Thinking Out Loud Podcasts

Friendship vs Honesty

To whom or what do we have the greater obligation, a friend or the principle of honesty? Is it okay to lie to avoid hurting a friend's feelings? Is it okay to lie to protect a friend from physical harm? What about for profit or simply to avoid embarrassment? What is "situational ethics" and does it apply here? In situational ethics, if there are no universal rules that apply to every situation, what criteria should we use? Who is and is not a friend? Do friends ask friends to lie? Does friendship imply obligation? Where do obligations come from? Are obligations externally imposed or internally chosen? What are the boundaries of friendship? Is telling the truth always a virtue? Is it friendlier to be discrete or to confront? What are the alternatives? Who owns the truth? Does one have the right to demand of another that they keep private information private? Does one have the right to impose the truth on someone who does not want to hear it? Is there a gender difference in the level of confidentiality expected in a friendship? At what point is it right to end a friendship to protect one's principles? Can civil laws resolve conflicting virtues? Should confidentiality laws always be obeyed? Is there a higher law to resolve conflicts of virtues? If so, what is it? Join citizen philosophers Billie Lagerwerff, Deborah Martin, George Garrett, John Tytus, Steven Stokes, Uriah J. Fields and myself in this stimulating and insightful discussion. Music provided by David Rood.


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}071107_friendhonesty{/mp3}

What is Mysticism?

What is mysticism? Why should we believe reports of mystical experiences? What do we mean by the term, "mystical experience"? How can we distinguish between mystical experiences and psychotic experiences or other abnormal psychological phenomenon? Is the mystical experience an experience of a higher state of consciousness? Among the great variety of altered states of consciousness, how are we to judge which is higher or lower than another? What are the distinguishing characteristics that set mystical experiences apart? Is deja vu a mystical experience? What is the relationship between mystical experience and ecstasy? Can drug intoxication induce mystical experiences? Is a loss of a sense of self, always an indication of a mystical experience? Is mysticism a skill that can be taught? What are the benefits of mysticism? Does one gain supernatural powers from being in a mystical state? What are we to make of reports of levitation? Is mysticism at odds with science? What can one see while in a mystical state, that one cannot see otherwise? How does mystical insight affect the way one lives one's life? Is the mystical experience always sudden and intense? Does it have to be a so called "peak experience"? Can the mystical state also be obtained by a gradual process? Will a healthy mind in a healthy environment, naturally progress to a higher state of consciousness given sufficient time to mature? Do age and life experience help create the conditions conducive to mystical awareness? As we reflect deeply on everyday experiences, are they not also mystical? Join citizen philosophers Billie Lagerwerff, John Tytus, Mike Grosso, Steven Stokes, Uriah J. Fields and myself in this stimulating and insightful discussion. Music provided by David Rood.


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}071003_mysticism{/mp3}

What is Religion?

Is religion the antithesis of philosophy? What do they have in common? How are they different? What are the origins of religion? What is the "religious experience"? How do interpretation, doctrine, and dogma enter into religion? Does man's search for meaning inevitably lead to religion? How does religion provide meaning? What is the role of the church and its hierarchy of priests? What are the dangers of religion? Where is the line between religious instruction and involuntary indoctrination? How is spirituality different from religion? What is the role of religion in community formation and maintenance? What can science and philosophy learn from religion? Can religions evolve? Is it still possible for altogether new world religions to come into being? Can a synthesis emerge out of the collision of science, philosophy, and conflicting world religions? What could art, literature, and poetry add to such a synthesis? Join citizen philosophers Billie Lagerwerff, George Garret, John Tytus, Mike Grosso, Steven Stokes and myself in this stimulating and insightful discussion. Music provided by David Rood.


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}070905_religion{/mp3}

The Nature of Addiction

What is addiction? What are the similarities and distinctions between addictions, habits, compulsions, urges, and drives? Are addictions primarily physical or psychological? How do we develop addictions? Do addictions serve a purpose? What is the relationship between addiction and pain and suffering? Are all addictions bad? Can one become addicted to love or religion? Is there a transcendent element to addiction? Is intoxication necessarily an addiction? Is there a connection between the natural drives, such as sex and eating, and addictions? How do our emotions play into addiction? How much choice is involved in addiction? How does a behavior, that in some remains just episodic, become chronic in others? How can addictions be cured? Can addictions be broken voluntarily? What is the mechanism of the vicious circle? Is there a cultural component to addictions? Are some addictions actually encouraged in some cultures for the benefit of society at the expense of the individual? Join citizen philosophers George Garret, Mike Grosso, Uriah J. Fields and myself in this stimulating and insightful discussion. Music provided by David Rood.


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}070801_addiction{/mp3}

America's Democracy

As we celebrate America's 231st birthday, we ask ourselves what do we think of America's experiment in democratic self-governing? Has it turned out as planned? Is it functioning as it is supposed to? What is the function of democratic government? What are the risks in adopting a democratic form of government? How is America's democracy different from other democracies? How has it changed over the last two centuries? What developments, unforeseen by the original architects, are now interfering with the founding principles? What are the founding principles of our democracy? How are we to evaluate the health of a democracy? How does one cure an ailing democracy? What are the obstacles to maintaining a healthy democracy? Do we need to develop, invent, or evolve a new, more advanced form of government to overcome the ills of the older form? What might a more enlighten/mature form of government look like? How could it come into being? Would the older form of government need to be dismantled, or could the new be added on top of the old? Join citizen philosophers Billie Lagerwerff, Derek Breen, John Tytus, Ken Thompson and myself in this stimulating and insightful discussion. Music provided by David Rood.


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}070704_americandemocracy{/mp3}

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TOL Mission Statement


We engage together in, and record for broadcast, our earnest philosophical dialogues, so that we may:


  1. Enhance our understanding of life and the world in which we live.
  2. Stimulate intellectual curiosity and philosophical exploration in ourselves and others.
  3. Strengthen our intellectual skills of critical thinking and sound reasoning.
  4. Provide a forum for a diversity of thought from a broad spectrum of independent thinkers.
  5. Connect with and form a network among thoughtful and caring individuals, everywhere.
  6. Enjoy the pleasures of intellectually stimulating and philosophically insightful company.
  7. Promote the pursuit of wisdom in everyone.


TOL Guiding Principles


Civility - Treat everyone with respect. Use helpful, not hurtful language. Listen carefully and patiently when someone else is speaking.

Sincerity - Honest opinions and innocent questions are more valuable than "scoring points" or "looking smart". Strive for intellectual honesty.

Soundness - Favor sound reasoning over emotional rhetoric or sophomoric obfuscation.

Succinctness - Strive to be brief and to the point using understandable language. Speak loud and clear so others can hear.


TOL Rules of Discourse


Wait to be called on before speaking: Please don't just jump in. Restrain your enthusiasm. Hold that thought. Wait your turn.

One speaker at a time: No side conversations, comments, or noises please. They will be picked up by the recorder.

Address ideas, not individuals: Refrain from one-on-one debates, exchanges, or cross-examination. Focus on the message not the messenger.

Limit your time: Avoid the temptation to preach, teach, or lecture. Remember, others are waiting for their turn as well.

Yield to the moderator: - Always gracefully return the microphone back to moderator. Let the moderator determine who speaks next.


TOL Tips & Techniques


Listen carefully to what is being said and look for:


Assumptions that need to be examined.

Terms that need to be defined.

Inconsistencies that need to be resolved.

Distinctions that need to be made.

Patterns and relationships that emerge.


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