May 182015
 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on atoning for a past crime, the value of earning money, friendship with a devout theist, 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: 17 May 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: 17 May 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 consumed by personal matters, but I’m really looking forward to ATLOSCon next weekend!

Question 1: Atoning for a Past Crime

Question: 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 he disclose it to someone – such as his family, friends, a therapist, or even the police? Should he do anything else?

My Answer, In Brief: A person who has committed a crime as a juvenile should make sure that his own character is in order, first and foremost. He should not inflict his presence on his victim, but he should deal with his own feelings about what he did and atone if possible.

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

Question 2: The Value of Earning Money

Question: 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?

My Answer, In Brief: A person need not always earn money, but a person should pursue meaningful and challenging goals, not merely engage in activities.

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Question 3: Friendship with a Devout Theist

Question: 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?

My Answer, In Brief: Philosophic differences should not be regarded as a barrier to friendship, but each person must respect the other on that and other matters.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Do you agree or disagree with Ayn Rand’s view that fundamental change in the vanguard of philosophy – particularly morality – is required to have deep positive change in the direction of the culture?
  • What are some ways to help a child who is particularly sensitive disregard or put in perspective things that others say which hurt their feelings?
  • Do you see any signs that the Republican party is becoming more rational insofar as the social issues and standing up for free markets?
  • Overall do you think that the U.S. has had too much military engagement in the Middle East since 9/11, or not enough military engagement?
  • Should emotions be subjected to moral judgment?
  • In a previous podcast you mentioned that at one point you decided to only date Objectivists. How did you go about this? Not all Objectivists openly broadcast their philosophy to the world, meaning that I could be sitting next to another Objectivist on the bus and not even know it. How did you find enough Objectivists to make a large enough dating pool, and what advice can you give someone also trying to search out Objectivists to date?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 48:11
  • Duration: 11:30
  • 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: 59:41


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 answered questions on waivers to rights-violating laws, the validity of intuition, overcoming past failures, 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: 10 May 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: 10 May 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 recovering nicely from last Sunday’s visit to the Emergency Room.

Question 1: Waivers to Rights-Violating Laws

Question: 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?

My Answer, In Brief: The value of waivers depends on the underlying rationale for them, including whether they promote or undermine basic political principles like rule of law, equality before the law, and the separation of church and state.

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

Question 2: The Validity of Intuition

Question: 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?

My Answer, In Brief: In the non-mystical sense, intuitive thinking means that you allow your subconscious to solve some problem, and the answer often seems like a bolt from the blue. Then, if you want to be rational (as you should), you need to engage in some deliberative thinking to check that answer.

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

Question 3: Overcoming Past Failures

Question: 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 a 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 to approach the employer for a second chance?

My Answer, In Brief: You sound as if you’re suffering from serious clinical depression, and so you need to seek out therapy. This job – the lost opportunity – is not really your problem at all: no job is all that.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • What do you think of Benjamin Franklin’s thirteen virtues – Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquillity, Chastity, and Humility?
  • Ayn Rand adamantly rejected Reagan because of his pro-life stance, stating that he could not defend individual rights. Do you think an Objectivist can rationally justify voting for a pro-lifer today?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 56:16
  • Duration: 5:02
  • 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: 1:01:19


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 answered questions on doctrine of double effect, the obligation to report a crime, cutting ties with homophobic family members, 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: 3 May 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: 3 May 2015

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I had a great clinic with Eric Horgan, and Paul and I have some personal news too.

Question 1: Doctrine of Double Effect

Question: 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?

My Answer, In Brief: The doctrine of double effect is a Catholic doctrine used to side-step the awful consequences of their own moral code. It doesn’t capture any useful or important facts about moral responsibility.

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

Question 2: The Obligation to Report a Crime

Question: 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?

My Answer, In Brief: As a general matter, you should report criminal activity to the relevant authorities. However, you should not sacrifice yourself (or others) in the process.

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

Question 3: Cutting Ties with Homophobic Family Members

Question: 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?

My Answer, In Brief: Your family’s behavior has been appalling, and they should have to earn your forgiveness to have any relationship with you in future. If they choose not to do that – or if doing that isn’t worth your time and effort – then you can just put the relationship on ice indefinitely.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • I’m considering buying a ‘hemp vaporizer’ to use to reduce my anxiety (I’m a very anxious person). Would this be a good idea, or would it just be avoiding the problem?
  • Do you recommend that one refrain from all contemplation of their own death, aside from logistics? Or do you think pondering it is beneficial in some way?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 50:34
  • Duration: 6:44
  • 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: 57:18


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.

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For Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a podcast on “Why Personality Matters in Politics… But Not in the Way You Think.” That podcast is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Podcast: 26 April 2015

Do you ever worry that you’re just talking past people in your political advocacy? You might be! Happily, by understanding how your own personality differs from that of others, you can become more persuasive and effective in politics (and in life). In this interactive discussion, philosopher Diana Hsieh explained some of the major personality differences between people, then explore how they function in political debate. She showed how minor shifts in emphasis or approach – not compromises on principle – can make others more receptive to your ideas. This talk was given at Liberty on the Rocks, Flatirons on October 28, 2013.

Listen or Download:

Topics:

  • Principles in politics
  • The basics of personality theory
  • Meyers-Briggs
  • DiSC
  • DiSC in Politics
  • Colorado Tax Increase for Education, Amendment 66
  • Proposed Restrictions on Firearms
  • Three Lessons

Links:

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.


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 the major virtues, signs of repression, the ethics of care for the body, 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 April 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 April 2015

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: The book version of Explore Atlas Shrugged is now now available on Amazon in kindle and paperback formats. I’ve resumed my ReligionCasts series of podcasts on philosophy of religion. And I won’t be broadcasting next Sunday for personal reasons.

Question 1: The Major Virtues

Question: What’s so special about the seven virtues? Ayn Rand identified seven virtues: rationality, honesty, productiveness, independence, justice, integrity, and pride. What’s different about those qualities – as compared to other commonly touted virtues like benevolence, creativity, temperance, or courage? Basically, why are those seven the virtues in Objectivism? Is Objectivism right to single them out? Are they exhaustive?

My Answer, In Brief: Ayn Rand was not concerned that her virtues be exhaustive or symmetrical. But the major virtues of the Objectivist ethics are such because they provide crucial, fundamental guidance and they’re contextual absolutes – unlike moral amplifiers. (Productiveness is an anomaly, in part.)

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

Question 2: Signs of Repression

Question: What are the signs of emotional repression? It’s very important not to repress your emotions, especially if you are a person with rationalistic tendencies. But how might a person identify when he’s repressing some emotions? What are the signs? What can be done to avoid and overcome the tendency to repress, if such a tendency has become habitual?

My Answer, In Brief: Repression is an automatized refusal to think or feel that greatly impairs a person’s capacity to solve the problems of his life. A person can look for the signs of repression by constantly monitoring himself for signs of shutting down thoughts and feelings. He can overcome repression by allowing himself to think and feel everything, even while declining to act on random thoughts and feelings.

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

Question 3: The Ethics of Care for the Body

Question: What is the moral status of actions aimed at tending to one’s body? In an egoistic ethics, the ultimate end of moral action is the growth and continuation of one’s own life. Ayn Rand discussed many of the kinds of actions required to achieve this goal, but she didn’t discuss matters of “bodily care,” such as cleaning your teeth, eating well, exercising regularly, tending to a wound, and seeking necessary medical care. These constitute a whole universe of actions necessary for the maintenance of one’s body and, hence, one’s life. Are such actions moral and virtuous? Should bodily care itself be considered a virtue? Or are these actions already subsumed under the virtues? (If so, I would love to know how to brush my teeth with integrity and pride!)

My Answer, In Brief: A person’s bodily health matters hugely to his well-being and longevity. New virtues are not required to account for this, however, as the virtues of integrity and pride do apply in spades.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Would it be wrong to say, “When you die, nothing happens” instead of “God bless you” when someone sneezes?
  • Is it okay to copy and distribute someone’s intellectual property if that person doesn’t believe in intellectual property?
  • Isn’t there a risk in a society without government welfare that the poor would commit crimes in order to go to prison and get free food, shelter etc.?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 1:31:16
  • Duration: 5:01
  • 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: 1:36:18


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


 

For Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a preview of my discussion of “Argument from Miracles for the Existence of God, Part 1.” That preview is now available for streaming or downloading, and the full podcast is available for purchase.

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


Podcast Preview: 9 April 2015

Do reports of miracles prove the existence of God? Most people of faith appeal to the miracles of their faith as grounds for their belief. Here, I consider what miracles are, how they are supposed to prove God’s existence, and raise some concerns about them.

This podcast is one of the ReligionCasts – my series of podcasts on the philosophy of religion. Below, you can preview the podcast for free. Then, purchase access to my whole series of 16 podcasts (8 free, 8 premium) for just $10. (Regular contributors to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar should email me for free access.)

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Purchase the Podcast

My podcast series on philosophy of religion – a.k.a. the “ReligionCasts” – is is available for purchase for $10. (The first eight podcasts in the series are free to all, while the latter eight are premium content.) If you contribute to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar via recurring weekly or monthly contributions (or the equivalent), please email me for free access.

Terms of Sale: You may share the podcast with members of your household, but not beyond that. Do not ever post the podcast or login credentials in any public forum.

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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

Apr 062015
 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on personality theory and ethics, euthanizing a pet, 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 April 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 April 2015

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I posted my 2012 lecture “Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?” as a premium podcast, and I expect a new proof of the book version of Explore Atlas Shrugged to arrive tomorrow.

Question 1: Personality Theory and Ethics

Question: How does personality theory affect ethics? In your December 21st, 2014 discussion of the relationship between philosophy and science, you stated that your grasp of personality theory has given you a fresh perspective on ethics and changed your understanding of the requirements of the virtues. How does personality theory inform the field of ethics, in general? How should personality theory inform our moral judgments? How does one avoid slipping into subjectivism when accounting for personality differences? (Presumably, it doesn’t matter whether Hitler was a High-D or not before we judge him as evil.) How can we distinguish between making reasonable accommodations for personality differences and appeasing destructive behavior and people? Are virtues other than justice affected by an understanding of personality theory?

My Answer, In Brief: Personality theory does not change the substance of ethics, but it sheds light on the practice of the virtues, and particularly aids in exercising the virtues of justice and pride.

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

Question 2: Euthanizing a Pet

Question: When should a person euthanize a pet? Over the years, I’ve had to decide whether to medically treat my cats or euthanize them when they’re seriously ill, and it tends to be a hard choice to make. Concern for the cat’s quality of life is a factor, but so is the monetary cost of veterinary procedures and medication, the time required, and the emotional pain of parting from an animal that has been part of my life for many years. In my own decisions, I’ve come down to, “Am I keeping this cat alive because his life has value to him, or because I don’t want to face losing him?” Yet in online discussions, I see comments from other people who strike me as prolonging a pet’s life even when the pet is miserable, which seems horrifying to me. What is your approach to these decisions? What do you think is the best way to approach them? Is this a question of ethical principle or purely one of optional values?

My Answer, In Brief: Pets are serious responsibilities, and people should consider the well-being of the animal, as well as the well-being of the humans involved, when deciding whether to put down an animal or not.

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Links:

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

Listen or Download:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Heuristics are very important in day to day life. What is the place of heuristics in a principled ethical philosophy?
  • Is “perversion” a valid concept? What does it really mean, morally, to call someone “perverted”?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 55:28
  • Duration: 8:08
  • 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: 1:03:36


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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Apr 022015
 

For Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a preview of my podcast on “Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?” That preview is now available for streaming or downloading, and the full podcast is available for purchase.

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


Podcast Preview: 2 April 2015

Most people dismiss any ideal of moral perfection as beyond their reach. “I’m only human,” they say. That view is a legacy of Christianity, which teaches that moral perfection is possible to God alone and that any attempt at moral perfection is the sin of pride. In sharp contrast, Ayn Rand argues that moral perfection is not only possible to ordinary people, but also necessary for anyone who wants to live a virtuous and happy life. Hence, pride, understood as moral ambitiousness, is one of her seven major virtues – as seen in the heroes of her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

This talk explores Ayn Rand’s views of moral perfection, ambition, and pride. What does she think that morality demands? How can people achieve that? How should people respond to their own moral wrongs and errors? Comparing Rand’s answers to these questions to those of Aristotle, I show that despite some differences in each philosopher’s conception of virtue, they share the compelling view that seeking moral perfection is crucially important to a person’s life and happiness.

This lecture was given on 6 March 2012 at the University of Colorado at Boulder as part of the Philosophy Department’s “Think!” series.

Below, you can preview 14 minutes of this lecture for free. Then, purchase access to the full 90-minute lecture for just $10. That full version includes a Q&A session at the end, as well as the PowerPoint slides used in the lecture. (Regular contributors to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar should email me for free access.)

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Item:Lecture: Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect? ($10)
 


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 claims of rights to food and shelter, extreme cases, being helpful to a disliked co-worker, 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: 29 March 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: 29 March 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 very productive since SnowCon, particularly in getting the book version of Explore Atlas Shrugged ready for publication.

Question 1: Claims of Rights to Food and Shelter

Question: Do people have a right to food and shelter? I recently had a conversation with a Facebook friend who stated that food and shelter are more than necessities, they are rights. I posed the question, “How does one exercise their right to food and shelter?” No one answered the question, so I would like to pose it here. Most food in this country is grown by farmers and sold fresh, or processed in a factory for sale. If food is a “right,” does anyone without the means to buy these products have an inherent right to take what they need without any remuneration to the farmer or the manufacturer? The same applies to shelter. How does one exercise their “right” to shelter without a means to earn it? We have a right to free speech, and a right to vote. One is exercised by speaking your mind on a subject without fear of government reprisal, and the other is exercised by voting during elections. We have the right to practice whatever religion we want or none at all. The press has the right to print or say whatever they want. Any “right” to food or shelter would have to operate differently. So are food and shelter a “right”? What would that mean in practice?

My Answer, In Brief: The only “right to food and shelter” that people have is a right to pursue that, by their own efforts and voluntary trade with others. Government welfare programs violate those rights, and worse, do serious harm to the poor.

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

Question 2: Extreme Cases

Question: Do moral principles break down in extreme cases? When faced with bizarre hypotheticals, advocates of rational egoism often assert that such scenarios would never happen. This seems to be dodging the question. It’s said that conventional understandings of physics break down at microscopic and extremely grand-scale levels. Does morality follow a similar pattern? For example, what if a small society of people stranded on an island faced a shortage of clean water, and a single individual who owned all access to clean water refused to sell it? Is that really impossible? Doesn’t that show that the principle of individual rights breaks down in extreme cases?

My Answer, In Brief: Lifeboat scenarios are not particularly relevant to the core of ethics, yet many of the basic principles of ethics still apply, even in desperate circumstances.

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

Question 3: Being Helpful to a Disliked Co-Worker

Question: Should I do something nice for a coworker I dislike? There’s a lady at work that I dislike. My conflict with her is primarily merely a conflict of personality. I find her defensive, passive-aggressive, and awkward to the point of rudeness. I am also not very impressed with her work products, but that rarely has a direct impact on me – except when I’m asked to review them – as is the fact that she only seems to work for about six hours every day. Indirectly, of course, her eccentricities and poor work quality cast our team in a very poor light and could eventually serve as a reason to dissolve or lay off our team. It’s a mystery as to why she hasn’t been fired. But I’m not her manager. In a meeting earlier today, she made a remark that she thought she was being excluded from important meetings that are relevant to her work. The truth is that she’s not being actively excluded from these meetings, but rather everything is happening so fast and the meetings aren’t always planned, so it’s really just not possible to include her in those meetings. She would probably be heartened to understand better how these events take place in our company. (She’s rather new, and I am very tenured.) She might feel better about her position and she might become less defensive about things if she had a better understanding of the organizational mechanics here. But I strongly dislike her and would prefer that she seek other employment. Should I be kind and explain those mechanics or not?

My Answer, In Brief: While you have no duty to help this co-worker, you might err on the side of benevolence. Don’t speak to her directly, but instead speak to your manager (and hers, if necessary).

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Is it ever the case that someone who’s being really annoying just deserves to be socked in the face?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 59:42
  • Duration: 3:04
  • 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: 1:02:46


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 major branches of philosophy, displaying the confederate flag, taxpayer-funded abortions, 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: 15 March 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: 15 March 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 recovering and unpacking from my trip home from Aiken, plus preparing for SnowCon!

Question 1: Major Branches of Philosophy

Question: What are the major branches of philosophy? Ayn Rand claimed that philosophy consisted of five major branches – metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and esthetics. Is that right? If so, why are those the five major branches? Are they comprehensive in some way? Why not include philosophy of science, logic, philosophy of mind, and so on?

My Answer, In Brief: The four major branches of philosophy are metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. Those branches are central to the discipline and fundamental to human life.

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

Question 2: Displaying the Confederate Flag

Question: Is displaying the Confederate flag racist? I’ve been told by southerners that displaying the flag of the Confederate States amounts to a display of “southern pride.” I think it amounts to a display of racism, given the history of the south. That flag was used in a time when the agricultural economy of the southern states relied on slave labor. Many southern states seceded from the Union, largely because of their nefarious interests in preserving slavery. The Confederate flag represents these states and their ideology. Hence, I think it’s morally questionable (at least) to display it. I don’t think the south should take pride in or honor the Confederacy. Am I right or wrong in my thinking? What should I think of people who choose to display the Confederate flag?

My Answer, In Brief: While a person can take pleasure and pride in the distinctive culture of the south, the Confederate flag is a symbol of the worst era of the south, and that deeply racist meaning cannot be reclaimed or reformed. However, people can embrace the Confederate flag for more benign reasons too. Ultimately, you have to talk to a person to find out what that symbol means to him in order to judge him fairly.

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

Question 3: Taxpayer-Funded Abortions

Question: Should taxpayer-funded abortions be opposed? In Victoria, Australia, we have fairly good laws on abortion and there are almost no legal or social barriers to access. However, we also have a very generous public health care system which means that most if not all of the costs of an abortion will be covered by the public. Is there something especially wrong with publicly funded abortion that advocates of individual rights should be concerned with or is it morally equivalent to the immorality of forcing others to pay for less controversial treatment such as dental surgery? Does the cultural context influence how a free-market advocate should approach this topic? While the majority of the community supports the current laws, there seem to be signs of an anti-abortion faction developing in the Liberal Party (the conservatives). I wouldn’t want to have opposition to publicly-funded abortions result in any kind of ban on abortions. So should publicly funded abortions be opposed or not?

My Answer, In Brief: In this second-best scenario, the primary question is whether you’re helping or harming the cause of liberty by advocating against taxpayer-funded abortions. Here, you would make yourself an ally of anti-abortion activists and their disastrous agenda.

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Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • What is your opinion of people who “baby” their pets?
  • Japanese culture highly values humility. Should an egoist travelling to Japan respect this, or act just as proudly as he would in his native country?
  • Now that the church is slowly losing its power and significance, where are all the “witch-doctors” flocking to?
  • There’s a field called “philosophy of mind,” so why is there no “philosophy of body”?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 48:01
  • Duration: 11:47
  • 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: 59:48


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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