Hi-Phi Nation

The Informant

On informant deals and the rule of law.


Episode Notes

This week we go inside investigative operations in New York Police Department’s internal affairs 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.

In Slate Plus: Sarah Lustbader talks with Barry about the incentive public defenders have to make informant deals. They also explore whether we can justify approving police discretionary actions to break laws in the interest of busting crooked cops and politicians while despising their use for low-level drug offenses. Finally, they talk about what makes for valid and free contracts between unequal parties, and whether there is a difference between an offer and a threat.

For all back episodes from Seasons 1 thru 3 of Hi-Phi Nation, visit www.hiphination.org

Email: hiphination@slate.com

Slate Plus Member Content Bonus Episode

Informant Deals

More on the incentive public defenders have to make informant deals.


About the Show

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.

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  • Barry Lam is host and producer of Hi-Phi Nation and Professor of Philosophy at UC Riverside, and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.