7 episodes

The Philosophists - Declan & Simon - look to inject some philosophy into your day. So if you're looking for meaning, morality, or just a bit of mayhem then tune in for their unique blend of shorter and longer conversations. Often with the help of some very special guests. This project may or not succeed, but what's the worst that could happen? Listen & find out!

The Philosophists The Philosophists | Declan McGrath, Simon Robertson

    • Society & Culture

The Philosophists - Declan & Simon - look to inject some philosophy into your day. So if you're looking for meaning, morality, or just a bit of mayhem then tune in for their unique blend of shorter and longer conversations. Often with the help of some very special guests. This project may or not succeed, but what's the worst that could happen? Listen & find out!

    Ep 7 - Nested Utilitension (an Ethics to Rule Them All?)

    Ep 7 - Nested Utilitension (an Ethics to Rule Them All?)

    "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

    In this one famous line from Star Trek, the ever-logical Spock seemingly nailed his flag to the mast of Utilitarianism. But what if Kant had been a member of the team aboard the USS Enterprise? He may have thrown a glass of cold water over Spock and exclaimed, "You're wrong! The needs of the few may triumph!" So, who should we side with here? What do we do when different philosophical systems disagree and guide us towards conflicting solutions? In this episode, Declan and Simon introduce a new ethical system they've been cooking up. Can we balance the needs of the many with the needs of the few? Let's see what Nested Utilitension can do!

    Note: This episode supports a "Chapters" feature, which is available in the web player and many podcast apps.

    Main Talking Points
    What are the problems with some of the existing ethical theories?Rebooting the classic ticking time bomb thought experimentNested UtilitensionThe Utility PlungeThe significance of nesting groups inside larger groups and expanding outwards when making ethical comparisonsEthical circuit breakersDoes who you are change how you decide what's right?Other Links
    The Philosophists - Episode 2 covered Utilitarianism and Deontonology (including some Kantian ethics) and may be worth a listen first. The show notes are also worth a lookThe Philosophists - Episode 4 covered the Trolley Problem and some more Utilitarian/Kantian discussionThe Repugnant ConclusionDerek Parfit’s famous paradoxical conclusion that, for any world with all very happy individuals, there can exist a better world (in terms of the Utilitarian maths) with a much larger population of whose lives are barely worth living.Good explainer video by Julia Galef but you'll still need your thinking hat on!The Veil of IgnoranceJohn Rawls theory on how to design a fairer societyAn illustrated overview narrated by Stephen FryShow Info, Contact Details & Credits
    See here. 

    • 29 min
    Ep 6 -- LP -- Wisdom - A Very Valuable Virtue with Jason Merchey

    Ep 6 -- LP -- Wisdom - A Very Valuable Virtue with Jason Merchey

    Wisdom... an old and dusty concept that has fallen down the pecking order in today's world. As a result, it's no surprise that many feel our civilisation is slipping ever deeper into an idiocracy. Well, this episode aims to single-handedly arrest that slide... and bring wisdom back into fashion! To this end, we have enlisted the talents of Jason Merchey, who literally wrote the book on wisdom. In fact, he's written four, including his latest work - Wisdom: A Very Valuable Virtue That Cannot Be Bought.  Given his lifelong study of this subject, Jason helps us tackle wisdom from many angles. He uses a supporting cast of wise quotations from down through the ages to prevent us losing sight of what wisdom really means - and why it is indeed a most valuable virtue.

    More About Jason
    In addition to being a philosophical thinker and author, Jason is a master’s level psychologist, proponent of the research ideal, social critic, author / essayist / blogger, and a student of the tradition of arts and letters. You can buy Jason's latest book on Amazon (or enter our competition - see below!) or follow his work via his website.
    Note: This episode supports a "Chapters" feature, which is available in the web player and many podcast apps.


    Main Talking Points
    What is wisdom?Capitalism, Sisyphus and higher valuesThe usefulness of philosophyThe power of quotationsEffective truth-seekingThe wisdom and anti-wisdom of intuitionIs America wise or unwise?Wisdom vs common senseChanging opinions, changing climateThe knowing nod of older Ireland (and why some things may be best left unsaid)Respecting elders but perhaps not their ideasConflating status with wisdomReal wisdom, real estate, and investingWhat can Foucault, Trump and Mussolini teach us about Irish house prices?Staying sane in an insane worldOther Links
    The Road Less Traveled  by Scott Peck (1978) A very influential book on psychology that Jason citesWisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience by Stephen S Hall (2010) A book on wisdom with a big impact on Jason's philosophical thinkingThe myth of Sisyphus by Alex Gendler (TED Ed) Wonderfully illustrated video of this mythic taleJason's Wisdom Search Engine - a quote database that around 36,000 quotes for you to exploreStanford Prison Experiment -  a highly unethical study to analyse behavioural effects in a two-week simulation of a prison environment (wikipedia)The Stanley Milgram Experiment: How Far Will You Go to Obey an OrderCitizens United Supreme Court Decision (wikipedia)
    Competition
    Send us in your favourite quotation - and why it is - to be in the running to win one of the 3 copies of Jason's book that he is kindly giving away to listeners! Enter using our contact details below.


    Show Info, Contact Details & Credits
    See  here. 

    • 1 hr 39 min
    Ep 5 -- LP -- Towards Biohappiness with David Pearce (The End of Suffering)

    Ep 5 -- LP -- Towards Biohappiness with David Pearce (The End of Suffering)

    Suffering is unavoidable. Or is that really the case? David Pearce, renowned transhumanist, author of the Hedonistic Imperative and cofounder of the World Transhumanist Association / Humanity+, has a vision that sees suffering abolished in all sentient life and replaced with "information-sensitive gradients of bliss". In this feature length episode, David gives an introduction to his abolitionist project and how we can achieve this remarkable goal using biotechnology, especially genetic engineering. Join us to hear David's fascinating insights into what has been dubbed the Biohappiness Revolution.

    You can follow David Pearce on Twitter at @webmasterdave.

    Note: As this episode tips over the hour mark into "Long Play" territory, if you are short on time, you are invited to use the "Chapters" feature of the web player (or in your podcast app or offline audio player if it supports chapters). We've put a little extra effort into indexing this conversation for your convenience and we hope you find it useful. Let us know!

    Main Talking Points
    Hedonic set-points and the hedonic threadmillThe Lottery ParadoxProblems associated with existing drug-based treatments for painGene therapy and the role of certain genes, such as SCN9A, in painHyperthymic people and the role of the FAAH and FAAH-OUT genesPreimplantation genetic screening and CRISPRHappier babies and whether suffering should be opt-in or opt-outHolding genetic engineering to account and the sanctity of lifeContrasting software engineering techniques to genetic engineeringIf you care about helping to bring an end to suffering,  please donate whatever you can afford to provide a life-saving mosquito net to someone who really needs it at http://www.againstmalaria.com/thephilosophists

    Other Links
    Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Brickman, P., Coates, D., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978 paper)Gene-Editing (SCN9A) Pain Away With CRISPRLandmark CRISPR trial shows promise against deadly disease (Transthyretin Amyloidosis)Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (including preimplantation genetic screening)Windows Phone, A History - An interactive timeline of the Windows Phone operating system dating back to 1996Socially Awkward
    You can follow @thephilosophists on Instagram / Facebook / TwitterYou can follow Declan at @theirishpenguinShow website at https://www.thephilosophists.com (rss feed)Credits
    "Bike, Bell Ding, Single, 01-01.wav" by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk) of Freesound.orgMusic and artwork by © 2022 Declan McGrath, All Rights Reserved

    • 1 hr 13 min
    Ep 4 - Beyond Cockroach Ethics - Part 2 (Virtue Ethics, Trolley Problems and Inaction)

    Ep 4 - Beyond Cockroach Ethics - Part 2 (Virtue Ethics, Trolley Problems and Inaction)

    Back in episode two, we covered Utilitarianism and Deontology and promised to return with an episode covering Virtue Ethics. Well, wanting to do the moral thing, we fulfil that promise here. The episode opens up with Simon invoking the famous philosophical conundrum of the Trolley Problem. We also discuss the distinction between action and inaction, if any, before diving into the ethical system that has been with us for over two thousand years - Virtue Ethics. Hopefully, you have enough of the virtue of patience to stick with us for half an hour.

    Main Talking Points
    The Trolley Problem - would you sacrifice one to save five?A wonderful short animated TED-Ed video explainer by Eleanor NelsenWatching season 2 episode 5 of The Good Place (summary) is also an easy & fun way to learn moreThe Point of View of the Universe - an arguably more objective way to think ethicallyPeter Singer makes the case in favour (short video - or see this written summary)Inaction vs Action - can you dodge the blame game or are they just the same?Why Inaction Is An Action by Lynne Sargent gives a succinct informative take on thisDoing vs. Allowing Harm in the Stanford Encyclopedia is detailed but very readableJean-Paul Sartre's Universalisation of Actions - am I always setting an example?See the Anguish section of Nigel Warburton's great summary of Sartre's "Existentialism and Humanism"The Golden RuleKant's Summum Bonum (The Kingdom of Ends)The delightful end game for perfectly rational beings is concisely explained by this short video or WikipediaObjections to Virtue Ethics (including the bank robber example Declan cites)If you feel full of virtue as you listen to this episode, we would greatly appreciate it if you could please donate whatever you can afford to provide a life-saving mosquito net to someone who really needs it at http://www.againstmalaria.com/thephilosophists

    Follow the show on Twitter at @philosophistpod

    Socially Awkward
    You can follow @thephilosophists on Instagram or FacebookYou can follow Declan at @theirishpenguin; Simon's keeping a low profile :-)Show website at https://www.thephilosophists.com (rss feed)Credits
    "Bike, Bell Ding, Single, 01-01.wav" by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk) of Freesound.orgMusic and cover artwork by © 2021 Declan McGrath, All Reserved

    • 28 min
    Ep 3 -- LP -- Corrupting The Youth (Philosophy For Children with Daniel McCrea)

    Ep 3 -- LP -- Corrupting The Youth (Philosophy For Children with Daniel McCrea)

    Well... Let's not quite call it corrupting. Let's call it teaching. And, in this episode, we are delighted to welcome Daniel McCrea as our special guest, who takes us on an exciting journey through the world of teaching philosophy to children.

    Main Talking Points
    Why children should care about philosophyHow philosophy helps children developGetting philosophy into the education cycle in Ireland and bringing it to a younger audienceHow philosophy can transform how teachers engage with their studentsThe Irish school curriculum, the junior cert and the leaving certPhilosophy and parentingThe upcoming "GADFLY" event, which Daniel created for Irish Philosophy educatorsWe cover a lot of philosophers and their ideas along the wayAbout Daniel McCrea
    Daniel is the creator of www.philosophyshortcourse.com, a FREE resources website for Irish philosophy teachers and the event "GADFLY".
    He holds a B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy and regularly teaches philosophy at Gonzaga College SJ secondary school in South Dublin. 
    He has trained in teaching philosophy with Marelle Rice, Peter Worley and Educate Together and facilitates public Philosophy events for "The Philosophers Hat" and "Socrates Cafe" 
    His mission is to make teaching philosophy the best job in Ireland.


    Save a Child From Malaria
    If you care about children beyond your borders, along with their carers,  please donate whatever you can afford to provide a life-saving mosquito net to someone who really needs it at http://www.againstmalaria.com/thephilosophists


    Follow the show on Twitter at @philosophistpod

    Other Links
    Daniel McCrea and his projects@DanielMccrea_ on Twitter Private FB group for Irish Philosophy TeachersGADFLY event (tickets)Resources site: www.philosophyshortcourse.comSimon Critchley QuoteGADFLY Competition TweetCommunitiesSocrates Cafe Philosopher's HatLearn more about the philosophy behind The Matrix in this Two Philosophers Drink Beer & Discuss Film podcast episodeSocially Awkward
    You can follow @thephilosophists on Instagram or on FacebookYou can follow Declan at @theirishpenguin; Simon's keeping a low profile :-)Just be glad we don't have a TikTok!Show website at https://www.thephilosophists.com (rss feed)Credits
    "Bike, Bell Ding, Single, 01-01.wav" by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk) of Freesound.orgMusic and artwork by © 2021 Declan McGrath, All Rights Reserved

    • 1 hr 28 min
    Ep 2 - Beyond Cockroach Ethics - Part 1 (Utilitarianism vs Deontology)

    Ep 2 - Beyond Cockroach Ethics - Part 1 (Utilitarianism vs Deontology)

    What can a cockroach teach us about ethics? Well, in this episode we attempt to find out as we talk our way through two of the most widely accepted ethical systems - Utilitarianism and Deontology. While scuttling around, we'll meet the great Immanuel Kant (well, not literally) and see how his ethical ideas can get you out of a sticky situation.

    Is morality a numbers game or just a bunch of rules? Decide for yourself after hearing us out. Just one thing to note - this is the first part of a mini-series on the main ethical models and we'll be back next time to cover Virtue ethics, which will complete the moral menu we have prepared for you.

    Main Talking Points
    What is Utilitarianism?What is Deontology?What was some of Kant's thinking on morality?Is inaction is a form of action and can it be immoral?If Mr Kant suitably convinces you to treat humans with the utmost dignity then we would greatly appreciate it if you could please donate whatever you can afford to provide a life-saving mosquito net to someone who really needs it at http://www.againstmalaria.com/thephilosophists
    Follow the show on Twitter at @philosophistpod

    Other Links
    An Irish Goodbye - As promised at the start of the episode, here is a way to make your exits as sharp as your wit!Deontology & KantBBC's "In Our Time" podcast with Melvyn Bragg has a wonderful episode on Kant's Copernican Revolution. Find out more about Kant, his ideas and his even some of his quirksThe Panpsycast Podcast really dive into Kantian Ethics (Part I) in a fun and accessible wayFor something shorter and more visual, The School Of Life's short animated overview of Immanuel Kant is a pretty good way to spend 8 minutes of your lifeUtilitarianismHere we go again, this time The Panpsycast Podcast pick apart Utilitarianism and give plenty of background contextIn just under 5 minutes, Julia Markovits packs just the right amount of info into this excellent illustrated Wireless Philosophy video on UtilitarianismWikipedia entry briefly covering some of the systems of ethics mentioned in this episode (this was in last month's show notes but we thought it useful to list again)Socially Awkward
    You can follow @thephilosophists on Instagram or on FacebookYou can follow Declan at @theirishpenguin; Simon's keeping a low profile :-)Just be glad we don't have a TikTok!Show website at https://www.thephilosophists.com (rss feed)Credits
    "Bike, Bell Ding, Single, 01-01.wav" by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk) of Freesound.orgIntro music and cover artwork by © 2021 Declan McGrath, All Rights Reserved

    • 27 min