Why We Argue

Hosted by political philosopher and Vanderbilt University professor Robert Talisse, Why We Argue is an interview podcast that brings in academics, philosophers, historians, journalists, politicians, and other notable public figures to think about the state of American political discourse and the roll intellectual humility can play in public conversation. Created by Humility & Conviction in Public Life a project of the University of Connecticut's Humanities Institute and funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
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Why We Argue



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Apr 9, 2019

This episode is a collection of talks with philosophers who attended Humility & Conviction in Public Life's Conviction Workshop in St. Petersburg Florida. In this episode you'll hear clips from Jen Cole Wright, Matthew Pianalto, Regina Rini, Christiane Heibach, and Justin E. H. Smith. 

Mar 26, 2019

Jeff McMahan is White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford.  His research focuses broadly on moral and political philosophy, and is perhaps best known for his work on the moral issues surrounding killing and letting die.

Mar 12, 2019

Eddie Glaude Jr. is James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Religion, and Chair of the Department of African American Studies, at Princeton University. He is the author of An Uncommon Faith: A Pragmatic Approach to the Study of African American Religion.

Mar 5, 2019

Leif Wenar the Chair of Philosophy and Law at Kings College London.  He is the author of the 2016 book Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World.  This book has led to the publication, in 2018, of a companion volume, Beyond Blood Oil: Philosophy, Policy, and the Future.

Feb 19, 2019

Michele F. Margolis is assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania.  She has recently published a book titled From Politics to the Pews: How Partisanship and the Political Environment Shape Religious Identity.

Feb 5, 2019

Corey Brettschneider is Professor of Political Science at Brown University, and Visiting Professor of Law at Fordham University.  His work is focused in democratic theory and constitutional law. His most recent book is titled The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents

Jan 22, 2019

Regia Rini is the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Moral and Social Cognition at the York University.  Her research resides at the intersections of moral philosophy, psychology, and political epistemology.  She also publishes popular work on topics concerning the social and political impacts of technology. She is currently working on a book about social media and democracy.

Jun 7, 2018

Steven Kull is a Senior Research Associate and director of the Program for Public Consultation at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. He is also the Founder and Director of the nonpartisan organization Voice of the People, which is working to create structures and institutions that would enrich the channels of communication between Congress and citizens. Steven is a political psychologist who studies a range of phenomena from public political ignorance and popular attitudes about climate change to congressional decision-making and international attitudes towards religion.  

May 24, 2018

Ian James Kidd is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Nottingham with research interests in epistemology, vices, epistemic justice, and illness. He is a co-author of the recently published The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Justice.

May 10, 2018

This episode will feature a conversation between former presidential advisor David Gergen, Rabbi Melissa Weintraub of Resetting the Table, and Eboo Patel of the Interfaith Youth Core, taken from Humility and Conviction in Public Life’s event Faith & Politics which was held on April 25, 2018 at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum in Hartford, Connecticut with the CT Forum. The conversation was moderated by John Dankosky of Connecticut public radio.

Apr 26, 2018

Michael Sandel is Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University.  Sandel is an internationally renowned political philosopher who Newsweek has lauded as “the world’s most relevant living philosopher.”  His latest project is a video series titled What Money Can’t Buy, which has Michael and an international group of college students exploring the question “What, if anything, is wrong with a

world in which everything is for sale?”  You can view the series for free at

Apr 12, 2018

This episode is a collection of segments from papers given at Humility and Conviction in Public Life’s workshop on Political Polarization and Epistemic Arrogance. On this episode you will hear short selections from talks given by Jennifer Saul, Lani Watson, Michael Lynch, Alessandra Tanesini, Elizabeth Krumrei Mancuso, Steven Sloman, and Heather Battaly.

Mar 22, 2018

Shanto Iyengar is Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.  He has written extensively on news media and political communication in contemporary democracy.  His most recent book is titled Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide (W. W. Norton, 2015); new edition is forthcoming this year.  His current research focuses on political polarization, framing effects, and political affect.

Mar 8, 2018

Alex Vitale is a Professor of Sociology and coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College. He has written for a number of popular publications including the New York Times, New York Daily News, USA Today, and the Nation. His newest book The End of Policing is out now from Verso press.

Feb 22, 2018

Myisha Cherry is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and next year will be Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Riverside. She is co-editor of the volume, The Moral Psychology of Anger.  Her work is focused on the nature of anger and forgiveness, especially in the context of racial injustice.  Cherry is also the host and creator of the UnMute Podcast.

Feb 8, 2018

Quassim Cassam is Professor of Philosophy at University of Warwick in the UK.  His academic work resides at the intersection of epistemology and philosophy of mind, where he explores topics pertaining to self-knowledge, self-deception, and epistemic virtue and vice.  His forthcoming book is titled Vices of the Mind, and it will be published this year with Oxford University Press.

Jan 25, 2018

John Corvino is  Professor of Philosophy at the Wayne State University in Detroit.  His academic work focuses on topics in moral, social, and legal philosophy surrounding sexuality, gender, marriage, religious conviction, and discrimination.  But John is also an active public philosopher who frequently participates in public debates over these topics. He produces and appears in a popular YouTube series of short videos devoted to the philosophical discussion of controversial topics.  He is the author of What’s Wrong with Homosexuality?, co-author (with Maggie Ghallagher) of Debating Same Sex Marriage, (with Ryan Anderson and Sherif Girgis) of Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination, all published with Oxford University Press.

Jan 11, 2018

Jon Olafsson is Professor in the n the department of Comparative and Cultural Studies at the University of Iceland.  His research is focused on democracy, political participation, dissent, reconciliation, and social criticism.  Jon has written extensively about the efforts in Iceland – from roughly 2010 to 2013 - to revise the nation’s constitution.

Dec 28, 2017

Sandy Goldberg is Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University.  He specializes in epistemology and philosophy of language, with particular interest in the social aspects of knowledge and speech; these foci converge in his ongoing work on testimony.  Sandy has written several books including Relying on Others (Oxford 2010) and, more recently, Assertion (Oxford 2015); his forthcoming book is titled To the Best of Our Knowledge, and is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

Dec 14, 2017

Kate Manne is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University.  She specializes in moral and social philosophy and feminist philosophy.  her new book is titled Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (Oxford 2018).

Nov 30, 2017

Tommie Shelby is Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African-American Studies, and Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University.  His research focuses on political equality and problems of economic, social, and criminal justice.  His most recent book is Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform, which is published by Harvard University Press. 

Nov 16, 2017

Can we change minds about Confederate monuments? Kevin Levin is a historian and educator studying the American Civil War and memory. His book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), was just released in paperback and he is the author of a recent article in the Atlantic Why I Changed My Mind About Confederate Monuments.

Nov 2, 2017

How does corporate misinformation and partisan skepticism effect what we know about climate change? Lawrence Torcello is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Philosophy. His research focuses on social and political philosophy, democratic theory, and climate justice. 

Oct 19, 2017

Seana Shiffrin is Professor of Philosophy and Pete Kameron Professor of Law and Social Justice at UCLA.  She defends the “thinker theory” of freedom of speech, which holds that a central reason for upholding a moral and legal system of free speech is that such a system is necessary for free thought and reflective action.  This view is articulated in her book, Speech Matters:On Lying, Morality, and the Law (Princeton 2014).

Aug 10, 2017

Helene Landemore is Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at Yale University. She defends the idea that democracy succeeds at harnessing the collective wisdom of the citizenry. This view is spelled out in her 2013 book Democratic Reason (Princeton University Press 2013). Landemore is currently completing a new book about the institutional design of a smart democracy.


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