Show 572: Free Will and Building a Humanistic Society

Free Will and Building a Humanistic Society w/Gregg D. Caruso

In recent decades, with advances in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, the idea that patterns of human behavior may ultimately be due to factors beyond our conscious control has increasingly gained traction and renewed interest in the age-old problem of “Free Will.”

A Free-Will Skeptic might believe that whatever you choose to do at any given moment in time is ALL you could have done given your determinants. You could not have done otherwise. But if “Free Will” is indeed an illusion, not only might we have to rethink how and why we do what we do as regards efforts to change the world, but how we understand key aspects of how we treat one another today’s society. Does judgment make any sense if but there for the determinants go I? What about the bootstrapping ideology of the right and the notion of the self-made man/woman? Perhaps most significantly, however, might be how we view our entire criminal justice system.

Today we will explore with philosopher Gregg Caruso what we mean by free will, what the arguments for and against  it have been in the past and currently, and what it would mean  if we DON’T have free will – for ourselves and for society.

Audio can be found here!

Show 305: On Liberty, Freedom and the Policed Society

On Liberty, Freedom and the Policed Society w/ Author Kristian Williams

Humanism. According to the two documents which outline this philosophy, the Humanist Manefesto’s I & II, the goal of humanism is “a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good.  (A belief) in maximum individual autonomy consonant with social responsibility. (And that) alienating forces should be modified or eradicated and bureaucratic structures should be held to a minimum (because) people are more important than decalogues, rules, proscriptions, or regulations.”

How close are we to attaining these goals in today’s America?  Has capitalism and Jeffersonian democracy (as weak as they may be here in 2009), been able to realize some of these goals?  Any of these goals?  Or have these ideologies led to a society profoundly unable to become free, and indeed – against human nature itself – have found ways through propaganda and brute force to ensure such freedom never exists?

On this special one-hour Equal Time for Freethought, we will chat with author Kristian Williams about these questions, focusing on one of the key methods by which the nations elite “regulate” freedom… the Police.

Show 253b: A Victory for Vengeance?: America’s Methods of Domination; Part Two

A Victory for Vengeance?: America’s Methods of Domination; Part Two

For more than 30 years now, the United States has taken a turn to the Right in how we organize our society. Prison populations have skyrocketed, prison sentences and anti-crime laws have become more and more draconian, torture has been used at home and abroad in the name of security, and the state has tightened its noose around those of us not in the upper classes… especially non-whites and the poor. Why has this occurred? What role has the rise in political Christianity played in the push for far right policies? Are there underlying reasons for this sad state of affairs beyond religion and the conservative politics of the Reagan/Bush era that are not even being talked about? And what can we do to make America more democratic, egalitarian and humanistic?

These are the questions we asked of journalists’ Sasha Abramsky, author of American Furies: Crime, Punishment and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment and Kristian Williams, author of American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination and Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America.

Show 238: 1-Hour Easter Day Special: From Sacred to Secular Cruelty & Vengeance

The story of the events of Easter Day in combination with the events leading up to it is a narrative so loaded with dysfunctional, anti-humanistic, and delusional content, it has served as a virtually inexhaustible wellspring of toxicity for two thousand years, providing support for most of the very worst ideas in our society which are still with us today.Belief in universal sin, belief that universal sin could somehow be relieved through someone’s torture, and belief in an immortal soul that rises up after we die, are just some of the problematic lessons of Christ’s Passion.

A major example of an inhumane institution which derives legitimacy from beliefs which can be traced back to the Easter narrative can be found in our American system of criminal justice. Joining us to facilitate our examination of our modern prison system will be author of “American Furies,” Sasha Abramsky, and Dr. Philip Zimbardo, author of “The Lucifer Effect,” and Chief Researcher and designer of the famous “Stanford Prison Experiment.”

And we’ll also be replaying the now classic confrontation between Jesus and the Easter Bunny, first played on this program, in which we’re given the best argument to date for why we should jettison all the suffering, blood and gore and instead celebrate the Spring for the natural “miracle” it is.