#27 Enlightenment Now with David Prestin


David Prestin (nextcallings.com) joins Dustyn and Whitney to dive into Steven Pinker's new book Enlightenment Now - The Case for Reason, Science, and Progress. Is the world in a better state than it seems? If so, why does it feel so bad?

David Prestin is a Life & Business Transitions Consultant and Coach at his company Next Callings.  Before starting out on his own, he spent 10 years at the Boeing Company as an Industrial & Systems Engineer, Manager, and Strategist.  He graduated from the University of Washington in 2007 with a B.A. in Philosophy and B.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering.  He went on to work on a M.S. in Engineering with a focus in Engineering Management and Leadership and graduating from Purdue University in 2012.  He's been with the UW Philosophy Departments Advisory Board since 2016.


Bakewell, Sarah. “Steven Pinker Continues to See the Glass Half Full.” The New York Times, March 3, 2018.

Gates, Bill. “My New Favorite Book of All Time.” gatesnotes.com. Accessed May 30, 2018.

Gopnik, Alison. “When Truth and Reason Are No Longer Enough.” The Atlantic, April 2018.

Pinker, Steven. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. New York, New York: Viking, 2018.

Szalai, Jennifer. “Steven Pinker Wants You to Know Humanity Is Doing Fine. Just Don’t Ask About Individual Humans.” The New York Times, March 1, 2018.

Episode #26: #NewsMatters

 Christine and Henry

Christine and Henry

Accurate, timely, localized and international - knowledge and facts are important, and ideally brought to us via journalistic entities and institutions. Given the value of journalism and news media to our lives and our society, is there an ethical obligation that falls on us to support them in return? 


  1. Shawn Musgrave and Matthew Nussbaum. “Trump thrives in areas that lack traditional news outlets.” Politico. March 8, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/08/news-subscriptions-decline-donald-trump-voters-505605
  2. Wenzel, John "The Gutting of The Denver Post is a Death Knell for Local News." The Atlantic. May 11, 2018. https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/560186/

  3. Branswell, Hellen. “When towns lose their newspapers, disease detectives are left flying blind”. Stat. March 20, 2018 https://www.statnews.com/2018/03/20/news-deserts-infectious-disease/

  4. Dubb, Steve. “Nonprofits Increasingly Central to the Future of the News”. Nonprofit Quarterly. February 8, 2018. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2018/02/12/nonprofits-increasingly-central-future-news/

  5. Barthel, Michael; et al. Civic Engagement Strongly Tied to Local News Habits” Pew Research Center. November 3, 2016. http://www.journalism.org/2016/11/03/civic-engagement-strongly-tied-to-local-news-habits/ 

  6. Nolan, Hamilton. "A Billionaire Destroyed His Newsrooms Out of Spite." New York Times. November 3, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/opinion/dnainfo-gothamist-ricketts-union.html

#25 Factory Farms: A Confluence of Oppression with Christine Ball-Blakely

 Christine and Henry

Christine and Henry

Most people know that factory farms are unpleasant places. However, many don't realize the impact of factory farms on the people who live near them, including the degradation of the water, air, and even property values in nearby communities. Christine Ball-Blakely, lawyer and animal rights advocate, joins Dustyn and Whitney to talk about factory farms and their disproportionate impact on communities of color.


  1. Christine Ball-Blakely, "CAFOs: Plaguing North Carolina Communities of Color." Sustainable Development Law and Policy Brief, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2017.
  2. Animal Legal Defense Fund
  3. Update on North Carolina Lawsuit: David Meyer, "A $50 Million Lawsuit Over Stinky Pigs Has the Whole Pork Industry Scared." Fortune, April 2018.

#24 Take Five: Aliens, Ted Nugent, and Celeb Politicians

#23 A Tech Utopia?


Will technology, and our tech leaders, bring about utopia? Or are their promises just another marketing gimmick? Can we trust the richest of the rich to look out for the rest of us?


#22 A Moral Document

"Budgets are moral documents," policymakers say. What does this mean? Should we evaluate our governmental, and personal, budgets ethically? Does the way we spend money reveal our true ethical commitments?


#21 Wolverine Gets Old: "Logan," Aging, and Heroism


What's it like when someone with superpowers begins to age? What does it say about our own views on aging and mortality? We explore these questions, as well as the connection between heroism and the body.



Logan. 2017. Directed by James Mangold.

‘Logan’ is really about caring for an elderly relative while also raising a child - Michael Cavna and David Betancourt, Washington Post (March 6, 2017)

Logan broke our hearts in many beautiful ways — and one awful one - Tasha Robinson, Kwame Opam and MEgan Farokhmanesh, The Verge (March 6, 2017)

#19 Bigfoot (The Philosophy of)

 Credit:  Darren Naish

Credit: Darren Naish


Bigfoot. Sasquatch. Yeti. Skunk Ape. Is it reasonable to believe in this hairy humanoid of the forest? This week's episode: Bigfoot (The Philosophy of).


Benjamin Radford, "Bigfoot at 50: Evaluating a Half-Century of Bigfoot Evidence." Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 2002.

Darren Naish, "If Bigfoot Were Real." Scientific American. 2016.

"The Bigfoot Trap." Atlas Obscura

#18 Sweating the Small Stuff

 Credit:  Alli

Credit: Alli

Philosophers talk a lot about big ethical transgressions: murder, cheating, trolley problems, etc. What about the real-life choices you actually have to make every day? Dustyn and Whitney explore the small ethical transgressions people commit all the time. How bad is it to steal from the self check-out line? Can you lie to kids to make them behave? What about googling someone before a first date?


Rene Chun, The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery, The Atlantic, March 2018.

Rebecca Hersher, How Small Fibs Lead to Big Lies, NPR, October 2016. 

Garrett, N., Lazzaro, S.C., Ariely, D., and Sharot, T. (2016). Nature Neuroscience. The brain adapts to dishonesty

Welsh, D.T., Ordonez, L.D., Snyder, D.G., Christian, M.S. (2015). Journal of Applied Psychology. The Slippery Slope: How Small Ethical Transgressions Pave the Way for Larger Future Transgressions

Philosophers on Lying

Peyser, E. Don't Google Me Before Our First Date, Cosmopolitan, 2016. 


#17 The Opioid Crisis and Harm Reduction with Leo Beletsky

#16 Hitler's Art, "Literally," and the Next Generation

#15 The Self-Improvement Machine with Chris Partridge


Why are there so many books, apps, and systems devoted to self-optimization? Are they helping us improve where it matters? If we're getting better, why does it feel so bad? Chris Partridge joins Dustyn and Whitney to discuss the drivers and pains of endless self-improvement. 

More on Chris: cpartridge.com,

Chris's Twitter: @narc_twain,

Supper Club: https://www.facebook.com/supperclubchicago/


  1. Alexandra Schwartz, "Improving Ourselves to Death." New Yorker. 2018.
  2. Laurie Penny, "Life Hacks of the Poor and Aimless." The Baffler. 2016.

  3. Noah Berlatsky, "Silicon Valley’s quest for self-improvement exposes everything that’s wrong with late-capitalist society."  Quartz. 2017

Further Reading

  1. Joshua Topolsky, "Silicon Valley Would Be Wise to Follow China’s Lead (annotated for clarity)." The Outline. 2018.

#13 Black Mirror: "Nosedive" and Yelp for People


Dustyn and Whitney talk about the Black Mirror episode "Nosedive" and get into what makes Yelp-for-People so horrifying. Whitney recommends the book Halsey Street by Naima Coster and the album If All I Was Was Black by Mavis Staples. Dustyn recommends the film A Ghost Story.


Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 1: "Nosedive"

Botsman, Rachel. “Big Data Meets Big Brother as China Moves to Rate Its Citizens.” WIRED UK.

Perez, Sarah. “Controversial People-Rating App Peeple Goes Live, Has a Plan to Profit from Users’ Negative Reviews.” TechCrunch.


Halsey Street by Naima Coster

If All I Was Was Black by Mavis Staples

A Ghost Story. Directed by David Lowery

#12 The City: History vs. Development


Whitney and Dustyn explore the tension between historical preservation and development. Then they focus on the classic question: would you accept a duel on the moon?


  1. Dan Bertolet “When Historic Preservation Clashes with Housing Affordability.” Sightline Institute.
  2. “Environmental and Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation.Adventures in Preservation.
  3. Kelsey E. Thomas. “High-Profile Historic Preservationist Makes the Case for Saving Buildings.” NextCity
  4. Jack Strawbridge. “How Historic Preservation Can Drive Examination of Racial Inequality.” NextCity
  5. Meeks, Stephanie. “Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation Go Hand-in-Hand.” CityLab.

#11 Blue Ruin: The Ethics of Vengeance with Chris Partridge


Comedy writer Chris Partridge (@narc_twain) joins Dustyn and Whitney to explore the ethical questions at the heart of the film, Blue Ruin: must we avenge the ones we love? Does pursuing vengeance make your a life a blue ruin? Is violence outside of self-defense ever justified?

To see more from Chris, check out cpartridge.com or follow him on Twitter: @narc_twain

#10 Philosophy for Children with Jana Mohr Lone


Jana Mohr Lone, director and founder of University of Washington's Center for Philosophy for Children and founding president of the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO) joins Dustyn and Whitney to discuss philosophy for children: what does philosophical education for children look like? What would a world be like where everyone was a little more philosophical?  How do you navigate difficult topics like violence and religion with children?

#9 The Good Art of Bad People


In light of the prominence of sexual assault allegations against artists, art historian Lane Eagles joins Dustyn and Whitney as they navigate the difficult question: how does our relationship to art change when we know its creator did bad things? Are we allowed to enjoy the works? Are we allowed to purchase them?


Amanda Hess. “How the Myth of the Artistic Genius Excuses the Abuse of Women.” The New York Times, November 10, 2017.

Caitlin Thompson. “Roxane Gay: The Bad Feminist’s Guide to Enjoying Hip Hop.” WNYC.

Chuck Klosterman. “On Boycotting Woody Allen’s Films.” The New York Times, March 14, 2014.

Justin Weinberg. “Philosophers On The Art of Morally Troubling Artists.” Daily Nous, November 21, 2017.

Kate Harding. “Letters From Hollywood: Roman Polanski’s Rape Of Child No Big Thing.” Jezebel. Accessed November 9, 2017.

Melena Ryzik, Cara Buckley, and Jodi Kantor. “Louis C.K. Crossed a Line Into Sexual Misconduct, 5 Women Say.” The New York Times, November 9, 2017.

Noël Carroll. “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research.” Ethics 110, no. 2 (2000): 350–87.

Roxane Gay. “Compartmentalizing Woody Allen: What America Chooses Not to See.” Salon, February 2, 2014.

Saturday Night Live. Welcome to Hell - SNL. 

Further Reading

Ann Hornaday, “Louis C.K., male accountability and the year fans were forced to grow up.” Washington Post, 2017

Charles McGrath, “Good Art, Bad People”. New York Times, 2012.

Claire Dederer, “What do we do with the art of monstrous men?” Paris Review, 2017

Cody Delistraty, “How Picasso Bled the Women in His Life for Art”. Paris Review, 2017