Episode 65: Julian Savulescu discusses doping in sports

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we consider the role of enhancement in sports with Julian Savulescu, Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. Click here to listen to our conversation. These days, we take it for granted that taking drugs to enhance athletic performance is wrong. After all, it’s cheating: the rules of all professional sports place strict limits on which drugs their athletes are allowed to use, and for good reason....

Episode 64: James Conant and Jay Elliott discuss the analytic tradition

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk analytic philosophy with James Conant (Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Chicago) and Jay Elliott (Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Classical Studies at Bard College). Click here to listen our conversation. A lot of us learned a certain story about what analytic philosophy is when we were in college....

Episode 63: Michael Devitt discusses reference

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Joining us this month to talk about a foundational topic in the philosophy of language is Michael Devitt, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Some animals make noises to express emotions they’re having. But other animals–notably, we humans–make utterances that do more....

Episode 62: Sally Sedgwick discusses Hegel's critique of Kant

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Sally Sedgwick Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Affiliated Professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago) about Hegel’s critique of Kantian ethics. Click here to listen to our conversation. Over 200 years after Immanuel Kant published his work on ethics, it still represents one of the most influential perspectives in the field....

Episode 61: Jeff Buechner discusses Kripke and functionalism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk computers, brains, and minds with Jeff Buechner, Permanent Lecturer in Philosophy at Rutgers University, Newark. Click here to listen to our conversation. Back in the 50s and 60s, a lot of philosophers were attracted to the idea that the human mind is basically a computer. Why would they find that idea attractive?...

Episode 60: Fabrizio Cariani shares some thoughts about oughts

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, Fabrizio Cariani (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University) comes back for his second appearance on the program, this time to tell us about the meaning of the word ‘ought.’ You can listen to our conversation by clicking here. ‘Ought’ is a pretty important word in human affairs....

Episode 59: Rebecca Kukla discusses reproductive risk

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Rebecca Kukla, Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, about some of her work on reproductive risk. Click here to listen to our conversation. A pregnant woman is usually advised to be cautious about what products to purchase, whether to drink alcohol, and which locations to frequent....

Episode 58: Stewart Shapiro discusses vagueness (part II)

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we are delighted to make our return to the topic of vagueness, this time in conversation with Stewart Shapiro, Professor of Philosophy at The Ohio State University. Click here to listen to our discussion. You may remember from our previous episode on vagueness that most of the adjectives, common nouns, verbs, and prepositions we use are vague....

Episode 57: Julia Annas discusses virtue ethics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we sit down with Julia Annas, Regents Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, to talk about virtue ethics. Click here to listen to our conversation. Today we’re used to thinking of ethics as the study of how to act in certain situations. Given any particular hypothetical scenario, what would be the right thing for you to do?...

Episode 56: Philip Pettit discusses corporate rights and responsibilities

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we sit down with Philip Pettit to discuss some of his work on whether corporations have rights. Click here to listen to our conversation. Much of what goes on in today’s world is the work of corporations, which command far more money and power than any individual person can....

Episode 55: Branden Fitelson discusses paradoxes of consistency

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we are delighted to have Branden Fitelson back for his second appearance on the program. The topic was some recent work he has been doing with Rachel Briggs, Fabrizio Cariani, and Kenny Easwaran on paradoxes of consistency. Click here to listen to our conversation. Imagine you’re a scientist, and you publish a huge book presenting the results of your research over the past decade....

Episode 54: Patricia Blanchette discusses Frege's logicism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, we sit down with Patricia Blanchette to discuss the work of Gottlob Frege, one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. Click here to listen to our conversation. We saw in our episode on the philosophy of mathematics how difficult it was to say what numbers are....

Episode 53: Martin Stokhof discusses formal semantics and Wittgenstein

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk semantics with Martin Stokhof, Professor of Philosophy of Language at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam. Click here to listen to our conversation. Formal semanticists are in the business of spelling out the rules by which the meaning of a sentence in English (or French, or Spanish, or some other human language) are derived from the words in it and the way they’re put together....

Episode 52: Rafeeq Hasan discusses Rousseau on freedom and happiness

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk political philosophy with Rafeeq Hasan, Harper-Schmidt Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation. In today’s political discussions, we tend to assume that there are two ways a person can lean....

Episode 51: Jeroen Groenendijk and Floris Roelofsen discuss inquisitive semantics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we get a little bit meta and ask our distinguished guests some questions about questions. Or at least about the semantics of questions. Jeroen Groenendijk is Professor of Philosophy of Language and Floris Roelofsen is Assistant Professor of Logic and Semantics at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam....

Episode 50: Greg Salmieri discusses the Aristotelian good life and productive work

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month it is our pleasure to discuss Aristotle’s ethics with Greg Salmieri, Visiting Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Boston University. Click here to listen to our conversation. Aristotle was somewhat ambivalent about the activity of craftsmanship: i.e. the activity of making things like shoes, clothes, or pottery....

Episode 49: Hans Kamp discusses discourse representation theory

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk dynamic semantics with Hans Kamp, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Natural Language Processing in Stuttgart. Click here to listen to our conversation. The goal of formal semantics is to explain how the meaning of a whole sentence is derived from the words that make it up and the way they’re put together....

Episode 48: Jennifer Frey discusses the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Jennifer Frey, Harper Schmidt Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation. In this episode, we begin with an overview of Thomas Aquinas, one of the most prolific philosophers ever. (It is sometimes said that he wrote, on average, about 10,000 words per day....

Episode 47: Alexandru Baltag discusses the logic of knowledge

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In our latest episode, we talk some epistemology with Alexandru Baltag, Associate Professor of Logic at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam. Click here to listen to our conversation. Knowledge may seem straightforward at first. But try to give an exact definition of what it is, and you’ll soon find that it’s more difficult than you would have thought....

Episode 46: Frank Veltman discusses normality

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk with Frank Veltman, Professor of Logic and Philosophy at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam. Click here to listen to our conversation. Most of our everyday reasoning involves the notion of things normally being one way rather than another. But sometimes, this gets us into trouble....

Episode 45: Anubav Vasudevan discusses probability and determinism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk with Anubav Vasudevan (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago) about whether there’s any conflict between objective probability and determinism. Click here to listen to our conversation. Suppose I say there’s a 50⁄50 chance that when I toss a coin, it will land heads....

Episode 44: Joëlle Proust discusses metacognition

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we talk some philosophy of mind with Joëlle Proust, Professor of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure and member of the Jean Nicod Institute. Click here to listen to our conversation. You’re on your way to the supermarket to pick up the ingredients for a delicious vegetable stew....

Episode 43: Peter Adamson discusses the philosophy of Al-Kindi

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we sit down with Peter Adamson, Professor of Philosophy at Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich and King’s College, London. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Al-Kindi may not be required reading for undergraduate philosophy majors these days, but the role he played in the history of philosophy was pivotal....

Episode 42: Agustín Rayo discusses the construction of logical space

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Agustín Rayo, Associate Professor of philosophy at MIT. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Many things are theoretically possible. In fact, just about anything you can imagine is possible in the broadest sense of the term. I might win the lottery, or win a tennis match, or travel to Mars....

Episode 41: David Enoch discusses metaethics and robust realism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, we talk some metaethics with David Enoch, Professor of Philosophy and Jacob I. Berman Professor of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Are moral judgments, for example “stealing is wrong,” ever true? Are they even the kinds of things that can be true or false, or are moral judgments just fancy ways of expressing our feelings about stuff, so that “stealing is wrong” is just a fancy way of saying “Boo stealing!...

Episode 40: Johan van Benthem discusses logical dynamics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, we talk to Johan van Benthem, University Professor of pure and applied logic at the University of Amsterdam and Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of philosophy at Stanford University. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Logic is traditionally assumed to have deductive reasoning as its subject matter....

Episode 39: Nicholas Asher discusses the philosophy of language

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Nicholas Asher, research director at the CNRS and the IRIT in Toulouse, and former longtime Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Remember Spanish class? You had to learn all those rules about where to put the verb, where to put the subject, which nouns have which genders, which prepositions to use when, etc....

Episode 38: Christopher Frey discusses Aristotle on living organisms and their parts

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we talk to Christopher Frey, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation. Aristotle thought that after you chop off a person’s hand, it ceases to be a hand in the original sense of the term. Sure, we _ call _ it a hand....

Episode 37: Catarina Dutilh Novaes discusses methods in philosophy

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, Matt continues his European adventure by sitting down with Catarina Dutilh Novaes, Assistant Professor and Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen. Click here to listen to their conversation. Philosophers want to answer big, sexy questions like how one should live or what knowledge is. How should one go about answering questions like that?...

Episode 36: Robert van Rooij discusses vagueness

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Robert van Rooij, Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Language at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation, at the University of Amsterdam. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. As it happens, nearly everything we say is imprecise. For example, when I indicate where I want you to stand while posing for a photo, I don’t give exact coordinates; I just point with my finger....

Episode 35: Martha Nussbaum discusses the capabilities approach

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we speak with Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. You can listen to our conversation here. What do we mean when we talk about nations being more or less developed? Is it simply a matter of being financially better-off?...

Episode 34: Kieran Setiya discusses moral disagreement

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, we’re joined by Kieran Setiya, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Disagreement in ethical matters is a common enough phenomenon. Yet, what exactly is the appropriate way to respond when one is confronted with it in one’s own life?...

Episode 33: Daniel Sutherland discusses the philosophy of mathematics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, we’re joined by Daniel Sutherland, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. In this technological age, most of our day-to-day tasks involve numbers and arithmetic. And yet, it can be difficult to say what a number is....

Episode 32: Jennifer Lockhart discusses ignorant knowledge

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Jennifer Lockhart, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Humanities at Stanford University and recent graduate of the PhD program in Philosophy at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation with her. You’re at a party. Some guy is dominating the conversation, holding forth loudly and at great length about the importance of politeness....

Episode 31: Branden Fitelson discusses reasoning fallacies

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, Branden Fitelson, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, joins us to discuss reasoning fallacies. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Imagine that you are worried that you have a rare disease for which there is a reliable test. If you take this test and it returns a positive result, how certain should you be that you have the disease?...

Episode 30: Marko Malink discusses modal syllogistic

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Episode transcript here. Marko Malink is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. An episode on modal syllogistic is guaranteed to sound a bit challenging to someone who hasn’t ever studied logic. But the topic isn’t just fascinating–it’s easy to grasp once you’ve learned some of the relevant terminology....

Episode 29: Peter Kail discusses the legacy of David Hume

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Peter Kail is University Lecturer in the History of Modern Philosophy at St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford. For our belated celebration of David Hume’s 300th birthday, Prof. Kail joins us to discuss Hume’s life and philosophical legacy. You can listen to our interview with Prof. Kail by clicking here....

Episode 28: John Searle discusses human reality and basic reality

Subscribe to Elucidations:         We are pleased to present John Searle, Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, who joins us for a stimulating and wide ranging conversation (click here). First he gives his assessment of how the field of philosophy has changed since his time as a graduate student at Oxford in the 1950’s, charting the decline of ‘ordinary language’ philosophy and the reemergence of Metaphysics and substantive ethics....

Episode 27: Emma Borg discusses semantic minimalism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Emma Borg is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading, and was the White Distinguished Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago Spring Quarter 2011. Click here to listen to our conversation with her. In linguistics and the philosophy of language, semantics is the study of literal meaning, and pragmatics is the study of implied meaning....

Episode 26: Robert Richards discusses evolutionary ethics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Robert Richards is the Morris Fishbein Distinguished Service Professor in the History of Science, and Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Philosophy, History, Psychology, and in the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science; and he is director of the Fishbein Center for History of Science. Click here to listen to our conversation with him....

Episode 25: Robert Stalnaker discusses conversational context

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Robert Stalnaker is Professor of Philosophy at MIT. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Philosophers of language have always been interested in how the context of a conversation can affect what the participants in the conversation are saying. (For some examples of how the context of a conversation can affect the meaning of what the conversational participants are saying, see our episode on contextualism....

Episode 24: Christopher Peacocke discusses the perception of music

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Christopher Peacocke is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. In this episode, Christopher Peacocke discusses what it is to hear an emotion in a piece of music. Even instrumental music seems to be emotionally charged–minor chords, for example, usually have a melancholy ring to them....