Diana Hsieh

I'm a philosopher, radio host, blogger, paleo foodie, gardener, skier & boarder, horse rider, farm gal, entrepreneur, GTD'er, Objectivist, and lover of life!

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on impartialism in ethics, changing names with marriage, accusations of date rape, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 30 August 2015, in our live studio. If you can’t listen live, you’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page.

This week’s questions are:

  • Question 1: Impartialism in Ethics: Does ethics require impartiality? Critics of egoism, particularly utilitarians, accuse egoists of being biased in favor of oneself without justification. They assert that a scientific ethics must be neutral and impartial: it must take a third-person viewpoint where the self isn’t given any special consideration. Are the utilitarians wrong? If so, why should a scientific ethics bias the self over others?
  • Question 2: Changing Names with Marriage: Should I change my name when I marry? I’m a gay man who is engaged to be married. The question has come up about whether or not either of us would change our last name and historically we’ve said no. We have just thought we would just maintain our given names. My fiance doesn’t want to change his name and we both think trying to hyphenate our last names would be unwieldy and fussy. But as we’ve talked about planning a family in the future, it’s occurred to me that I actually like the idea of sharing a name with my husband and my children. So, I’ve been considering changing my name. Somewhat ironically, however, changing my name means giving up a five-generation-old family name in order to take on the name of our new family. I don’t mind this irony very much since my decision would be about taking on a family I choose rather than one I don’t. What do you think? What pros and cons do you see for changing your name at marriage? Do you see any additional pros or cons for gay men considering this question?
  • Question 3: Accusations of Date Rape: What’s the proper response to an accusation of date rape in the absence of hard evidence? When faced with this kind of serious accusation within a social group, what is the proper judgment and course of action? If the victim seems believable, should the accused rapist be shunned or banned from the group? Should private warnings be given to group members? Does refusing to engage in any public discussion of the matter constitute silent assent to the crime? Or should judgment and action be reserved until further evidence comes to light?

After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.

The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Impartialist Ethics, Name Changes, Rape Accusations, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics!

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on confidence in opinions, delegation in marriage, deriving self-esteem from university study, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:


Whole Podcast: 16 August 2015

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.


Podcast Segments: 16 August 2015

You can download or listen to my answers to individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’m recovered from my migraines, thank goodness!

Question 1: Confidence in Opinions

Question: How much confidence should a person express in her own opinions? I work with a woman who constantly makes declarative statements about things for which she lacks sufficient facts and knowledge. The result is that she is often contradicted and people have to tell her, “That’s not true.” She will argue with them and then they have to prove her wrong so that the conversation can move forward. By contrast, I’ve noticed that I often express uncertainty in ways that undermine confidence in my knowledge and experience. The default position I tend to take is that maybe I am missing something and the other people in the conversation can give me that information. How does one learn to strike the right balance between being open to new facts and information but also being confident in one’s own knowledge and experience?

My Answer, In Brief: The problem with your co-worker is not overconfidence, but a lack of concern for the facts but instead having some other agenda. That’s the key to not being underconfident or overconfident: focusing on the facts, including the evidence that justifies your beliefs, and then accurately conveying that to others.

Listen or Download:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 2: Delegation in Marriage

Question: When is delegation in a marriage irresponsible or unwise? There are some parts of normal adult life that I’m really bad at, in part due to social anxiety. Examples include calling or meeting with companies (airlines, banks, etc) to make changes, writing emails that involve stress or conflict, scheduling events that we’ll both attend, budgeting and finance, driving and navigating, and dealing with mechanical stuff. Should I ask my husband to do those chores? If I ask for help, I worry that I’m being weak, lazy, and avoiding my responsibilities. On the other hand, if I try to do the hard things on my own, I often mess up. Where’s the line between delegating and shirking?

My Answer, In Brief: It’s good to delegate in marriage based on strengths and weaknesses. However, that’s different from one spouse enabling dependence and psychological problems in the other. Instead, use your spouse’s help to overcome these problems so that you’re more competent at life.

Listen or Download:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 3: Deriving Self-Esteem from University Study

Question: Can a person derive any self-esteem or happiness from university study? Study is not a productive activity: it is preparation for future productivity. In light of this, how can I draw any self-esteem from my studies, whether successful or not? Can I consider my learning as “productive achievement” even though I am not making any money from it or creating anything? Do I have to wait until later to start being happy or feeling self-esteem? Should I be working on the side while taking classes?

My Answer, In Brief: You can and should derive self-esteem and happiness from university study – and from every life-serving activity, even if not productive work. If that weren’t the case, a person wouldn’t survive to the point of starting his career.

Listen or Download:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • What do you think is the status of the death premise in America? Is hatred of the good for being the good a major force? What are some examples of that premise at work in modern America?
  • What do you think of the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 57:25
  • Duration: 6:19
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion

Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!

  • Start Time: 1:03:45


About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on confidence in opinions, delegation in marriage, deriving self-esteem from university study, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 16 August 2015, in our live studio. If you can’t listen live, you’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page.

Note: This episode was scheduled for last Sunday, but due to a terrible migraine on Saturday, I had to cancel and reschedule it.

This week’s questions are:

  • Question 1: Confidence in Opinions: How much confidence should a person express in her own opinions? I work with a woman who constantly makes declarative statements about things for which she lacks sufficient facts and knowledge. The result is that she is often contradicted and people have to tell her, “That’s not true.” She will argue with them and then they have to prove her wrong so that the conversation can move forward. By contrast, I’ve noticed that I often express uncertainty in ways that undermine confidence in my knowledge and experience. The default position I tend to take is that maybe I am missing something and the other people in the conversation can give me that information. How does one learn to strike the right balance between being open to new facts and information but also being confident in one’s own knowledge and experience?
  • Question 2: Delegation in Marriage: When is delegation in a marriage irresponsible or unwise? There are some parts of normal adult life that I’m really bad at, in part due to social anxiety. Examples include calling or meeting with companies (airlines, banks, etc) to make changes, writing emails that involve stress or conflict, scheduling events that we’ll both attend, budgeting and finance, driving and navigating, and dealing with mechanical stuff. Should I ask my husband to do those chores? If I ask for help, I worry that I’m being weak, lazy, and avoiding my responsibilities. On the other hand, if I try to do the hard things on my own, I often mess up. Where’s the line between delegating and shirking?
  • Question 3: Deriving Self-Esteem from University Study: Can a person derive any self-esteem or happiness from university study? Study is not a productive activity: it is preparation for future productivity. In light of this, how can I draw any self-esteem from my studies, whether successful or not? Can I consider my learning as “productive achievement” even though I am not making any money from it or creating anything? Do I have to wait until later to start being happy or feeling self-esteem? Should I be working on the side while taking classes?

After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.

The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Confidence, Delegation in Marriage, University Study, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics!

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

Link-O-Rama

 Posted by on 7 August 2015 at 1:00 pm  Link-O-Rama
Aug 072015
 

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on morality versus prudence, concealing a relationship from parents, death notifications via Facebook, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:


Whole Podcast: 2 August 2015

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.


Podcast Segments: 2 August 2015

You can download or listen to my answers to individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’ve returned from a fun trip to San Francisco to visit friends, and now I’m back to work.

Question 1: Morality Versus Prudence

Question: In ethics, should moral actions be differentiated from prudential actions? I often hear academic philosophers say that a person should clearly distinguish prescriptive actions that are “prudential” from those that are “moral.” For example, if I want to bake a cake properly, I have to follow a certain set of procedures. However, whether I bake the cake or not – or whether I follow the recipe competently or not – has no bearing on my moral standing. Generally, “prudential actions” are considered actions that would benefit me and not harm others. By contrast, I hear it said that whether my action is moral or immoral is determined by whether it harms others. In moral philosophy, is it valid to separate that which is prudential from that which is moral – and to do so in that way?

My Answer, In Brief: The way that moral actions are distinguished from prudential actions in contemporary academic philosophy is fraught with problems, particularly due to assumptions of altruism. However, we can learn much from Aristotle’s concept of practical wisdom, and a distinction between moral and prudential principles is valid.

Listen or Download:

Links:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 2: Concealing a Relationship from Parents

Question: Is it wrong to conceal information from my father while I live in his home? I am a 21 year old gay college student still living with my parents as I pay my own tuition and progress through college. Both of my parents know I’m gay. My mom is completely fine with it; it’s a sore subject with my dad, and it’s something we don’t discuss. He threatened to kick me out of the house when I came out but then recanted because (I think) he’s wrestling with the morality of the issue. Two months ago, I started dating a really wonderful guy. He comes over often and sometimes spends the night. My mom knows we are together; she is happy for me and approves of my relationship. I haven’t told my dad for fear of being kicked out. My dad specifically told me that he “did not want that kind of activity in his home.” I understand that it is his house (as well as my mom’s, who doesn’t have a problem with my sexuality), and I try to keep things low-key whenever my boyfriend comes over; I also try to spend as much time with him away from my home as possible. But sometimes I would just like to sit down in the comfort of my own room and watch a movie with him. I think my dad would kick me out if he ever thought there was anything going on between me and this guy he knows only as my friend. Am I obligated to tell him about our relationship? Doing so may result in me having to couch-hop until I find a suitable dwelling. It may also make it impossible for me to continue paying my own tuition, a thing I’m quite proud to be able to do. Living at home helps cut a lot of expenses to make that possible. But, is it immoral to lie to my dad about my relationship? I am planning to move out after my bills for the semester are paid and I can save up enough money to afford the down payment on an apartment or house. I will not be keeping my relationship a secret from anyone after that. But, until then, do you think it is immoral to continue lying? I do not understand or sympathize with my dad’s aversion to my sexuality. He’s told me once before that no one else can know, because it would bring embarrassment to him. I think that’s second-handed and irrational. My sexuality has no bearing on anyone but me. Still, I feel like I have to lie to protect my own interests.

My Answer, In Brief: You don’t have any obligation to tell your father about the nature of your relationship with your boyfriend – you’re entitled to your privacy – but while you’re living there, you should respect the rules of the house.

Listen or Download:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 3: Death Notifications via Facebook

Question: Am I wrong to be upset that I learned of my uncle’s death via Facebook? My uncle recently died. We weren’t close, but I would have expected a phone call from my parents about it. Instead, I learned about his death via a Facebook status update from one of my cousins (not his child, but his niece). I’ve been really angry that I learned such momentous news that way, but I’m having trouble explaining why to my family. Am I wrong to be upset? If I should be upset, what’s wrong with what happened? What should I say to my parents now?

My Answer, In Brief: You have every right to feel upset about the way that this news was communicated to you. You should have a calm and kind conversation with your parents to tell them how you feel, listen to what happened, and ask for better communication in future.

Listen or Download:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • I love listening to your podcast, but alas, it’s only once a week. Are there any other podcasts that you enjoy or can recommend?
  • If rights are freedom to pursue values, and a “want” can be proven to be a disvalue, why does one have the right to keep the product of the want, e.g. the purchase of a yacht solely for social status?
  • If ideas are open-ended, and a philosophy is made of ideas, shouldn’t every philosophy be open-ended?
  • I feel an obligation to check out the original works of other philosophic schools but I’m not at all interested in them! Why would I feel that way – and should I do that?
  • Is it a valid role of government to establish a national flag and a national anthem?
  • Is elective plastic surgery moral?
  • Is win-or-lose competition in sports and academics good for children?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 38:17
  • Duration: 20:16
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion

Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!

  • Start Time: 58:34


About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on morality versus prudence, concealing a relationship from parents, death notifications via facebook, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 2 August 2015, in our live studio. If you can’t listen live, you’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page.

This week’s questions are:

  • Question 1: Morality Versus Prudence: In ethics, should moral actions be differentiated from prudential actions? I often hear academic philosophers say that a person should clearly distinguish prescriptive actions that are “prudential” from those that are “moral.” For example, if I want to bake a cake properly, I have to follow a certain set of procedures. However, whether I bake the cake or not – or whether I follow the recipe competently or not – has no bearing on my moral standing. Generally, “prudential actions” are considered actions that would benefit me and not harm others. By contrast, I hear it said that whether my action is moral or immoral is determined by whether it harms others. In moral philosophy, is it valid to separate that which is prudential from that which is moral — and to do so in that way?
  • Question 2: Concealing a Relationship from Parents: Is it wrong to conceal information from my father while I live in his home? I am a 21 year old gay college student still living with my parents as I pay my own tuition and progress through college. Both of my parents know I’m gay. My mom is completely fine with it; it’s a sore subject with my dad, and it’s something we don’t discuss. He threatened to kick me out of the house when I came out but then recanted because (I think) he’s wrestling with the morality of the issue. Two months ago, I started dating a really wonderful guy. He comes over often and sometimes spends the night. My mom knows we are together; she is happy for me and approves of my relationship. I haven’t told my dad for fear of being kicked out. My dad specifically told me that he “did not want that kind of activity in his home.” I understand that it is his house (as well as my mom’s, who doesn’t have a problem with my sexuality), and I try to keep things low-key whenever my boyfriend comes over; I also try to spend as much time with him away from my home as possible. But. sometimes I would just like to sit down in the comfort of my own room and watch a movie with him. I think my dad would kick me out if he ever thought there was anything going on between me and this guy he knows only as my friend. Am I obligated to tell him about our relationship? Doing so may result in me having to couch-hop until I find a suitable dwelling. It may also make it impossible for me to continue paying my own tuition, a thing I’m quite proud to be able to do. Living at home helps cut a lot of expenses to make that possible. But, is it immoral to lie to my dad about my relationship? I am planning to move out after my bills for the semester are paid and I can save up enough money to afford the down payment on an apartment or house. I will not be keeping my relationship a secret from anyone after that. But, until then, do you think it is immoral to continue lying? I do not understand or sympathize with my dad’s aversion to my sexuality. He’s told me once before that no one else can know, because it would bring embarrassment to him. I think that’s second-handed and irrational. My sexuality has no bearing on anyone but me. Still, I feel like I have to lie to protect my own interests.
  • Question 3: Death Notifications via Facebook: Am I wrong to be upset that I learned of my uncle’s death via Facebook? My uncle recently died. We weren’t close, but I would have expected a phone call from my parents about it. Instead, I learned about his death via a Facebook status update from one of my cousins (not his child, but his niece). I’ve been really angry that I learned such momentous news that way, but I’m having trouble explaining why to my family. Am I wrong to be upset? If I should be upset, what’s wrong with what happened? What should I say to my parents now?

After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.

The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Morality Versus Prudence, Secrets from Parents, Death Notifications, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics!

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

Arthur Zey Smash

 Posted by on 29 July 2015 at 1:00 pm  Emotions, Funny, Personal
Jul 292015
 

This is how Arthur Zey feels about just barely losing at Pandemic, my grammatical and dishwashing errors, and your wrongness on the internet.

New Questions in the Queue

 Posted by on 29 July 2015 at 8:00 am  Question Queue
Jul 292015
 

As you know, on Sunday morning’s Philosophy in Action Radio, I answer questions chosen in advance from the Question Queue. Here are the most recent additions to that queue. Please vote for the ones that you’re most interested in hearing me answer! You can also review and vote on all pending questions sorted by date or sorted by popularity.

Also, I’m perfectly willing to be bribed to answer a question of particular interest to you pronto. So if you’re a regular contributor to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar, I can answer your desired question as soon as possible. The question must already be in the queue, so if you’ve not done so already, please submit it. Then just e-mail me at diana@philosophyinaction.com to make your request.

Now, without further ado, the most recent questions added to The Queue:

What is the difference between familiarity and intimacy?

In a recent Facebook post, you wrote: “Lately, I’ve been thinking about the difference between mere familiarity with another person and the intimacy of a deep connection. By familiarity, I mean that each person knows what the other is up to, how they spend their days, what their concerns are, how they’re likely to act, etc. In contrast, the intimacy of a deep connection requires openness, vulnerability, visibility, total trust, generosity with the self, accessibility, etc. (Intimacy often involves familiarity, but not necessarily.) Obviously, I’m thinking here of the psychological aspects of a relationship, although I think that the distinction works for physical and sexual aspects too, if they exist.” Can you say more about this difference? How does it impact a person’s psychology and various relationships?

How can a person use accountabilibuddies to be more productive?

Lately, you’ve mentioned using accountabilibuddies to help break bad habits, cultivate new habits, get more done, or eliminate procrastination. How does that work? What kind of person do you want as you accountabilibuddy? What do you do for them? What do they do for you? What are the major benefits? What are some of the pitfalls to avoid?

Did Hank Rearden really threaten to beat up Lillian Rearden in Atlas Shrugged?

Consider the following quote from Atlas Shrugged: “‘Lillian,’ he said, in an unstressed voice that did not grant her even the honor of anger, ‘you are not to speak of her to me. If you ever do it again, I will answer you as I would answer a hoodlum: I will beat you up. Neither you nor anyone else is to discuss her.’ (p. 530). Was Hank serious in his threat, or were these just the words he chose to emphasize how important the issue was to him? Ayn Rand’s heroes tend to be very careful and literal in their word choice, but I can’t imagine Hank would ever have followed through with this. As evil as Lillian was, I don’t think assaulting her can be justified. What’s the right interpretation of this passage?

Is vulnerability of value?

In a recent blog post, you stated “…I’m opting for a “vulnerability through strength” and “strength through vulnerability” route…” Could you please explain this idea? Why is vulnerability something that should be cultivated in the first place? It doesn’t seem compatible with rational egoism, given that “vulnerability” and “weakness” are often used interchangeably.

How can I counter the effects of ghosting in dating?

Ghosting is when one person disappears from a relationship – suddenly cutting off all contact – without rhyme or reason or explanation of any kind. How does that affect the ghoster and the ghostee? Personally, when I go on dates, it does not matter how well they go. Even if I get my date’s number at the end of the night (if I didn’t already have it), my default assumption is that I will never hear from them again even if I try to contact them. Even if there are second and third dates, I still carry the expectation that I will be ghosted. Currently, being ghosted does not have as much of an emotional impact as it used to for me, but I think that’s because I expect it now (which is, unfortunately, justified). When I don’t receive a call or text after a 24 hour period, I consider myself ghosted and move on…but I find that that window is getting smaller. How can I psychologically arm myself against the damage of this increasingly prevalent practice while not simultaneously shutting down my ability to be emotionally vulnerable and open to new relationships? What should ghosters be doing instead of just disappearing?

Do doctors deserve our trust?

It seems that the majority of doctors are extremely second-handed today. Their attitudes toward medicine revolve around what they were taught in school and the edicts of the FDA.They have almost no intellectual independence and would be paralyzed without their structure of authority to tell them what to do. Like most people they are clueless about the free market. How can anyone trust their judgment given this second-handedness?

How do we keep good ideas from becoming trite?

Individualism is a big part of American culture, so much so that I think certain aspects of it have become trite. I know that as a kid I would always roll my eyes at such cliches as “be yourself” and “follow your dreams.” Even though on reflection they were actually good advice, they always sounded phony to me and I think most people felt the same and continue to feel that way for all their lives. I’ve been inspired a lot by some of Ayn Rand’s writings, but if her ideas were to become more commonplace, I wonder whether the principles of Objectivism would just start to sound like more uninspiring platitudes. How can we prevent this? How can we rescue good ideas from being dismissed as clich?s?

When is delegation in a marriage irresponsible or unwise?

There are some parts of normal adult life that I’m really bad at, in part due to social anxiety. Examples include calling or meeting with companies (airlines, banks, etc) to make changes, writing emails that involve stress or conflict, scheduling events that we’ll both attend, budgeting and finance, driving and navigating, and dealing with mechanical stuff. Should I ask my husband to do those chores? If I ask for help, I worry that I’m being weak, lazy, and avoiding my responsibilities. On the other hand, if I try to do the hard things on my own, I often mess up. Where’s the line between delegating and shirking?

Should I change my name when I marry?

I’m a gay man who is engaged to be married. The question has come up about whether or not either of us would change our last name and historically we’ve said no. We have just thought we would just maintain our given names. My fiance doesn’t want to change his name and we both think trying to hyphenate our last names would be unwieldy and fussy. But as we’ve talked about planning a family in the future, it’s occurred to me that I actually like the idea of sharing a name with my husband and my children. So, I’ve been considering changing my name. Somewhat ironically, however, changing my name means giving up a five-generation-old family name in order to take on the name of our new family. I don’t mind this irony very much since my decision would be about taking on a family I choose rather than one I don’t. What do you think? What pros and cons do you see for changing your name at marriage? Do you see any additional pros or cons for gay men considering this question?

Is loving and excelling at the process of the work enough for a career?

In your June 14th, 2015 discussing of choosing a career, you said that a person should love the day-to-day process of doing the work, not merely the effects it creates. What about the reserve problem – meaning that you enjoy the day-to-day work but you don’t feel very inspired by its effects, and you feel like it’s not important, inspiring, or real work? In my own case, I enjoy translation, foreign languages and linguistics. I taught myself French and German, and I am teaching myself several more languages. When I began tutoring others, I realized that I learn instantly what others struggle to master. I’m fascinated by how different languages express the same thought, and I’ll lose myself in the process of translation. However, I don’t find myself inspired by the results. If I were to translate patents or fiction, I wouldn’t feel like I was doing much of importance. Plus, I’d not feel like I was doing any real work because it’s like playing to me. Also, it doesn’t pay well. I’m also interested in technology and electronics, and I like the process of programming too. I feel like the effects of programming are more inspiring and have way more potential, but I have more aptitude for languages. Given these factors, how should I decide on a career path?

Is it wrong for a woman not to report a sexual assault?

I harshly judge grown women who do not report or otherwise address sexual assault. (I say “address” because I’m super picky about bringing in the police on questionable matters, but saying something about it to mutual contacts often might be enough.) I’m missing the empathy component when some douche assaults one lady after another. I do not understand why someone would not address this in some way: assault is a major deal. But maybe I am being too harsh. How should these women be judged?

Do my parents have a right to force me to take a paternity test?

My parents’ marriage has always been rocky, with doubts about my mother’s faithfulness pervading their relationship despite the fact that her infidelity has never been proven. About a year ago, my parents approached me out of the blue about taking a paternity test due to my father’s doubt that I am his biological daughter. Given their unhealthy, abusive past, I was immediately concerned about opening an old wound for my father and endangering my mother with this dangerous “evidence.” So I agreed to take the test only if my father would be willing to forgive my mom for either result and get counseling for past pains. He was infuriated by this and refused to agree to forgive mom or address his anger. He claims that he “deserves to know the truth” and that I am unfairly torturing him by not taking the test. I do not feel it is my responsibility or obligation to take a paternity test that would contribute nothing to me, but could result in more abuse and resentment toward my mother. At age 33, I could care less about the test results as I am a grown adult who will always relate to my dad as my only father, for better or for worse. I was secure in my decision until several weeks ago when I received a letter from my parents threatening legal action if I do not take the paternity test. I am unsure what the law says on this matter, but I do not trust the courts to act rationally (especially because my mother works for a law firm and has some weight to throw around here). I am now uncertain how to balance protecting myself against protecting them from each other and from additional pain. I have consulted other trusted family members on what to do and they have urged me to hold out on taking the test. What should I do?

Why do you think men have dominated societies throughout most of history?

The obvious answer to that question is that men are physically stronger, therefore they have been able to take and keep political and intellectual control. But I wonder if there other factors that have also contributed, such as psychological factors. For example, I have often heard women say they are attracted to men who will “take charge” (at least at times, or in certain situations). Might women have at least some tendency to allow men to take leadership roles? And a disproportionate amount of violent crimes are committed by men, suggesting that men have greater tendencies towards aggressive behavior. What, if any, psychological factors or personality traits have led to history to play out as it has?

How do altruists cope with their own moral hypocrisy?

Since learning about the egoism of the Objectivist ethics, I’ve been fascinated by how often morally righteous altruists – who live with their ideas and push them on others – are able to maintain a seemingly high level of psychological strength, self-esteem, and motivation in life. I’m thinking of the kind of altruist who achieves a high standard of living for himself and his family and who pursues a career of his own choice. Many politicians are good examples of this. The Objectivist ethics seems to say that these individuals should not be able to exist. How do they do it? How do they get away with it?

To submit a question, use this form. I prefer questions focused on some concrete real-life problem, as opposed to merely theoretical or political questions. I review and edit all questions before they’re posted. (Alas, IdeaInformer doesn’t display any kind of confirmation page when you submit a question.)

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Arthur Zey and I answered questions on honesty under professional confidentiality standards, adopting hobbies just for dating, efficiency in writing, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:


Whole Podcast: 26 July 2015

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Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.


Podcast Segments: 26 July 2015

You can download or listen to my answers to individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’ve been taking a much-needed rest with my friends in San Francisco.

Question 1: Honesty under Professional Confidentiality Standards

Question: Do confidentiality standards justify privacy lies? Some professions, like those in clinical psychology, medicine, or law commonly utilize confidentiality standards that apply between professionals and clients due to the sensitive nature of the information shared between them. Generally, such professionals can (and do) have a policy of refusing to answer any questions about their clients and so avoid any supposed need for privacy lies to protect from nosy inquiries. However, these standards also often include the understanding (sometimes explicit) that, if professional and client should ever meet in a social situation, the professional would follow the client’s lead about if and how they knew each other. This means that a client could push the professional into a lie. Yet even in the case where both people are basically honest, the mere act of showing recognition of each other could compromise the client’s privacy if the professional’s job is not a secret. And there are reasonable social situations in which you couldn’t hide familiarity without deceit of some kind. So ethically, we seem to be stuck between (1) clients having their privacy perhaps violated if they are unlucky enough to encounter their professional outside the office or (2) professionals having to lie to protect the privacy of their clients. Is there another alternative here? If not, what’s the best course?

My Answer, In Brief: Professional standards to protect the privacy of a relationship between therapist and client are not dishonest and perfectly justified. They make the therapeutic relationship possible, and because everyone knows or should know the rules, failing to recognize a client is no more dishonest than bluffing in poker.

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To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 2: Adopting Hobbies Just for Dating

Question: Is it wrong to take up a hobby for the sake of dating? I’m single, and I want to meet more women. Is it wrong or unwise to take up hobbies like dancing, acting, painting, singing, or guitar just to have some skill to show and to meet women interested in those activities? I wouldn’t take up these hobbies without the dating angle: I’m just not interested in them, at least not right now. Is that wrong?

My Answer, In Brief: Don’t attempt to meet women by taking up hobbies that bore you. That’s a losing strategy. Instead, figure out hobbies that interest you, and pursue social goals in addition.

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Links:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 3: Efficiency in Writing

Question: How can a person improve his productive output in writing? How can he measure and increase his efficiency in writing – whether for blog posts, essays, papers, or anything else? Should a person set a goal of completing a given writing in a given time frame? Should he track time spent? Should he limit editing? Or something else?

My Answer, In Brief: If you want to become more efficient in writing, then experiment with various techniques used to increase productivity in writing and similar kinds of work and see what works for you.

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To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Is there value in naturalistic literature? Can naturalistic literature still be heroic at its core?
  • Is microaggression a real concept?
  • Are there any normative propositions that are axiomatic?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 1:02:07
  • Duration: 10:32
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion

Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!

  • Start Time: 1:12:40


About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on resisting arrest, enjoying Atlas Shrugged, stigmatized property, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:


Whole Podcast: 19 July 2015

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.


Podcast Segments: 19 July 2015

You can download or listen to my answers to individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’ve been occupied with personal matters, apart from the show.

Question 1: Resisting Arrest

Question: How should the police respond to people resisting arrest? Recently, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City have made headlines because they were killed by police officers who, many feel, used excessive force during their respective encounters. While the two cases were quite different, they did have one thing in common. In both cases, the officers were compelled to use force which resulted in lethal injury when the men, Brown and Garner respectively, resisted arrest. Brown attacked officer Wilson and then ran away, refusing to stop until Wilson chased him down. Garner refused to be arrested. Is there a more objective way to deal with an arrest in a free society? Since, in a free society, the government has a monopoly over the use of force, does that mean that the police are allowed to use brutal force when a suspect refuses to comply with the officer’s demands, regardless of the charges against the person in question?

My Answer, In Brief: The culture of policing in America is fraught with serious (but not universal) problems of police misconduct and brutality. In a free and civilized society, the police need to be restrained in their use of force, so that they protect rather than violate rights.

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Links:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 2: Enjoying Atlas Shrugged

Question: How can I be less annoyed with Atlas Shrugged? I love Ayn Rand’s ideas, and I thoroughly enjoy her non-fiction. I want to enjoy Atlas Shrugged and her other fiction more, but I’m often annoyed with the aesthetics of her work. I acknowledge the fact that the novels are great, but every time I see mention of Francisco’s mocking smile or John Galt’s mocking eyes or Hank Rearden’s mocking laugh or John Galt’s implacable voice or New York City’s implacable skyline or Dagny Taggart’s silent terror, I just want to pull my hair out. I find myself wanting to throw the book at the wall every time she uses those words! I understand that loving her novels is not a prerequisite for applying her philosophy, but I really desire to experience the joy that many other people feel while reading her work. How can I get more enjoyment out of it?

My Answer, In Brief: Atlas Shrugged is an amazing novel, but it has some aesthetic flaws that can impede a person’s enjoyment of it. Try to overlook those, focus on what you love, and if all else fails, it’s okay… give up!

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Links:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 3: Stigmatized Property

Question: Should sellers of homes be obliged to report the spiritual or criminal history of the property? Many state laws require that “stigmatized” properties, such as those with a history of paranormal activity or a past owner such as Jeffrey Dahmer, be reported by real estate agents. That leads to the home being devalued in price. Should such a law exist? Moreover, should potential buyers take advantage of any “stigmatized” property, thereby offering and paying less, even though belief in paranormal activity is irrational?

My Answer, In Brief: The law should forbid fraud in real estate transactions, and that likely does not require any mandatory disclosures. Instead, buyers should ask about what they’re interested in with open-ended questions, including perhaps about the spiritual and criminal history of a house.

Listen or Download:

Links:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Does the counterintuitiveness of the Monty Hall problem demonstrate an inherent flaw in the human capability to reason?
  • Is rape about sex or power?
  • How do we know that the mind is tabula rasa?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 41:39
  • Duration: 7:38
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion

Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!

  • Start Time: 49:18


About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

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