In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed rationality in face of overwhelming emotions. The question was:

How can a person regain his rationality in the face of overwhelming emotions? On occasion, I find my rational judgment swamped by strong emotions like anger and anxiety. In such cases, my thinking seems distorted by my emotions. While in the grip of such emotions, what can I do to re-establish my powers of rational thought? Also, how can I prevent myself from saying or doing things that I’ll later regret?

My answer, in brief:

You need not be at the mercy of your emotions: you can take charge of own mind in friendly way. So when your emotions rage out of control, you should (1) notice them, (2) analyze them, (3) work to defuse them, and (4) later, prevent the same from happening again.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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Dec 092011
 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed revealing atheism to inquisitive strangers. The question was:

Should I reveal my atheism to strangers when asked? I work at a hospital. One night a patient asked me if I’m religious. I answered yes. He then asked me if I believed that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins. I answered yes. Then he took my hand and prayed for me. Immediately, I felt guilty, because I lied in answering these questions. In fact, I’m an atheist. The next day, I told the patient the truth, and he thanked me for my honesty. What should I have done in answering his original questions?

My answer, in brief:

Honesty is a virtue, and fully applicable here. So when asked personal questions by strangers, the proper response is to either answer the question honestly or decline to answer it.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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Dec 082011
 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed the principle of sustainability. The question was:

What’s wrong with the principle of sustainability? In the discussion of “sustainable agriculture” in your October 9th webcast, you didn’t explain the problem with the basic principle of the “sustainability movement,” namely “that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Doesn’t that just mean respecting rights? If not, what does it mean and why is it wrong?

My answer, in brief:

The principle of sustainability must be understood in its proper ideological context of collectivism, egalitarianism, and environmentalism. Understood that way, it’s clearly demanding that people not exploit finite resources for their own benefit, as they ought.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed political compromise on legal marijuana. The question was:

When is it morally right or wrong to support political compromises? The marijuana legalization initiative for the 2012 Colorado ballot also specifies open-ended taxation that circumvents the protections of TABOR (the Taxpayer Bill of Rights). It specifies that the first $40 million raised goes to government schools. Both of these taxation items are compromises added to get voters to accept the marijuana legalization. Is it ethical to support more taxation to get more freedom from drug laws? Is it okay to circulate petitions to get this on the ballot so the voters can decide? More generally, when if ever should a person support political compromises that uphold some rights but violate others?

My answer, in brief:

With mixed legislation, you need to examine the good and the bad, with particular emphasis on precedents set by the law. Sometimes, like with this measure, you should support it because the good hugely outweighs the bad, but that’s not always the case.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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Nov 232011
 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed reasoning by facts rather than emotions. The question was:

How do I know that I’m reasoning based on facts, rather than just being driven by my emotions? Often, I feel strong emotions on some personal or political issue. How do I know that I’m not rationalizing what I want to be true?

My answer, in brief:

By monitoring his thinking, a person can notice the many signs of rationalizing feelings rather than reasoning based on facts. Introspection is the key to noticing and solving this problem.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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Video: The Legal Status of Automatic Weapons

 Posted by on 23 November 2011 at 10:00 am  Firearms, Politics, Videocast
Nov 232011
 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed the legal status of automatic weapons. The question was:

Should it be legal for civilians to own fully automatic weapons? At present, civilians can only own full-auto firearms by special permission of the US Treasury. In a free society, would such weapons be banned or regulated, such that only members of the police and military could access them? As a law-abiding civilian, am I somehow violating someone else’s rights by owning an M-16 fully automatic rifle – as opposed to the virtually identical (and currently legal) semi-automatic AR-15 rifle?

My answer, in brief:

The critical question to ask with any potentially dangerous property is whether mere ownership constitutes a threat to others. That’s not true of firearms, including fully automatic weapons.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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Nov 192011
 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast (Nov 6th), I discussed giving away unhealthy food. The question was:

Is it immoral to give away food that you regard as unhealthy? Assuming that one believes (as I do) that candy and sweets are harmful to health (especially in quantity), is it immoral to participate in trick-or-treat by giving children candy when they come to your door? Or, is it immoral to “dispose” of an unwanted gift of, say, a rich chocolate cake by leaving it by the coffee machine at work to be quickly scarfed up by one’s co-workers (as an alternative to simply discarding it)? Is the morality of these two cases different because in one case the recipients are children while in the other case they are adults?

My answer, in brief:

If I give a person something, it’s because I value them. So I’d rather not give people something damaging, particularly if they’re oblivious to its dangers. Ultimately, however, people are going to make their own decisions about what to eat.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed evasion versus rationalization versus context-dropping. The question was:

How are evasion, rationalization, and context-dropping similar and different? When thinking over a problem I notice that these terms can often be applied simultaneously. So what do they mean – and how are they similar and different?

My answer, in brief:

Evasion is the fundamental phenomena, and the source of evil. Rationalization and context-dropping are two common methods of concealing and thereby assisting that evasion.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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Video: Should I Admit or Conceal My Mistakes at Work?

 Posted by on 16 November 2011 at 8:00 am  Videocast
Nov 162011
 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed admitting mistakes at work. The question was:

Should you always own up to your mistakes? Recently, I made a huge mistake at work, accidentally discarding some very important files. When inquiry was made, I denied knowing anything about it. Should I have fessed up?

My answer, in brief:

Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s neither moral nor practical to conceal your mistakes by deception. Don’t evade your problems – face them openly and fix them!

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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Nov 152011
 

In last Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast (Nov 6th), I discussed working for a minister. The question was:

Is working for a minister giving religion moral sanction? As an atheist, I once worked for an ordained minster who was the owner of a gallery. I became his manager when I made it clear that I was an atheist, but that I was a good framing manager. I don’t think I gave him a moral sanction for his irrationality by working for him under those terms. What do you think?

My answer, in brief:

An atheist shouldn’t want to endorse or assist religion, but that doesn’t preclude secular business relationships with religious believers.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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