Regrets, Forgiveness, Heavy Drinking, and More
Webcast Q&A: Sunday, 6 March 2011
I answered questions on regrets over past mistakes, the necessity of forgiveness, heavy drinking, making fun of others, ending relationships, the bother of honesty, and more on Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday, 6 March 2011. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. You can listen to or download the podcast below.Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.
- Duration: 59:26
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My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback, as well as for Kindle and Nook.
Does the pervasive influence of luck in life mean that people cannot be held responsible for their choices? Do people lack the control required to justify moral praise and blame? In his famous article "Moral Luck," philosopher Thomas Nagel casts doubt on our ordinary moral judgments of persons. He claims that we intuitively accept that moral responsibility requires control, yet we praise and blame people for their actions, the outcomes of those actions, and their characters – even though shaped by forces beyond their control, i.e., by luck. This is the "problem of moral luck."
In Responsibility & Luck, I argue that this attack on moral judgment rests on a faulty view of control, as well as other errors. By developing Aristotle's theory of moral responsibility, I explain the sources and limits of a person's responsibility for what he does, what he produces, and who he is. Ultimately, I show that moral judgments are not undermined by luck. In addition, this book explores the nature of moral agency and free will, the purpose of moral judgment, causation in tort and criminal law, the process of character development, and more.
Responsibility & Luck is scholarly but accessible to active-minded people interested in philosophy. You can preview the book by reading Chapter One and Chapter Three as PDFs – or by listening to my reading of Chapter One.
Segments: 6 March 2011
Question: Does a rational person feel regret over past mistakes? Clearly it is most productive to focus on the positive: What can you learn from your mistakes? Etc. Does this mean regret can be eliminated? What do you make of people who say they never have any regrets?
Answer, In Brief: Moral regrets are optional, as morality is always a matter of choice. Ordinary regrets over something that turned out badly are inevitable, and they should not be a source of guilt.
Question: Is forgiveness necessary? Religious connotations aside, popular psychology often tells us that we must forgive those who have hurt us, even if they are no longer in our lives. It's "healthy". Is forgiveness really necessary to emotional healing? Should I forgive, if the offending party hasn't recognized his/her fault?
Answer, In Brief: Forgiveness must be earned by the person who acted wrongly, but a person can always accept that a wrongdoing happened and choose to move on with his life.
Question 3: Heavy Drinking (27:07)
Question: What's right or wrong about "heavy drinking"? A while ago, you got into a heated discussion on Facebook about the rationality of what could be described as "heavy drinking." (The CDC defines "heavy drinking" as "consuming an average of more than 2 drinks per day" for men and "consuming an average of more than 1 drink per day" for women.) What's your view of such drinking – and why?
Answer, In Brief: "Heavy drinking" is a loaded term, but if a person is regularly drinking to the point of tipsiness or worse, then that's a sign of something amiss in the person's life.
Question 4: Making Fun of Others (35:48)
Question: Is it moral to make fun of others? Can mocking, or making fun of others ever be good? For instance, many people use it as a way of showing that they dislike someone without having to be direct about it.
Answer, In Brief: So long as it's done honestly, poking good fun at the evil, the incompetent, and the silly can be moral.
Question 5: Ending Relationships (45:25)
Question: What is the best way to cut someone out of one's life? When ending a friendship with someone is one obliged to give them reasons or is a simple "I no longer want to have a friendship with you" sufficient? What if the person would not accept the reasons or maybe even be driven to revenge or depression by such an action?
Answer, In Brief: It's often very productive to speak to a person about problems in your relationship, particularly before any end to the relationship. As a default, friends should explain their reasons for ending a relationship.
Question: Why bother being honest, when surrounded by dishonest people? Why not lie, just a little bit to "get ahead". If the guy next to you "games the system" aren't you leaving yourself at a disadvantage? Isn't honesty and integrity, when dealing with people only important if everyone respects those virtues? Why play a game when the rules keep changing?
Answer, In Brief: Life is not a Prisoner's Dilemma! The virtues are necessary to life and happiness, particularly when others are act viciously.
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Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.
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About Philosophy in Action Radio
I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback, as well as for Kindle and Nook. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer four meaty questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of practical importance.
If you join us for the live broadcasts, you can ask follow-up questions and make comments in the text-based chat. Otherwise, you can listen to the podcast by subscribing to our Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the show archives, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.
I can be reached via e-mail to email@example.com.