group, has been blocking major motorways around London in recent weeks. Its demands are simple: The UK government should fund the insulation of all social housing by 2025, as well as put forward a "legally-binding national plan" for insulating all homes in Britain by 2030. But is this form of civil disobedience an effective way to gain the public’s sympathy and bring about public policy change? Or are the role models of non-violent resistance like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi over-romanticized and impossible to emulate? Is more direct and violent action, like the blowing up of gas pipes, a more effective form of activism, one that gets to point? Or is the contempt for liberal democracy and its processes that such acts imply a dangerous authoritarian streak that requires caution. And is it possible to respond to the climate emergency we are facing, while upholding our loyalty to our sluggish democratic processes?William Scheuerman, James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science at the University of Indiana, Bloomington and author of many books, including Civil Disobedience. Bill's  paper "Political Disobedience and the Climate Emergency". Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal. Check out the autumn season of online philosophy webinars: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org Artwork by Nick HallidayMusic by Rowan Mcilvride
Oct 28 2021
1 hr 4 mins
Adriana Clavel-Vázquez & Killing James BondArif Ahmed & Free Speech on Campus
Back in May, the UK government introduced a bill that according to its description would aim to strengthen the legal duties on higher education institutions to protect freedom of speech on campuses for students, academics and visiting speakers.This month, the Higher Education Committee has been hearing oral evidence by academics, activists and students on their views on the bill, before its put before the commons for a vote.  So is this a bill  trying to solve a real free speech problem on campuses around the country? Or is the government joining the culture wars, exaggerating the degree of cancel culture on campuses, and attempting to help promote the conservative views of its voters, generally unpopular with students and academics?Are the current legal protections of free speech not enough to ensure that academics and students are able to express themselves freely, and have those who direct threats and abusive messages towards them punished accordingly? And is John Stuart Mill’s argument that free speech ensures the dissemination of truth and knowledge still fit for the 21st century? Arif Ahmed is a reader in philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and a specialist in the philosophy of language, having written books on Wittgenstein and Kripke, among others. Arif is also a passionate defender of free speech, and was one of the academics giving oral evidence to the Higher education committee this month. As you will hear, Arif is broadly in favour of the bill, and despite our disagreement, makes a forceful and passionate case for why he thinks  the protection of free speech by the government has become  necessary.
Sep 24 2021
1 hr 9 mins
Quassim Cassam & Extremism
This month marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the day two planes, hijacked by members of Al Qaeda, flew into the world trade centre in New York City, killing thousands. A third plane hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon that day, the headquarters of the US military, while a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania, after its passengers managed to divert it from its original target.  A 20-year war in Afghanistan was supposed to have eradicated Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, but last month, as the United States army was evacuating its personnel and allies from Kabul airport, ISIS K, a different Islamist terrorist  organisation, attacked the airport with suicide bombers, killing at least 60 civilians and 13 US troops.  Is it the willingness to use violence what defines an extremist? Or is it perhaps their extreme ideas, occupying the far ends of the ideological spectrums of politics and religion? Can the status quo ever be considered extremist? And what do people mean when they say that extremes meet - that extremists of all political orientations and religions have something deep in common? Quassim Cassam is professor of philosophy at the University of Warwick, and author of the just published book Extremism: A Philosophical Analysis. Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal. Check out the autumn season of online philosophy webinars: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org Artwork by Nick HallidayMusic by Rowan Mcilvride
Sep 10 2021
56 mins
Darrel Moellendorf & Ending War JustlyStephen Mumford & Watching the OlympicsPersonal Responsibility in a Pandemic & The Political Philosophy PodcastJoe Mazor & Media Impartiality
On June 13 a new TV channel launched in the UK called GB News, dubbed by many as the UK’s answer to America’s Fox News. In an increasingly polarised political environment, is increasingly biased media all we can expect? Is this simply an honest acceptance of the fact that all journalists are biased, that, like all of us, they occupy non-neutral perspectives onto the world of politics? Or is this giving up too quickly on the value of impartiality, when it comes to news coverage? Is there in fact a way for journalists to give us “just the facts”, free of value-judgements and prejudices?  And do worries of journalistic bias conceal some of the bigger problems with our media landscape, and make us draw false equivalences between news organisations that embody very different journalistic standards? Joe Mazor is a Senior Lecturer in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Duke Kunshan University and a visitor at the LSE’s Centre for philosophy of the natural and social sciences. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2009 and was then a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton’s Center for Human Values and at Stanford’s Center for Ethics in Society. He is the author of a two part blog post for the LSE called Media Impartiality: What When and Why and Media Impartiality: How on which this conversation is based. Mazor has a very interesting and original proposal for how to achieve media impartiality, inspired by the adversarial trial model, so make sure you listen to the second part of our conversation when we come to discuss it.  This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org Artwork by Nick HallidayMusic by Rowan Mcilvride
Jun 29 2021
1 hr 1 min
Tommy Curry & The Real Critical Race TheoryOlúfẹ́mi Táíwò & America's Need for a Truth and Reconciliation ComissionCamila Vergara & Systemic CorruptionAuthority and Knowledge series with The PhilosopherNancy Tuana & The Inequities of the Anthropocene
According to the received narrative, we have entered a new geological era in the history of our planet, the Anthropocene. Human beings, so the theory goes, have become geological agents, having an impact on the planet so profound that it can only be compared to past ice ages and the early stages of the planet’s formation. But this narrative implies that all humans have had a hand in changing the planet, and that that all humans are affected in the same way by climate change. Philosophers, historians and geologists have recently been pointing out that this isn’t the case. Climate change affects different groups of people differently, and the same goes for some of the proposed solutions to climate change. Desmond Tutu has spoken of a climate apartheid. “Climate adaptation” he says “is becoming a euphemism for social injustice on a global scale”. So what does the South-African cleric and human rights activist mean when he compares some climate change solutions to the apartheid regime? What’s the relationship between climate change and racism?  And how can understanding the origins of both help us put forward solutions that don’t reproduce the inequities of the past? Nancy Tuana is Professor of Philosophy, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State College of the Liberal Arts. She is the author of several books and papers on feminism, climate change and the nature of racism, including "Climate Apartheid: The Forgeting of Race in the Anthropocene".This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal.  Register for free for the spring series of talks and events at: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org/events Music by Pataphysical Artwork by Nick Halliday
Apr 26 2021
54 mins