SuchThatCast is dedicated to getting to know some of the most influential philosophers (broadly speaking) of today. It seeks to provide an alternative to most other philosophy podcasts (many of which are excellent), by taking the form of a face-to-face conversation (I will never do a phone/skype interview) where the guest is free (and encouraged) to share information about themselves that may not be appropriate in other forums: this includes stories about their unique and often unconventional career paths, seminal events and figures in their lives, undeveloped ideas and generally whatever they are passionate about.
Episode 12: John Cottingham
John Cottingham is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Reading and an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford. His main research areas include philosophy of religion, moral philosophy, and early-modern philosophy. He is perhaps best known for his translation and commentary of René Descartes - in particular as co-editor and translator of the three-volume standard Cambridge edition of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes.
In our conversation, we talk about his early training in Latin and Greek, his experiences with all aspects of student life at Oxford in the 60s and the seminal figures during those days (in particular Anthony Kenny and Bernard Williams), the differences between philosophy then and now, and his increasing emphasis on the importance of spirituality.
Episode 11: Live from IACAP’14, featuring Bringsjord, Chaitin, Taddeo & Sieg
This episode is recorded live in front of an audience at theInternational Association for Computing and Philosophy (IACAP)2014 conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. The guests are four of the most interesting participants at that conference: Selmer Bringsjord, Gregory Chaitin, Mariarosaria Taddeo and Wilfried Sieg. They represent both diversity, all of them having quite different backgrounds and main research area, but they all have a common denominator in logic and formal methods. This forms the backdrop for many of our discussions, in addition to background stories, more or less strange side-projects as well as future hopes and desires. The whole thing was an experiment, but it worked out quite well. I can only hope that the recording can do some justice to the event.
Episode 10: Kristin Shrader-Frechette
Kristin Shrader-Frechette is O'Neill Family Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. She has previously held senior professorships at the University of California and the University of Florida. Author of 16 books and nearly 400 articles, Shrader-Frechette’s theoretical work appears in journals such as Biological Theory, Bioscience, Health Physics, Oikos, Philosophy of Science, Quarterly Review of Biology, Synthese, and Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Most of her work is concerned with the ethical problems in risk assessment, public health, and environmental justice - especially related to radiological, ecological, and energy-related risks. She has received the World Technology Award, the Global Citizenship Award, and the Catholic Digest named her one of 12 "Heroes for the US and the World". She has served as an advisor to numerous governments and international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
In this conversation, Shrader-Frechette talks about a childhood filled with activism, her fight to give a voice to the poor in the face of company greed (and the personal repercussions), and her use of service teaching to engage students. The red line throughout the episode is her genuine passion for creating a healthier and more just society, showing that philosophers can extend their voice beyond academia and contribute to real change in the world.
Episode 9: John Dupré
John Dupré is the director of the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society and professor of philosophy at the University of Exeter. Dupré was educated at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge and taught at Oxford, Stanford University and Birkbeck College of the University of London before moving to Exeter. Dupré’s chief work area lies in philosophy of biology, philosophy of the social sciences, and general philosophy of science. Together with Nancy Cartwright, Ian Hacking, Patrick Suppes and others, he is often regarded as belonging to the “Stanford School” of philosophy of science. In 2010 Dupré was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in recognition of his work on Darwinism, and became President-Elect of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science.
Dupré’s seminal “The Disorder of Things” made a huge impact on me as a philosophy undergrad, and we spend quite some time discussing the background for the book as well as its advancement of a pluralistic model of science as opposed to the common notion of reductionism. We also discuss his complex path through academia, and his work on feminism, evolutionary psychology and other issues centred around the issue of essentialism and the disunity of science.
Episode 8: John Sutton
John Sutton is Professor of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He is currently head of the same department, having previously also been head of the Macquarie Philosophy department. He is author of Philosophy and Memory Traces:Descartes to Connectionism (Cambridge University Press, 1998), and co-editor of Descartes' Natural Philosophy and the Sage journal and Palgrave Macmillan book series Memory Studies.
Sutton and I discuss a range of topics, including the occult in literature, Descartes, shared memories, the extended mind hypothesis, identity, skills in sports, and what the role of a philosopher should be in an interdisciplinary setting.
Episode 7: David Koepsell
David Koepsell earned his PhD in philosophy as well as his law degree from the University at Buffalo, where he studied with Barry Smith. He has authored numerous articles as well as authored and edited several books, including Searle on the Institutions of Social Reality, The Ontology of Cyberspace: Law, Philosophy, and the Future of Intellectual Property. He has lectured worldwide on issues ranging from civil rights, philosophy, science, ontology, intellectual property theory, society, and religion. Koepsell has practiced law, worked for Bowstreet, Inc. as an ontologist in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and taught at the University at Buffalo. He was appointed Assistant Professor of Philosophy at TU Delft in September 2008.
Koepsell and I spend quite some time discussing his controversial views on patenting and copyright, which naturally leads us into the foundations of ethics and law. Despite Koepsell's largely analytic style, we also touch upon phenomenology and the value of continental philosophy. Since Koepsell was executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, we also dicuss the culture wars in the US before concluding with the relation between popular culture and philosophy.
...but, jeez, the abrasive proggy intro music interspersed with dialogue clips is so annoying and ridiculous. Skip through it and enjoy!