Can I trust my senses? Can I tell that I'm not now dreaming? Some philosophical sceptics have maintained that we can't know anything for certain. Barry Stroud discusses the challenge posed by such sceptics in this episode of Philosophy Bites.
Philosophers often use elaborate thought experiments in their writing. Are these anything more than rhetorical flourishes? Or do they reveal important aspects of the questions under discussion. Julian Baggini, editor of The Philosophers' Magazine and author of a book, The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten, which surveys some of the most interesting and imaginative thought experiments philosophers have used discusses this topic with Nigel Warburton. David Edmonds introduces the interview.
Baruch de Spinoza was a highly original thinker and his Ethics provides an interesting analysis of the human condition. In this episode of Philosophy BitesSusan James discusses Spinoza's views on the passions.
Henry Hardy gives an illuminating account of Isaiah Berlin's pluralism, an idea he developed as a result of reading Machiavelli. Hardy knew and worked closely with Berlin for many years, and continues to edit and publish his papers. As well as giving a very clear account of Berlin's thought, he gives some insights into what kind of a man Berlin was.
In passing Hardy also reveals that Tony Blair once wrote to Berlin looking for an intellectual ally...
Myles Burnyeat explains what Aristotle meant by happiness in this latest episode of Philosophy Bites. Surprisingly, Aristotle thought that children couldn't be happy in a meaningful sense and that things that happen without you being aware of them can affect your happiness... Listen to Myles Burnyeat on Aristotle on Happiness
The book Maieusis, edited by Dominic Scott (see below) is a collection of articles by eminent classics scholars in honour of Myles Burnyeat.
What is philosophy? Does academic philosophy squeeze the life out of some of the most important questions we can ask? Alain de Botton, author of the bestseller The Consolations of Philosophy, discusses his conception of philosophy and the importance of literary style with Nigel Warburton in this latest episode of Philosophy Bites. Listen to Alain de Botton on Philosophy Within and Outside the Academy
The latest episode of Philosophy Bites focuses on Plato's Symposium. Angie Hobbs gives
a lively account of the various positions taken on erotic love and
sexual desire within that dialogue. (This podcast episode includes mild
Is there evidence of intelligent design in the Universe? In the Eighteenth Century David Hume presented a series of powerful arguments against the Argument from Design. Stewart Sutherland, Provost of Gresham College, outlines these arguments and demonstrates their continuing relevance.
What do we mean by 'consent' in a medical context? Is it reasonable to
ask for informed consent before performing medical procedures? Is
consent even the most important issue? Onora O'Neill challenges some
widely-held assumptions in this area in this latest interview for Philosophy Bites.
Below is a transcript of Quentin Skinner interviewed by Nigel Warburton for the podcast Philosophy Bites. The introduction is by David Edmonds. You may use this transcript for personal research but not for any commercial purpose.
DE: If humans lived in a state of nature – in other words a condition in which there was no political organization, no political power – there would be catastrophic war and anarchy. At least according to Thomas Hobbes. The fame of Hobbes, who was writing in the context of turmoil and civil war in England, rests mainly on Leviathan, his book about the relationship between the citizen and the state. Hobbes argued that we should cede the power to protect us to a mighty sovereign. A leading authority – probably the leading authority – on the life and political theory of Thomas Hobbes is the Cambridge professor Quentin Skinner.
NW: Quentin Skinner welcome to Philosophy Bites
QS: Well very nice to talk to you
NW: Now the topic we want to talk to you about today is Hobbes’ theory of the state. How would you characterize Hobbes’ Leviathan, his great work of 1651?
QS: Well, I think it is a theory of the state, essentially. And the title of the book points to that. Leviathan is the name of the state. The state is the generic idea. But Leviathan as Hobbes likes to put it in a sexual metaphor is engendered, it’s brought into being. So there is an act of christening. And the name of the state is Leviathan and that’s why it’s the name of the book