125 Stanford Stories

NO. 114

Philosophy Talk

Stanford professors’ radio show “questions everything … except your intelligence” 

Have you ever wondered why Earth exists? Whether the laws of physics can be amended? Whether there’s more than one universe and, if so, whether we’re in the original or a parallel one? 

So have Ken Taylor and John Perry, two Stanford philosophers. And so does their worldwide community of listeners on Philosophy Talk, the syndicated public radio show that “questions everything … except your intelligence.” 

It’s broadcast on more than 100 stations around the country – including Tuesday mornings at 9 o’clock on Stanford radio station KZSU-FM. 

Taylor, a professor of philosophy at Stanford and director of the interdisciplinary Symbolic Systems Program, and Perry, an emeritus professor of philosophy, challenge listeners to identify and question their own assumptions and to think about things in new ways. 

The program is just one instance of Stanford philosophers’ work to supply people on campus and worldwide with the tools of thinking to augment their personal and professional lives. 

Some Philosophy Talk episodes train a philosophical lens on current issues – such as the crisis of representation in U.S. politics or Edward Snowden and the ethics of whistleblowing. 

Others take on questions that have engaged philosophers throughout time. 

In March 2016, Taylor and Perry hosted an eight-part “Philosophical Guide to the Cosmos” that explored nothing less than the origin and nature of the universe.

They asked guest scholars such questions as, “What exactly are space and time? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is the universe fine-tuned to support intelligent life? What are dark matter and dark energy? Are there limits to what we can ultimately know?”

Philosophy Talk is produced by San Francisco public radio station KALW-FM as part of Stanford’s Humanities Outreach Initiative. Some episodes are taped in studio. Others are produced before live audiences  at venues in the Bay Area and around the country.  

 In addition, Philosophy Talk produces web-only content for its online Community of Thinkers worldwide.  

Browse recent and upcoming Philosophy Talk episodes.

Listen to “A Philosophical Guide to the Cosmos” online.

Listen to podcasts of other past episodes through Stanford University Libraries and the Online Archive of California.

Learn what station carries the show in your area.