Deep, meaningful conversations require active listeners. It’s obvious that part of what makes a good discussion is listening. But as it turns out, being an ethical listener requires effort. Krista Tippett joins us to share her insight into what makes a good listener. She's the host of a public radio show and podcast called On Being. She’s been on the radio for almost two decades, and in that time, she’s become one of the best interviewers on the air. And it’s not because she asks hard-hitting, clever questions or goads people into saying something controversial. It’s because she is so clearly present, and has so clearly cultivated a kind of listening superpower. We'll also hear an essay by the philosopher and ethicist Bob Fischer, who explores what it means to do this real work of being present for one another and for the causes we believe in. Continue reading
Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein introduced the world to archetypes we’re still familiar with: the mad scientist and his terrifying creation. But the novel is more than just a horror classic. It also asks questions about the ethics of scientific and technological innovation--questions that we still struggle with today. On this episode, we explore one of these questions: is it wrong for scientists and innovators to work or create in isolation? First, we introduce you to “sociability,” an important, behavior-shaping idea in the scientific community of the nineteenth century. Then, we discuss whether scientists and innovators working today have similar ethical obligations. We cover things like the importance of transparency in the ethics of scientific and technological innovation. We also explore the value of democratic oversight to the world of science and technology. Continue reading
Trans people are vulnerable to many types of harms. And unfortunately, some of these harms can come from their “allies”-- people who claim to want to help them. On today’s episode, Andy and Christiane talk to the philosopher Rachel McKinnon, who writes about allies and their relationship to the trans community. She tells us that one of the bad behaviors that allies can be guilty of is something called gaslighting. Rachel describes for us two of the major problems with gaslighting: it’s a particularly harmful form of epistemic injustice and it can lead to a type of post traumatic stress disorder. Continue reading
Ethics On My Mind is our special bonus series for quick discussions of timely ethics issues. Earlier this month, large groups of white supremacists held rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia that erupted in violence, killing one person and injuring at least 19 others. These rallies are just the latest manifestations of a growing white supremacist movement in the United States. It can be easy for well-meaning white people to try to distance themselves from the hateful actions of a small number of self-identified supremacists. But as we’ll hear from the philosopher Alison Bailey and women’s studies scholar Tamara Beauboeuf, white oppression can take many forms. A behavior known as "white talk" is just one of these forms of oppression. For this episode of Ethics on My Mind, we're re-releasing a segment about the behavior known as "white talk" from episode 6: The "Burden" of Whiteness. Continue reading
What is a layered landscape? How should we restore places with complex social and cultural legacies? Producer Christiane Wisehart traveled to Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge in Madison, Indiana to explore how the former military site was restored into a landscape that is now home to many endangered species. She unpacks the concept of "layered landscapes" with scholars Marion Hourdequin and David Havlick, editors of Restoring Layered Landscapes. This idea is helping to re-shape how restorationists ought to approach their work Continue reading
We've created a new bonus series called "Ethics On My Mind" for quick discussions of timely ethics issues. On this episode, host Andy Cullison explains why we should care about recent changes to net neutrality laws. Want to hear more from Andy about this issue? In this article, he outlines epistemic threats to democracy posed by the internet. Continue reading
Are protests productive? Should they be? And if they should be productive, what does that productivity look like? In part two of our ethics of protest series, we interview Tabitha St. Bernard, the youth and family coordinator for the Women's March. We also hear from Derek Ford, a DePauw professor and long-time protest organizer. Continue reading
Happy Earth Month! Many people think of climate change as something that will affect the world equally sometime in the distant future. But that's not true. Some communities are already experiencing the effects. Join special guest host Jen Everett and producers Christiane Wisehart and Sandra Bertin as we learn how to challenge our thinking about the environment with scholar Kyle Whyte. Continue reading
On this episode, producer Sandra Bertin tells the story of the Freeman Field Mutiny, a protest that led to the desegregation of the United States military. Even though the men who participated in the protest were peaceful and nonviolent, they were still criticized for their methods of protest. This got us thinking, is it ever okay to criticize a protester's methods? Or should we be focusing on something else? Continue reading
What are achievements and how should we think about them? How should we talk about them? Philosopher Gwen Bradford's work on the nature of achievement inspired us to talk about the ethics of naming achievements for other people. Can you tell someone they have achieved something if they don't think they have? What do you think? Send us a comment or a voice memo to: Follow us on Twitter @ExaminingEthics. You can also find us on Facebook. Show Notes: Continue reading
Should society always follow the wishes of the dead? Listen to friend of the podcast Barry Lam dissect this question in the first episode of his new podcast, Hi Phi Nation. We'll be back with regularly scheduled programming on February 22nd, 2017. Continue reading
A recent trip to the Creation Museum caused producer Sandra Bertin to be very skeptical of, well, skepticism. Sandra returned to the studio to interrogate the idea of skepticism with host of the show Andy Cullison and our other producer, Christiane Wisehart. We turn skepticism inside out and upside down with philosopher Barry Lam and geologist Jeane Pope. Do you have thoughts about skepticism? Send us a comment or a voice memo to: Continue reading
This month, we bring you our New Year's resolutions. But we're not talking about things like eating less sugar--we're discussing our ethics-related resolutions. Listen in as we talk about implicit bias prevention walls, effective altruism and fast fashion. And hey--we'd love to hear what your New Year's resolutions are. Send a voice memo recording of your resolutions to us at Continue reading
Election day is coming up very soon, so we thought we'd give you all some things to think about as you head to the polls (or if you're thinking about abstaining). Our producer Sandra Bertin shares some reporting she did on the ethics of voting. Listen in with our other producer Christiane Wisehart to hear the voices of experts and everyday people discussing their thoughts on how to vote. We managed to get through the entire episode without even mentioning who you should vote for! Continue reading



A lot of people wouldn’t guess that the first women’s prison in the nation was built in Indiana in 1873. Though it has moved locations and changed names, it is still open and imprisoning women. Its current name is the Indiana Women’s Prison. We talked to two researchers who uncovered stories about the early history of this prison, stories that call the official textbook account into question. But this isn't just the story of the first women’s prison in the nation, it’s also the tale of the journey of the two researchers who exposed the prison’s dark beginnings. Continue reading
On today’s episode, we have one major question for philosopher Seth Lazar: is it ever acceptable to kill civilians in war? As with all good questions in philosophy, it turned out to be a lot more complicated than we initially thought. Lazar wrote Sparing Civilians, out now from Oxford University Press. He lays out what it takes for a civilian or soldier to be considered a threat, what it takes for someone be responsible for that threat, and how to weigh risking harm to other people. Then later in the show, host Andy Cullison sits down with producers Sandra Bertin and Christiane Wisehart to discuss what responsibility civilians in the United States have for foreign wars. What do you think? Send us a voice memo to: Or leave a voicemail: 765-658-5857. We might feature your comment on a future episode! Continue reading
Producers Sandra and Christiane want to hear your opinions on voting! Not who you are voting for...but how you think about voting. Do you think everyone should vote? Do you think people should vote in their own self interest? What's the right way to protest something you don't like about the election process? Call 765-658-5014 and leave a 1-3 minute voicemail with your thoughts on voting, your name, and your email to contact you with.  Your voicemail could be featured on an upcoming episode!


What does the idea of "Hoosier Hospitality" really mean? In this month's episode, we tell the story of a group of hospitable Hoosiers who--in the face of tremendous wartime hysteria--helped Japanese American students escape West Coast internment camps and resettle in Indiana during World War II. This story inspired our discussion about courage and the ethics of state-determined borders. This episode was made in partnership with Indiana Humanities. This episode is an officially endorsed Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project. Continue reading
Poet Tarfia Faizullah joins us to discuss her new book, Seam. Tarfia wrote Seam after winning a Fulbright grant to travel to Bangladesh to interview women who were sexually assaulted during the 1971 war with Pakistan. Friend of the podcast and poet Joe Heithaus interviews Tarfia. Continue reading


This is a story of a failed transportation project that bankrupted the state of Indiana... 200 years ago. We uncover the human suffering this canal system causes and the moral questions it raises. We also discuss questions like: when is it morally permissible to go into debt to fund a big project? When is it OK to tax? This episode was made in partnership with Indiana Humanities. This episode is an officially endorsed Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project.   Continue reading
We're going on a break this month and the month of May in order to work on a very special project. We've partnered with Indiana Humanities to create a special three-episode miniseries in which we will explore questions in ethics that have been raised by some fascinating moments in Indiana history. We'll reveal the connections between Indiana's failed canal building projects and the ethics of legislation. We'll hear from two experts on the troubling history of the Indiana Women's Prison. We'll explore issues of immigration and refugees in Indiana. If you're not listening in Indiana (and we know a lot of you are not!), we promise this will still be worth your time. We're so excited about the stories we've been gathering, and we hope you'll join us for the first episode of Season Three on Wednesday, June 29. Hot dog!
Welcome to the second episode in our “Ethics in Focus” series. These bonus episodes get right to the point for people with backgrounds in ethics or philosophy. There are no explanations, just the full-length interviews with some of our expert guests. Regularly scheduled episodes of Examining Ethics will still be released at the end of every month. But every once and a while, keep an eye out for one of these “Ethics in Focus” interviews. Today's edition of "Ethics in Focus" features our host Andy Cullison's conversation with David Benatar and David Wasserman, authors of Debating Procreation: Is It Wrong to Reproduce? out now from Oxford University Press. Continue reading
When thinking about whether or not to become a parent, there is a lot more at stake than just deciding when you're ready or if you even want to. But what are the questions we should be asking ourselves when we think about parenting? In this episode, we discuss the ethics of having children and more with Samantha Brennan and Sarah Hannan, the editors of Permissible Progeny: The Morality of Procreation and Parenting, out now from Oxford University Press. Continue reading
Welcome to a new series called “Ethics in Focus.” These bonus episodes get right to the point for people with backgrounds in ethics or philosophy. There are no explanations, just the full-length interviews with some of our expert guests. Regularly scheduled episodes of Examining Ethics will still be released at the end of every month. But every once and a while, keep an eye out for one of these “Ethics in Focus” interviews. Today's edition of "Ethics in Focus" features our host Andy Cullison's conversation with Professor Caspar Hare, author of The Limits of Kindness out now from Oxford University Press. Hare is a professor of philosophy at MIT, and his work focuses on ethics, practical rationality, and metaphysics. His book The Limits of Kindness addresses questions in moral philosophy by starting with an uncontroversial principle, that being moral “involves wanting particular other people to be better off.” Continue reading
Comedian, actress and tap dancer, Maysoon Zayid joins us to discuss the ethics of comedy, discrimination, and General Hospital. We discuss questions like, "Is it ever okay to make fun of someone?" and "Should you be allowed to make fun of Donald Trump's hair?" Join us as Maysoon answers these questions and more. Continue reading
Ever wonder what role white people should people play in fighting against racism? The legendary feminist scholar and racial justice activist Peggy McIntosh has some ideas. Maybe you have also wondered, "why does it always feel like white people avoid the topic of race?" To answer this question, we bring on the philosopher Alison Bailey to discuss a phenomenon known as "white talk." Join us on a journey through whiteness in the United States in which we explore a Crayola crayon factory, police stations in Massachusetts, and Donald Trump claiming to be "the least racist person you will ever meet." What do you think? Send us a voice memo to: Or leave a voicemail: 765-658-5857. We might feature your comment on a future episode! Continue reading
Summary: In this episode, we tackle the question, "Can Animals Be Moral"? Our host, Andy Cullison interviews philosopher Mark Rowlands to get his perspective. Join us on the journey from animal videos on YouTube to metaphors that liken humans to mindless corks bobbing on a sea. We will leave you with not only questions regarding the morality of animals but also, what should you do if they are moral? Continue reading
Summary: In this episode, our host Andy Cullison interviews Lori Gruen and Martin Wilkinson. As a group or nation, we like to own pets and keep people in certain kinds of jails, but Lori Gruen will explain to us why she thinks our current practices might be problematic as they relate to the autonomy and dignity of individuals (including animals) in captivity. There is a worldwide organ shortage. As a group, we have an interest in procuring organs of the recently dead. Martin Wilkinson will explain to us how difficult it is to balance that need against individual rights (even after they’re dead). Continue reading
Summary: In this episode, our host Andy Cullison joins the cultural historian Chris Hager to discuss the phrase, "the right side of history." When did we start using this phrase? When is it most often used? Is it legitimate reason to change one's mind about an issue? Continue reading
Summary: In this episode we hear from producers Sandra and Christiane about their voices. Our host Andy interviews Rebecca Gordon about her new book Mainstreaming Torture, and Robin Zheng discusses her work on racialized sexual preferences. Continue reading