Hi-Phi Nation

Hi-Phi Nation

Hi-Phi Nation is the first story-driven, narrative podcast on contemporary philosophy. Every week we begin with compelling stories of ordinary and extraordinary human experiences, and transform them into an examination of philosophical ideas. We profile stories from war, crime, politics, religion, public health and policy, science, and history that raise philosophical questions, and we answer them with the help of contemporary academic philosophers. The aim of the show is to bring fans of the best narrative, story-driven podcasts into philosophy. The show is completely independently produced by Barry Lam, Professor at Vassar College.... Show More

Episodes

May 11, 2019 48 min
In the 40 years since the events at Olivia Records, gender categorization seems to pop up sporadically in the mainstream press, leading to what sociologists Laurel Westbrook and Kristen Schilt call "gender panics," and then they disappear only to emerge again at some other time. An analysis of gender panics show that people fear some gender nonconformists but seem perfectly fine with others.  It turns out that one thing in par...
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April 27, 2019 51 min
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 into making complicated and contentious arguments about what it is to be a man, woman, or any other gender in the service of advancing or blocking the movement for trans-rights and recognition. In particular, it has exposed a conflict between trans-rights advocates and a certain wing of f...
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April 13, 2019 53 min
Preschool kids get their first taste of democratic participation when they vote on their class name, and democratic private schools try to display the value of democracy by making kids vote on everything, even the school budget. Does it work or do kids make terrible decisions? One diagnosis of our modern-day political problems is that too many stupid people are voting for stupid things. There are two proposed fixes; mandate that ev...
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March 30, 2019 54 min
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 in New Zealand to wear a headscarf in public. The result was quite different from what happened in America three years ago, when a woman who tried to make a similar gesture of good will toward Muslims incurred the wra...
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March 16, 2019 49 min
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 retrospective of the entire war, from the forgotten events of the lead-up to its total financial and moral costs to date. Journalist Douglas Wissing and Professor Neta Crawford of the Cost of War project take us through the...
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March 2, 2019 47 min
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, rolling back the rights to free speech in the interest of protecting victims of hate speech. Is the result a slippery slope to government tyranny, or a more harmonious society? The moral right to hate speech does not run as deep in the U.S. as most people believe. Only in the last 80 y...
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February 16, 2019 49 min
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 refused to answer this question, but algorithms have, and many courts across the country are going with the algorithm.  At different stages of the criminal justice system, computerized risk-assessment algorithms are slowly replacing bail hearings in determining who goes to jail a...
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February 2, 2019 17 min
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 tape from the Central station CSOC protest that didn't make it into the episode, including some creepy stuff that happened toward the end of the protest. I then talk to Sarah Brayne about the possibility of using surveillance technology to monitor the police themselves. This bonus episo...
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January 31, 2019 47 min
Predictive policing technology is spreading across the country, and Los Angeles is the epicenter. A small group of LA activists are in a lopsided campaign against billions of dollars in city, federal, and Silicon Valley money using algorithms to predict where and when the next crime is going to occur, and even who the perpetrators are going to be. Barry embeds with the Stop LAPD Spying coalition for a week in Skid Row and investiga...
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January 18, 2019 2 min
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 democracy, the reality of social categories, illusions of the senses. 
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July 23, 2018 2647 min
Do people of opposing political parties believe in different facts? The mantra at the moment is that they do, because of media echo chambers, motivated reasoning, and ideological blindspots. But a more careful look reveals a different answer, with perhaps even more startling consequences. This week we follow two conservative Republicans who consumed a liberal newsfeed for two weeks, and we look at the empirical and philosophical pr...
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July 17, 2018 9 min
On July 16, 2018, the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Commonwealth versus Julie Eldred. I called lead counsel on the case, Lisa Newman-Polk, to get her reaction to the ruling and talk about its implications. This mini-episode is a follow-up to Episode 8: Willful Acts. 
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June 19, 2018 2727 min
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 philosophy. Meanwhile, we present philosophy shorts about the definition of life, the nature of good and the morality of revenge, and moral relativism. At the event, producer Sandra Bertin confronts some white privileg...
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May 29, 2018 48 min
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 willful violation of probation. Both challenged, both got to a Supreme Court with the promise to change the law of the land. The disease model of addiction has been litigated a handful of times in the history of American law. Every time the same issue has come up; free will. We exami...
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May 29, 2018 3312 min
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 willful violation of probation. Both challenged, both got to a Supreme Court with the promise to change the law of the land. The disease model of addiction has been litigated a handful of times in the history of American law. Every time the same issue has come up; free will. We exami...
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May 1, 2018 2510 min
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 religious and empirical beliefs about the world, and hear from a philosopher whose theory says that their attempts may be futile. Guest voices include Dave Woetzel, Laura Jean Truman, and philosopher Neil Van Leeuwen. Thi...
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March 27, 2018 2602 min
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 this episode, we tell stories of unusual childhood memories to examine the nature of the self, and what needs to survive in order for a person to survive. We delve into the strange philosophy and science of personal id...
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February 28, 2018 2799 min
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 greatest cover songs of all time. This week we are going to look at the art of covering in popular music, and how that art marked the conversion from a classical model of musical aesthetics to a contemporary one. Popular music in the modern era is metaphysically complex due to the fact th...
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January 23, 2018 1686 min
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, and the street artists and compassionate vandals who are trying to fight them. We use these stories to investigate how public spaces are becoming less free and more coercive. Guest voices include Nick Riggle, Leah Bor...
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December 19, 2017 1747 min
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 religious cult of number worshipers on the Italian coast gave rise to modern science, mathematics, philosophy, and music. In the interim 2500 years, as we have increased our knowledge of the universe using mathematics, ...
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