Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why? Radio needs to raise $5000

Dear Why? Radio listener:

I will be blunt. Why? Radio needs to raise $5000 and we need your help to do it.

At this point, we exist entirely on listener donations and $5000 is the minimum amount we need for one year of the show. There are fewer places to turn than there were last year. Budget cuts are likely to cause layoffs at the University of North Dakota and small humanities grants are few and far between. Ironically, if we wanted $600,000 from the National Endowment of the Humanities, they’d have grants we could apply for, but they don’t offer anything for just the $5,000 we need to survive. We’re just too cost-effective. (We’re working on a $600,000 proposal, but we’re not holding our breath.)

In the end, all there is is you.

You can donate here:

Monday, February 22, 2016

The pro-choice argument I’d like to see. (Is there a conservative case for pro-choice?)

Roe v Wade is bad constitutional law. It asserts that the right to an abortion is derived from the right to privacy, but as many people have argued, it is unclear whether the U.S. constitution recognizes privacy at all. It might, but it is a hard sell. The word privacy isn’t found in the text.

More problematic though is that if the fetus is a baby—and notice that I am only saying “if”—then the baby’s right to not be murdered would indeed take precedence over freedom from government intervention. Preventing murder is one of the core jobs of government. That’s why the debate over the meaning of life is so important. Everything depends on it. Liberals need a better pro-choice argument and I believe that I know what it is.

Where do I go from here? A blogger asks for help solving a blogging-related problem.

You may have noticed that this blog has been pretty spare lately. It’s not that I haven’t had a lot to say. It’s just that I’ve had a lot of trouble concentrating. I thought the problem was environmental. There’s a lot going on in the world, life at UND is pretty stressful, right now, and I’m knee deep in many different projects. I just haven’t been in the right headspace to sit down and write.

In fact, though, I don’t think that’s the problem at all. Instead, I have come to realize that I simply don’t know what this blog is for anymore. It was originally designed to be a standalone project for The Institute for Philosophy in Public Life. Then, after the success of Why? Radio, I started advertising it as a supplement to the show. But now, I realize that both of these descriptions are too limiting. They require a more formal, more professionalized project that only represents a small portion of what I think about at any given time. Despite my often personal writing style, I limit myself when I choose topics. This also limits my motivation.

Monday, February 15, 2016

How should we talk about college sports?

This is the monologue for the most recent episode of Why? Radio: "Are sports destroying American universities?” with guest Murray Sperber. Click here to listen to the episode.  

Philosophers have long debated the purpose of sport. Is it a celebration of human excellence or war in another form? Are competitive games shared experiences that help maintain stable societies or simply panaceas intended to distract people while their leaders exploit them? If you add education into the mix, the conflict only gets worse. Should student athletes get special treatment? Is money for sports better used in the classroom? Why is bad behavior so frequently excused, whether on the part of athletes, parents, or fans?

All of these debates have philosophical roots. They exploit the tension between individual benefit and collective good, and they blur the lines between the public and private. When people disagree about the fairness of tax-funded stadiums, they are asking about the political role of sports, and when they argue about whether kids should play team sports, they are questioning the nature of education. Today’s show is going to focus to the relationship between sports and undergraduate education, but it will dip into all of these topics in the process.