Scheduled Episodes

Scheduled Episodes

August 2017

21st: The A. C. Grayling Interview (Part II)

28th: Philip Goff and David Papineau Debate: 'Can Science Explain Consciousness?' (Part I)


September 2017


4th: Philip Goff and David Papineau Debate: 'Can Science Explain Consciousness?' (Part II)

11th: Philip Goff and David Papineau Debate: 'Can Science Explain Consciousness?' (Part III)

18th: Karl Marx's Political Philosophy (Part I)

25th: Karl Marx's Political Philosophy (Part II)

October 2017

2nd: Karl Marx's Political Philosophy (Part III)

9th: Karl Marx's Political Philosophy (Part IV)


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'The Evil God Challenge'

Dr Stephen Law, Reader in philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London, and editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK.

We will be interviewing Dr. Stephen Law on his Evil God Challenge. Stephen Law has a brilliant video on YouTube introducing the argument which you can check out here. We will also be doing a classic Q&A, so please send us your questions.

For more information about
Dr. Stephen Law, please click here.

If you have a question for Stephen Law please get in touch via twitter @thepanpsycast or via email at jack@thepanpsychist.com.


For more information about
Sarah Hall, please click here.

'Judaism and The Problem of Evil'

Dr Sarah Hall, Lecturer in Religious Eduction at the University of Birmingham

In 2017, we will be interviewing Dr. Sarah Hall on Judaism, the Holocaust and the Problem of Evil. We will also be running a classic Q and A session with Dr. Hall, so please submit your questions!

You can send us your questions on twitter @thepanpsycast or via email at jack@thepanpsychist.com.


If you would like to appear on The Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast as a guest, please Email jack@thepanpsychist.com.

The Panpsycast: iTunes Playback Issues

We are aware that a number of listeners are experiencing playback issues on iTunes. Each episode is around 100mb, which is considerably large for a podcast. Here's how you can overcome the issue...

iTunes Desktop:

1. Click 'get' to the far right of an episode.

 

2. Click the download icon that appears in the top right.

 

3. Double click the episode once it's downloaded.

Podcast App:

1. Under The Panpsycast Feed, select  '...' next to the episode you want to play.

 

2. Select 'Download Episode'.

 

3. The episode will now download under 'My Podcasts'.

 

4. Wait for the episode to download.

 

5. Once the episode has download, the app will take you back to the 'My Podcasts' screen.

Select The Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast.

 

6. Select the episode you downloaded from your list of unplayed episodes. It will now play in glorious high quality.

 

If you experience any problems please get in touch with us via email: jack@thepanpsychist.com

We hope you're enjoying the show!

Jack, Ollie and Andy

Informal Updates

Hello! Aloha! Hola! Bonjour! Welcome! I thought that I'd put my coffee overdose to good use by writing a quick informal update letting those interested know what the ruddy hell has been going on these past few weeks. If you're only reading this for a given reason, I've included two cute little subheadings to help you skip the subjectively irrelevant stuff...

Overall in summary; teach A-level Philosophy, subscribe to The Panpsycast, live long and prosper!

 

GCSE Philosophy

The short version: no AQA GCSE Philosophy this year, don't lose hope, why aren't you teaching A-Level Philosophy?

Our GCSE Philosophy 'It's Time' campaign gained great momentum at the beginning of 2016. After some initial interest from AQA we decided to run a two week long petition gathering over 500 signatures. Following our formal letter of request (you can click here to read it if you like) we were rejected by AQA's admin staff. We were essentially told that AQA don't have the funds to move forward with a GCSE in philosophy. After a lot of back and forth, we were able to set up a meeting between myself and AQA's qualifications developer. Due to current reforms to the majority of GCSEs, the government only approved qualifications in phase 2 of reform at the start of the year. If a GCSE in philosophy was to be developed; it should be been requested by an exam board the previous September. At the time there wasn't a formal appeal from the philosophy community and exam boards were already biting off more than they could chew with the 2016 reforms. So is the campaign for a GCSE in philosophy dead? No. AQA in particular are not turning down the idea and are keen to develop innovative qualifications for the future, claiming there is no reason why GCSE Philosophy won't be offered in the future. In the meantime, it's up to us to continue waving the flag... so... are you waving the flag for philosophy?

Statistically speaking, the likelihood that you are is remarkably slim. Unfortunately there are hundreds of RE/RS departments nationwide that tag themselves as 'Philosophy and Ethics' or simply 'Philosophy' departments; yet they offer no qualifications in philosophy. Given the changes to the new GCSE and A-levels, if you call yourself a Philosophy department and you don't offer a formal qualification in philosophy, you're simply false advertising - you'll be leaving students disappointed; unethically selling RE under a sexier name.

So, why aren't departments offering A-level Philosophy? AQA have been through a tremendous amount of trouble trying to process and maintain the qualification. In fact, before the 2015 reform, the qualification was nearly dropped entirely given a lack of numbers. The exam isn't perfect, but the content is fantastic; metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion and ethical theory. People remain unhappy that philosophy of religion is mandatory, but marking was an issue and we'll certainly see more reliability in the new, more structured exam style and compulsory topics. If we want a GCSE in philosophy, we need to be offering young people the A-level in philosophy. With a huge amount of schools 'going optional' at GCSE next year, humanities departments will be losing huge numbers in RE enrolment. Why not become top heavy? Offer an extra A-level subject, an A-level in philosophy. It's painful to see teachers fear philosophy in groups such as 'Save RE'. Offering A-level philosophy will boost teachers timetables; giving a boost to enrolment and interest in the humanities as a whole.

If your department already has the word 'philosophy' in it - you already have your answer. Offer your students AQA's A-level in Philosophy from 2017. The link is down below.

AQA, A-level Philosophy (7172, 7171) Post-2017.

 

The Panpsycast and the future

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An official version of The Panpsycast is now available on iTunes! We're aiming to cover as much content as possible, getting a variety of friends, teachers, students and professional philosophers involved in the show. This is going to be a long-term project and we hope to build up a rich library of podcasts that can support students in the future. Click here and check it out for yourself. We're into triple digit listeners already and we've had some amazing feedback from the community. Thank you for all of your support. If you want to pass on a message tweet us at @thepanpsychist; you might even get a shout out!

As for myself I'll be returning to the University of Liverpool to read philosophy from September 2016. Without the support of Culham St Gabriel's and Hockerill Educational Foundation this would not be possible. I am overwhelmingly grateful for their support. As well as flying the flag for philosophy in a house of commons debate in September, I will be speaking at a number of funky conferences across 2016-17, which I will keep you updated with via Twitter. I have added MA, QTS papers to the Pubs & Papers section as I'm hoping to write a big piece arguing for the reformulation of RE's fundamental pedagogical principles (a meta-pedagogy-esque argument against radical-subjectivism, the about/from distinction; a pupil-centred foundation for the subject that seeks to avoid indoctrination) in the future, so I'll be provoking some academics and teachers into reading and discussing these papers against their will. If you're interested please hit this link!

Thank you for sticking around, I suppose that will do for now... I need more coffee. Overall in summary; teach A-level Philosophy, subscribe to The Panpsycast, live long and prosper!

Jack

 

Slow and Steady Wins the Race: OCR A-level RS

On the May 18th, OCR finally had their AS/A level Religious Studies accredited by Ofqual. If you’re coming from a philosophy background, it may have you in a mild state of eudaimonia. OCR’s early draft gave us little reason to be optimistic and unfortunately this means many departments will have already overlooked OCR. If you haven’t started to plan, you’re probably feeling pretty good about yourself for not jumping the gun; particularly if you enjoyed the more philosophical, ‘pre-2016’ Religious Studies.

In all honesty, I don’t know how they’ve gotten away with it. It’s stayed true to its roots, keeping depth and breadth in both ethics (including Kantian Ethics, Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, Natural Law etc.) and philosophy of religion (including Plato, Aristotle, Arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil etc.). Not much has changed here so those familiar with the pre-2016 A-level will feel right at home. Unlike AQA, they have kept the more philosophical ethical theories rather than substituting them for religious ethics, and continued to include ancient Greek philosophy§ within the philosophy of religion section.

Even the religious paper is heavily philosophical; specimen questions focus on Augustinian theodicy and divine attributes of God rather than religious practices. It wouldn’t be unfair to argue OCR have chosen to focus on religions’ truth-functional claims rather than religions’ “subjective/personal” elements. It takes a lot from the pre-2016 ethics and philosophy of religion papers, and the content is comforting in its familiarity.

Simply put, OCR’s specification is much more philosophical than it is religious - it is certainly the most ‘unchanged’ of the new A-level specifications.

The course is assessed in three exams, each 2 hours long; Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Ethics, and Developments in Religious thought (focusing on one of the six major world religions). 

OCR’s written exam only requires students to master one essay technique; at A-level answering nine 40 mark questions spread evenly across the three papers - six 30 mark questions across three seventy-five minute exams at AS. I think this will suite most students, as intuitively students want to mix their knowledge (A01) and analysis skills (A02) in the same piece of writing – finding it difficult to separate them as rigorously as AQA requires. Not only is this a more natural writing style, I think this prepares students well for higher education in philosophy and theology.

The supporting materials from OCR are outstanding, and this will be the decider for many departments. The learning outcomes and content couldn’t be clearer and the reading lists and contextual references are brilliant. Teachers have everything they need with OCR.

If you really want to strengthen your department you should be looking to offer AQA’s A-level ‘pure’ philosophy alongside OCR's A-level RS; especially if you’re switching to optional GCSE RE. Become "top heavy" with an emphasis on A-level; this is the way forward for RE/RS and philosophy departments.

That’s my prescription anyhow; offer students both OCR’s RS A-level, and AQA’s A-level philosophy. A new draft has just been released for A-level philosophy, to be taught from September 2017. Check out all the new specifications in the links down below. I’ve also included a link to Charlotte Vardy’s blog on the new RS A-levels which is quite helpful.

I recommend:

OCR A-level Religious Studies (post-2016)

AQA A-level Philosophy (post-2017)

Charlotte Vardy's Blog

Additional links:

AQA A-level Religious Studies (post-2016)

Edexcel A-level Religious Studies (post-2016)

Eduqas A-level Religious Studies (post-2016)

GCSE Philosophy: Discussion Points

Firstly, I would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has signed and shared the petition already. The response from the community has been fantastic. In just 24 hours, we have collected over 200 signatures. If you haven’t signed already, then please click here to show your support.

The petition has inevitably sparked some discussion amongst teaching professionals and this post will serve to highlight my own views in the light of these discussions. If you disagree with any points raised here, please refer only to point 1, as this is the sole function of the petition - all other views are my own.


1. The petition's sole purpose is to echo the voices of those interested in GCSE Philosophy.
There are a number of projects trying to get philosophy into schools, but our campaign is unique in that we are appealing directly to AQA. We believe students and teachers nationally want to study/teach philosophy - we are essentially streamlining the process by sending all responses to the exam board. The petition serves the sole function of echoing the voices of those who would like to see AQA develop a GCSE Philosophy specification.

2. GCSE Philosophy should not be seen as a threat to RE/RS.
The argument that GCSE Philosophy should not be developed in order to protect RE/RS is misplaced.

(2.1) Those who support GCSE Philosophy and/or sign the petition do not advocate teaching Philosophy instead of RS/RE.

(2.2) Philosophy and RE/RS are separate disciplines and schools should have the option to teach them separately. RE/RS cannot oppose the development of other humanities for the sake of its own future - RE/RS must promote itself through its own virtues.

3. In the light of recent reforms to RE/RS, RE/RS is becoming less philosophical and more religious in its content. Teachers and students really enjoyed the philosophy aspect of RE/RS. In fact, many departments rebranded themselves as ‘Philosophy’ or ‘Philosophy and Religious Studies’. With the forthcoming changes, this rebranding won’t hold. It will be false advertising to sell RS/RE as ‘philosophy’. The time has come where we must teach them as separate disciplines.

4. GCSE Philosophy does not threaten RE teachers jobs, it will save and create them. Equally, the unemployment of philosophers should also be prevented.

(4.1) Curriculum time in RE/RS is being marginalised nationally. GCSE Philosophy will not threaten jobs in RE/RS, but save and create them. Currently, philosophy graduates are qualified to teach RE/RS, and the same should hold conversely.

(4.2) In the wake of the EBacc, RE/RS curriculum hours are being cut. Although a tentative speculation, there is no reason why an academically challenging GCSE in Philosophy could not be included in the EBacc. Currently, philosophy graduates are qualified to teach RE/RS, and the same should hold conversely. Thus, GCSE Philosophy will not threaten jobs in RE/RS, but save and create them.

The views expressed above are entirely my own and by signing the petition you do not subscribe to any of the above views. The sole purpose of the petition is to echo the voices of those who want to see GCSE Philosophy offered to UK schools.

If you want to see GCSE Philosophy offered to UK schools, please sign the petition.

Click here to sign the petition.

‘GCSE Philosophy… it’s time.’

GCSE Philosophy... It's Time

Today marks the beginning of a campaign to get GCSE Philosophy into UK schools. After talking to heads of department and AQA over the past few months, there is clearly a strong call from teachers for the development of a specification, and an open-mindedness from the exam board to do so. In wake of recent changes, the timing couldn't be better.

To mark the start of this campaign we have started a petition to AQA. If you want to ask AQA to develop a specification for GCSE Philosophy, then please click the link below to sign. 

GCSE Philosophy... It's Time

Click here to access the petition - 'Develop GCSE Philosophy: An Appeal to AQA'.

 

Student Area: An Update

The Panpsychist's 'Student Area' has had a little makeover, which apparently I feel the need to express in the form of a blog post! 

The Student Area has been up and running since the launch of the site, and students have found it an invaluable resource for further research. 

Responses have been fantastic both on and off the site so I felt the need to give the it an upgrade. Simply put...

  • The homepage will now archive all posts, which makes the Student Area a whole lot easier to navigate.
  • I've also moved the link into the navigation bar for ease of access.
  • A further range of materials have been added, as well as space for students to discuss content. 
  • A range of exclusive lectures and podcasts have been added to the archives. 

The Student Area is password protected as it is only available to past/current students. If you have lost your password, or feel you should have access to it - please tweet @thepanpsychist

Make sure you stay updated! Follow The Panpsychist on Twitter to be alerted of any Student Area updates!

Knocking on Heaven's Door

Knocking on Heaven's Door

From the bestselling author of An Obsession with Butterflies comes a dystopian sci-fi novel set two hundred years in the future...

In my opinion Sharman Apt Russell's Knocking on Heaven's Door rivals only the brilliance of Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Camus' The Outsider. I am honoured to have been included in the appraisal pages of the book...


'A bed of bones, a sea of ash'... a new age in science and a world reborn - the backdrop of Sharman Apt Russell’s literary masterpiece, Knocking on Heaven’s Door. So immersive and profound is this beautiful tale of discovery that it guarantees to inspire the metaphysicist in every reader. Russell’s implementation of panpsychist theory brings this book to life as one of the most extraordinary sci-fis of our time… Rich with philosophical themes.

-Jack Symes, author of “In Defense of Strong Emergentist Panpsychism,”

University of Birmingham


Already a multi-award winning writer, Sharman Apt Russell has recently won the 2016 'John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing' for her nonfiction, Diary of a Citizen Scientist. She is truly one of the greatest writers of our time and I strongly encourage you to visit the links below to read more about her work... Knocking on Heaven's Door is available in hardback, on kindle and as an audiobook at amazon.com.

 Read more about...

1. Knocking on Heaven's Door

2. Sharman Apt Russell