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!

Jul 142015
 

On Saturday, I posted a link to this article — Tennis’s Top Women Balance Body Image With Ambition — to Facebook, with the following comment:

I read this article last night, and it made me want to cry. I like what many of these women have to say, but it’s just horrible that professional freaking athletes feel such ambivalence about putting on muscle just because they’re women. And dammit, they look amazing.

A friend asked me why I was horrified, and I wrote the following comment. It’s a bit rough, but I thought it worth reposting here:

Ah, now that’s a bit difficult to articulate, but let me try.

Overall, I’d say that conventional body standards for women in our culture are pretty irrational. As far as they concern what women can control, they’re almost exclusively about being more slender. That’s the top priority — to be pursued and/or achieved at the price of health (short-term and long-term), capacities (not just athletic pursuits but daily life tasks), etc.

That’s seen in the supermarket “fitness” magazines (which always showcase slender, non-muscular women on their covers) … in the focus on “losing weight” (rather than losing fat and certainly not gaining muscle) … in the ridiculous belief / fear that lifting any kind of weights will cause women to quickly resemble bodybuilders (as if!!) … the quick and near universal compliments obtained from slimming down (whatever the price) … and so on.

So the fact that the standards are irrational and damaging to women’s health and performance is part of the problem here. That’s the easy part, I think.

The more difficult part, I think, is perhaps seeing that greater physical strength and capacity in a woman need not undermine her sense of her own femininity, nor a man’s appreciation / enjoyment of that.

Yes, greater physical strength and capacity in a woman might present a greater challenge to a man in a sexual relationship — not just physically, but because of the greater self-confidence that comes with that. And some men might not be willing or able to live up to that challenge. But many can (or could) — and that meeting of strength with strength can be something special in a sexual relationship. Moreover, the feeling of being deeply embedded in the body that can come with intense physical training… well, again, something special.

I’ve got quite a bit of raw strength relative to the other women in krav, but I’ve now sparred with enough good men to know, in a deep-down way, the overwhelming power of masculine strength, when cultivated. (It’s pretty freaking awesome to experience that, in fact.)

Even apart from these more physical dimensions, I think that our culture has the view that vulnerability cannot come from a position of strength. That’s why men aren’t supposed to be vulnerable (or terribly emotional) and women are supposed to vulnerable due to weakness.

I suppose that’s one way to do it, but I’m opting for a “vulnerability through strength” and “strength through vulnerability” route — both psychologically and physically. And so far, difficult tho it might be, it feels freaking amazing and so right. And in the process, far more dresses and other girly things are being worn, and that feels really right to me too. Fancy that. :-)

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on questions about religious beliefs, the power of fiction, trusting a therapist, 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: 12 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: 12 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 this week, except for doing this radio show.

Question 1: Questions about Religious Beliefs

Question: How should a doctor respond to questions about her religious beliefs? My wife recently told me about a colleague of hers – a physician and an atheist – being caught off guard when asked by the parents of one of her cancer patients in the hospital if she believed in God. These parents wanted their son treated only by a doctor who believes in God, and my wife’s friend did not qualify. How should she have answered their question?

My Answer, In Brief: The doctor should never lie, but she can choose to either answer the question honestly or refuse to answer it. If a patient wishes to behave irrationally, let him!

Listen or Download:

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

Question 2: The Power of Fiction

Question: Why does fiction arouse such a powerful emotional response? Why are people moved emotionally by literature and movies, even though they know that they’re fictional? Shouldn’t people respond emotionally only to real events, not products of imagination? Is there a rational basis for our emotional response to fiction?

My Answer, In Brief: People should respond emotionally to products of the imagination — that has major survival value — and fiction is just the result of that capacity taken to the extreme.

Listen or Download:

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

Question 3: Trusting a Therapist

Question: How can I trust a therapist to help me? I have psychological problems, and I probably need help. However, I have a negative view of the mental health profession in general due to bad experiences in the past. It bothers me that therapists are educated in modern universities where all forms of leftism and equally irrational psychological theories predominate. In my state, many licensed “counselors” are just social workers (the most leftist whackjob profession of all time) with government licenses to counsel people. I am afraid that they will have me involuntarily committed if I am honest about my thoughts of suicide, which I have ready plans to carry out if I decide to. How can I trust anybody in this [expletive deleted] profession?

My Answer, In Brief: You do need the help of a good therapist, and you can find that by exercising your own powers of judgment to differentiate good from bad within the profession. Please do that!

Listen or Download:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Should I feel empathy for Greeks enduring the financial crisis? Sure many people are innocent, but what of the majority that created this situation?
  • Would it ever be technically possible for a moral dilemma to have no resolution? Can you imagine a problem context for which the better choice could never be deduced?
  • Is there a way to cultivate faith – meaning unfailing trust in oneself and one’s decisions in an uncertain world – without accepting religious dogma?
  • What is the response to the anarchist argument that we already have anarchy since different governments are in anarchy with respect to each other?
  • I find most of the government’s decisions on how my forcibly-collected tax dollars are spent morally reprehensible. Do I need to leave the US to maintain my integrity?
  • What do you think of the publishing of Rand’s “Ideal”? Do you think its publication is motivated by a desire to spread Rand’s ideas, or is it merely a publicity stunt?
  • I can understand why there are few Objectivists among businessmen, but why are there so few businessmen among Objectivists?
  • Why is it not acceptable to buy votes at the booth, but it is acceptable to promise financial gain for a class of voters after the politician gets elected?
  • Is it wrong to take apart a device that you’ve bought just to understand it if the licensing agreement forbids that?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 42:13
  • Duration: 18:11
  • 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: 1:00:24


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 questions about religious beliefs, the power of fiction, trusting a therapist, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 12 July 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: Questions about Religious Beliefs: How should a doctor respond to questions about her religious beliefs? My wife recently told me about a colleague of hers – a physician and an atheist – being caught off guard when asked by the parents of one of her cancer patients in the hospital if she believed in God. These parents wanted their son treated only by a doctor who believes in God, and my wife’s friend did not qualify. How should she have answered their question?
  • Question 2: The Power of Fiction: Why does fiction arouse such a powerful emotional response? Why are people moved emotionally by literature and movies, even though they know that they’re fictional? Shouldn’t people respond emotionally only to real events, not products of imagination? Is there a rational basis for our emotional response to fiction?
  • Question 3: Trusting a Therapist: How can I trust a therapist to help me? I have psychological problems, and I probably need help. However, I have a negative view of the mental health profession in general due to bad experiences in the past. It bothers me that therapists are educated in modern universities where all forms of leftism and equally irrational psychological theories predominate. In my state, many licensed “counselors” are just social workers (the most leftist whackjob profession of all time) with government licenses to counsel people. I am afraid that they will have me involuntarily committed if I am honest about my thoughts of suicide, which I have ready plans to carry out if I decide to. How can I trust anybody in this [expletive deleted] profession?

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: Religious Questions, the Power of Fiction, Trusting Therapists, 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, Arthur Zey and I answered questions on satisfying social needs, executing insane murderers, ideological consistency, 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: 5 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: 5 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 doing some work on the site, working on informally changing my name to Diana Brickell, and lots more.

Question 1: Satisfying Social Needs

Question: What should a person do about social and psychological needs he temporarily can’t satisfy? For right now, the context of my life makes it so that it’s hard to satisfy the needs for companionship. Most of the people around me don’t offer deep and intense enough values to satisfy it, even as I do have friends. The majority of the people who could fulfill my needs live out of state. Furthermore, the industry I work in, by and large, prohibits me from being able to attend clubs and whatnot, as I usually work when they run. As such, I’ve got to grin and bear my loneliness for the meanwhile, temporarily. How can I make myself feel better in doing so?

My Answer, In Brief: The most important and difficult aspect of managing unmet social and psychological needs is to simply accept them. After that, you can try to find partial satisfaction in one-way interactions and people that you have less in common with.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 2: Executing Insane Murderers

Question: Should hopelessly insane murderers be put to death? Imagine a totally psychotic and extremely mentally disturbed person who has a propensity to violently kill innocent people. I am talking about a really stark raving bonkers individual. This person has no capability to think and act rationally. How can this person have any rights whatsoever? Why should it be the job of the state to provide for this person when they are locked up in an asylum? Would it be moral and practical to simply execute this person, thus removing the burden of having to keep an eye on him in case he escapes and kills someone?

My Answer, In Brief: Given that criminally insane murderers are not responsible for their actions, and given that they might be cured at some point, executing them would be terribly unjust and inhumane.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 3: Ideological Consistency

Question: Does ideological consistency lead to absurdities and wrongs? Under “zero tolerance” policies, children have been suspended or expelled from schools for innocuous actions like drawing a picture of a gun. Advocates of free markets claim that a business owner has the right to discriminate against customers for any trivial or irrational reason, including skin color or hair color. In both the cases, the problem seems to be taking some idea to its utmost extreme, to the point of absurdity. Shouldn’t we be more moderate and flexible in our views?

My Answer, In Brief: Ideological consistency per se does not lead to absurdities and wrongs. Good ideas don’t go bad when taken to their logical conclusion. However, the absurdities and wrongs and evils of bad ideas often becomes apparent when they’re put into practice. Also, people can seriously misapply good ideas. When judging ideas, focus on the substance of policies and principles (whether they correspond to reality or not) not on the form (whether they are consistent or not).

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • My son turns 12 in a week and wants a Facebook account. But Facebook policy is no younger than 13. Considering last week’s discussion on rule breaking, should I let him given that he’ll be responsible?
  • Should people get tested for diseases they have predispositions for, if there are no preventive measures/corrective actions that can be taken?
  • What is hope? Could it ever be rational to give up hope?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 47:52
  • Duration: 15:29
  • 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: 1:03:23


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 satisfying psychological needs, insane murderers and the death penalty, ideological consistency, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 5 July 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: Satisfying Psychological Needs: What should a person do to bear psychological needs he temporarily can’t satisfy? For right now, the context of my life makes it so that it’s hard to satisfy the needs for companionship. Most of the people around me don’t offer deep and intense enough values to satisfy it, even as I do have friends. The majority of the people who could fulfill my needs live out of state. Furthermore, the industry I work in, by and large, prohibits me from being able to attend clubs and whatnot, as I usually work when they run. As such, I’ve got to grin and bear my loneliness for the meanwhile, temporarily. How can I make myself feel better in doing so?
  • Question 2: Insane Murderers and the Death Penalty: Should hopelessly insane murderers be put to death? Imagine a totally psychotic and extremely mentally disturbed person who has a propensity to violently kill innocent people. I am talking about a really stark raving bonkers individual. This person has no capability to think and act rationally. How can this person have any rights whatsoever? Why should it be the job of the state to provide for this person when they are locked up in an asylum? Would it be moral and practical to simply execute this person, thus removing the burden of having to keep an eye on him in case he escapes and kill someone?
  • Question 3: Ideological Consistency: Does ideological consistency lead to absurdities and wrongs? Under “zero tolerance” policies, children have been suspended or expelled from schools for innocuous actions like drawing a picture of a gun. Advocates of free markets claim that a business owner has the right to discriminate against customers for any trivial or irrational reason, including skin color or hair color. In both the cases, the problem seems to be taking some idea to its utmost extreme, to the point of absurdity. Shouldn’t we be more moderate and flexible in our views?

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: Unmet Needs, Criminal Insanity, Ideological Consistency, 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

New Questions in the Queue

 Posted by on 1 July 2015 at 8:00 am  Question Queue
Jul 012015
 

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:

When is delegation in a marriage irresponsible or unwise?

There are some parts of normal adult life that I’m really bad at due to social anxiety. 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 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?

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?

Why are there so many popular songs idealizing women who don’t know they are beautiful?

I’ve noticed that there are lots of pop songs that glorify women who don’t know they’re physically attractive. Here’s an example: “You don’t know you’re beautiful, That’s what makes you beautiful.” Does this indicate something about what men want? Do they want a woman who doesn’t know her own value? Or does this indicate something about how most women have body image issues?

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?

What is the harm of granting unearned forgiveness?

Some people are too forgiving. For example, some religions preach that people should forgive a cheating or abusive spouse or forgive a deadbeat sibling who has stolen money from the family – and many people do just that. I have even seen some people claim that rape victims should forgive their attacker. Aside from the obvious answer that an unreformed perpetrator may commit the same act against us in the future, what are some other real-life practical harms of offering forgiveness when it is not earned?

Is the United States finished as a free country?

Lately, I have seen a lot of people in my circles claim that the United States as a free country is dead and done, that tyranny advances each day and it’s not isolated, it’s everywhere. These are mostly reactions to articles reporting seeming home invasions by police, the FBI’s forensic hair match scandal, and other government abuses. The common claim is that the United States now has an inherently corrupt justice system where policemen can end the lives of citizens with impunity and get away with it. My inner skeptic makes me feel that, while this is evidence of a lot of bad things that shouldn’t be tolerated, the reaction itself seems disproportionate. While there are systemic problems, I have the impression that it is not all-pervasive and not hopeless. Then again, that could be also my inner optimist trying to tell myself that things are not as bad as they first appear. What is your take on the current climate of the United States? Do you think it is as finished as others claim it is? What kind of tools could you recommend for someone to use in gauging the state of the country more accurately?

Can I help my family deal with their grief over the death of my nephew?

My teenage nephew passed away six months ago. He was murdered at a party by someone who crashed it, someone who he had never met before. It was unexpected, and there are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of anger towards the boy who did it. I think that my partner and I are grieving appropriately. We were devastated at first, and we are doing our best to support our family, and we are adapting to life without my him. I remember you saying in a recent episode that if your mother ever passed away it would be really difficult but that you would need train yourself to adapt to life without her. I’ve found that advice really helpful, and I think that my partner and I are doing a good job at it. However, my family is suddenly turning to religion as an answer, clinging onto every detail of the court case, and pushing people who love and care about them away. I know there is no cookie cutter way to grieve, but what support or suggestions can I offer my family?

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, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on exceptions to rules, judgments of men versus women for sexual relationships with minors, 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: 28 June 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: 28 June 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 changing my name (socially, not yet legally) from Diana Hsieh to Diana Brickell.

Question 1: Exceptions to Rules

Question: When should exceptions to established rules be granted? People often oppose some proposed exception to the rules on the grounds that doing so would set a dangerous precedent and engender abuse. For example, suppose that an honest and diligent student is in the hospital, and he wants to keep up with his school work as much as possible. His parents propose that he take his math exam from the hospital, and they’ll monitor him during the exam. The school refuses on the grounds that if all students were allowed to do that, then cheating would be rampant because not all parents would be honest or diligent monitors. Is that a valid reason for refusing this proposed exception to the rules? When should exceptions be granted to established rules?

My Answer, In Brief: Rules are not sacrosanct. The critical point – for both rule-makers and rule-followers/rule-breakers is to respect the relevant underlying principles and goals. From that basis, reasonable exceptions can be made.

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Question 2: Judgments of Men Versus Women for Sexual Relationships with Minors

Question: Why aren’t women strongly condemned for sexual relationships with underage boys? A few years ago, I saw a flurry of news stories about female teachers in their twenties committing statutory rape by having sex with their teenage male students. At the time, many public commentators and comedians said that they didn’t see how the boys could have been harmed, and they thought an adult male teacher having sex with a female student would be much more predatory. Besides, those commentators often added, the female teachers in these cases were “hot.” At the time, I agreed with those views, but lately, I’ve been thinking that I should check my premises. So is it the case that an adult man having sex with a female minor is more predatory than an adult woman having sex with a male minor? Are the teenage male minor’s rights violated if he is seduced into a sexual relationship with a female teacher? Is a double standard at work here?

My Answer, In Brief: My basic advice is to ignore the media hyperventilating over these kinds of cases: you can’t know enough about the relationship to judge. In the meantime, check your premises about male versus female sexual desire.

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Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Is strength a virtue or a moral amplifier?
  • Given that you take requests for questions to answer, how much does voting on the questions really matter? (I’m just curious–your show, your rules!)
  • My coworker makes unfunny, snide comments to me under the guise of kidding around. When I defend myself with cutting responses, he acts taken aback and accuses me of being sensitive. What should I do?

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  • Start Time: 57:24
  • Duration: 5:55
  • 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: 1:03:19


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.

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on exceptions to rules, judgments of men versus women for sexual relationships with minors, ideological consistency, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 28 June 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: Exceptions to Rules: When should exceptions to established rules be granted? People often oppose some proposed exception to the rules on the grounds that doing so would set a dangerous precedent and engender abuse. For example, suppose that an honest and diligent student is in the hospital, and he wants to keep up with his school work as much as possible. His parents propose that he take his math exam from the hospital, and they’ll monitor him during the exam. The school refuses on the grounds that if all students were allowed to do that, then cheating would be rampant because not all parents would be honest or diligent monitors. Is that a valid reason for refusing this proposed exception to the rules? When should exceptions be granted to established rules?
  • Question 2: Judgments of Men Versus Women for Sexual Relationships with Minors: Why aren’t women strongly condemned for sexual relationships with underage boys? A few years ago, I saw a flurry of news stories about female teachers in their twenties committing statutory rape by having sex with their teenage male students. At the time, many public commentators and comedians said that they didn’t see how the boys could have been harmed, and they thought an adult male teacher having sex with a female student would be much more predatory. Besides, those commentators often added, the female teachers in these cases were “hot.” At the time, I agreed with those views, but lately, I’ve been thinking that I should check my premises. So is it the case that an adult man having sex with a female minor is more predatory than that of an adult woman having sex with a male minor? Are the teenage male minor’s rights are violated if he is seduced into a sexual relationship with a female teacher? is a double standard at work here?
  • Question 3: Ideological Consistency: Does ideological consistency lead to absurdities and wrongs? Under “zero tolerance” policies, children have been suspended or expelled from schools for innocuous actions like drawing a picture of a gun. Advocates of free markets claim that a business owner has the right to discriminate against customers for any trivial or irrational reason, including skin color or hair color. In both the cases, the problem seems to be taking some idea to its utmost extreme, to the point of absurdity. Shouldn’t we be more moderate and flexible in our views?

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: Rules, Sexual Transgressions, Ideological Consistency, 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

Sexual Desire and Assertiveness

 Posted by on 22 June 2015 at 10:00 am  Love/Sex, Psychology
Jun 222015
 

Wow, fascinating stuff from When Women Pursue Sex, Even Men Don’t Get It:

Bergner explains that, in the past, “scientists fixated on what the rat female did in the act of sex, not what she did to get there.” And if you’re friends with any single women or are one yourself, you know that “what she did to get there” is often the most taxing part of the sexual act. It’s also where cultural factors really start to work against women’s newly documented desire. Bergner makes a pretty strong case that women are socially, not biologically, discouraged from initiating and enjoying sex. … Men and women have been barraged with the message that women are not naughty by nature. They are thought of as hardwired to hunt for a partner and a mate, while men pursue sex as a pleasurable act in and of itself. It follows from there that women — at least good women — must be pursued and coaxed into sex, and men enjoy the thrill of the chase.

There are other factors propping up the idea that women prefer to be sexually passive. Bergner reports that preliminary research indicates women are most turned on by their partners’ desire for them. It’s easy to see how this could be misconstrued as passivity — especially because more than a century of conventional wisdom says women don’t like sex as much as men do. But if we accept Bergner’s radical thesis that women do, in fact, like to get off, and get off on being desired, the question of who pursues whom poses a real conundrum for single women.

Think about it: Women want sex, and in particular, they want sex with people who really want them. But socially, many straight men still find it a turnoff when women are sexual aggressors. Which means that, for women, aggressively pursuing the thing they want actually leads to them not getting it. I suspect this is the source of much sexual dissatisfaction of the modern single lady, who’s so horny she’s running across the street to Walgreens to buy more batteries twice a week, but is unable to pick up men despite social conventions that men are “easy” to bed and women have to be coaxed into casual sex. The thing women are told they can access any time is, maddeningly, often just out of reach.

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about the psychology of sexual desire of late. The complexities, even just on a personal level… well, they’re complex. :-) Hence, much of the above commentary on mistaken assumptions about female sexual desire resonates with me. Plus, I wish that sex wasn’t treated in our culture as A Topic Not To Be Discussed Among Friends Except In Terms Of Vague Generalities and Allusions. I’ve had that as an explicit policy for years… but no more, and life is better for it.

Personal News: Forthcoming Divorce

 Posted by on 22 June 2015 at 10:00 am  Personal
Jun 222015
 

As many of you already know, Paul and I separated in April after 16 years of marriage.

Last week, we decided that we should let friends know that we are definitely on a path to divorce. We’ve started seeing other people (or at least that’s in the works), so we wanted some greater public clarity about the state of our marriage.

Happily, our relationship is very amicable. We meet for a friendly meal about once a week, and we’ve been talking very openly and honestly about our marriage. We’ve also been doing (and will continue to do) divorce counseling together, as well as individual therapy. The legal process of divorce is not yet underway for logistical reasons, but that’ll start sometime in the next few months.

I know that some of you will be surprised by this announcement, but please be assured that Paul and I are doing okay, and that we appreciate the support of our friends as we move forward with our lives. This is a major and difficult life-change for both of us, and I think we’ll be better off at the end of it.

Also… I plan to change back to my maiden name — meaning that I’ll be Diana Mertz Brickell again. To ease the transition, I’m going to start using that socially now and professionally soon. Legally though, that’ll only change with the divorce.

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