Philosophy For Our Times

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The Institute of Art and Ideas is committed to placing philosophy and big ideas at the heart of public life -- building philosophy for our times. Described by Total Politics as "Europe's answer to TED", the IAI hosts the world’s largest philosophy and music festival, HowTheLightGetsIn and curates hundreds of debates and talks a year with the world’s leading thinkers. For over 1000 free debates and talks, subscribe and review our podcast episodes on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher.
Updated: 1 hour 47 min ago

E124 | How We Came To MeToo | Linda Woodhead

December 4, 2018 - 10:34
Sexual abuse accusations have reached an unprecedented high. How have we come here, and why is this happening now? Leading British sociologist Linda Woodhead investigates.

E123 | Minds, Madness And Medicine | Lucy Johnstone, David Nutt, David Healy

November 27, 2018 - 10:38
Deaths from heart disease have fallen by almost two thirds since the 1960s, yet outcomes for those with mental illness have not improved for decades. Is this because we have the wrong categories and the wrong diagnoses? Might neuroscience enable more precise descriptions and more effective treatment? Or is it a mistake to think that biological accounts of mental illness will ever provide the answers? Users and Abusers of Psychiatry author Lucy Johnstone, psychiatrist David Nutt and author of The Antidepressant Era David Healy consider plausible alternatives to diagnosis.

E122 | Who We Are | Diane Abbott, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Kemi Badenoch, Richard Reeves

November 20, 2018 - 11:30
Ten years ago, the US elected its first black president. Yet race-related hate crime has increased 216% in the last year. Are we wrong to suppose that racial prejudice will be overcome by equal opportunity? Should we dream of a world where race is not a basis for social identity? Or are social groupings inevitable and equality the only possible solution?

E121 | The Evolution of Suicide | Nicholas Humphreys

November 13, 2018 - 12:41
Suicide is a terrible but commonplace event amongst all societies within the human race. But at what point in our evolution did suicide come into being, and for what purpose? Can suicide be explained, and if so, can we provide an answer to those who become so desperate? Neuropsychologist and author of A History of the Mind Nicholas Humphrey answers these questions.

E120 | A Tale of Love and Hate | Rowan Williams, Renata Salecl, Robert Rowland Smith

November 6, 2018 - 11:29
We think love an indisputable force for good. Yet from Jihadi John to Anders Breivik, extremists often cite love of creed or country to justify atrocities. Might love of a person or group also be the origin of prejudice and hatred towards others? Are love and hatred forever entwined, as Freud suggested? Or can we imagine a society built on love but free from tribalism? Former Archbishop of Cantebury Rowan Williams, sociologist and author of Perversions of Love and Hate Renata Salecl and philosopher Robert Rowland Smith debate the dark side of love. Michael Crick hosts.

E119 | The Good, the Bad and the Artist | Stanley Fish, Emma Sulkowicz, Nell Stevens, John Harvey

October 30, 2018 - 11:21
In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, many called for a boycott of the films of Roman Polanski and Woody Allen. Yet 20th century literary critics encouraged us to look at the text alone, citing "the death of the author." Can and should we separate the artist from the art? Are the misdeeds of writers, thinkers and artists irrelevant to their work? Or should we excise the morally indefensible? Literary critic Stanley Fish, Carry That Weight performance artist Emma Sulkowicz, novelist Nell Stevens and Cambridge cultural theorist John Harvey untangle the beautiful and the good.

E118 | Could the Universal Basic Income work? | Guy Standing vs Deirdre McCloskey

October 23, 2018 - 10:04
Once dismissed as a utopian fantasy, universal income has now hit the mainstream. With new technologies, support from across the political spectrum, and advocates from Stephen Hawking to Mark Zuckerberg, it’s no surprise people have begun to take the idea seriously. In a combative head-to-head debate, author of Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen Guy Standing goes head to head with leading libertarian economist Deirdre McCloskey.

Bonus Episode: Tribute to Mary Midgley

October 18, 2018 - 16:57
We are paying tribute to philosopher Mary Midgley who passed away last week at the age of 99 by revisiting our episode 'Are you an illusion?' in which Midgley investigates the self with fellow philosopher Simon Blackburn and neuroscientist Colin Blakemore. (With special thanks to the In Parenthesis project for interview excerpts).

E116 | Mysteries of the multiverse | Catherine Heymans

October 17, 2018 - 17:26
Can we ever observe universes beyond our own? Astrophysicist Catherine Heymans reveals the latest innovations that might help map out the multiverse.

E115 | The AI Revolution | Nigel Shadbolt

October 15, 2018 - 10:13
In world with artificial intelligence, how will we maintain control? Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Open Data Institute co-founder and researcher at Oxford University, examines how AI looks set to reshape our lives and society.

E114 | Reason And The Gods | Myriam Francois, Anthony Gottlieb, Linda Woodhead

October 3, 2018 - 09:54
Belief in the Gods once filled lives with purpose and a vision of truth. Now many in the secular West dismiss the divine yet also rue the loss of meaning and belief. Is this because evidence and reason are not sufficient to make sense of the world? Is there something about the world that is deeply strange and justifies spirituality? Or is the worldwide flourishing of religion a temporary blip in human history? Sociologist of religion Linda Woodhead, former executive editor of The Economist and author of The Dream of the Enlightenment Anthony Gottlieb, TV presenter and Research Associate at SOAS Centre for Islamic Studies Myriam Francois explore the link between reason and religion. Julian Baggini hosts.

E113 | The Secrets Of Consciousness | Phillip Goff, Nicholas Humphreys, Susan Blackmore

October 1, 2018 - 13:06
Consciousness is a one of the unresolved philosophical questions. There was hope that neuroscience might find some answers. But we still have no explanation for where brain activity ends and experience begins. Is it a mistake to think we can explain consciousness by examining the brain? Should we look elsewhere to our evolutionary roots perhaps? Or might neuroscience pull the cat from the bag after all? Psychologist and author of Seeing Myself Susan Blackmore, panpsychist and author of Consciousness and Fundamental Reality Philip Goff, and psychologist Nicholas Humphrey, whose books include The Mind Made Flesh and Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness, explore the unknown corners of our minds and lives.

E112 | Against Meritocracy | Kwame Anthony Appiah

September 19, 2018 - 10:24
Would a meritocratic society provide a fair equality of opportunity? Can discrimination based on merit ever be justified, or should we aim to solve social inequality through equality of outcome? Kwame Anthony Appiah is a British Ghaniain philosopher at Columbia University and author of Cosmopolitanism and The Honor Code.

E111 | The Meaning of Life | Julian Baggini, Helen Lederer, Steve Taylor

September 12, 2018 - 15:50
In an age without belief or certainites, we all risk finding ourselves lost. But Camus claimed you will never live, if you are looking for the meaning of life. Should we focus on experience and being in the moment? Or is a life without an overall goal and direction also a life without meaning? On the panel is philosopher and author of The Edge of Reason Julian Baggini; comedian, actress and author of Losing It, Helen Lederer and psychologist and author of The Leap Steve Taylor. Joanna Kavenna hosts. More on

The The End of the Theory of Everything | John Ellis, Huw Price, Joanna Kavenna

September 5, 2018 - 11:31
Stephen Hawking once predicted a theory of everything by 2000. However, after decades without one he began to doubt its existence. Have we failed because no one theory can make sense of reality? Must we "employ different theories in different situations" as Hawking suggested, or is there a final theory just waiting to be discovered?

E109 | Beyond Men and Women | Finn Mackay, Angela Eagle, Patricia MacCormack

August 28, 2018 - 18:23
What does is mean to socially construct a gendered identity, and why do some feminists insist on separating this from the sex we are assigned at birth? On the panel: activist Finn Mackay, Labour politician Angela Eagle and post-human philosopher, Patricia MacCormack

E108 | Generation Wars II | Diane Abbott, Anatole Kaletsky, Victor Adebowale, Joe Todd

August 21, 2018 - 12:11
Some refer to millennials as entitled avocado-eating lay-about’s who care more about their social media presence than engaging with and caring about the world. Millennials, on the other hand, soothe their sorrow at never being able to afford a mortgage (even if they didn’t eat avocados) by eating avocados. Who deserves sympathy and crucially, whom does the state support? The older generation or the younger? Our panel for Generation Wars, part 2, features Labour MP Dianne Abbott, economist Anatole Kaletsky, People’s Peer Victor Adebowale and Momentum campaigner Joe Todd. Tom Clark hosts