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Brain in a Vat

178 EpisodesProduced by Brain in a VatWebsite

Thought experiments and conversations with philosophers. Hosted by Dr Jason Werbeloff and Mark Oppenheimer.

178 Episodes | 2020 - 2023

Freedom | Ernst Roets and Martin Van Staaden

November 26th, 2023


Does the State protect or curtail freedom? Are communities more important than individuals? Should freedom be constrained by virtue?

The Philosophy of Black Mirror's White Bear | Rebecca Tuvel

November 19th, 2023


Black Mirror's episode, White Bear, is full of interesting philosophical problems. Are you still responsible for a crime you committed even if you've …

Why you should stop eating meat | Mylan Engel

November 12th, 2023


Do your current moral values require you to stop eating meat? Will going vegan actually prevent animal cruelty? Is the vegan movement a force for good?

David Benatar on the Israel Palestine Conflict

November 6th, 2023


Are Jews entitled to their own homeland?  Is the Israeli response to the massacre of civilians perpetrated by Hammas on October 7th justified? Should …

The Ethics of Killing in War | Jeff McMahan (Rebroadcast)

October 29th, 2023


This older conversation about war sheds light on the current conflict in Israel and Gaza. Are soldiers fighting for the wrong side ever justified in …

Pornography and Exploitation | Holly Lawford-Smith

October 23rd, 2023


Are women generally exploited in pornography? Even in cases where women report that their pornography career is empowering, have they nevertheless been degraded? And if heterosexual pornography undermines women’s …

Organ Markets | James Stacey Taylor

October 15th, 2023


Should we be allowed to sell our organs on the open market?  Would the poor be exploited under such a system? And does organ donation impose an …

Is Monogamy Wrong? | Harry Chalmers

October 8th, 2023


Is the restriction on having additional sexual or romantic partners similar to the restriction on having additional friends? Should you allow your …

The Philosophy of Infinity Pool | Travis Timmerman

October 1st, 2023


Does the clone of a murderer deserve to be punished? Is the clone with the murderer’s memories and dispositions guilty of the murder? And has justice been served if the clone is punished, even if the original murderer …

Oppenheimers on Barbenheimer

September 24th, 2023


Was dropping the bomb on Hiroshima justified? Is Ken the real star of Barbie? Three Oppenheimers weigh in on the film event of the year. Presenters: Mark Oppenheimer and Jason Werbeloff Editor and Producer: Jimmy …

Stephen Kershnar on Cultural Appropriation

September 17th, 2023


Is it permissible for members of one group to appropriate the cultural practices of another? Is there anything wrong with cultural appropriation at …

Sex work or prostitution? | Lori Watson

September 10th, 2023


Is sex work actually work? Is prostitution always a form of exploitation? And show we legalize or decriminalize prostitution?

The Islam-Atheism Debate: Behind the Curtain

September 3rd, 2023


Recently, Eron Fasser and Mark Oppenheimer debated Hamza Tzortzis and Mohammed Hijab on whether Atheism or is Islam more rational. This episode discusses the arguments made and strategies employed by both sides. Were …

Death | Travis Timmerman

August 27th, 2023


Would it be better to live forever than to die? Is the goodness or badness of death dependent on the future quality of our lives? Is death so bad …

Luck and Knowledge | Mylan Engel

August 20th, 2023


What is knowledge? Does a justified true belief count as knowledge? And is our knowledge lucky?

Who was Derek Parfit? | David Edmonds

August 13th, 2023


Parfit altered the landscape of the philosophy of identity. We speak to David Edmonds about his recently released biography on this influential philosopher, and ask: what made Parfit the man he was?

Is Islam more rational than Atheism? | Eron Fasser, Mohammed Hijab, Mark Oppenheimer, Hamza Tzortzis

August 6th, 2023


A debate held at the University of Johannesburg. Does God Exist? How can something come from nothing? Are God's commands moral?

Imagine There’s No Gender | Holly Lawford-Smith (with Raja Halwani)

July 30th, 2023


Would the world be better if we didn’t recognize genders?

In such a world, there would be males and females, but nothing associated with what it …

Hate Speech | Mark Oppenheimer (Live at St Andrews)

July 23rd, 2023


Mark Oppenheimer presents a live seminar at St Andrews. The talk features footage from a prominent hate speech trial that Mark appeared in as a lawyer. What is hate speech? What is the value of free speech? Do some …

What is a woman? | Alex Byrne

July 16th, 2023


Oxford University Press refused to publish Alex Byrne's book on gender. We discuss whether women are adult human females and whether sex is the same …

Is Grieving Good for You? | Michael Cholbi

July 9th, 2023


Experiencing grief at the death of a person we love or who matters to us―as universal as it is painful―is central to the human condition. In Grief, …

The Supreme Court Ban on Affirmative Action | David Benatar

July 2nd, 2023


Should we implement affirmative action when determining which students are admitted to universities? Should affirmative action be based on race or …

Self-driving Cars and the Apocalypse | Ryan Jenkins (with Stephen Kershnar)

June 25th, 2023


As technology improves, ethical problems deepen too. Flying cars and ChatGPT are convenient, but may benefit some at the cost of harming others. Is …

Animal Ethics | Thad Metz

June 18th, 2023


Do we have ethical obligations to all animals or only cute and majestic ones? Is factory farming worse than hunting? We answered these questions and more at a live event hosted by The Inside Out Center for the Arts. 

Will there be peace in the middle east? | Raja Halwani

June 11th, 2023


Is a two state solution desirable to resolve the Arab Israeli conflict? Does Israel have the right to be a Jewish state? Do other states have an …

Friendship is Magic | Samuel Kimbriel

June 4th, 2023


Are human beings social creatures? Do social groups have an important role to play in political life? Can hermits lead meaningful lives?

Anonymous Publishing | Ivar Hardman

May 28th, 2023


Are some ideas too controversial to publish in your own name? Is it cowardly to use a pseudonym?  Does the journal for controversial ideas ghettoize important topics?

Thought Experiments | Spencer Case

May 21st, 2023


Presenters: Mark Oppenheimer and Jason Werbeloff Editor and Producer: Jimmy Mullen and Porter Kaufman Brain in a Vat bookshop (Shopify):

Conserving Monuments | Dan Demetriou

May 14th, 2023


Should we preserve monuments, even if they offend us? Do we have a right to call for monuments to be removed in other countries? Does Ghengis Khan …

Why Americans Don't Owe Veterans Gratitude | Stephen Kershnar (with Spencer Case)

May 7th, 2023


Traditionally, we celebrate American soldiers with strong displays of gratitude, including national holidays and monuments. But is this …

Procreative Ethics | Rivka Weinberg

April 30th, 2023


Is it wrong to bring new life into the world? Is adopting a child a moral obligation? Is parenting meaningful? 

Anti-Semitism | Mark Oppenheimer

April 23rd, 2023


What do anti-semites and ultra orthodox Jews have in common? How did the ivy league discriminate against Jews? Is America still a safe haven for …

Ultimate Meaning | Rivka Weinberg

April 16th, 2023


Is it possible for us to lead meaningful lives? Is there an ultimate point to our existence? Can we enrich our lives with the pursuit of love, …

Dystopian Technology | Ryan Jenkins, guest host Stephen Kershnar

April 9th, 2023


Will technology improve or worsen our lives? And should social media and AI be used to prevent hurtful speech?

Dark humor and censorship | Connor Kianpour, guest host Stephen Kershnar

April 2nd, 2023


Why do we laugh at some jokes but not at others? Is dark humor always funnier? Should some comedians be censored?

David Benatar on Affirmative Action

March 26th, 2023


Should we implement affirmative action when determining which students are admitted to universities? Should affirmative action be based on race or …

Holocaust Responsibility | Spencer Case

March 19th, 2023


Were indoctrinated or brainwashed Nazi soldiers morally responsible for their actions? Were they responsible for their repugnant beliefs? And were …

Parental Licensing | Connor Kianpour

March 12th, 2023


Should you be required to get a parental license from the State before you can raise your own children? Do the wishes of parents matter at all – or …

Amnesia and Split Identity | Jacob Derin

March 5th, 2023


Should you fear future pain even if your future self will not remember who you are now? If an identical copy of you is created, would you survive …

Is AI art unfair to artists? | James Helps

February 26th, 2023


In a world where machines can seemingly generate art instantly, and often better than humans can, should we feel sorry for artists? But is AI …

The Ethics of Pet Ownership | Cheryl Abbate

February 19th, 2023


How do we weigh the needs of cats to roam freely, with the millions of birds they kill each year? What duties do we owe our pets? And are some animals more valuable than others?

Conversations about Philosophy | Brain in a Vat

February 12th, 2023


Buy the books on Amazon:

What are your favorite episodes of Brain in a Vat? We've taken ours and made them into books. With special forewords from leading philosophers and exclusive …

Stephen Kershnar on the Impossibility of Responsibility

February 5th, 2023


Kershnar presents a dilemma: we’re responsible for our decisions because they’re caused by our psychology. But do we choose our psychology? If we do, …

End of the Year Special: A Look Back

December 18th, 2022


Mark and Jason join their producer in this retrospective season finale.  

Presenters: Mark Oppenheimer and Jason Werbeloff 

Editor and Producer: …

David Benatar: The Meaning of Life [Remastered]

December 11th, 2022


What does it all mean? If we live on a pail blue dot in a vast and uncaring universe can our lives have cosmic meaning? Is it better never to have been born?

Presenters: Mark Oppenheimer and Jason Werbeloff 

Editor and …

The Right to Sex | Raja Halwani

December 4th, 2022


Do we have a right to sex, and is there an obligation to sexually fulfill the disabled? Should sex work be not only legal, but obligatory?  

Lionel Shriver on Abominations

November 27th, 2022


Should we remove offensive monuments at the cost of erasing history? Is there an unacceptable cost to open borders? And what would a just tax system …

We Should Be More Pragmatic about Ethics | Andrew Sepielli

November 20th, 2022


Are moral facts baked into reality, the way facts about socks or rocks are? Or should we think about morality in a more pragmatic way: that it …

Do the guilty deserve punishment? | John Martin Fischer

November 13th, 2022


Why should we punish the guilty? Is it because they’ve done something wrong, to remove them from society, or to dissuade others from wrongdoing?

African Ethics: A Superior Moral Framework? | Thaddeus Metz

November 6th, 2022


Utilitarians and Kantians struggle to account for the care we should provide loved ones over strangers.  

Can Ubuntu, or African Ethics, provide a …

Putnam on the Brain in a Vat | David Macarthur

October 30th, 2022


Could we be systematically mistaken about the world around us? Would we be wrong about everything if we turned out to be a brain in a vat, a mind …

Hillary Putnam on Morality | Mario de Caro

October 23rd, 2022


Is lying ever justified? Is it permissible to kill one innocent person to save many others? Learn more about the views of one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th Century.

Presenters: Mark Oppenheimer and Jason …

Using AI to Fight Crime | David Boonin

October 16th, 2022


Is racial profiling always wrong, even if used by an AI to decrease crime? Should we use AI to judge criminal cases,  recommend sentences for the …

Freedom of the Press | Toby Young

October 9th, 2022


Do reporters have special moral obligations? Is it ever justified for governments to shut down newspapers? Should private companies like Paypal be …

Why it's okay to eat meat - or is it? | Dan Shahar

October 2nd, 2022


Dan Shahar defends the view that eating meat is permissible, even though meat farming is not. Is this a coherent position?  

Presenters: Mark …

Is Your Gender Up to You? | Shaun Stanley

September 26th, 2022


Is gender a social construct? Is gender distinct from sex? And can you be wrong in your beliefs about your own gender?

Presenters: Mark Oppenheimer …

The Supreme Court and Abortion | Brian Leiter

September 18th, 2022


Should Judges decide if and when women are entitled to abort their pregnancies? Should this choice be left up to congress? If abortion is immoral, …

Martha Nussbaum on Disgust

September 11th, 2022


What exactly makes us feel disgusted? Is disgust for a person or group ever justified? And is disgust useful, or should we try to eliminate it?

Should we silence defectors? | Connor Kianpour

September 4th, 2022


Do defectors generally do something wrong when they contradict their group's values or beliefs? And is it permissible for the group to silence them, especially if it's a minority group?

Presenters: Mark Oppenheimer and …

Trans Sports | Jon Pike

August 28th, 2022


Are transathletes a minority group that warrant special protection?  Is the purpose of sport to be inclusive or fair? Should the Olympics exclude the …

The Problem with Democracy | Jason Brennan

August 21st, 2022


If most voters are misinformed, is democracy legitimate? What sort of voting system should we have in its place? And should some votes count more …

Immortality | John Martin Fischer

August 14th, 2022


Is immortality a blessing or a curse? Would eternal life be boring, meaningless, and amoral?

Presenters: Mark Oppenheimer and Jason Werbeloff 

Editor …

Is Hate Speech Free Speech? | Nadine Strossen

August 7th, 2022


Why is free speech valuable? Should there be any limits on what we are allowed to say? Should we tolerate words that are hateful?

Hosted by Mark …

Science and The Big Questions | Alexander Arnold

July 31st, 2022


How do scientists and philosophers work together to make progress on the nature of the cosmos, the meaning of life, and what it means to flourish? The John Templeton Foundation funds work on the intersection of …

Music and Philosophy | Mark Linsenmayer

July 24th, 2022


Can music be objectively good (or bad)? How should we understand fundamental disagreement about preferences and values? And should philosophical …

Effective Altruism | Theron Pummer

July 17th, 2022


Are we obligated to save strangers? Does it matter whether those strangers are in different countries or our in own? And even if we are not obligated, have we done something wrong if we help but not in the most …

The Philosophy of Apology | Jeff Helmreich

July 10th, 2022


What makes a good apology? Are we ever obligated to apologize even though we did nothing wrong? And how should we deal with apologies in this highly …

The Philosophy of Everything Everywhere All at Once | Taylor Cyr

July 3rd, 2022


Everything Everywhere All at Once is a magnificent mess. The film raises questions around the meaning of life, the nature of the multiverse, and how …

Lionel Shriver on Should We Stay or Should We Go

June 26th, 2022


When is death preferable to living?  Are there fates worse than death? And what sort of future society should we build?

Lionel Shriver discusses her …

The Philosophy of Severance | Travis Timmerman

June 19th, 2022


Ben Stiller's superb series, Severance, raises fascinating questions about the nature of personal identity. Are we minds or brains? Is it possible for two persons to inhabit the same body? And can a person survive gaps …

The Ethics of Killing in War | Jeff McMahan

June 12th, 2022


As Russia wages an unjust war against Ukraine, questions around the ethics of war abound. Are soldiers fighting for the wrong side ever justified in …

Eureka! Why epiphanies matter | Sophie Grace Chappell

June 5th, 2022


What is an "Aha" moment, and why does it matter for our lives? Sophie Grace Chappel argues that our ethics and value system should be formed around …

David Chalmers on Virtual Reality and The Simulation Argument

May 29th, 2022


Could you be a brain in a vat, or be living in a simulated or virtual reality? Could you live a meaningful, valuable existence even if you were?

The Value of Truth | Simon Blackburn

May 22nd, 2022


Why is the truth important? Who decides what the truth is? Is there such a thing as objective, eternal truth, or is truth simply a matter of …

The Creative Life | Theresa Hardman

May 15th, 2022


What is creativity and how does it work? Is all creativity valuable? What are the pre-conditions for creativity, and how should Jason overcome his …

The Kalam Cosmological Argument | Majesty of Reason

May 9th, 2022


If everything was created by a cause, is God the creator of the Universe? Is God an uncaused cause? Could God have abandoned his creation?  

Majesty …

Trans women in sport: Is it fair? | Stephen Kershnar

May 1st, 2022


Lia Thomas, a trans woman, has sparked controversy by competing in and winning women’s collegiate swimming events. Should Thomas and other trans …

Evolutionary Psychology | Justin Garson

April 24th, 2022


Is evolution the root cause of racism, rape, and disgust? Are differences between men and women a result of both nature and nurture? Are some forms …

The Philosophy of Dune | Adam Taylor

April 17th, 2022


Dune contains a sophisticated moral dilemma - should Paul Atreides sacrifice billions of lives to avoid humanity's extinction? The answer echoes …

How to discover TRUTH | Galen Barry

April 10th, 2022


Some of the world's greatest discoveries were made by those on the fringe. Should scientists be encouraged to explore crazy ideas? Does the search …

Sex, Gender and Sexual Orientation | Raja Halwani

April 3rd, 2022


Is your sexual orientation determined by the sex or the gender of the person you’re attracted to? How does gender fluidity impact sexual orientation? Are there other sexual orientations like demisexuality, …

Hidden Motives| Elena Garadja

March 20th, 2022


Are Jean Jacques Rousseau's confessions trustworthy? Can we consciously decide to forget our sins? Should we be held accountable for all of our …

Dignity and Society | Colin Bird

March 20th, 2022


How important is it to treat people with dignity, or respect? Do institutions and groups, rather than individuals, owe us dignity? And if we have to …

Gun Control | Eric Sampson

March 13th, 2022


Should citizens have the right to bear arms? Are guns necessary to defend yourself from criminals, invading militants, and your own government? …

Should we save animals? | Jeffrey Sebo

March 6th, 2022


Should we sacrifice our time and convenience to save animals? Jeff Sebo argues we must, but more than that, it's in our self-interest to do so. 

Near-Death Experiences | John Martin Fischer

February 27th, 2022


Is there life after death? Are near-death experiences meaningful? Are they similar to other altered states like meditation and drug induced …

The Philosophy of Squid Game | Travis Timmerman

February 20th, 2022


Travis Timmerman shows us what can we learn about morality, democracy, and exploitation from Squid Game.

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Free Will and Moral Responsibility | John Fischer

February 13th, 2022


Is it possible to be morally responsible for a choice even if you could not have chosen otherwise? Can you have free will even if God knows ahead of …

Abortion | Stephen Kershnar

February 6th, 2022


Does a fetus have a right to its mother's womb? Are we obligated to have as many children as possible? And must pro-lifers assassinate abortion doctors?

The Kershnar Controversy | Brain in a Vat

February 3rd, 2022


We recently aired an episode with Stephen Kershnar on sexual taboos. A clip from that episode has been viewed over a million times on Twitter, and on many news channels. We address the controversy surrounding Stephen's …

Sexual Taboos | Stephen Kershnar

January 30th, 2022


Should there be an age of consent? Is it wrong to fantasize about someone against their will? Is it wrong to lust after someone because of their …

Parfit's view of personal identity | Jeff McMahan

January 25th, 2022


What makes the 'you' of yesterday the same 'you' today? Should we care about future people who don't yet exist, and should we prevent climate change …

Do you have a character? | Iskra Fileva

January 16th, 2022


Is there a core to who we are that is unchanging or unique? Do people have characters, personalities, or neither?

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End of Year Surprise

December 13th, 2021


In our final episode for 2021, we reveal a surprise we've been working on all year, and tell you about the exciting episodes planned for 2022.

The Fall of UCT | David Benatar

December 5th, 2021


Destructive forces have been eroding the University of Cape Town, Africa’s leading university. David Benatar tells the sad, true tale of what has been transpiring. It is a saga of lunacy, criminality, pandering, and …

The Possible Worlds of David Lewis | Barry Lam

November 28th, 2021


What are possible worlds? Could you have been born to different parents, and could the laws of physics be different? Barry Lam explains how David …

Can Hope Save Your Life? | Jack Kwong

November 21st, 2021


Is it possible to hope for something good, but feel despair that it won't happen? Is it virtuous to feel hopeful? Can hoping make you act recklessly? 

Moral Disagreement | Eric Sampson

November 14th, 2021


In a world where we disagree about pretty much everything - about borders and abortion, marriage and monogamy, wars and meat-eating - how do you maintain confidence in your own moral position? And can you convince the …

Ballenesque | Roger Ballen

November 7th, 2021


Marginalized people, animals, found objects, wires and childlike drawings inhabit the unlocatable worlds presented in Ballen's artworks. Ballen describes his works as existential psychodramas that touch the subconscious …

Pandemic Ethics | Peter Singer

October 31st, 2021


Rebecca Tuvel, Dan Cullen and Eric Samson interview Peter Singer about pandemic ethics. Are lockdowns and mandatory vaccines morally justified? What …

Michael Huemer on Disobeying the Law

October 24th, 2021


Should you disobey the law, at least some of the time? If justice isn’t simply enforcing the law, then what is it? And what sorts of laws would we …

Is Nuclear War Ever Justified? | Eron Fasser

October 17th, 2021


Should certain weapons be banned from use in war? Are there limits on the amount of force countries should use to protect their citizens? Is it ever …

Plato’s problem with Democracy | Clif Mark

October 10th, 2021


Is Democracy the best political system? Plato thought not. But what is the best alternative? Clif Mark, from the podcast Good in Theory, joins us …

Is it wrong to enjoy good films made by bad people? | Travis Timmerman

October 3rd, 2021


Is the art separate from the artist? Can a moral defect in a film undermine its aesthetic quality?

The Power of Imagination | Amy Kind

September 26th, 2021


What would a world without imagination be like? Why do we feel sympathy, fear or excitement for fictional characters? And can imaginary actions be …

Where is my mind? | Shaun Stanley

September 19th, 2021


Are human being merely sophisticated robots? Do we have mental states or can we be understood only through our behavior?

Should You Trust Experts? | Oliver Traldi

September 12th, 2021


There's a growing trend to distrust scientists. Sometimes they get the facts wrong, or align with a political party. What should we do in the face of …

How To End Global Poverty | Andy Kuper

September 5th, 2021


Andy Kuper, the founder and CEO of LeapFrog Investments, tells us how his PHD in philosophy led him to marry profit with purpose, by creating investment funds with deep impact on the lives of 200 million low-income …

Cryonics: who wants to live forever? | Francesca Minerva

August 29th, 2021


Is cryonics a viable route to immortality? Is immortality desirable, or would it present us with endless boredom and meaninglessness?

Addiction | Daniel Hochman

August 22nd, 2021


Is being addicted to love or chocolate the same as being addicted to cocaine?

Death | Travis Timmerman

August 15th, 2021


Would it be better to live forever than to die? Is the goodness or badness of death dependent on the future quality of our lives? Is death so bad …

When should you forgive? | Brandon Warmke

August 8th, 2021


What is forgiveness, and when is it appropriate? What does it mean to apologize to a group of people, and for that group to forgive? Is forgiveness …

John Rawls: Justice as Fairness | Paul Weithman

August 1st, 2021


John Rawls is widely regarded as the greatest modern liberal philosopher. Does his theory of justice lead to a fair society?   

Contact us: Mark.Oppenheimer[at]gmail and Jwerbe[at]gmail

Do the ends justify the means? | Alastair Norcross

July 25th, 2021


Should you sacrifice one innocent person to save many? Can you justify killing one annoying politician to save millions of people from suffering a …

What Is Madness? | Justin Garson

July 18th, 2021


Is 'mental disorder' purely a dysfunction, or are there important advantages to being psychologically different? Do depression and anxiety serve a …

Is it okay to be a slacker? | Alison Suen

July 11th, 2021


What makes Hollywood slackers like The Dude so enchanting? Are slackers the unsung heroes of the pandemic, or a bunch of useless bums?   

Read …

What Offends You? | Mark Oppenheimer

July 4th, 2021


Should we ban offensive speech? Should we tolerate racism and transphobia? Should everything that is immoral also be illegal?

Is evil real? | Spencer Case

June 27th, 2021


Is murder wrong? Can evolution fully explain why we think certain actions are immoral? And can we believe moral truths with even greater certainty …

What if? | Peg Tittle

June 20th, 2021


What if you navigated the world through echo location instead of sight? What if cats could gain all of the traits of humans? What if you were a brain …

What Is Happiness? | Shane Gronholz

June 13th, 2021


What makes your life go well? Can you be wrong about whether you are happy? And can happiness be bad for you?

Trans, Sex, and Gender | Kathleen Stock

June 6th, 2021


Is sex only a matter of biology? Are there conflicts between trans rights, women's rights, and gay rights? Is it possible to change genders?  

Buy …

Do Social Groups Exist? | Jason Werbeloff

May 30th, 2021


What transforms a collection of individuals into a social group? Jason Werbeloff argues the answer is: nothing. There are no social groups. No …

12 Mind Blowing Thought Experiments

May 23rd, 2021


What can a runaway train, a patient wrapped head to toe in bandages, and man condemned by the gods to roll a rock for eternity teach us about leading …

The Dangers of Thought Experiments | Roy Sorensen

May 16th, 2021


Are thought experiments useful for telling us about the nature of reality? What are the limitations of thought experiments, and should we trust them …

Is Morality Real? | Shaun Stanley

May 9th, 2021


Should we care whether we cause others suffering? Do we have duties or obligations to others? Shaun Stanley thinks there are no moral reasons for …

The Danger of Wokeness | Helen Zille

May 2nd, 2021


Many believe Woke ideology to be a source of positive change in society. Helen Zille thinks otherwise. Could Wokeness be dangerous? 

You can find …

The Second Sexism | David Benatar

April 25th, 2021


Are there some areas of life where men are worse off than women? Are these disadvantages always the product of sexism? If we recognize a second …

Wittgenstein's Poker | David Edmonds

April 18th, 2021


David Edmonds of Philosophy Bites fame regales us with a fiery story about Ludwig Wittgenstein's only meeting with Karl Popper. David also gives us a behind the scenes tour of the world's best loved philosophy show.    

Hate Speech and Pornography | Mari Mikkola

April 11th, 2021


What is hate speech, and what are the limits of free speech? Should pornography be censored in the same way we censor speech?  

Mari's Book:

Animal Welfare | Bob Fischer

April 4th, 2021


Are some animals more equal than others? Do zoos protect animals or are they solely designed for our amusement? Should we test medicines on animals?

Who should you believe? | Chris Ranalli

March 28th, 2021


In a polarized world where everyone is certain, who should you believe? Are certain beliefs immoral? And how seriously should we take conspiracy …

Can God Right Past Wrongs? | Sam Lebens

March 21st, 2021


Would a just God allow us to suffer? Could God rewrite history to remove the bad bits?   

Contact us: Mark.Oppenheimer[at]gmail and Jwerbe[at]gmail

Anarchy & Socialism | Mark Lance

March 14th, 2021


Can we construct a society free of state coercion and inequality? Is there a place for Capitalism in that society?  

Contact us: Mark.Oppenheimer[at]gmail and Jwerbe[at]gmail

What is the Value of Philosophy? | Justin Weinberg

March 7th, 2021


Are there certain questions that should never be asked? Is Philosophy useful? And have philosophers made any progress in answering the BIG questions? …

So You've Been Publicly Shamed | Rebecca Tuvel

February 28th, 2021


What can we learn about public shaming from the Black Mirror episodes Hated in the Nation and Nosedive? Are there ever cases where someone deserves …

Nietzsche: Morality is Dead | Brian Leiter

February 21st, 2021


If God is dead, did morality die with him? Are artists, writers and lovers more valuable than the rest of us mere mortals? Find out what Friedrich Nietzsche thought in our new series on great philosophers.  

Brian's …

Stephen King and Philosophy | Jacob Held

February 14th, 2021


What is horror, and why do some of us willingly terrify ourselves by watching or reading the genre? Is horror poor quality fiction, or can it offer us a unique opportunity for empathy and moral growth?  

Jacob's book:

Is Academic Freedom Under Threat? | Spencer Case

February 7th, 2021


Are universities a safe space for dangerous ideas? Does a right to academic freedom guarantee a culture that tolerates controversial views? Should …

Which God Should You Believe in? | Eron Fasser

January 31st, 2021


Are all Gods created equal? Are certain divine attributes less likely to be real given that multiples faiths exist?  Are religions like different …

Is Abortion Immoral? | Nathan Nobis

January 24th, 2021


Does a fetus have a right to life? Should there be any limitations on the choices that a woman makes over her own body?   

Nathan's book:

The Argument for Anarchism

January 17th, 2021


Anarchism, or the view that we should not have a government, seems impractical. But Michael Huemer believes there is a way to understand Anarchism …

Face Blindness with Jeff Waters

January 10th, 2021


What's it like to be unable to recognize faces? 2% of the population have a neurological condition called prosopagnosia, or face blindness - …

Tenet Explained

January 3rd, 2021


Christopher Nolan's Tenet is a visual feast, but does it make any sense? Eron Fasser explains if you can you time travel to change the past and if …

The Future of Brain in a Vat

December 7th, 2020


A round up of our favorite episodes and some insight into how we make the show. We will be on a hiatus until January. Let us know in the YouTube comments who you want to see us interview in the coming year.

Brian Leiter: The Supreme Court

November 29th, 2020


Is the Supreme Court merely a political body made up of warring liberals and conservatives? Should Judges apply laws that are unjust? Will the …

Thad Metz: Meaning in Life

November 22nd, 2020


What makes life worth living? How valuable are truth, beauty and morality? If life is ultimately meaningless from the perspective of the universe is …

Do You Have Free Will? With Mark Leon

November 15th, 2020


Is it possible for your actions to be free, even if they are determined? And would an indeterministic universe make us any freer? If we don't have …

Does Your Vote Count? With Jacob Bauer

November 5th, 2020


If your vote has only a tiny chance of influencing the outcome of an election, is it irrational to vote? Does voting grant legitimacy to repugnant candidates? Is voting always an obligation, or are there situations that …

Black Mirror, Virtual Sex and Trans with Rebecca Tuvel

November 1st, 2020


Is virtual sex outside of a relationship cheating? How should we determine a person's gender? Should the same rules apply to race?  Rebecca's …

#2000andlate in 2020 Hindsight

October 25th, 2020


We have a philosophical conversation with an artist about her latest exhibition. Dom's paintings explore the social and sexual mores of the last twenty years through the lens of our current values.

Do You Have a Soul? With Tyron Goldschmidt

October 18th, 2020


Are you just a physical body? If you have a brain transplant do you stay with your original body or move with your brain? Could the existence of an …

Should Robots Have Rights? With Rob Sparrow

October 11th, 2020


Is it wrong to destroy an AI if it can have a conversation with a human being? If a robot expresses suffering is it wrong to torture it? Should we …

Should We Save The Polar Bears? With Yolandi Coetzee

October 4th, 2020


Are some animals more equal than others? Are game reserves a part of nature if they are man made?  Is global warming universally bad or does it benefit some species?

Brain in a Vat Store:

[Bonus] Mark Oppenheimer²

September 27th, 2020


Atom bombs, diamond billionaires, and hate mail have a special role to play in this bonus episode.   Brain in a Vat Store: 

Mark Oppenheimer²: The Limits Of Free Speech?

September 27th, 2020


Is cancel culture destroying our institutions? Should Holocaust deniers have the right to speak? What is hate speech, and should it be illegal?

Brain …

Let's Talk About Sex With Raja Halwani

September 20th, 2020


Is it wrong to only have a sexual preference for certain races? Can you have sex without being objectified? Is there a moral limit on our sexual fantasies?  


Thumbnail Art: The …

David Benatar: The Meaning of Life

September 13th, 2020


What does it all mean? If we live on a pail blue dot in a vast and uncaring universe can our lives have cosmic meaning? Is it better never to have been born?

Should You Volunteer To Get Covid? With Dustin Crummett

September 6th, 2020


Could purposely infecting volunteers with the Coronavirus help us reach herd immunity or develop a vaccine more rapidly? Is it wrong to expose people …

Gorgeous or Grotesque? With Amanda Ballen

September 2nd, 2020


Can you be revolted and attracted to the same person? Can concepts be beautiful? Does art need to create sensations to be enjoyed?   IMDB:

Crime and Punishment With Doug Husak

August 23rd, 2020


Who deserves to be punished? Should the State kill killers and rape rapists?  Should we abolish the police and the prison system?  

Facebook Group:

Is Cultural Relativism Racist? With Justin Kalef

August 16th, 2020


Culturals groups have different beliefs about what is morally right and wrong. Does a tolerant outlook mean that we should accept these different …

What is Love? With Raja Halwani

August 9th, 2020


Is love everlasting? Can we love more than one person at the same time?  

Do we choose our lovers for the wrong reasons? 

Facebook Group:

Are You Evil?

August 2nd, 2020


Is it wrong to root for the bad guy in a horror movie? Is evil a matter of who you are or what you do? What makes an action supremely evil?

Facebook Group: 


What's Wrong with Moral Grandstanding? With Brandon Warmke

July 26th, 2020


What do Greta Thunberg, #BLM and #Metoo have in common? Are these moralising quests to end climate change, racism and sexism motivated by the will to do good, or merely the will to look good?  

Grandstanding: The Use …

Is it wrong to eat meat? With Dustin Crummet

July 19th, 2020


Were you outraged when Cecil the lion was killed by a hunter? Are you against rhino poaching? Do you order extra bacon with your cheese burger? Are some animals more equal than others?

Facebook Group:

Graham Oppy: Does God Exist?

July 12th, 2020


Can God exist if the world is filled with suffering? And are there compelling arguments for or against God's existence?
Facebook Group: 

Should Offensive Art be Banned? With Elisa Galgut

July 5th, 2020


What is art? Why is art valuable? If enough people feel hurt by a piece of art or public monument, should we hide or destroy the work?

Facebook …

Peter Boghossian: How to Have Impossible Conversations

June 28th, 2020


"Defund the police. Violent protests are justified. Anyone against Black Lives Matter is a Nazi." How would you engage with these views? We ask Peter …

Do You Live in a Simulation? With Kenny Pearce

June 21st, 2020


Do you live in a simulation? And if you do, could you live a valuable life?   We talk with Kenny Pearce this week to find out. 

Read Kenny's Berkeley …

Does Race Exist? With Shaun Stanley

June 14th, 2020


Does the colour of your skin, the texture of your hair, or the shape of your nose make you part of a racial group? Is race a social construct based …

Does Tuvix Deserve to Die?

June 7th, 2020


When Tuvok and Neelix accidentally merge into a single man in a transporter accident, Captain Janeway has to make a tough decision:  Should she kill …

Is the Lockdown Lawful? With Martin van Staden

May 31st, 2020


Are lockdown regulations lawful? Do we have a duty to obey the law? What if the law is immoral, contradictory or unknowable? 
The famous philosopher …

Time Travel and The Grandfather Paradox with Helen Robertson

May 24th, 2020


Imagine you build a time machine. Is it possible for you to travel back in time, meet your grandfather before he produces any children, and kill him?  Time travel is a sci-fi staple. Is Back to the Future …

Belief, Faith, and Hope with Liz Jackson

May 17th, 2020


Your brother has been missing for months and there is mounting evidence that he is dead. Is it rational to hope that he is alive and keep searching for him?  

Is it rational to have faith in the existence of God …

Lost in Translation with Shaun Stanley

May 10th, 2020


Language is ambiguous at the best of times, think about how much gets lost in translation. Imagine hearing a tribesman in a remote land utter the …

The Value of Human Life with Eron Fasser

May 3rd, 2020


What can eating Marilyn Monroe's thigh and the pain of teenage heartbreak tell us about the value of human life? We discuss what makes life worth living and ending.

The Veil of Ignorance and Justice in a Lockdown

April 26th, 2020


John Rawls thought we needed to wear a veil of ignorance to remove our biases before deciding on the rules of a just society. Are his ideas useful in …

Lockdown: A Trolley Problem

April 22nd, 2020


An out-of-control trolley is rumbling toward five innocent people trapped on a track. You can divert the trolley onto another track by pulling a …

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