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Eric Schwitzgebel

24 Podcast Episodes

Latest 28 Jan 2023 | Updated Daily

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A philosophical theory of jerks (with Eric Schwitzgebel)

Clearer Thinking with Spencer Greenberg

To what extent does thinking about ethics actually cause a person to behave more ethically? Do ethicists behave more ethically than the average person, or are they just better at justifying their unethical behavior? Why do we sometimes have strong negative reactions to people who seem "too" moral — even if they're genuinely altruistic and not just acting as though they're better than everyone else? Is morality inherently motivating? More specifically, are some kinds of moral beliefs more motivating than others (e.g., beliefs obtained through reasoning vs. beliefs adopted because of social pressures vs. implicit beliefs to which our brains are predisposed for evolutionary reasons, etc.)? In philosophical terms, what is a jerk? How many kinds of jerks are there? Are philosophers mostly trying to find the truth, or are they mostly just playing logic games?Eric Schwitzgebel is a professor of philosophy at University of California, Riverside. He has published widely in moral psychology and philosophy of mind, including on the moral behavior of ethics professors, on introspection and consciousness, and on the role of science fiction in philosophical thinking. His most recent book is A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures. He blogs at The Splintered Mind.

1hr 15mins

1 Jun 2022

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What Is Consciousness? | Eric Schwitzgebel

What Is X?

In this episode of “What Is X?” Justin E.H. Smith comes ready to be persuaded, as he tries to get a handle on one of the most difficult Xes of all: consciousness. What are the inner states we experience? Is figuring it out just a matter of neural activity, or might there be something to consciousness that science can’t fully apprehend? What is the nature of introspection, the stream of thoughts and experiences we have in the privacy of our own intellects? What are the boundaries of consciousness? Is it different from sense perception? What does it mean to “see” a red dot? From the origins of psychoanalysis to philosophy debates of the 1990s, Justin and Eric try to answer the question so poignantly captured by The Pixies: Where is my mind?

1hr 9mins

15 Mar 2022

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Eric Schwitzgebel: Metaphysics of Mind, Issues of Introspection, Ethics of Ethicists, Aliens & AI

Mind-Body Solution with Dr Tevin Naidu

WATCH: https://youtu.be/kKJyo2_s5P8Eric Schwitzgebel is Professor of Philosophy at University of California at Riverside. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from Stanford and his PhD in Philosophy from U.C. Berkeley. He blogs at The Splintered Mind and is the author of Perplexities of Consciousness (2011) and A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures (2019). He has published dozens of articles on the issue of introspection, moral psychology, the nature of belief and other attitudes; the epistemology of philosophy; ancient Chinese philosophy; philosophical issues in moral, developmental, and perceptual psychology; the metaphysics of consciousness; and the relationship between philosophy and science fiction. EPISODE LINKS:- Eric's Website: http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~eschwitz/- Eric's Blog: http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/- Eric's Books: https://www.amazon.com/Eric-Schwitzgebel/e/B004FR351K%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share- Eric's Publications: https://philpeople.org/profiles/eric-schwitzgebelCONNECT:- Website: https://tevinnaidu.com- Instagram: https://instagram.com/drtevinnaidu- Facebook: https://facebook.com/drtevinnaidu- Twitter: https://twitter.com/drtevinnaidu- LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/drtevinnaiduTIMESTAMPS:(0:00) - Introduction(0:40) - Mind-Body Problem(9:00) - Universal craziness thesis(17:00) - Issues with theories of consciousness(29:00) - What is consciousness and the self?(36:25) - Issues of introspection and beliefs(52:11) - Other minds(1:00:08) - Philosophy of science fiction(1:06:47) - Ethics of ethicists(1:14:22) - Philosophy of philosophers(1:23:32) - Universal dubiety thesis(1:30:27) - Artificial intelligence(1:35:42) - Copernican principle of consciousness & alien species(1:41:40) - Belief in God, atheism, agnosticism(1:45:09) - Free will & compatibilism(1:48:40) - Eric's author recommendations(1:56:43) - Skepticism of philosophical expertise(2:00:29) - Conclusion Website · YouTube

2hr 1min

9 Mar 2022

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EA - [Linkpost] Eric Schwitzgebel: Against Longtermism by ag4000

The Nonlinear Library

Welcome to The Nonlinear Library, where we use Text-to-Speech software to convert the best writing from the Rationalist and EA communities into audio. This is: [Linkpost] Eric Schwitzgebel: Against Longtermism, published by ag4000 on January 6, 2022 on The Effective Altruism Forum.This is a linkpost forEric Schwitzgebel, a philosophy professor at UC Riverside, just posted a criticism of longtermism on his blog. In short, his arguments are:We live in a dangerous time in history, but there's no reason to think that the future won't be at least as dangerous. Thus, we'll likely go extinct sooner rather than later, so the expected value of the future is not nearly as great as many longtermists make it out to be.It's incredibly hard to see how to improve the longterm. For example, should we almost destroy ourselves (e.g., begin a cataclysmic yet survivable nuclear war) to avoid the risks from even more dangerous anthropogenic threats?Apart from temporal discounting, there are reasonable ethical positions from which one might still have greater reason to help those temporally closer than farther. For example, confucianism says we should focus more on those "closer" to us in the moral circle (friends, family, etc.) than those "farther" (including, presumably, future people).There's a risk that longtermism could make people ignore the plight of those currently suffering. (Although, Schwitzgebel acknowledges, prominent longtermists like Ord also work in more neartermist areas.)Overall, the critiques don't seem to be original. The third argument seems to me to be a reminder that it is important to examine the case for longtermism from other ethical perspectives.If you enjoyed reading Schwitzgebel's post, he has another EA-related post about AI alignment (as well as many posts on consciousness, e.g., in AI).Thanks for listening. To help us out with The Nonlinear Library or to learn more, please visit nonlinear.org.


6 Jan 2022

Most Popular

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Skepticism & Consciousness | Eric Schwitzgebel - Ideas Sleep Furiously Podcast E05

Ideas Sleep Furiously

Eric Schwitzgebel is an American philosopher and professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. His main interests include connections between empirical psychology and philosophy of mind and the nature of belief. Support the show with a dollar/pound per video and get your name in the credits and my heart:   https://www.patreon.com/Ideas_Sleep

1hr 20mins

11 Jul 2021

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Rationally Speaking #166 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Why you should expect the truth to be crazy"

Sped up Rationally Speaking

Some theories violate common sense so wildly that you want to just reject them out of hand. For example, "The United States is conscious," or "The most moral act would be to replace all living beings with an orgasmic blob." On the other hand, many theories in physics that sounded similarly crazy turned out to be very well-supported (think of quantum theory, or relativity). So what role should "common sense" play in evaluating new theories? This episode features a discussion with philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel on his theory of "Crazyism," that we should expect the truth to be at least a little bit crazy.  Sped up the speakers by ['1.0', '1.04']


3 Jan 2021

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Rationally Speaking #139 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Moral hypocrisy: why doesn't knowing about ethics make people more ethical?"

Sped up Rationally Speaking

You might expect that professional ethicists -- people whose job it is to determine which behaviors are ethical and why -- would behave more ethically than other people. You'd be wrong! This episode features philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel , who is well known for his work studying whether experts in ethics live up to their own standards. He and Julia discuss why the answer is "no," and explore questions like, "How do you decide how moral you're going to try to be?" Eric Schwitzgebel is a Professor of Philosophy at University of California at Riverside. He is the co-author (with Russell T. Hurlburt) of Describing Inner Experience?: Proponent Meets Skeptic and blogs at The splintered Mind.  Sped up the speakers by ['1.0', '1.16']


3 Jan 2021

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#095 - Breaking the Overton Window (Eric Schwitzgebel)

Renegade Ape - Psychology, Philosophy, and the Overton Wasteland

Prof. Eric Schwitzgebel joins us to discuss the concept of the "Overton Window" and the potential consequences of engaging in unacceptable discourse.Buy Eric's Book, "A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures": https://amzn.to/3d2LKjwEric's Blog: http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/Support us on Patreon: https://patreon.com/renegadeapeMusic: "Monkey Business" by Mike Franklyn https://www.epidemicsound.com/track/nc340keROg

1hr 24mins

13 Jun 2020

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The Unreliability of Naive Introspection with Eric Schwitzgebel

Journal Entries

How well do you know your own feelings? Is our ability to know this about ourselves less reliable than what we know about the outside world around us? Is there anything we can do to make ourselves less "naive" and improve the reliability of introspection about conscious experiences? Links and Resources Eric Schwitzgebel The Paper The Splintered Mind Alison Gopnik Introspection Self-Knowledge Edward Titchener Introspective Training Apprehensively Defended: Reflections on Titchener's Lab Manual Paper Quotes Descartes, I think, had it quite backwards when he said the mind—including especially current conscious experience—was better known than the outside world. The teetering stacks of paper around me, I’m quite sure of. My visual experience as I look at those papers, my emotional experience as I contemplate the mess, my cognitive phenomenology as I drift in thought, staring at them—of these, I’m much less certain. My experiences flee and scatter as I reflect. I feel unpracticed, poorly equipped with the tools, categories, and skills that might help me dissect them. They are gelatinous, disjointed, swift, shy, changeable. They are at once familiar and alien. I know better what’s in the burrito I’m eating than I know my gustatory experience as I eat it. I know it has cheese. In describing my experience, I resort to saying, vaguely, that the burrito tastes “cheesy,” without any very clear idea what this involves. Maybe, in fact, I’m just— or partly—inferring: The thing has cheese, so I must be having a taste experience of “cheesiness.” Maybe also, if I know that the object I’m seeing is evenly red, I’ll infer a visual experience of uniform “redness” as I look at it. Or if I know that weeding is unpleasant work, I’ll infer a negative emotion as I do it. Indeed, it can make great sense as a general strategy to start with judgments about plain, easily knowable facts of the outside world, then infer to what is more foreign and elusive, our consciousness as we experience that world. I doubt we can fully disentangle such inferences from more “genuinely introspective” processes.Special Guest: Eric Schwitzgebel.


8 Apr 2020

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Conversations #9 - Eric Schwitzgebel


A conversation with Professor of Philosophy, Eric Schwitzgebel— This month, I sat down with Professor of Philosophy at the University of California - Riverside - Eric Schwitzgebel. Along with teaching, Eric is a prolific writer who since 2006 has written over 1000 posts about numerous subjects on his blog “The Splintered Mind.” His most recent book: A Theory of Jerks and other Philosophical Misadventures is a collection of 68 of Eric’s favorites. Our conversation was as wide ranging as his resume and research. We talked about his personal history towards a academic career in philosophy. Being influenced as a grad student under John Searle of “The Chinese Room” thought experiment fame. Eric’s dad had a similar trajectory as he worked under Timothy Leary for the famous Harvard LSD studies. We discussed the utility of philosophy, moral psychology, and went deep into many of the questions pertaining to consciousness. Our discussion featured his past research on ethics of ethics professors, complex mating dances of garden snails, and ancient Chinese philosophy. We also touched on the reconnection of psychology and philosophy in the last 20 years, and teaching evil earlier in the semester to his students. I thank Eric for his time, research, and eclectic mind. Enjoy the conversation, and until next time - Ad Astra! -- Timestamps: - Eric’s dad was a grad student in the famous Harvard (Timothy Leary & Ram Das) LSD Studies, and invented the ankle monitoring system for arrestees (00:05:13)
 - Eric did his post graduate work at UC Berkley under John Searle of “The Chinese Room” thought experiment fame - a critique of “The Turing Test” (00:13:59)
 - What exactly is consciousness? (00:18:20)
 - Can collectives, societies, companies, ideas, or countries like the United States be conscious? (00:22:45)
 - Eric’s thoughts on Object Oriented Ontology and speculative realism (00:26:37)
 - Unknown Unknowns, and the quest for consilience, and the Fermi paradox (00:35:16)
 Part Two: - Philosophical outlook on altered states of consciousness (00:44:02)
 - The great debate between Mengzi & Xunzi about whether human nature is good or evil. (00:48:06)
 - Science fiction as a philosophy & ethics of technology (01:02:22)
 - Upcoming anthology: “Philosophy through science fiction stories” (01:06:31)
 - Discussing films Ex Machina & Arrival (01:10:54)
 - The bizarre, weird, and complex lives of garden snails (01:16:09)
 - The love of writing, running a blog called “The Splintered Mind,” and everyone is really a philosopher and interested in the deepest mysteries of existence (01:23:40)
 - Eric’s new book: “A Theory of Jerks and other Philosophical Misadventures" (01:30:21)
 - Recommending Zhuangzi (Butterfly Dream) and John Stuart Mill (On Liberty) and Montaigne (Personal essays like On Solitude) (01:39:50)
 - What can we gain philosophically from the idea of the “The Overview Effect?” (01:56:34) More on Eric Schwitzgebel: Eric’s Book: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/theory-jerks-and-other-philosophical-misadventures Eric’s Website: https://faculty.ucr.edu/~eschwitz/ Eric’s blog “The Splintered Mind”: https://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/ Eric’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/eschwitz?lang=en --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/eclecticspacewalk/support

2hr 4mins

16 Mar 2020