On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Arthur Zey and I will answer questions on philosophical underpinnings of fixed versus growth mindsets, John Galt’s motor, acting rightly, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 24 May 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: Philosophical Underpinnings of Fixed Versus Growth Mindsets: What are the philosophical underpinnings of growth versus fixed mindsets? At SnowCon, we discussed the negative impact of the doctrine of Original Sin on Western culture over breakfast one morning. We saw that this idea – which tells people that they are hopelessly flawed by nature – could encourage fixed mindsets. In contrast, an Aristotelian understanding of virtue and vice as dispositions cultivated by repeated action would seem to promote a growth mindset. What other philosophic ideas might tend to promote a fixed versus a growth mindset?
  • Question 2: John Galt’s Motor: Was John Galt evil, wrong, or a jerk for not commercializing his motor? In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt went on strike when the world seemed only a little worse off than today politically in America. Things got really bad so fast because Galt dismantled everything. If, instead of going on strike, he had quit the Twentieth Century Motor Company and started the Galt Motor Company, things seem like they would have gone a very different way. By my reading, Galt’s motor was pretty much a free energy miracle – for the same price as a car engine a car could need no fuel and be nearly maintenance free. Electricity would be too cheap to meter and probably within a decade the Galt Motor Company would provide the engines for every plane, train, automobile, and power plant in America. The resulting economic boom from ultra-cheap energy would have probably improved conditions – there’d be fewer calls for controls because everything would be going so swimmingly. Galt could have gone into the other countries and demanded they liberalize their economies if they wanted him to electrify their countries. His wealth and influence would let him meet with titans of industry and convince them of his morality. He could invest in Hollywood and make movies and TV shows that showed his views. He could have met Dagny and fallen in love with her, and I’m sure over months of dating she would have come around to realize that his morality was right. Her resistance was, after all, to the strike, not really the idea that we should be selfish. People seem to get more panicky and politicians more lusting after power when the economy is doing poorly. In huge booms things seem to get better. People who are well off don’t cry out for a savior and accept whatever anyone tells them will make things better, because things are going pretty well. If Galt probably could have gotten rich, liberalized the economies of the world, married Dagny, and sparked a moral revolution all without dismantling civilization, shouldn’t he have? If his motor really could save everyone (and it seems like it could have), he is at least kind of a jerk to not commercialize it – and probably self-destructive too. So why go on strike at all?
  • Question 3: Acting Rightly: How can I learn to act on principles that I know to be true? I believe in reality, rationality, individualism, self-interest, and self-esteem. Yet I don’t act on these beliefs. Right now, I don’t have any self-esteem. Once I act upon believing in reality, instead of merely believing in it, I will develop self-esteem. But I’m really lost as to how to apply reality in my life. I don’t know what that would mean. How can I act on my beliefs?

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: Mindsets, Galt’s Motor, Acting Rightly, 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.

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on atoning for a past crime, the value of earning money, friendship with a devout theist, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 17 May 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: Atoning for a Past Crime: What should a person do to make up for a past unpunished crime? Suppose that a man, say when between 9 to 12 years old, committed a serious offense such as sexual assault or rape. At the time, he did not realize the effect of his actions. Now, as an adult, he is living a decent life – meaning that he’s gotten a good education, he has a good job, and he’s developed good sense of ethics. He’s never told anyone about this incident. It was never reported, and he was never investigated for or convicted of that offense as a juvenile. Legally, he need not report this incident to anyone. But ethically, what should he do about it? Should be disclose it to someone – such as his family, friends, a therapist, or even the police? Should he do anything else?
  • Question 2: The Value of Earning Money: Should a person always care to work or earn money? Most people need to work to earn their bread, so to speak. They need to be productive – and be paid for that – to survive. However, that’s not true in all cases. Perhaps someone has inherited enough money to provide for his life, or he has won the lottery, or a spouse can provide for the two of them. That person still needs a purpose in life to work toward, but must that purpose be productive, in the strict sense of creating material values? Might the person reasonably choose to spend his time studying subjects of interest to him, without any other goal in mind? Might he choose to spend the rest of his life travelling? Or producing art for his own personal satisfaction? Could such a person live a happy, virtuous, and meaningful life?
  • Question 3: Friendship with a Devout Theist: Should I end my friendship with a persistent and devout Christian? I am an atheist who has been befriended by a very devout Christian (read: an ex-missionary). I often find that our philosophical differences prevent me from expressing myself the way I would like. However, this friend has been very devoted to pursuing a deeper friendship with me despite my attempts to keep the relationship very casual. She calls me her “best friend” to others and goes out of her way to forge a deeper bond by regularly telling me how “special” I am to her and reiterating how close to me she feels. She will often say that she regards me as a “sister.” I am puzzled by her persistence, given that she has so many friendship options within her Church and the rest of the Christian community. I am also increasingly uncomfortable with our interactions, given their necessarily narrow breadth and depth: we tend to focus our discussions mainly on a shared hobby we enjoy that has nothing to do with religion or philosophy. I really value time spent engaging in philosophical discussions with my other friends, and this is simply not possible with her. The dilemma is that she has been admirably non-judgmental toward my lifestyle, at least outwardly. She does not proselytize or try to “convert” me. (I have made it clear to her that this is not possible.) Still, our friendship feels vacant to me. I have tried to express my concerns to her at various times but her response is always that she loves me and accepts me “no matter what.” I think she is being sincere, but it feels like a manipulation or, at least, an evasion of our many differences. Still, I always end up feeling guilty for keeping her at a distance while she works so hard to be my friend. Should I end this friendship once and for all?

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: Atonement, Earning Money, Friendship, 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.

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on waivers to rights-violating laws, the validity of intuition, overcoming past failures, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 10 May 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: Waivers to Rights-Violating Laws: Are waivers to rights-violating laws good or bad? There are many examples of immoral laws in which the government initiates force against individuals. There are also many examples of groups of people being carved out of the application of such laws via waivers. Some waivers are based on rational motivations, such as business exemptions from Obamacare based on economic burdens. Some waivers are based on irrational motivations, such as religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws or requirements to provide insurance for birth control because compliance would conflict with a “religious conscience.” If we begin by agreeing that all initiation of force is immoral, how can we proceed with analyzing whether waivers to immoral laws are good or bad? Are the exceptions good if they’re based on rational reasons and bad if based on irrational reasons? Or should we think of the exceptions as either universally good or bad? Philosophically, I’m confused. On one hand, how can I not support all waivers when, in fact, they would result in less initiation of force? On the other hand, I can think of a philosophical argument against all waivers on the following basis: unequal standards for the application of political force implies a variance in the ethical standards which implies a variance in the metaphysical nature of man. If we accept the implication that there are essential differences in our nature as human beings, then we have given up the objective basis for rights and open the door to widespread destruction of freedom. Is that right? How should a person who wants to consistently support individual rights think about this issue of waivers, in principle?
  • Question 2: The Validity of Intuition: Does intuition have any validity? Intuition is defined as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” Assuming that we’re not talking about mystical insight, is this possible? When, if ever, should a person rely on such intuitions? How should he check them?
  • Question 3: Overcoming Past Failures: How can I overcome my past failure to capitalize on the perfect opportunity? Two years ago, after years of struggling in the post-2008 job market, I had a job opportunity that could have been the best thing that ever happened to me. It was a job that represents my values and could have brought me much-needed financial success if I had pulled it off. But it was also an extremely difficult, demanding, and stressful proposition, and I was uncertain whether I had what it would take to succeed at it. To make matters worse, when it came along, I was depressed to the point of having lost the will to live. In my bad emotional state, I was unable to go through with the job, and I let the opportunity slip. In the two years since then, I have done nothing but hold down an menial job while reflecting on the missed opportunity. I can’t move on or get over the fact of what I did and have become almost obsessed with it. I need to approach the employer and ask him for another chance at it. It is doubtful that he would say yes, but I have nothing to lose by trying. However, for all the same reasons I didn’t go through with it before, I still cannot work up the will to do it. Every day I wake up wanting to die and I am so depressed that I can’t feel the warmth of a great opportunity; everything just seems hopeless and pointless. How can I rehabilitate myself enough approach the employer for a second chance?

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: Government Waivers, Intuition, Overcoming Failures, 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.

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on doctrine of double effect, the obligation to report a crime, cutting ties with homophobic family members, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 3 May 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: Doctrine of Double Effect: Is the doctrine of double effect true? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says: “The doctrine (or principle) of double effect is often invoked to explain the permissibility of an action that causes a serious harm, such as the death of a human being, as a side effect of promoting some good end. It is claimed that sometimes it is permissible to cause such a harm as a side effect (or ‘double effect’) of bringing about a good result even though it would not be permissible to cause such a harm as a means to bringing about the same good end.” How has this principle used in analyzing real-world ethics? Is it true? Why or why not?
  • Question 2: The Obligation to Report a Crime: When is a person obliged to report a crime? About ten years ago, as a nurse, I heard a patient planning to do something illegal – particularly, to lie to an insurance company about the relationship between her injuries and the car accident so that she could keep all the settlement money. At the time, I decided to disengage but not confront or report her. I opted for that due to concerns about patient privacy, the non-violence of the planned crime, and the fact that the insurance company could detect her lie from her medical records. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the situation again. I’m trying to come up with a principle to apply, and I’m getting all muddled. What is my moral responsibility to intervene or report when I know that another person is planning or has done something illegal – meaning, something that would violate someone’s rights? Does my responsibility change if it’s a friend (assumed in confidence) or stranger (overheard in public)? Does it matter if the crime has already taken place or is merely in the works? Where is the line regarding severity of the crime? (I’d obviously report if I even heard a stranger plotting murder.) Also, what if you might be harmed if you report, such as in the case of a gang murder? Is there some basic principle that can clarify when a person is obliged to report knowledge of a crime?
  • Question 3: Cutting Ties with Homophobic Family Members: Should I cut ties with my homophobic family? My boyfriend and I visit my family every year for Christmas, and every year they treat him rudely and unfairly. This is solely because they do not accept my sexuality, and they blame him for it. I have made it very clear that if their behavior continues, I will no longer visit them on holidays. They always agree to my terms, but as soon as we arrive, they immediately go back on their word. To make matters worse, I visited them alone this summer for my birthday. During my visit, the daughter of a family friend “just happened to stop by.” It was very clear to me that this was a set up. When we received a moment alone, I told her that I was in a happy, committed relationship with a man. Her reaction showed that she was entirely deceived. I left the house, and I have not spoken to my family since. I have no desire to have a relationship with them. Should I permanently end the relationship?

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: Double Effect, Earning Money, Homophobic Family, 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.

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No Live Philosophy in Action Radio Tomorrow

 Posted by on 25 April 2015 at 5:00 pm  Announcements
Apr 252015
 

Due to personal matters, I’m not going to be able to broadcast a new episode of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning as usual. (Don’t worry… we’re all fine.) I didn’t want to leave you bereft for a second week in a row tho, so I’ve posted a podcast, and that’s available here, if you want to check it out early.

We’ll return to our normal broadcasting schedule next week.

 

Next Tuesday, Ari Armstrong will deliver a lecture for CU Boulder Philosophy Department’s Think! series entitled “Ayn Rand and the Scope of One’s Interests.” I think that Ari will do a marvellous job with this topic, so I hope that some of my readers can attend! Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, April 28, 7:30 pm Where: University of Colorado, Boulder, Eaton Humanities 1B50 A Think! Talk, sponsored by the Center for Values and Social Policy

Abstract: Ayn Rand says that selfishness is a virtue, a claim that many people find odd or outlandish. Won’t an egoist abuse others; ignore the interests of others; free-ride on the efforts of others to better the world; and lie, cheat, and steal if he can get away with it? On the contrary, argued Rand: A rational egoist is concerned with principle, virtue, and justice. How could this be so? The key to the paradox is to discover what, in fact, is in a person’s interests. This talk explores why acting on principle, developing meaningful social relationships, and working toward a rights-respecting society are integral to a person’s rational self-interests.

Bio: Ari Armstrong is an associate editor for the Objective Standard and the author of Values of Harry Potter: Lessons for Muggles. He has written about such issues as abortion rights, gun rights, and the drug war for various newspapers, including the Denver Post and Boulder Weekly. In 2009 Ari won the Modern Day Sam Adams award, and in 2011 he was a finalist in the Hoiles Prize for regional journalism.

ATLOSCon 2015

 Posted by on 31 March 2015 at 10:00 am  Announcements, AtlosCon
Mar 312015
 

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be speaking at ATLOSCon in Atlanta in late May, over Memorial Day weekend. My talk is titled “Rethinking the Role of Philosophy in Life,” and here’s the abstract:

Philosophy matters but perhaps not quite in the way we often think. Anyone who has spent time around religious people — or even Objectivists — knows that their professed ideology doesn’t always match their statements and actions. Christians embrace wealth and free markets, Muslims eschew violence and repression, and Objectivists demand agreement with and respect for authorities. What accounts for these discrepancies? Is it inconsistency, hypocrisy, or something else? Diana Hsieh will explore these questions, arguing that the standard explanations for how a person’s ideology impacts his thinking and choices are woefully inadequate. She’ll explore the difference between a person’s professed philosophy and his operational philosophy, as well as all the layers of influence between them, including culture, communities, relationships, personality, and experience. Ultimately, this richer understanding of the role of philosophy in life can help us make better use of the philosophy of Objectivism, as well as be more accurate and fair in our assessments of others.

This talk will be bleeding-edge material for me: I’ve been actively stewing on these topics for the past few months, and I have lots more development to do before ATLOSCon rolls around in a few weeks. So expect something interesting!

I’m really looking forward to spending time with old friends — and meeting new ones — at ATLOSCon. Plus, the schedule of classes looks chock full of interesting material!

Reminders

 Posted by on 31 March 2015 at 8:00 am  Announcements
Mar 312015
 

Just a few reminders here about how to keep up with our work. First, you can subscribe to this blog or my podcast using these links:

If you subscribe using the email links, you’ll receive an email once per day with any new content.

As for the comments, remember that you can view all recent comments. Also, if you register with Disqus and post with that account, you can edit your comments — and thereby fix any formatting problems, typos, or other minor errors.

Also, if you want a once-per-week round-up of my work, subscribe to Philosophy in Action’s Newsletter.

Here are more ways to keep up, including the Calendar of Events, Facebook: PhilosophyInAction, and Twitter: @Philo_Action.

Feb 232015
 

I’ve not yet updated the registration form for SnowCon 2015 with the more costly “late pricing,” and I won’t do so until tomorrow… so now’s your chance to save a few bucks, if you register pronto!

Below are some more details. Visit the page for SnowCon 2015 to register.

Registration for SnowCon 2015 — six days of snow sports, relaxation, discussion, and lectures in the snowy Colorado Rockies for fans of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism — is open!

SnowCon will be held from Tuesday, March 17th to Sunday, March 22nd, based entirely in Frisco, Colorado. During the day, we’ll ski, snowboard, snowshoe, soak in the hot tubs, chat, and relax. In the evenings, we’ll dine together, play games, and listen to lectures, participate in discussions, and more.

Early pricing is currently in effect until February 20th (or rather, the 24th), so it costs $60 for the whole conference (or $15 per day) so long as you register by then. To register, just fill out the form on the SnowCon 2015 page and then pay your registration fee.

SnowCon welcomes all friendly people with a serious interest in or honest curiosity about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, regardless of their level of knowledge. Every person at SnowCon is expected to be respectful and considerate of others.

A few notes:

(1) You don’t need to ski or snowboard to enjoy SnowCon! You can go snowshoeing with Paul (which takes five minutes to learn), go tubing, ice skating, shopping, or whatever.

(2) The only condo available was awfully small, and I’ve already filled its beds. Sorry! However, you can find hotels in Frisco here, and you can still join all the fun at the SnowCondo… you just have to sleep elsewhere. (If you share a room with someone, the cost won’t be any more than the SnowCondo.)

(3) You don’t need to attend the whole of SnowCon. Locals are welcome to drive up just for the day, or you can stay for just a few days.

(4) I’m looking for speakers interested in giving presentations! I’m planning on two 30-minute slots per evening. You can give a lecture with Q&A or lead a discussion. If you have a proposal, email me at diana@dianahsieh.com.

(5) If you’re coming from sea level, you might wish to get altitude pills (and start taking them a few days before you arrive). If you get altitude sickness, you’ll be miserable, and the only cure will be to get to a lower elevation.

Again, for more details, including the schedule and registration, visit SnowCon 2015.

If you even might attend SnowCon 2015, subscribe to the SnowCon e-mail list for SnowCon-related announcements.

 

I’m delighted to remind you that the kindle ebook version of my book Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame is on sale for half price — just $4.99 — right this very minute! The sale will run until tomorrow, January 16th at 11 pm PT.

Here’s a bit about the book:

Does the pervasive influence of luck in life mean that people cannot be held responsible for their choices? Do people lack the control required to justify moral praise and blame?

In his famous article “Moral Luck,” philosopher Thomas Nagel casts doubt on our ordinary moral judgments of persons. He claims that we intuitively accept that moral responsibility requires control, yet we praise and blame people for their actions, the outcomes of those actions, and their characters — even though shaped by forces beyond their control, i.e., by luck. This is the “problem of moral luck.”

Philosopher Diana Hsieh argues that this attack on moral judgment rests on a faulty view of control, as well as other errors. By developing Aristotle’s theory of moral responsibility, Hsieh explains the sources and limits of a person’s responsibility for what he does, what he produces, and who he is. Ultimately, she shows that moral judgments are not undermined by luck.

In addition, this book explores the nature of moral agency and free will, the purpose of moral judgment, causation in tort and criminal law, the process of character development, and more.

If you want to learn more about the book, check out its web page: Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame. That page has links to free preview chapters, as well as chapter-by-chapter podcast discussions.

Now hurry on over to buy the kindle ebook for just $4.99 before it’s too late!

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha