Portland State University professor of philosophy Maurice Hamington explains the basics of care ethics on today’s episode of Examining Ethics.

Is it possible to be too good? Is it possible that thinking about morality could cause clinical levels of emotional and mental distress? On today’s show (hi, it’s been a while!), Christiane talks to two…

We often take for granted the active process of learning about ethics and morality, so today’s show focuses on the source of ethics education: the educators themselves. We hear from two superstar teachers: Chris Robichaud is a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School with an interest in creating moral simulations for education, and Thomas Wartenberg is the creator of the Teaching Children Philosophy program and website. Both share their ideas on learning philosophy and ethics, fiction, and more.

Contact us at examiningethics@gmail.com.

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For the episode’s transcript, click here.


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To contact us, email examiningethics@gmail.com.

We often discuss individual morality and ethics on the show–how people should or should not behave on an interpersonal level. But what about groups of people? How should they make sense of their competing value systems? On this month’s episode, we’re talking to Joshua Greene, who has an idea about how groups–what he calls modern tribes–should get along. He thinks people should develop something he calls a metamorality. And for him, the best contender for this metamorality is utilitarianism. He also describes how our brains make moral decisions–and why this matters when we’re thinking about morality amongst groups of people.

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If a professor told you about pushback from their students, you might assume that their students are complaining about having too much homework, or that the assigned reading is boring. The philosopher Alison Bailey says that she often encounters a different, and much more problematic, form of resistance in her classroom. She calls it “epistemic pushback” and explains that students often do it without even noticing. On today’s episode, we discuss the phenomenon of “privilege protective epistemic pushback.” It’s a form of resistance in which students who are members of dominant groups derail classroom conversations that make them uncomfortable into an “epistemic home turf” where they feel more comfortable. Alison Bailey explains exactly what epistemic pushback is, and discusses the ways it slows down classroom conversations.

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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.

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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 →

We’re talking about the culture and quirks of the world of moral philosophy on this episode. Specifically, we’re asking questions about the parts of the field of ethics and philosophy that confuse us the most. First, independent producer Sandra Bertin roams the streets of New York City, looking for people who can correctly define moral philosophy jargon. Then, producer Christiane Wisehart sits down with our resident ethics expert Andy Cullison and another ethicist, Emily McWilliams, to ask them some questions she’s always had about the world of ethics and philosophy.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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: examiningethics@gmail.com.

Follow us on Twitter @ExaminingEthics. You can also find us on Facebook.

Show Notes:

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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.

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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!

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.

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Indiana Bicentennial LogoIBC Legacy Project Seal

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.


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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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: examiningethics@gmail.com. Or leave a voicemail: 765-658-5857. We might feature your comment on a future episode!

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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).

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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?

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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 →