It’s Banned Books Week, and so on today’s show, we’re looking at some of the unquestioned assumptions that tend to go hand-in-hand with the idea of banned books. A lot of people assume that book challengers are just a bunch of ignorant prudes, or that banning books really isn’t a problem–it’s just a marketing ploy trumped up by the American Library Association. However, after talking to Emily J. Knox, a professor of information science and an expert on censorship and information ethics, we realized this issue is a lot more complicated than it looks on the surface. Let us know what you think of today’s show. Did we help shift the way you think about banning books? Have you ever challenged or defended a library book? Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your first name and where you’re from. Or, if you’re shy about recording your voice, send us an email with your thoughts and we’ll read it.
In late 2017, women’s stories of sexual assault, abuse and harassment took the center stage on social media with the hashtag MeToo. But this isn’t the first time people have shared these stories–tales of these experiences have been around for hundreds of years. The MeToo movement itself has been around since 2006. But last fall, the MeToo hashtag went so viral that mainstream media couldn’t ignore it. Today’s guest, the philosopher and the Prindle Institute’s Schaenen scholar Emily McWilliams, explains the connections between the MeToo movement and the philosophical concept known as hermeneutical injustice. Examining Ethics producers Eleanor Price and Christiane Wisehart join Emily for a discussion of the ways movements like MeToo might address the problem of epistemic injustice around sexual violence and harassment.
Can you see goodness with your eyes or feel immorality in your heart? The philosopher Preston Werner thinks so. He defends an idea called moral perception, which means that just like you are able to see or feel things like the color of an orange or the softness of a sweater, you’re also able to perceive, or feel, morality. Some philosophers argue that perceiving morality is a key part of how we make moral judgments about situations. There are a lot of people who are skeptical of this idea. And as you’ll hear in this conversation with Preston Werner, our producer Christiane Wisehart also needs some convincing to believe that moral perception might be true. Preston explains what moral perception is, and also explains why it’s an idea worth defending.
In Episode 26, producer Christiane Wisehart spoke to philosopher Myisha Cherry about her work on forgiveness and moral exemplars (people who exemplify excellent forgiveness practices — for better or for worse). They had a great conversation, so much so that producer Eleanor Price put together this bonus episode to showcase more of Myisha’s wisdom. Myisha explains who might have stake in someone’s forgiveness, and whether a person should ask for forgiveness. Continue reading
Forgiveness is a big, complicated topic. We often see stories about forgiveness play out in the media, and it probably plays a large role in our personal lives as well. That’s why we wanted to talk about it with philosopher and host of the UnMute Podcast, Myisha Cherry, who’s put a lot of thought into the ethics of forgiveness. On today’s show you’ll hear about a fascinating facet of her work: the ethics of convincing victims–particularly victims who are marginalized–to forgive. When people try to persuade victims to forgive, they often resort to using “moral exemplars of forgiveness” or models of forgiveness like Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela. Myisha claims that when people try to persuade victims to forgive, using moral exemplars alone to convince them is wrong.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?