elucidations

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about classes research

A podcast is like a radio show, except pre-recorded and distributed through the internet rather than over the airwaves. Every month on my podcast, I sit down with a contemporary philosopher of note and talk to them about the issues that grab their interest.


this month

This month, we sit down with Tom Pashby to talk about quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics raises an interesting dilemma: it's unbelievably empirically accurate when it comes to making preductions about the physical world, but what it says the world consists of is deeply counterintuitive and paradoxical. One reason for this is that it involves probabilities in a weird way; previous physical theories used probability to indicate our level of confidence in something. Like if I said there was a 50% chance the explosion collapsed the cave, I'd be saying that I was 50% confident that the explosion collapsed the cave. (And then maybe I'd go check to learn for sure.) But in quantum mechanics, the actual state of a physical system is probabilistic, not our knowledge about it. This leads to weird paradoxes whereby it seems like the theory says you can make a fact the case by checking to see whether it is the case. Philosophers and physicists have come up with a number of ways to try to make sense of these strange ideas, but they all seem to involve big trade-offs. In this episode, our guest talks us through what some of those trade-offs are. You can listen to our conversation here, or play it directly in the player below.


topics

Not sure where to start? Here are a few quick links to some episodes dealing with major areas of philosophy:

aesthetics
Aristotle
applied ethics
feminist philosophy
formal epistemology
formal semantics
history of analytic philosophy
Kant
Hume
medieval philosophy
metaethics
metaphilosophy
metaphysics
modern philosophy
normative ethics
philosophical logic
philosophy of language
philosophy of action
philosophy of law
philosophy of mind
philosophy of mathematics
philosophy of physics
philosophy of probability
Plato
political philosophy
virtue ethics

No idea what any of the above means? Feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have.


about elucidations

Elucidations was founded in 2008 by myself and Mark Hopwood.

The idea for Elucidations came about during our first year as PhD students at the University of Chicago. One of this university's striking characteristics is how many lectures, conferences, courses, and reading groups there are to attend. A wealth of groundbreaking philosophical ideas were being shared among members of the academic community, but were too often put back into the filing cabinet afterwards, never again to see the light of day. We felt the urge to capture some of these discussions and release them into the world at large.

No one who hasn't taken several years worth of mathematics courses can attend a lecture in that field and even understand its principal claims, let alone why they might be interesting. But philosophy isn't like that at all; anyone can leaf through the major journals in the field and immediately feel like they have a stake in the questions under discussion—questions like what a number is, or whether there's such a thing as moral luck, or whether people from different cultures think in a fundamentally different way. The best work being done in philosophy right now is of interest to professionals and laymen alike.

Our podcast aims to reach both of these audiences at once, with content that's freely available for anyone to download or stream. We present the latest work from the top minds in the field, with an emphasis on clear exposition in plain English, ideally with little to none of the intimidating jargon that alienates so many newcomers. Philosophy is unique in its ability to facilitate this kind of rapprochement because its most innovative ideas can be expressed in simple, commonsense terms without any danger of being watered down.

It is our hope that through such efforts as this, the discipline can begin to recultivate the relationship with the broader culture which, although once quite strong, has fallen by the wayside in recent years. At many points in history—for example, in nineteenth century Germany—the philosophical state of the art was matter of deep cultural pride. But these days, a college graduate stopped at random and asked what philosophers do all day won't have the slightest idea what to say. As professional academics, we have done an excellent job of making our work known to each other. Now is the time to share our discoveries with everyone else.

Since the podcast was first launched in 2009, we have done our best to cover the field of philosophy in its entirety. We of course have yet to cover many important areas, but the hope is that as our catalogue expands, we come progressively closer to the ideal of complete coverage. Many of the world's most prominent philosophers have made an appearance on our program. And our following spans all (inhabited) continents, including listeners from Chile, Morocco, France, Germany, Sweden, China, Australia, and India.

Give it a listen and tell me what you think!


current staff

Matt Teichman - creator, producer, co-host
Jaime Edwards - co-host
Francey Russell - co-host
Emily Dupree - co-host
Ben Callard - co-host
Nethanel Lipshitz - co-host

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