Cover art for podcast Hi-Phi Nation

Hi-Phi Nation

46 EpisodesProduced by Slate PodcastsWebsite

Hi-Phi Nation is philosophy in story-form, integrating narrative journalism with big ideas. We look at stories from everyday life, law, science, popular culture, and strange corners of human experiences that raise thought-provoking questions about things like justice, knowledge, the self, morality, … read more

46 Episodes | 2016 - 2020

Season One Trailer #1

December 24th, 2016


A brand new show bringing storytelling together with philosophy, Hi-Phi Nation aims to do for philosophy what Freakonomics did for economics, what …

The Wishes of the Dead

January 24th, 2017


Our lives are controlled by the invisible hand from the grave. Trillions of dollars of the economy are devoted to executing the wishes of people who …

Soldier Philosophers Part 1: Moral Exploitation

January 31st, 2017


When one Army soldier discovered the propagation of torture tactics during the Iraq war, he engaged in a one-man mission inside the organization to …

Soldier Philosophers Part 2: The Morality of War

February 7th, 2017


For some reason, when people kill others in wars, we do not judge them morally and legally in the same way as we judge them when they kill in civilian life. Is there a justification for this difference, or is it only a …

The Name of God

February 14th, 2017


With a small gesture of good will toward Syrian refugees, one woman incurred the wrath of evangelical Christians on social media. The resulting chaos …

The Cops of Pop

February 21st, 2017


Two records from 1983 achieved minor novelty fame, and then faded away, only to emerge 20 years later as the originators of a curious genre of pop …

Hackademics I: The Control

March 7th, 2017


After years of unusual episodes dating back to her childhood, Anita went to the doctor and was told there was nothing medically wrong with her. "She …

Hackademics II: The Hackers

March 14th, 2017


One scientist decided to put the entire field of psychology to test to see how many of its findings hold up to scrutiny. At the same time, he had …

Be a Man

March 21st, 2017


Our ideas of manhood and womanhood determine the ways in which we raise and socialize our children, but how much does gender in a particular society …

The Ashes of Truth

April 18th, 2017


Documentary film and science do not appear to have much in common, except that, philosophically, they have everything in common. Two men met in 1971 …

A Better Love

May 3rd, 2017


On our season finale, we follow a mother's love through the stages of life to seek wisdom about what love is, what love does, and why love happens. …

The Bottom of the Curve

October 31st, 2017


At the beginning of their adult lives, millennials are trying to find out what it means to be happy in their 20s, not knowing that they have no where …

The Ethics Bowl

November 28th, 2017


High school students from around the country converge on the University of North Carolina for a weekend of moral dilemmas. We follow twenty-four of …

Drowned at Sea

December 19th, 2017


In the process of preparing to testify in a divorce case, Brian had to study one of the strangest books he had ever come across, where religion, mathematics, and the apocalypse intersect. This week, we look at how a …

Freedom and Hostile Design

January 23rd, 2018


Some acts of expression are awesome, while others suck, and one philosopher has a new theory about the difference. Using this theory as a guide, we look at some of the suckiest things that ever sucked in urban design, …

Cover Me Softly

February 28th, 2018


When Lori Lieberman was 19 years old, she went to a concert of a singer she didn't know, and ended up writing a poem that would become one of the …

The Self and Survival

March 27th, 2018


In ordinary life, it is usually not hard to know who you are and who you used to be. For a small group of children around the world, their knowledge seems to conflict with what modern science believes is possible. On …

Creed and Credences

May 1st, 2018


Dave has been hunting for the one decisive piece of scientific evidence that will settle one of Christianity's most challenging questions. On this episode we look at two stories of people trying to reconcile their …

Willful Acts

May 30th, 2018


Army veteran Jim McKelvey applied for his VA benefits and was denied for willful misconduct. Thirty years later, Julie Eldred was sent to prison for …

A Night of Philosophy

June 19th, 2018


Hi-Phi Nation stays overnight at the Brooklyn Public Library during the 2018 Night of Philosophy. From 7pm to 7am on a Saturday night, thousands of New Yorkers swarmed the central library for acrobats, musicians, and …

Chamber of Facts

July 23rd, 2018


Do people of opposing political parties believe in different facts? The mantra at the moment is that they do, because of media echo chambers, …

Season 3 Preview

January 18th, 2019


After two successful seasons, philosophy in story form comes to Slate on January 31st, 2019.  On Season 3, we look at stories of risk, experiments in …

The Precrime Unit

January 31st, 2019


Predictive policing technology is spreading across the country, and Los Angeles is the epicenter. A small group of LA activists are in a lopsided …

(Bonus) The Battle over CSOCs

February 2nd, 2019


On this bonus episode, I go into some of the history between the LAPD police commission and the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, and feature some of the …

Risky Business

February 16th, 2019


How many innocent people should we be allowed to arrest and jail in order to prevent a single dangerous person from being free? The Supreme Court has …

No Offense

March 2nd, 2019


What if you could sue someone for calling you a racial slur? In the 90s, one country that always looked very similar to America decided to allow it, …

The Forever War

March 16th, 2019


This year will mark the 18th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, the forever war characterized by regime change, a surge, drawdowns, and then re-engagement across three Presidential administrations. We take a …

Name of God (2019)

March 30th, 2019


A few days after the New Zealand Mosque massacre, Dr. Thaya Ashman heard about a woman who was too afraid to come out in public in her hijab for fear of being targeted. So Dr. Ashman had an idea to invite every person …

Demons of Democracy

April 13th, 2019


Preschool kids get their first taste of democratic participation when they vote on their class name, and democratic private schools try to display …

For Women Only (pt. 1)

April 27th, 2019


It is currently very difficult to get your gender legally changed in the U.K, That might change. In recent months, philosophers have been drafted …

For Women Only (pt. 2)

May 11th, 2019


In the 40 years since the events at Olivia Records, gender categorization seems to pop up sporadically in the mainstream press, leading to what …

Uncivil Disobedience

May 25th, 2019


In Australia, vegan and animal liberation activism has recently become intense and disruptive, invading farms, restaurants, and city centers. They’re doing everything from rescuing animals to blocking traffic, and …

The Illusionist

June 8th, 2019


Pyotr Tchaikovsky composed and conducted his final symphony in 1893. He died 9 days later, after having knowingly drunk an unboiled glass of water …

YOLO Apologetics

June 22nd, 2019


Drake coined “YOLO,” short for “you only live once” in 2011, and then later apologized for all the douchiness it subsequently engendered.  But the …

Season 4: Crime and Punishment (Trailer)

April 11th, 2020


From writing criminal laws to rights denied to the formerly incarcerated, every single stage of the criminal justice system runs on unquestioned assumptions about right and wrong, responsibility and excuse, freedom, …

Sponsored: Delivering Extraordinary Experiences with Customer Experience Expert Liliana Petrova

April 16th, 2020


When it comes to closing a deal, generating client referrals, or getting repeat business, understanding how to elevate the customer’s experience can make all the difference, and can often be a philosophical approach. So …

Criminal Minds

May 2nd, 2020


One place where law and morality are supposed to agree is that there should be no crime without a criminal mind, what is called “mens rea” in …

Hi-Phi Nation Plus: Mens Rea versus Moral Luck

May 2nd, 2020


In this Slate Plus segment, Barry is joined by Sarah Lustbader to discuss the issues raised in Episode 1: Criminal Minds. Sarah expresses skepticism about the significance of mens rea in ordinary prosecution of street …

Police Discretion

May 9th, 2020


Is a mobile home a home or a car? Is a car parked inside a home part of the home? The answer to these stoner philosophical questions determine the …

The Informant

May 16th, 2020


This week we go inside investigative operations in NYPD internal affairs and in the war and drugs to look at the police use of discretion to …

Gender Justice

May 23rd, 2020


On this episode, we look at feminist and progressive prosecution; how does a prosecutor balance the aims of prosecuting more gender-based crimes while also being sensitive to the problems of mass incarceration? We look …

Redemption in the DDU

May 30th, 2020


Erick Williams tells the story of how one bad night in the chow hall got him into solitary confinement at Walpole. The path out of solitary, and …

Punishment without End

June 6th, 2020


A teen-aged girl gets caught with a suitcase stuffed with powdered cocaine, and she comes before a federal judge. That judge learns that a felony conviction carries punishments for life for her. He embarks on a mission …

The Loophole

June 13th, 2020


Two men committed a double murder in rural Maine in 1990. Only one pulled the trigger. The state prosecutor decided to try them separately, but that …

Justice and Retribution

June 27th, 2020


A woman spends 40 years in and out of prison for shoplifting and finally gets a break from a judge in her late 50s. She uses the opportunity to …

Hi-Phi Nation Presents: Into the Zone (When We Were Cyber)

October 21st, 2020


Barry updates listeners on what to expect in Season 5 of the show, currently in production. In the meantime, he introduces you to Into the Zone, a Pushkin podcast by writer Hari Kunzru. This episode is about the time …

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