On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on egoistic benevolence, public shamings, problems with an aggressive dog, photography as art, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 15 December 2013, 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: Egoistic Benevolence: Can actions done for the sake of others be egoistic? In your October 7, 2013 radio show, you mentioned that people have a difficult time understanding how exercising benevolence towards one’s friends is egoistic and self-interested. Instead, they think that being benevolent toward anyone is “other-regarding” and hence, altruistic. How can we untangle and explain this seeming conflict between egoism and benevolent action?
- Question 2: Public Shamings: Are public shamings morally justifiable? I often read of judges handing down sentences designed to humiliate the offender, such as standing at a busy intersection wearing a sandwich board apologizing for their offense. Many people favor these kinds of punishments in lieu of jail time because they consume less resources of the penal system. They may be more effective too. Does that justify such shamings? Moreover, what’s the morality of similar shamings by parents and businesses? A bodega in my neighborhood posts surveillance camera footage of shoplifters, usually with some snarky comment about their theft. I find this practice amusing, but is that moral? Is it akin to vigilantism?
- Question 3: Problems with an Aggressive Dog: What should a person do about a neighbor’s aggressive dog? My husband was attacked (but barely injured) by a neighbor’s dog. No one else was in the room at the time. Our children often play at this person’s house, and the dog has always been friendly in the past. How do you suggest handling the situation? Should we allow our children to play with the dog, as we always have in the past? What should the owner do about the dog?
- Question 4: Photography as Art: Does photography qualify as art? I’ve always viewed photography as a legitimate form of art. However, many people I disagree: Ayn Rand argued that it’s a technical rather than a creative skill. However, I regard photography as a technical and creative skill, just like painting. So does photography qualify as art? If not, does that mean that photography doesn’t have value – or has less value than proper art forms like painting? If photography has value nonetheless, what is the source of that value?
After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”
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Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.