philosophy talk

Philosophy Talk asks: When should you trust your gut?

Dec 12, 2014

We may think of ourselves as rational decision-makers, but we often base even high-stakes decisions on intuitions or "gut feelings" rather than explicit reasoning. Decisions based on intuition are not highly esteemed in business, politics, or medicine – which may lead decision-makers to construct elaborate post facto rationalizations to explain their intuitive choices. What place should intuitions have in important decision-making? Is there a role for expertise in developing reliable gut-feelings?

Philosophy Talk asks what "Machiavellian" really means

Sep 19, 2014

Niccolò Machiavelli is best known for arguing that people in power should use deception, force, and manipulation if those tactics are necessary to achieve their ends. In an age of unscrupulous politics and ruthless business practice, shouldn't we be encouraging a move away from Machiavellian thinking? Then again, are we even sure that those "Machiavellian" views were really Machiavelli's? If not, what did he really think, and what might we learn from him?

How reliable are our Intuitions?

Aug 29, 2014

Turns out that Galileo was right and Aristotle was wrong: in a vacuum, a feather and a bowling ball will fall from a tall building at exactly the same speed. This is not to say that Aristotle wasn’t a brilliant thinker; empirical evidence shows he just had a wrong intuition. Even the most powerful intuitions we have can be misleading. Why is it, then, that many philosophers treat them as crucial when arguing for a conclusion? Can intuitions lead us to important truths about the world, or do they merely teach us about ourselves?

Philosophy Talk surveys the New Surveillance Society

Jul 24, 2014

Recent revelations confirm what many already suspected: not only is Big Brother watching you, he is also potentially reading your emails, listening to your phone calls, mapping your personal networks, and tracking your every move. While many see whistleblowers as heroes, others see them as criminals who ought to be severely punished. So, how should we treat whistleblowers who break the law for moral or political ends? How do we adjudicate between national or corporate security and individual rights?

Philosophy Talk is back at The Marsh Theater in Berkeley on Sunday April 13 for the next two live recordings in our 2013-14 season.