‘Philosophy talk’ taping packs center

2009-10-22T23:30:00Z ‘Philosophy talk’ taping packs centerBy Theresa Novak, Gazette-Times City Editor Corvallis Gazette Times

The national radio program that bills itself as "The program that questions everything ... except your intelligence" drew an overflow audience Thursday, when producers of National Public Radio's "Philosophy Talk" came to Oregon State University's LaSells Stewart Center to tape the hour-long talk show.

In a four-segment production with a few breaks between, the program mingled serious philosophical discussion with entertainment and audience-pleasing content that reflected the producers' familiarity with Corvallis. In fact, Oregon is one of the program's largest markets behind its Bay Area home base.

Ken Taylor and John Perry, the two Stanford University philosophy professors who do most of the discussing and moderating on the show, noted that OSU was a perfect location for the philosophy chat show because Sean Canfield, the quarterback for the Beavers football team, is a philosophy major.

"He is clearly a Kantian," said Taylor, referring to 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, whose beliefs included that moral means and ends can be applied to the categorical imperative. He said Canfield applies his talents to connect with tight ends and split ends.

The philosophical comparison brought appreciative laughs.

William Uzgalis, a professor in OSU's philosophy department, was the one who invited the program to tape here, and its producers noted that Oregon's reputation for environmental stewardship made it a natural forum for a discussion about the issue of global climate change.

OSU guest speakers featured on the show were Phil Mote, the OSU's director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, and Kathleen Dean Moore, a philosophy professor, author and environmental ethicist. Along with co-editor Michael P. Nelson of Michigan State University, she is finishing a book titled "For All Time: Our Obligation to the Future."

Mote, standing in front of a projected image of what looked like a giant red fried egg but was a thermal photograph of the hole in ozone layer, said it was that hole that determined his career choice in the mid-1980s.

"I became fascinated that we could be affecting our planet on such a large scale," Mote said. Although closing the hole proved to be a matter of halting production of a few exotic chemicals, he said the issue of global warming due to a build-up of carbon dioxide has been building for more than a century.

The theory was first suggested by a Swedish scientist in 1896, who characterized it as a phenomenon that would bring about a "beneficent, warmer world," Mote said. "Of course, that was a very Swedish perspective."

Moore said the contrast between the fire-prone Cuyahoga River in her native Ohio and the pristine glaciers of Alaska gave her an early appreciation of the worst and the ideal. Now a noted essayist, Moore said there is room in the global climate change issue for thoughtful skepticism, but she said those who insist there is no problem to address reflect "cases of invincible ignorance."

She sees action to slow and reverse climate change as our species' biggest challenge.

"In the 1.5 billion year history of the world, it all comes down to this," she said.

Those who were not in the overflow audience Thursday will have to wait how the guests addressed the question of solutions and which audience members asked questions when the program airs sometime in January.

More information is available at www.philosophytalk.org/people.htm.

Copyright 2014 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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