26 episodes

Good in Theory is a podcast about political philosophy and how it can help us understand the world today. Want to know what's in Plato's Republic or Hobbes's Leviathan but don't want to read them? This is your pod. I explain my favourite books in political theory in enough detail that you’ll feel like you read them yourself. Deep but not heavy. No experience needed.

Good in Theory: A Political Philosophy Podcast Clif Mark

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 41 Ratings

Good in Theory is a podcast about political philosophy and how it can help us understand the world today. Want to know what's in Plato's Republic or Hobbes's Leviathan but don't want to read them? This is your pod. I explain my favourite books in political theory in enough detail that you’ll feel like you read them yourself. Deep but not heavy. No experience needed.

    25 - Thought Lab 2: Tainted Art and Moral Luck

    25 - Thought Lab 2: Tainted Art and Moral Luck

    Is it ok to laugh at The Cosby Show? To rock to “Rock With You”? To eat with the knife that was used to murder your family? Does bad luck make you a bad person? 

    It may seem reasonable to separate the art from the artist and the instrument from the act, but Paul says that’s not how our brains work. He thinks human morality is driven by inconsistent irrational emotions and he think that’s a good thing.

    In our second Thought Lab, we talk about bad celebrities, haunted knives and moral luck.

    Paul Sagar "Tainted by Association" in Aeon. 
    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=35146517&fan_landing=true)

    • 54 min
    24 - Plato's Republic 8: The Philosopher Kings

    24 - Plato's Republic 8: The Philosopher Kings

    This book covers parts of books 5-6 of Plato’s Republic.

    Who should rule the city in speech? Philosophers of course! In this episode, Socrates explains his most famous political proposal: philosopher kings. He wants the leaders to be smart and capable and virtuous. And charming and good-looking. Is that too much to ask?

    In a democracy, it is. Socrates doesn't just say what good leaders look like  he also says why democracies will never have one. Who’s to blame for bad democratic politics? Is it corrupt politicians or an ignorant majority? Yes!

    Credits:
    Adeimantus: Rebecca Amzallag
    Glaucon: Zachary Amzallag
    Ancient music: Michael Levy
    Intro theme: Clayton Tapp
    Outro: David Zikovitz
    Episode art and editing: Sep 
    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=35146517&fan_landing=true)

    • 43 min
    23 - Plato’s Republic 7: Socratic Family Values

    23 - Plato’s Republic 7: Socratic Family Values

    This episode covers book 5 of Plato’s Republic.
    What do you do when the private family causes too much corruption? Nationalize it! Create a giant family monopoly that includes every citizen in one giant clan. In this episode, Socrates explains his most normal proposal—that women should have jobs—and his most shocking, which involves a state eugenics program disguised as a religious festival. 
    This chapter makes some people think Plato’s a feminist and other’s say he’s a fascist. Either way, it shows us that values like family loyalty, political unity, gender equality, and meritocracy do not always fit well together. 
     Credits: 
    Adeimantus: Rebecca Amzallag
    Glaucon: Zachary Amzallag
    Polemarchus: Elliott Chambers
    Thrasymachus: Paul Sagar
    Ancient music: Michael Levy
    Intro theme: Clayton Tapp
    Outro: David Zikovitz
    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=35146517&fan_landing=true)

    • 33 min
    22 - Thought Lab 1: The Dead Chicken Experiment

    22 - Thought Lab 1: The Dead Chicken Experiment

    This is the first in our Thought Lab series, in which political theorist Paul Sagar comes by to chat about thought experiments and the themes they raise.

    This week, we ask: are harmless acts ever morally wrong?

    Official liberal morality says “no” but most actual liberals will “yes,” if you find the right example. What about sex with dead chickens? Or your siblings? Or a child sex doll? If nobody is around to see you or hear you, is it still wrong to wear blackface?

    But this episode isn’t just a game of “would you rather?” Paul and I also discuss Jon Haidt’s moral psychology and why a strictly harm-based moral theory can’t do justice to most people’s moral intuitions.

    I want to know: Do you agree with Paul? Think he’s repugnant? Too uptight? We promise to anonymously share compliments or abuse with him.

    Links
    Paul Sagar Website
    Paul Sagar essay on moral luck, Aeon
    Jonathan Haidt The Righteous Mind
    Child sex doll case CBC
    “My Little Chicken,” Adam Sandler


    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=35146517&fan_landing=true)

    • 44 min
    21 - GiT Valentine's Day Special: Rousseau and Romance Past

    21 - GiT Valentine's Day Special: Rousseau and Romance Past

    I talk about a crush I had in Paris as a boy. Then Sep and I dig into Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Marcel Proust to explain what on earth was going on in my heart. Rousseau advises how to get from b***r to bonheur. Proust explains why it’s easier to fall for someone you pass in a car than someone you actually have to talk to. We find out that the human heart is a liar that it's more fun to believe anyway.  
    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=35146517&fan_landing=true)

    • 1 hr 2 min
    20 - Do Free Markets Make Free Humans? Interview with Jeffrey Bercuson

    20 - Do Free Markets Make Free Humans? Interview with Jeffrey Bercuson

    Jeffrey Bercuson is author of A History of Political Thought: Property, Labor, and Commerce from Plato to Piketty.

    This book does a whirlwind tour through the history of political thought explaining how different thinkers have approached the commercial or money-making part of human life. We talk about how attitudes have shifted from ancient scepticism about commerce in Plato and Aristotle to its celebration in thinkers like Hegel and Hayek.

    Bercuson also explains how, even if we accept the arguments of some of capitalism’s biggest boosters, we still wind up on the left side of the existing political options.


    Amazon link
    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=35146517&fan_landing=true)

    • 1 hr 16 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
41 Ratings

41 Ratings

cybrpnk6 ,

Top notch podcast

Cliff does such a good job !

degandegan ,

Smart, funny, illuminating

I love this podcast. It’s entertaining and accessible but not the least bit dumbed-down. If the ideas are new to you, this is an excellent way to get acquainted. If you’ve already read a bunch of Plato, you’re still going to find insights that are fresh and stimulating. It’s smart, it’s funny, and it manages to be genuinely wise without being the least bit pretentious.

Gord McLaughlin ,

What a great find!

I'm only one episode in but starting the next right away.

Sure, Clif Mark may seem like a made-up name, but his insights are genuine and his storytelling is top notch.

Even for an unschooled ancient Athenian such as myself, this is a real treat and smacks of self-improvement. Highly recommeded.

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