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Courtesy of Philosophy Bites/Stuart Franklin

Philosophy Bites Podcast

Top philosophers offer a surprising amount of insight in very little time

By Chantal Braganza

What is assisted dying? Should everyone have the right to have a baby? What’s the difference between the pleasure one gets from eating chocolate and the pleasure taken in looking back on a life well lived?

Philosophy Bites tries to answer these questions in about 15 minutes or less — a lofty goal for such lofty topics. But the way co-creators David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton go about this is useful to those at any point on the philosophy spectrum, from seasoned savant to someone who mistakes the name Foucault for a 1980s fashion designer.  

A topic is chosen, a question asked, and top philosophers from around the world offer a surprising amount of insight in very little time. Take, for example, Warburton’s recent interview with controversial bioethicist Julian Savulescu. With a simple question — should people base their morals on reactions of disgust? — and a few minutes of spare time, the listener gets involved in a balanced discussion of human evolution, genetics, cannibalism and cloning, followed by a chance to consider his or her own answer.

Edmonds’s day job as a documentary producer for BBC Radio and Warburton’s position as an Open University philosophy lecturer ensure the programs are professionally produced, relevant and smart. Warburton counters guests’ arguments with pointed questions and thoughtful insights. These encounters are more like conversations than interviews. And, thankfully, they avoid the rhetorical jargon that peppers philosophy textbooks.

Play an episode to your high school-aged children or grandchildren; they’ll probably get more out of it than their teacher’s intro to Socrates. Chances are, you will too.

Author's photo
Chantal Braganza is a writer and editor in Toronto. Her blog posts will appear every second Friday of the month.
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