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Damn the Absolute!

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A Society, Culture and Philosophy podcast featuring Jeffrey Howard
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Best Episodes of Damn the Absolute!

Debates about reversing climate change can be understood as a tension between two groups: wizards and prophets.  According to Charles C. Mann, wizards are tech-optimists, those who believe that technology resolves more problems than it creates,
Answering questions about what it means for humans to flourish is difficult. Attempting any certainty as to what it means for nonhuman animals to flourish is even more confounding. And yet, these questions have significant overlap.   While some
When it comes to resource management, there are two dominant forces that exert tremendous influence on who gets what: the market and the state. Sometimes these two entities compete or conflict. Other times they collaborate, and even conspire—to
Coming to some semblance of consensus opinion is a paramount challenge in a pluralistic world. We disagree on what constitutes truth and how we ought to obtain it, whether our undertaking be moral, scientific, or political.  It has been a co
There has long been a bit of jousting between the human and natural sciences over who is more rigorous or which method is better capable of providing us with facts about the world. For certain types of empiricists, this jockeying for epistemolo
While some philosophers view their primary task as one of discovering the nature of reality and then describing it accurately for the rest of us, others have practiced philosophy as an edifying enterprise, asserting that it should be employed
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that we are always in an age of crisis. Whether this entails more apocalyptic tendencies or more tempered framings, crisis seems to be a constant companion throughout human history. At present, crises abound
Mass schooling is a relatively recent phenomenon, an experiment in education that gained steam following the industrial revolution, becoming increasingly widespread in the nineteenth century, in part, due to advocates like Horace Mann. Mann was
Trust plays a central role in democratic societies. If we can’t rely upon fellow community members to act in accordance with generally accepted norms, then we’re going to be in a really bad way. Social trust in the US has fallen dramatically.
We occupy human environments that are overlapped by numerous social, moral, and political systems. Some of these interlock while it’s unclear how exactly others relate to one another. The more theoretically-minded among us—and the more ideolog
Many Western philosophers have approached questions of knowledge conceiving of truth as something that is “out there,” unchangeable, abstract, and universal. There is an inherent structure in the universe and we must discover what exactly it is
Early in life we learn rules for moral conduct. We are taught which actions are right and which ones are wrong. Eventually we’re able to grasp principles and closed systems that allege to hold in place the reasons for why any particular action
Theorists and activists argue that education is the bedrock of a democratic society. Having a well-educated citizenry is necessary for people to meet the demands required for democracies to thrive. In the United States, schooling is conceived
We want to be in proper relationship with the world. In other words, we want to have as many true beliefs as possible, or, at least, fewer false beliefs. We hope the ideas we hold will suit us well for adapting to the demands of our social, mo
There is a strong tension between localism or place and the overwhelming forces of globalism. We might say that in addition to living in the information age, that we find ourselves in the age of mass scale. We see it in pop culture, mass media,
In the process of creating political worldviews, there are a variety of values we integrate and use as foundational. Liberty, equality, fraternity, and solidarity are commonly held political values in both the United States and Europe. But wha
What has happened to the political left since the 1960s? What distinguishes the reformist left from the cultural left? What does it mean for a leftist to have "national pride"? Are metaphysicians more prone to violence?   In the very first epis
Pragmatists do not hold absolute faith in any particular value, principle, or belief. This applies even to the many concepts affiliated with pragmatists—such as pluralism, fallibilism, democracy, and naturalism.   They focus on experience as th
Buddhist practice has been around since the sixth century. As a way of life, Buddhism acknowledges there is suffering in the world, which arises from selfish desire, and that by letting go of this desire and following the Eightfold Path—put for
A philosophy of living, similar to a religion, explains the human condition and provides a moral and spiritual guide for how we can navigate identified challenges. It directs our behavior and helps us understand the significance of what we expe
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