Thinking Out Loud Podcasts

Collective Responsibility

What is collective responsibility? Does an individual have a responsibility to the collective? Does the collective have a responsibility to the individual? Is there really such a thing as "the collective"? Is the whole really greater than the sum of its parts? Are there not just individuals? On the other hand, is there really such a thing as a truly separate individual? Are we not all interconnected? Does accepting the benefits of group membership automatically impose some responsibilities on the individual toward the group? Does membership impart responsibility for the decisions of the group even if a particular member disagreed with those decisions? Must one renounce membership in a group in order to be absolved of collective responsibility for the group? If you are a member of a team, what are your responsibilities toward the other team members? What is your responsibility toward the team as a whole? What is your responsibility toward the mission of the team? What if these responsibilities conflict? What role does group identity play in collective responsibility? Are we responsible for decisions of collectives that we inherit such as previous generations or previous administrations? Is there not a distinction between assuming responsibility and assigning responsibility? Can responsibility be coerced? Doesn't responsibility have to be voluntary on at least some level, for it to be true responsibility? Does collective responsibility necessarily mean sacrificing individuality? How is the welfare of the individual related to the good of the group? Does membership in a group dilute individual responsibility? What is the role of dissent in a group and how does it relate to collective responsibility? Is not the final measure of responsibility in the action that is taken? Are we not today facing problems on such a scale that collective global action will be required for our very survival? Are we capable of exercising such collective responsibility?


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}080402_collectiveresponsibility{/mp3}

What are our human responsibilities?

Where do responsibilities come from? Are they imposed upon us by our culture? Are there any responsibilities that are innate and universal? To whom are we responsible? Are we first and foremost responsible to ourselves? Do we have a responsibility to be authentic? Do we have a responsibility to grow - "to become our best self"? Do we have a responsibility to be introspective - "Know thyself"? Do we have any fundamental responsibility to others? Is our responsibility to others merely passive (do no harm) or is it also proactive (be of service)? Are we "our bother's keeper"? Does our responsibility to others extend beyond our culture? Is being responsible the same as being moral? Do we all have the same responsibilities? Are knowledge and ability prerequisites for responsibility? Do our responsibilities change as we grow older and more aware? How does our personal responsibility relate to our collective responsibility?


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}080305_responsibility{/mp3}

What is the Nature of Atonement?

Is there something universal about atonement that explains why it seems to be a part of so many religious, spiritual, and personal growth practices? Is it prerequisite for a joyful life? What are the essential elements of atonement? Is the acknowledgment and confession of wrongdoing sufficient? Is it necessary to "make things right"? Can there be atonement in situations where damage cannot be undone? Are words and feelings sufficient? Is action required? Is payment necessary for atonement? Is payment sufficient? What is the role of the wronged party? What if the wronged party chooses not to forgive or cannot forgive? What if the wronged party is no longer living? With whom do we need to make things right? What is the role of a guilty conscience? Is atonement a selfish act to attain inner peace? What is the proper motivation for atonement? What about situations where the wrong is done by one group of people against another group of people collectively? Can one and should one atone for the actions of others? Are we responsible for the actions of your ancestors? Are we responsible for the action of our government? Can we choose to accept responsibility for the action of others, as an act of will? Do we need to atone for the damage being done to the planet as a whole? What debt do we inherit from those who proceed us? Whom do we owe? Whom can we pay?


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}080206_atonement{/mp3}


What Is Your Conscience?

Is our conscience that voice inside our head, telling us what to do? Is there only one voice? How can we tell which voice is our conscience and which is the little devil on our shoulder? Can meditation help us hear the right voice? Is our conscience a voice in our head or a feeling in our gut? Is our conscience culturally acquired or innately present? When Huck Finn was running away with his slave, Jim, what was his conscience saying? Was it a reliable guide? Is our conscience a passive resource to be consulted or an active agent that intrudes itself upon us? Rather than an instrument providing an answer, could it be just an innate drive to grapple with the question? Are pangs of guilt a reliable indicator of wrong-doing? Does our conscience speak to us on multiple levels? Which is more reliable, our gut, our heart, or our head? How do we reconcile these multiple "voices" with the fact that we are really just one being? How does empathy relate to conscience? How universal is the conscience? Why do some individual get different answers from their conscience than someone else in the same situation? To what extent is our conscience programmed by our upbringing and our culture? Does the conscience mature with life experience? Are there universal stages of development for the conscience? Is our current narcissistic society and culture of rudeness a result of a lack of proper moral or ethical nurturing? Join citizen philosophers Billie Lagerwerff, David Rood, Deborah Martin, George Garrett, John Tytus, Steven Stokes and myself in this stimulating and insightful discussion. Music provided by David Rood.


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}080102_consciencetrust{/mp3}

Peace on Earth

Why is this longstanding human desire taking so long? Is there something peculiar about mankind? Is human aggression different from aggression we see in nature? Where does aggression come from? How is individual violence different from the collective violence of war? How does collective action give "permission" for violence committed by individuals? Why don't individuals simply refuse to commit violence even when given permission by nations at war? Is it realistic to hope for eventual universal individual enlightenment as a solution? How does group identity and ideology justify aggression? Is war ever justified? Are wars of self-defense any better than wars of aggression? Are there longstanding peaceful nations we can look toward as role models? Can weaker nations enjoy peace only when the stronger nations dominate the conflicts? How is technology changing the balance of power among nations and other smaller organizations or groups? Is it possible to transform aggressor nations or groups? Do inequality of resources and real or perceived injustices justify aggression? Are nations just behaving like living, growing organisms with legitimate needs for resources? Are there sufficient avenues to address basic needs by nonviolent means? Would self-imposed population control be sufficient to end conflict? What can be done about the increasing appetites of the developed nations? Can a common global threat unite otherwise hostile people? Might the increasingly dire, global climate crisis be such a threat? Join citizen philosophers Derek Breen, Deborah Martin, Steven Stokes and myself in this stimulating and insightful discussion. Music provided by David Rood.


Listen to the podcast:{mp3}071205_peaceonearth{/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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