Episode 5.01 A Ph.D.-Level Math Problem

Structures and systems, agency and individuals: three axes (and a sub-axis) for thinking about the world we live in.

Tagged: art, ethics, religion, technology

(download directly)

Show Notes

We introduce our system for thinking about the “structure/agency” or “systems and individuals” problem: how do the systems and structures of our lives shape us? How do we shape them? How free are we, and where are the places where more freedom is good, and the places where it might actually be bad? How do we confront the structural issues we face, or strengthen and preserve the good systems we do have in place?

Questions we’ll be asking

Our analytical axes

Applying the axes

Two big questions we’ll ask about the particulars for each issue we look at:

We think that in almost no cases is a radical end of individual freedom or structural control right. Nor does any system have merely positive or negative outcomes; we live in a broken world where even the best systems working in the most productive cycles with the most virtuous individuals still cannot solve everything perfectly. (And, since people’s own situations and religious and ethical beliefs differe, there will be people who dispute our positive/negative valence. We make no apologies for ours, but we welcome disagreement!)



Many thanks to the people who help us make this show possible by their financial support! This month’s sponsors:

If you’d like to support the show, you can make a pledge at or give directly via Square Cash.


We love to hear your thoughts. Hit us up via Twitter, Facebook, or email!


The Hosts

Chris Krycho is a software engineer, podcaster, writer, and occasional composer. He lives with his family in Colorado.

Stephen Carradini is a digital media scholar and professor, writer, editor, and songwriter. He lives with his family in Arizona.


We collect zero data about your use of this website. We use Podtrac to gather very limited aggregate statistics about our listenership—the total number of downloads per episode, and the countries of our listenership. That’s it, and it always will be.


©2013–2021 Stephen Carradini and Chris Krycho.

Design by Chris Krycho, using Tiempos Headline and Tiempos Text, by Klim Type Foundry.

Source code available on GitHub.

All content licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. (Translation: please don't just copy and paste; please do copy and modify for any use, giving credit where due.) Read more on our licenses.