2) 10 Minute Puzzle Podcasts
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Aberdeen
Unit of AssessmentPhilosophy
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Sociology
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Philosophy
Summary of the impact
Promoting public diffusion of philosophical research via new and online
media, The 10-Minute Puzzle podcast series seeks to engage lay
audiences with some of the central puzzles driving contemporary research
in analytic philosophy. As of September 19th, 2013, there had
been over 63,000 downloads.
The series has two interrelated aims: to provide an innovative
springboard for listeners (who may have had no previous exposure to
philosophy) to engage with these puzzles on their own, and to provide a
new, free resource for educators at all levels to stimulate interest in
contemporary philosophy at any age.
As of September 19th, 2013, the three episodes of The
10-Minute Puzzle described in this case study had been downloaded
14,418 times, with downloads continuing steadily.
The three episodes of this case study relate to the findings of two
externally funded research projects:
Project 1: "Basic Knowledge"—Podcast episodes `Lotteries' and
The AHRC-funded `Basic Knowledge' project (PI: Wright; grant
value: £650,000) ran in Aberdeen in the period 2009-2012. Two episodes
entitled `Lotteries' and `Lotteries II' stemmed from research activity
carried out under this project, in particular by Dodd ("Basic
Knowledge" Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2009-2012), and McGlynn
(NIP Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2010-2012). One of the main aims of the
project was to better understand seemingly compelling sceptical lines of
reasoning, according to which we have much less knowledge than we think we
do. So-called `Lottery-scepticism' was a prominent focus of the project,
The research activity underpinning the podcasts was published in four
peer-reviewed journals (Noûs, Australasian Journal of
Philosophy, Erkenntnis and Episteme).
Project 2: "Relativism and Rational Tolerance"—Podcast episode
The underlying research for this podcast was provided by the seminars,
workshops and conferences held during the AHRC-funded `Contextualism and
Relativism' project in 2009 and, later, during the Leverhulme-funded
`Relativism and Rational Tolerance' project (PI: Wright; grant
value: £250,000). Underpinning the development of this episode is the
collaborative work carried out within these projects by the research team
(Wright, Sweeney, Plakias, Baker, Ferrari)
which led to two publications by Baker (Postdoctoral Research
Fellow, `Relativism and Rational Tolerance' project, 2012-present) in two
peer-reviewed journals (Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical
From Research to Impact
This initiative was mainly developed by McGlynn (Postdoctoral
Research Fellow 2010-2012) and Luzzi (Outreach and Knowledge
Transfer Officer, 2010-present), using research produced by the
collaborative efforts of various members of the Northern Institute of
Philosophy and their suggestions on how to best present this to a
non-academic audience. Luzzi and McGlynn liaised with
research colleagues during script-writing, attended project seminars and
events where relevant topics were discussed to acquire the necessary
research background and, wherever possible, attended research seminars
where drafts of the underpinning research outputs were presented,
discussed and refined.
References to the research
(all outputs available from HEI on request)
• Dodd, D. (2012). Safety, Skepticism and Lotteries, Erkenntnis
• Dodd, D. (2011). Against Fallibilism, Australasian Journal of
Philosophy 89: 665-685.
• McGlynn, A. (2013). Believing Things Unknown, Noûs 47: 385-407.
• McGlynn, A. (2012). Justification As `Would-Be' Knowledge, Episteme
• Baker, C. (2012). Indexical Contextualism and the Challenges from
Disagreement, Philosophical Studies 157 (1): 107-123.
Details of the impact
The project's rationale was, firstly, that the best and most gripping
contemporary philosophical puzzles require no prior knowledge of
philosophy (if explained clearly and concisely enough); secondly, that
there is a growing demand for academic podcasts among laypersons, with the
internet providing a user-friendly and easily-accessed platform for
`Lotteries' and `Lotteries II' Podcast Episodes
In `Lotteries' and `Lotteries II', the lottery puzzle was presented in
the form of a dilemma: can you know that your lottery ticket has lost,
after the draw but prior to the announcement? If you can, then it is hard
to explain why you bought it in the first place, why you are unwilling to
sell it for 1p, or why it's improper for you to assert `I know my ticket
has lost'. If you cannot, then any explanation of this knowledge failure
seems to generalize to many other propositions that you ordinarily think
you do know, e.g. that your car is now parked where you left it, or that
you will go to work tomorrow. The podcast considers some of the standard
responses to this puzzle and outlines their advantages and the problems
that beset them. The debate on issues raised by Dodd's 2012 paper is
traced in some detail.
Work on the episode script of `Lotteries' began in September 2011 and
recording and editing took place in mid-October 2011. The episode
`Lotteries' was first made available for download on October 16, 2011. As
of September 19th, 2013, it had been downloaded 5,808 times. This served
as the foundation for more in-depth discussion of the philosophical issues
arising from lotteries, with McGlynn's recently worked-out views
providing a strong impetus. Work on the episode `Lotteries II' began in
early May 2012, and the complete episode was first made available for
download on June 12, 2012. As of September 19th, 2013, this episode had
been downloaded 1,728 times.
`Faultless Disagreement' Podcast Episode
In `Faultless Disagreement', the debate over whether and how faultless
disagreement ought to be accommodated is presented. The driving question
of this debate is: is it possible for two people to genuinely disagree
about some gustatory, aesthetic, or moral matter without either party
being somehow mistaken? The podcast considers the contextualist, realist
and relativist replies, and explains the limits of these responses
observed in the current literature. Work on this episode began in early
November 2011, with weekly Relativism and Rational Tolerance
project seminars providing a fertile backdrop. `Faultless Disagreement'
was made available for download on Dec 14, 2011. As of September 19th,
2013, it had been downloaded 6,882 times.
By the same date the three episodes in The 10-Minute Puzzle had
been downloaded a total of 14,418 times. The 10-Minute Puzzle has
been generally well-received on the internet. It has a mailing list of 67
people and the online listener survey has been completed by 27 listeners,
who rated the quality of the episodes an average rating of 8.03/10). Of
the eight listeners who are teachers, 7 had not used The 10-Minute
Puzzle as a teaching resource, but 7 stated they will use episodes
as a teaching resource in the future.
The 10-Minute Puzzle has been mentioned in several blogs,
The 10-Minute Puzzle also featured in a recent list of the best
Some comments from the online survey:
`They are 12 minutes long. And a *heap* of fun to listen to and
`Your show is what I was looking for. I have a passion for Philosophy and
for puzzles like the ones you talk about. I don't have much free time, so
I'm glad your podcasts are short.'
`I have very little knowledge of contemporary philosophy - the podcasts
have been very good at laying out the information in a way I can
understand and remaining interesting.'
`Thank you for the great podcast!'
`Keep up the good work!'
Sources to corroborate the impact
Download data, including breakdown by episode, for The 10-Minute
Puzzle can be found at:
Survey results for The 10-Minute Puzzle can be found at: