The 8 Best Philosophy Podcasts

The 8 Best Philosophy Podcasts 2024

Philosophy podcasts are supposed to be about big ideas, but many popular shows are merely vehicles for their host’s views. Philosophy has always been dominated by big personalities. Even Kierkegaard had an ego (sorry, Søren). But the best podcasts on philosophy don’t shy away from examining multiple sides of an argument.

When searching for great philosophy podcasts, you’re never far from content-spouting neo-Nazi ideology in the guise of “asking the important questions.” You won’t find those shows on this list. What you’ll find instead are shows that dedicate a considerable amount of time to research topics on all points of the ethical and aesthetic spectrum. They use thought experiments as a discursive framework, rather than as a tactic to provoke certain groups.

While all these shows utilize theory in their episodes, the scale ranges from hardcore to highly accessible. After all, philosophical debate shouldn’t be esoteric. Or should it?

Brain in a Vat

Most episodes of Brain in a Vat start with a “thought experiment”: a hypothetical situation that helps to illustrate an ethical problem. Philosophers love such experiments; cats are less partial. These inquiries offer an introduction to difficult topics that would otherwise be too abstract for most to engage with. Trust us, this show contains topics you’ll want to prepare for.

With guests such as Lionel Shriver making frequent appearances, you could say that this show has a contrarian bent. But although the hosts sometimes neglect to interrogate certain assumptions made by their guests, they are even-handed on most topics.

The name “Brain in a Vat” comes from a Descartian thought experiment by way of Gilbert Harman, which tells you all you need to know about this show’s dedication to hypotheticals. And yet, despite long episodes, this show successfully keeps one engaged with few frills. From “Dystopian Technology” to the ethics of war, this South African podcast is unafraid of tackling intimidating issues.

Moral Maze

Listening to Moral Maze is an exercise in British masochism. That said, it remains a unique format in this genre: a roundtable discussion between experts and philosophers. Here’s a bit of background. Moral Maze started on BBC Radio 4 in 1990 and quickly became a staple in many listeners’ weekly migraine. Although the producers ensure that both sides of the argument receive equal weighting, they rarely account for the profound nihilism that many experience by the end of each episode.

The regular panelists exhibit different degrees of pomposity, eliciting reactions ranging from “I wouldn’t want to get stuck in an elevator with them” to “I would break up with my partner if this were their dad.” To the show’s credit, each panelist is only allowed a short window to speak, usually on topics that other programs won’t touch. From ‘Is growth a false god?’ to everyone’s favorite, ‘How free should speech be?,’ this philosophy podcast only shoots three-pointers.

Philosophize This!

Stephen West has been making Philosophize! This, a podcast about different philosophers and philosophical movements throughout history, for over a decade. If you go back to the podcast’s earliest episodes, you’ll hear just how far the show’s production quality has come in that time. One thing has been consistently good? West’s narrative style. He gives old schools of thought new life through quips and contemporary metaphors.

Philosophize This! rewards repeat listening, particularly the excellent episodes on French Existentialism. The show began with a linear exploration of the history of philosophy, from Ionian Pre-Socratic thinking through the Enlightenment, and finally landed on post-structuralism in recent episodes. West’s lens is undoubtedly Western, so if you seek a show that pays more than a glancing look at Eastern philosophy, you may want to look elsewhere. But for a general overview of the most important movements, as well as some fun bonus episodes on ethics, this is a fantastic starting point.


Overthink may have a contemporary focus and light tone, but this podcast takes its philosophy seriously. Hosts Dr. Ellie Anderson and Dr. David M. Peña-Guzmán are interested in the zeitgeist, from cultural appropriation to the moral value of “influencers.”

Anderson and Peña-Guzmán provoke each other with thoughtful questions, pushing their discussions forward at an engaging pace. You don’t need to know much about philosophy to enjoy this show; a basic knowledge of popular discourse will do.

Though Overthink covers a range of topics, the program frequently returns to issues of media ethics, particularly in the arts. Anderson and Peña-Guzmán bring a thoughtful lens a controversial topics, examining, for example, whether we should limit our lived experiences to our identity categories. Their conversations bring to mind Garth Greenwell’s essay ‘A Moral Education’ in The Yale Review. If these subjects pique your interest, Overthink adds a valuable voice to the debate.

The Partially Examined Life

The hosts of The Partially Examined Life like to joke that their podcast only exists because they had second thoughts about careers in philosophy. That might be true, but the show is anything but a half-baked idea. In each episode, Mark Linsenmayer, Seth Paskin, Wes Alwen, and Dylan Casey come together to analyze a single text, such as the Dao De Jing or Phaedo.

If this setup reminds you of a college seminar, that’s because this show is very much like one. The podcast examines these philosophical texts with a mixture of insight and levity that ensures that however demanding, the ideas discussed never become overwhelming. Throwing around academic terms with delightful abandon, this podcast is the equivalent of kicking a child out of Plato’s cave without sunglasses.

The Partially Examined Life lacks the flashy production value of its peers but succeeds by stripping back discourse to its core ingredients. It also spends time exploring Eastern philosophy, an approach that’s rare across many mainstream philosophy podcasts.

Hi-Phi Nation

Hi-Phi Nation is a story-driven philosophy podcast that tricks you into thinking that it’s not about philosophy at all. This Slate podcast doesn’t discriminate between highbrow and lowbrow topics. Some weeks, host Barry Lam covers criminal justice, while in others, vampires are the topic du jour. In a genre that can be over-specialized, Hi-Phi Nation‘s range makes the show genuinely entertaining.

To say Hi-Phi Nation is a labor of love by a small team is an understatement. It’s basically a one-man show. Lam writes, hosts, and produces the show primarily by himself; an impressive feat. He has a clear skill for choosing guests with interesting perspectives who, despite having academic backgrounds, won’t be heard name-dropping Lacan for no reason. For anyone who has little interest in “traditional” philosophy but appreciates quality narrative audio, this is your show.

History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps

While most philosophy podcasts on this list are accessible to newbies, History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps is for the academic-minded. With emphasis on contextualization, it demonstrates the intersection between politics, literature, and philosophy beyond the usual suspects. Peter Adamson aims to fill in the gaps that other podcasts overlook by illuminating the lesser-known writers and thinkers, giving us a more complete history of the discipline. Tightly scripted and thoroughly researched, this is the perfect philosophy podcast for those missing the lecture hall.

What’s Left of Philosophy

Is it possible to divorce philosophy from politics? If you’ve made it this far down the list, you might be skeptical. What’s Left of Philosophy is a left-wing philosophy podcast, but it is by no means the only show with an agenda. Political bias inherent in all areas of philosophy – and a good podcast won’t shy away from debate.

What’s Left of Philosophy might explore seminal texts with the verve of an over-caffeinated postgrad, but it succeeds in making political philosophy accessible to an engaged audience who have outgrown TikTok explainers. Regardless of your neo-Marxist credentials, you’ll find this show compelling.


Alice Florence Orr is a staff writer and editor for Podcast Review. She is based in Edinburgh. You can connect with her on Twitter or read her work on