Hi-Phi Nation
Hi-Phi Nation
Slate Podcasts
Hi-Phi Nation is philosophy in story-form, integrating narrative journalism with big ideas. We look at stories from everyday life, law, science, popular culture, and strange corners of human experiences that raise thought-provoking questions about things like justice, knowledge, the self, morality, and existence. We then seek answers with the help of academics and philosophers. The show is produced and hosted by Barry Lam of Vassar College.
Hi-Phi Nation Presents: Into the Zone (When We Were Cyber)
Barry updates listeners on what to expect in Season 5 of the show, currently in production. In the meantime, he introduces you to Into the Zone, a Pushkin podcast by writer Hari Kunzru. This episode is about the time Hari was in philosophy graduate school in the 90s and attended an early conference about cyberculture that leads him to visit philosopher Manuel DeLanda. Subscribe to Into the Zone on Apple podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 21
49 min
Justice and Retribution
A woman spends 40 years in and out of prison for shoplifting and finally gets a break from a judge in her late 50s. She uses the opportunity to abolish a jail and transform her city. This week we look at prison abolition and the arguments for eliminating all punishment from the system. From the denial that we have free will, to the view that perpetuating injustice disqualifies the state from punishing, we look at whether any of us have the right to punish anyone else, and question the very purpose of the criminal justice system. Guest voices include Marilynn Winn, Gregg Caruso, Michael S. Moore, Erin Kelly, and Kimberly Kessler Ferzan. In Slate Plus, Barry speaks to Kimberly Kessler Ferzan about separating the criminal justice system into two distinct institutions, one dedicated to retributive punishment, and one dedicated to crime prevention. Why should there be two systems and what would be involved in separating them? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 26
55 min
The Loophole
Two men committed a double murder in rural Maine in 1990. Only one pulled the trigger. The state prosecutor decided to try them separately, but that was a mistake, and both were acquitted. Then the Feds came in, and sentenced one man to life in prison for a crime he was already acquitted of doing. How is this possible in America? The answer is a loophole in criminal law. Today we examine that loophole by looking at the Thanksgiving Day murders in Maine, and the constitutional challenges this loophole has survived over the years. Guest voices include Sharon Mack, Gerald Leonard of Boston University Law, Judge Frederic Block, State Senator Todd Kaminsky, and Matthew Noah Smith of Northeastern University. In Slate Plus, Barry talks to Matthew Noah Smith of Northeastern University and Mark Schroeder of USC on whether John Rawl's distinction between procedural and substantive justice can help tell us whether and why the practice of sentencing on unconvicted conduct is just or unjust. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 12
43 min
Punishment without End
A teen-aged girl gets caught with a suitcase stuffed with powdered cocaine, and she comes before a federal judge. That judge learns that a felony conviction carries punishments for life for her. He embarks on a mission to get all other judges to shorten prison sentences in light of this. Meanwhile, a researcher learns of a pervasive but secretive practice where prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges skirt the truth to protect defendants from unjust harsh punishments imposed on them from lawmakers. This week we look at collateral consequences, the thousands of laws restricting the freedoms and opportunities of the formerly convicted, like voting, housing, job opportunities, government benefits, and deportation. One philosophers believes many of these are permanent punishments, not civil measures for reducing risk. Guest voices include Judge Frederic Block, philosopher Zachary Hoskins, and legal scholar Thea Johnson. In Slate Plus, Judge Block gives his opinions about mandatory minimum sentencing and prosecutorial immunity. Zachary Hoskins distinguishes between two different principles of proportionality in sentencing, and Thea Johnson talks about why fictional pleas give prosecutors more power, even though they benefit defendants. To get the full bonus episode of Hi-Phi Nation, sign up for Slate Plus at slate.com/hiphiplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 5
56 min
Redemption in the DDU
Erick Williams tells the story of how one bad night in the chow hall got him into solitary confinement at Walpole. The path out of solitary, and eventually out of prison, took another decade.  On this episode, we look at the unique power of the Department of Corrections to do with prisoners what they will at their discretion. Philosopher Lisa Guenther tells the history of solitary in America, and the conceptions of the self that drive its continued use. We end with an examination of what the experiences of solitary say about the nature of human experiences of time, purpose, and connection with other humans. Guest voices include Erick Williams, Lisa Guenther, Lisa Newman-Polk, and Jamie Eldridge. In Slate Plus, Barry and Lisa Newman-Polk tell the story of Eugene Ivey, who spent 13 years is solitary, was paroled, but is still locked up on charges inside the Massachusetts prison system. To get the bonus episode and an ad-free feed of all Slate podcast, sign up at www.slate.com/hiphiplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 29
51 min
Gender Justice
On this episode, we look at feminist and progressive prosecution; how does a prosecutor balance the aims of prosecuting more gender-based crimes while also being sensitive to the problems of mass incarceration? We look at the story of one Maine prosecutor who is winning victories in sexual assault cases that were once deemed unwinnable, and whether this lowers the bar of burden of proof to unjust levels for gender crimes. Finally, we look at how one study in 1984 started a 40-year trend in mandatory arrest policies for domestic violence, and how these policies have backfired for the communities those policies were meant to protect. Guest voices include Natasha Irving, Michelle Madden Dempsey, Aya Gruber, and Lawrence Sherman. In Slate Plus, Sarah Lustbader and Barry talk about whether the adversarial system of prosecution and defense makes the criminal justice system a bad way to pursue improvements in gender relations and reduce gender-based crime. Get the Slate Plus bonus episode by signing up at www.slate.com/hiphiplus Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 22
57 min
The Informant
This week we go inside investigative operations in NYPD internal affairs and in the war and drugs to look at the police use of discretion to selectively break laws in order to pursue the bad guys. One former FBI special agent turned political philosopher argues that local and federal law enforcement are the biggest threat to the rule of law in their ongoing use of discretion to secure informant deals, perform sting operations, and otherwise break laws in order to enforce them. Guest voices include Robert Bryan, Luke Hunt, Nick Taiber, and Sarah Lustbader. In Slate Plus bonus episode: Sarah Lustbader talks about the incentive public defenders have to make informant deals, and whether we can justify liking police discretionary actions to break laws in the interest of busting crooked cops and politicians, but despise their use for low-level drug offenses. They conclude with talk about what makes for valid and free contracts between unequal parties, and whether there is a difference between and offer and a threat. To get the bonus episode, sign up at www.slate.com/hiphiplus/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 15
52 min
Police Discretion
Is a mobile home a home or a car? Is a car parked inside a home part of the home? The answer to these stoner philosophical questions determine the scope of police power. Over the last 100 years, the Supreme Court has presided over the expansion of police discretionary powers to stop, search, and arrest people through litigation over automobiles. This week, we look at the stories of those decisions, including Carroll, Ross, and Whren, We then turn to the political morality of police discretion, and why John Rawl's test of public reason places far more constraints on law enforcement than the Supreme Court ever would. We investigate the consequence of public reasons tests for targeted policing, racial profiling, and consider whether police should have the power to overrule democratically elected criminal laws. Guest voices include Sarah Seo, Brandon Del Pozo, and archival audio from SCOTUS. In Slate Plus, Sarah Lustbader and Barry talk about how to implement public reasons test for policing, and how the existing system has judges and prosecutors presume that arrest is the default rightful response to lawbreaking, rather than being a default wrongful response for malum prohibitum crimes. To get the full bonus episode, sign up for Slate Plus at slate.com/hiphiplus/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 8
52 min
Hi-Phi Nation Plus: Mens Rea versus Moral Luck
In this Slate Plus segment, Barry is joined by Sarah Lustbader to discuss the issues raised in Episode 1: Criminal Minds. Sarah expresses skepticism about the significance of mens rea in ordinary prosecution of street crimes, Barry uses the opportunity to discuss the issue of moral luck as an explanation of why egregiousness of outcome seems to be the driving factor for prosecution rather than mens rea. The two end with a discussion of why the deontological/consequentialist distinction is so difficult to figure out for reform-minded advocates. To get all bonus episodes this season, and to get ad-free feeds of this and every other Slate podcast, sign up for Slate Plus at http://www.slate.com/hiphiplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 2
21 min
Criminal Minds
One place where law and morality are supposed to agree is that there should be no crime without a criminal mind, what is called “mens rea” in criminal law. But there have been a proliferation of crimes that do not require knowledge or intent, contributing to over-prosecution and overincarceration. Conservative and libertarian lawmakers have claimed the moral high ground over progressives in advocating that people who do not intend and do not know they are breaking a law be excused for their criminal conduct. Is this correct, or is it just a cover to make white-collar crimes harder to prosecute? Today we look at the battle over mens rea reform in the criminal justice system, the moral theory underlying the idea that being culpable for wrongdoing requires an objectionable state of mind, and why it is that human beings care so much more about mindset than they do about conduct. Guest voices this week: Michael Chase, Benjamin Levin, Gideon Yaffe, State Senator Todd Kaminsky, John Guidry, and Sarah Lustbader Join the invite-only Zoom events after every episode this season, visit hiphination.org to find out how. The episode is brought to you by the Getting Ethics to Work podcast, from the Prindle Institute for Ethics at Depauw University Become a Slate Plus member at slate.com/hiphiplus to get a bonus episode every week this season, and to support Slate during this difficult period. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 1
56 min
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