SuchThatCast - Behind the Philosophy
SuchThatCast is dedicated to getting to know some of the most influential philosophers (broadly speaking) of today. It seeks to provide an alternative to most other philosophy podcasts (many of which are excellent), by taking the form of a face-to-face conversation (I will never do a phone/skype interview) where the guest is free (and encouraged) to share information about themselves that may not be appropriate in other forums: this includes stories about their unique and often unconventional career paths, seminal events and figures in their lives, undeveloped ideas and generally whatever they are passionate about.








January 2012
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Michael Boylan is the John J. McDonnell jr chair in Ethics, and professor and chair of the philosophy department at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. In addition to being a poet and novelist, he has written more than 100 published articles and 25 books primarily in ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of science, and the intersection of philosophy and literature. He was a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington DC policy think tank from 2007-2009 and is the general editor of a series of trade books on public philosophy with Basil Blackwell Publishers and another series of books with Prentice Hall as well as being the ethics editor for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Boylan was actually the first guest that I had never met before, so I had no idea  how the interview would go – nor what kind of person Boylan was. There was no need for worry, though, as Boylan turned out to be engaged, enthusiastic and inspiring – on top of being a very nice guy. We had a great conversation, mostly centred around the relationship between philosophy and literature, (ancient) philosophy of biology, the good life and several other topics covered in Boylan’s impressive oeuvre.

Direct download: SuchThatCast_2012_6_Boylan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06pm CET

Peter Asaro is Assistant Professor at the School of Media Studies in the New School for Public Engagement, New York. His work examines the interfaces between social relations, human minds and bodies, artificial intelligence and robotics, and digital media. His current research focuses on the social, cultural, political, legal and ethical dimensions of military robotics and UAV drones, from a perspective that combines media theory with science and technology studies. Although dealing with topics similar to previous guests Noel Sharkey and Wendell Wallach, Asaro comes at it from a very different perspective – combining a range of different academic disciplines and with an eye to the interaction between technology and complex social networks. He has also been very creative in using alternative outlets for his research, including the movie Love Machine, featuring Daniel Dennett, Rodney Brooks, Hubert Dreyfus and a host of other leading philosophers. We spend most of the episode talking about the dramatic and subtle effects of robotics, when it comes the love, war and labour. Asaro also sheds light on much early work in cybernetics, as well as the notion of participatory design

Direct download: SuchThatCast_2012_5_Asaro.mp3
Category:SuchThatCast -- posted at: 4:24pm CET

Noel Sharkey is Professor of A.I. and Robotics, and Professor of Public Engagement at the University of Sheffield, but some of you may know him as the expert on the BBC series Robot Wars and Techno Games. We spend most of the episode talking about the dangers of autonomous robots in the battlefield, but we also get a glimpse into Noel’s multifaceted and unconventional background. The conviction, honesty and sense of urgency Noel brings to the table is important and contagious, so I hope it’ll prove inspiring to many of you as well.

Direct download: SuchThatCast_2012_4_Sharkey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00pm CET

SuchThatCast goes mobile in the third episode, as I interview J.D. Trout on the appr. 2 hour train ride between Enschede and Schiphol airport. Trout is Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at Loyola University Chicago. I was a little concerned whether an interview on the train would work out, but although editing was a pain with all the background noise and announcement interruptions, the episode turned out to contain everything I want out of this podcast: a fascinating and inspiring background story, deeply interesting and more or less unpublished philosophical ideas, a flowing conversation, and the occasional chuckle – all in the voice of an opera singer. Trout talks about a past filled with challenging circumstances and hard work as far removed from philosophy as possible, the importance of psychological research for policy making, the remarkably interesting field of speech recognition, the contingency of scientific progress as exemplified by corpuscularism and alchemy, and a host of other interesting topics. I hope you’ll like this conversation as much as I did.

Direct download: SuchThatCast_2012_3_Trout.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CET

In this second episode, I talk to Wendell Wallach, who is a consultant, ethicist, and scholar at Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. Among many other things, Wendell co-authored (with Colin Allen) the influential Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong (Oxford University Press 2009), which maps the new field of machine ethics. Wallach talks about his extraordinary career, from being a spiritual guru in the 1960s to becoming one of today’s leading authorities on machine ethics. He also discusses his involvement in the transhumanist society, as well as his current project of developing a ‘silent ethics’, grounded in meditation practices.

Direct download: SuchThatCast_2012_2_Wallach.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am CET

In this episode, Floridi takes the opportunity to reveal a driving force behind his philosophy that has never been publicly announced before. For anyone with some knowledge of Floridi’s philosophy, this will come as a huge surprise, and it will change how you perceive his theories from now on. We also discuss the state of computer and information ethics as a field, and how philosophy and academia needs to change radically in order to stay relevant and timely. We also discuss Kant’s noumenon, especially the possibility to get a glimpse of it — and what that ‘it’ may signify, which is connected to the aforementioned revelation and its importance to ethics. We conclude by looking at what lies ahead for Floridi and a philosophical system that is increasingly taking on Germanic proportions.

Direct download: 01_Episode_1__Luciano_Floridi.mp3
Category:SuchThatCast -- posted at: 4:00am CET