On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on conservative allies in politics, flunking a student, guilt about refusing requests, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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Podcast: Conservative Allies, Grading Fairly, Unearned Guilt, and More

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy finalizing the proofs for Explore Atlas Shrugged this week. I had a great clinic with Eric Horgan last weekend, and I got second in my division at the event at Aspen Ridge yesterday. Paul and I are belatedly celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary with a few days of vacation next week.

Question 1: Conservative Allies in Politics (2:44)

In this segment, I answered a question on conservative allies in politics.

Aren’t politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul allies in the struggle for liberty? Although I’m an atheist and a novice Objectivist, I’ve always wondered why so many advocates of individual rights oppose candidates and movements that seem to agree with us on a great many issues. Despite their other warts, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are the most likely men to promote our causes. The notion that they evangelize is dubious. And even if true, are there better alternatives today? I’ve also seen this attitude towards Libertarian candidates and their party. Ronald Reagan was the only President who advanced the ball towards free markets in the last fifty years, and yet people condemn him because of his position on abortion and because of his religious/political partnerships. I’ve never understood this. Shouldn’t we embrace the advocates of free markets out there today, even if not perfect?

My Answer, In Brief: The Republicans – including “better” Republicans like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul – are a dangerous mixture of some economic liberty, nationalism, and theocracy. Instead of discrediting liberty by supporting them, focus on the issues.

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

Question 2: Flunking a Student (28:22)

In this segment, I answered a question on flunking a student.

Should a professor pass a student who deserved to flunk for fear of reprisals? Because you’ve taught at the university level, I want to ask you about integrity in grading as a professor. Suppose you flunked a student who never showed up to class and didn’t complete the assigned work adequately. However, this student was well-connected to university donors and administrators. After you flunked this student, suppose that a high-ranking administrator threatened reprisals against you if you didn’t give this student a passing grade. What should you do? Would it be corrupt to comply with the administrator’s demand? What might you (or another professor) do instead?

My Answer, In Brief: The professor should not degrade his integrity by passing the student. He should document everything and enlist the resources available at any respectable university to eliminate the problem.

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

Question 3: Guilt about Refusing Requests (37:51)

In this segment, I answered a question on guilt about refusing requests.

How can I overcome feelings of unearned guilt about refusing other people’s requests? Too often, I feel guilty when I shouldn’t – for example, for rejecting unwanted romantic advances or declining invitations to events with family or coworkers. Even though I know logically that I have the right to pursue my own values rather than satisfy the wishes of others, I feel terrible knowing that my actions will disappoint or upset someone else. Too often I succumb to the guilt: I agree to things I’d rather not because I don’t want to let someone else down. What philosophical or psychological strategies might I use for dealing with such unearned guilt?

My Answer, In Brief: To overcome feelings of unwarranted guilt at refusing requests from others, you need to retrain your emotions by always acting on your best rational judgment and reminding yourself of the relevant facts when you feel that guilt.

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

In this segment, I answered a question on [[Q4TopicLower]].

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

Rapid Fire Questions (54:41)

In this segment, I answered questions impromptu. The questions were:

  • Should customers who break something in a store be forced to pay for it?
  • What is the rational response to Heraclitus’ claim that ‘you never step in the same river twice’?
  • Is playing peek-a-boo with a baby who has yet to develop sufficient concept-awareness moral? What if it stresses the baby? How do you determine morality in interactions with less developed humans?
  • How much effort should be put into improving physical fitness beyond the point of mere healthiness?
  • Are Objectivists unique in their fondness for acronyms when discussing philosophy?

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To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion (1:07:18)

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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Jul 182014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I chatted about “Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Four” with listeners. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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Podcast: Chat on Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Four

The purpose of a theory of moral responsibility is to limit moral judgments of persons to their voluntary doings, products, and qualities. However, moral judgments are not the only – or even the most common – judgments of people we commonly make. So what are the various kinds of judgments we make of other people? What are the distinctive purposes and demands of those judgments? What is the relationship between those judgments and a person’s voluntary actions, outcomes, and traits? I answered these questions and more in this discussion of Chapter Four of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame.

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Topics:

  • About this chapter
  • Pursuing values
  • Judgments of people
  • Normative judgments
  • Moral judgments
  • The purposes of moral judgment

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That’s because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

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NoodleCast #295: Lecture on Moral Amplifiers

 Posted by on 16 July 2014 at 8:00 am  NoodleCast
Jul 162014
 

For Tuesday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted my 2013 lecture from ATLOSCon on “Moral Amplifiers.” That podcast is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism upholds seven major virtues as indispensable to our lives. Yet what of other qualities of character – such as ambition, courage, spontaneity, liveliness, discretion, patience, empathy, and friendliness? Are these virtues, personality traits, or something else? In this 2013 talk at ATLOSCon, I argued that such qualities are best understood as “moral amplifiers,” because their moral worth wholly depends how they’re used. I explained why people should cultivate such qualities and why they must be put into practice selectively.

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Topics:

  • The question
  • The Objectivist virtues
  • Major virtues
  • Minor virtues
  • Moral amplifiers
  • Ambition, Kindness, Persistence
  • The role of personality
  • Aristotle’s virtues as moral amplifiers

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That’s because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

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

Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism upholds seven major virtues as indispensable to our lives. Yet what of other qualities of character – such as ambition, courage, spontaneity, liveliness, discretion, patience, empathy, and friendliness? Are these virtues, personality traits, or something else? In this 2013 talk at ATLOSCon, I argued that such qualities are best understood as “moral amplifiers,” because their moral worth wholly depends how they’re used. I explained why people should cultivate such qualities and why they must be put into practice selectively.

Listen or Download:

Topics:

  • The question
  • The Objectivist virtues
  • Major virtues
  • Minor virtues
  • Moral amplifiers
  • Ambition, Kindness, Persistence
  • The role of personality
  • Aristotle’s virtues as moral amplifiers

Links:

Tags:


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About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That’s because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

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On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on limited government, enjoying the moment, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Limited Government, Enjoying the Moment, and More

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Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy laying out the book of study questions for Explore Atlas Shrugged!

Question 1: Limited Government (4:01)

In this segment, I answered a question on limited government.

Should the government of a free society be permitted to do more than just protect rights? If the proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights, why shouldn’t a government of a free society do other, additional things as long as it does them without violating anyone’s rights? If courts, police, and military could be publicly financed without the use of force, couldn’t roads and schools? Is there some reason besides reliance on taxation why these sorts of government programs would be wrong?

My Answer, In Brief: The sole job of the government of a free society is to protect rights. A proper government should refuse to take on any other projects – not merely because that’s impractical and inefficient, but also because that’s a danger to it’s purpose of protecting rights.

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

Question 2: Enjoying the Moment (21:32)

In this segment, I answered a question on enjoying the moment.

How can I convince myself that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence? Whatever subject I study, I think about all the other subjects I’m not studying. Whatever work I’m doing, I think about all the other work I’m not getting done. Whatever book I’m reading, I think about all the other books I could be reading. I want to do everything, and I want to do all of it right now. How can I convince myself to be happy with what I’m actually doing and able to do? How can I stop this perpetual cycle of boredom and longing for change?

My Answer, In Brief: A happy and successful person needs to be able to concentrate on the task at hand and be present in the moment. To achieve that, you can work on developing better cognitive habits and seek therapy if needed.

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Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions (41:51)

In this segment, I answered questions impromptu. The questions were:

  • Why was belief in “the paranormal” so mainstream and respectable in the 1970s? Was it due to the sense of life of the general culture?
  • What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
  • What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
  • Should a rights-respecting absolute monarch be opposed or overthrown?
  • How true is the statement that “we see what we want to see”?
  • Is a savvy negotiator who leverages his superior skills over an opponent to obtain the best possible deal for himself acting on the principle of predation rather than trade?

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To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion (1:03:26)

Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!


About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on psychological egoism, take two, the purpose of Atlas Shrugged, limiting another’s generosity, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Psychological Egoism, Atlas Shrugged, Generosity, and More

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Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy working on Explore Atlas Shrugged!

Question 1: Psychological Egoism, Take Two (2:40)

In this segment, I answered a question on psychological egoism, take two.

Isn’t everyone selfish? If you dig deep enough, everyone seems to act in their own interests. I work because that’s easier than being a welfare queen. But a college student might cave to his parents about his choice of career because that’s easier than standing up for himself. Even the nun who seems to sacrifice everything is doing what she enjoys most and thinks best by her own religious standards. So isn’t true altruism impossible? Isn’t everyone selfish?

My Answer, In Brief: Psychological egoism conflates a person’s motivations for action with his self-interest – and declares that all actions are self-interested because they’re all motivated. That’s false: actions are motivated, but they may be motivated by self-sacrifice.

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

Question 2: The Purpose of Atlas Shrugged (17:36)

In this segment, I answered a question on the purpose of Atlas Shrugged.

Was Atlas Shrugged written to save America? Recently, I ran across this comment on the internet: “”Saving America wasn’t the point of Atlas Shrugged, that’s not the happily ever after it proposes in the end. It chronicles the main characters getting over that misguided mission and why.” Two questions come to mind: (1) What was Ayn Rand’s purpose in writing Atlas Shrugged? And (2) Do you think that being inspired to “save America” after reading Atlas Shrugged is misguided?

My Answer, In Brief: The heroes of Atlas Shrugged aim to save America via their strike. However, Ayn Rand’s purpose in writing the novel was literary, not didactic.

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

Question 3: Limiting Another’s Generosity (25:53)

In this segment, I answered a question on limiting another’s generosity.

How much generosity is too much? Generosity seems like a trait that would fit well into your theory of moral amplifiers. But how does one best deal with someone who is being overly generous? I recently relocated to a new city and one of my coworkers with whom I am friendly has really gone above and beyond trying to help me get settled. She is constantly offering to help, lend me things, or even give me things to make life easier. I appreciate her offers and turn down many of them as politely as I can. But I struggle to find the right balance of accepting her generosity in due proportion to our friendship. She seems to be fairly wealthy, so I don’t think her offers are sacrificial in any way, my issue is that we are friends, but not close enough friends to justify the incessant barrage of motherly offerings. Through consistent communication about what I am willing to accept and what I won’t – and also owing to actually getting settled in the new city – she’s backed off a bit. More broadly, how would you recommend dealing with this sort of problem? How can a person make sure not to make this mistake of being overly generous?

My Answer, In Brief: The problem in this case isn’t so much one of excess generosity, but rather boundary-crossing. Be cautious, and err on the side of refusing offered favors.

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

Rapid Fire Questions (40:20)

In this segment, I answered questions impromptu. The questions were:

  • Can an individual work for the government and retain their integrity?
  • How should one respond to a sexual partner who is turned on by forceful situations?
  • Apart from Rand and Nietzsche, what other philosophies have staunchly defended ‘this-worldliness’?
  • Is it possible to show deference to your superiors without being humble and submissive?
  • What do you think about the TV series “Parks and Recreation” and particularly about the character of Ron Swanson? Isn’t that a smart depiction of both government bureaucracy and libertarians?
  • How should we view the American tourists held captive by North Korea?
  • Do you think it’s possible to permanently change your personality by acting in a certain way?
  • Is it second handed that I refuse to tell people my favorite writer is Ayn Rand? I’m just fed up with having to explain to people that liking Ayn Rand doesn’t automatically make me an awful person.

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To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion (1:04:32)

Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!


About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I interviewed physician and activist Dr. Paul Hsieh about “Understanding the Three Languages of Politics.” The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Dr. Paul Hsieh on Understanding the Three Languages of Politics

How many times have you been in political discussions with friends where you find you’re talking past one another? You’ll make points they consider irrelevant, whereas they’ll focus on issues you consider nonessential. Such problems can be overcome, at least in part, using Arnold Kling’s concept of the “Three Languages of Politics.” Paul Hsieh will explain how freedom advocates (e.g., Objectivists and better libertarians), conservatives, and liberals tend to use three vastly different metaphors in political discussions, which can create unintentional misunderstandings and miscommunications. He will also discuss how to frame discussion points so they better resonate with those speaking the other “languages” without compromising on principles.

Dr. Paul Hsieh is a physician in practice in South Denver. He is the co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM). He has written scores of columns, mostly on health care policy, as well as articles for The Objective Standard. He blogs offbeat tech news at GeekPress.

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Topics:

  • About the “three languages of politics”
  • The differences in the three languages
  • The difference that the three languages make
  • Examples of the three languages
  • Conflict between camps
  • Alliances between camps
  • Political argument between camps
  • The debates over the Hobby Lobby decision
  • Using the three languages to become more persuasive
  • Caveats and cautions
  • Three take-home points

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That’s because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

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NoodleCast #291: Rapid Fire Extravaganza

 Posted by on 27 June 2014 at 10:00 am  NoodleCast
Jun 272014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on all sorts of topics from the Rapid Fire Queue with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Rapid Fire Extravaganza

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Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve finally resumed work on Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Rapid Fire Questions (4:48)

In this segment, I answered questions impromptu. The questions were:

  • Why do you think that marriage contracts should be enforced by the state? Wouldn’t private arbitration be a better option?
  • Why do you think so few people question the consensus of the culture on ethics? (People tend to form their own political views, but very few people seem to form their own ethical views.)
  • Is magnanimity a virtue or a moral amplifier?
  • What on earth is ‘queer theory’? Why, as a gay man, do I find it deeply troubling?
  • What is “good taste”? Is it objective?
  • Why is infinity incompatible with identity? Why couldn’t infinite size, for example, be part of the nature of an entity?
  • Is a bird in the hand better than two in the bush? Doesn’t this maxim encourage mediocrity and laziness?
  • Does it make sense for Objectivists to use “Who is John Galt?” as a slogan? It seems to me that this is what people in the novel said when they could not see what was wrong with the world.
  • Is it true that thought and speech are limited by historical context?
  • Are there quick ways to identify crazy people? I think I’m pretty okay myself as long as I take my medication.
  • Is there any value to childhood ‘innocence’? Or is that just a product of Christianity?
  • Does Buddhism qualify as a form of nihilism, since Buddhists believe that morality consists in rejecting all your desires, and clearing your mind, so that you become ‘one with the universe’ i.e. dead?
  • I’ve heard that Kant included some good elements in his philosophy to make the rest of his ideas palatable. What were those things?
  • Would you agree that Rand’s philosophy is a sort of reconciliation of Aristotle with the existentialists?
  • Is it advisable for citizens in a pure capitalist society to create a “social safety net” comparable to what exists in welfare states, but through voluntary charity?
  • What is bourgeois morality, and should we approve of it?
  • What about the Negative Income Tax, which is sort of what Milton Friedman proposed, or the idea of a “guaranteed income” that would replace welfare?
  • What is “a sense of duty” and how can I get rid of it?
  • Ayn Rand thought that plot was the most important element in literature. I would say however that an aesthetic based on virtue ethics dictates that characters ought to be more important. What do you think?
  • If you could have a superpower, what superpower would you choose?

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To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion (1:08:27)

Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!


About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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Jun 232014
 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on one thought too many in egoism, drunk driving in a free society, dogs versus private property, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Egoism, Drunk Driving, Curbing Dogs, and More

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Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I visited my parents in the Black Hills of South Dakota earlier this week, and now I’m back to work!

Question 1: One Thought Too Many in Egoism (2:32)

In this segment, I answered a question on one thought too many in egoism.

Does egoism suffer from “one thought too many”? Bernard Williams argues that utilitarianism suffers from a problem of inappropriate motivation in which a person has “one thought too many” before acting morally. So, for example, a good utilitarian must calculate whether the general welfare is served by saving a drowning child before jumping into the water. A truly good person, in contrast, simply jumps into the water to save the child without that calculation. Wouldn’t this same objection apply to even rational, benevolent egoism? Or are those extra thoughts between situation and action actually rational?

My Answer, In Brief: Egoism might seem to suffer from the “one thought too many” problem, but that problem disappears when we realize that the egoist can and should genuinely and deeply care about other people in his life.

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

Question 2: Drunk Driving in a Free Society (23:26)

In this segment, I answered a question on drunk driving in a free society.

Should driving drunk be illegal in a free society? Should the government of a free society forbid and punish people for activities potentially harmful to others when they’ve impaired their judgment via drugs or alcohol? Basically, should driving or shooting a firearm while drunk be illegal? Or should such decisions be left entirely to the discretion of private property owners? Also, given that the government owns the roads today, are laws against drunk driving unjust?

My Answer, In Brief: In a free society, drunk driving would be considered civil and criminal negligence – and drunk driving derbys would not be legally possible on ordinary roads.

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

Question 3: Dogs Versus Private Property (40:41)

In this segment, I answered a question on dogs versus private property.

Do dog owners violate rights by allowing their dogs to poop on others’ lawns? I live in a residential urban area along with many dog owners. On a daily basis, I observe those dog owners allowing their dogs to defecate on other peoples’ lawns. I view this action as a trespass and violation of property rights, whether or not they pick up afterward. (For those who believe that picking up after your dog mitigates the trespass, would you let your child play on that spot afterward?) I don’t believe that property owners should have to create fences, hedges, or other structures to prevent this trespass. On several occasions, I have asked owners not to let their dogs poop on the front lawn of our apartment. I have received various responses from polite acquiescence to incredulousness. Many dog owners seem to feel a sense of entitlement about using others’ property without permission. Isn’t that wrong? Would you agree that it is the sole responsibility of the animal owners to care for their pets without violating the rights of the people around them? What, if any, recourse would property owners have in a free society against blatant repeat offenders of this principle?

My Answer, In Brief: Property rights must be understood within a context of social conventions. If a property owner wishes for something other than the default, then they must take steps to make that clear to others. Here, a “curb your dog” sign is all that is necessary, but such is the province of the owner of your apartment complex.

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Rapid Fire Questions (58:57)

In this segment, I answered questions impromptu. The questions were:

  • Do you believe in American exceptionalism?
  • What is dignity? Is it second-handed to care about dignity?
  • What’s wrong with caveat emptor?

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Conclusion (1:05:43)

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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Jun 202014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I chatted about “Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Three” with listeners. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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Podcast: Chat on Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Three

What does Thomas Nagel’s control condition for moral responsibility really mean? Does it set an impossible standard? Have others noticed and capitalized on this problem? I answered these questions and more in this discussion of Chapter Three of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame.

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Topics:

  • About this chapter
  • Nagel’s assumptions about control
  • Commentary on Nagel’s views of control

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That’s because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on “stand your ground” laws, advice to new Objectivists, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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Podcast: Stand Your Ground Laws, New Objectivists, and More

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Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I competed in another three-phase event on Lila yesterday. Now I’m off to visit my parents as they RV around South Dakota.

Question 1: “Stand Your Ground” Laws (3:46)

In this segment, I answered a question on “stand your ground” laws.

Are “stand your ground” self-defense laws proper? Should a potential crime victim in reasonable fear of of his life be required to attempt to withdraw from a confrontation when possible? Or is it proper to allow him to “stand his ground” and use a firearm to kill the assailant?

My Answer, In Brief: The right to self-defense is not unlimited. A person has a minimal duty to retreat when in public setting – provided that such retreat is easy, obvious, and safe.

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Question 2: Advice to New Objectivists (19:22)

In this segment, I answered a question on advice to new Objectivists.

What advice would you give to a new Objectivist? At ATLOSCon, you led a discussion on “What I Wish I’d Known as a New Objectivist.” Personally, I wish I could tell younger self that the term “selfish” doesn’t mean the “screw everyone else, I’m getting mine” behavior that most people think it means. Other people will use the term that way, and trying to correct them is an uphill battle not worth fighting. I’d tell my younger self to just use a long-winded circumlocution to get the point across. What other kinds of obstacles do people new to Objectivism commonly encounter? What advice would you give to new Objectivists to help them recognize and overcome those obstacles?

My Answer, In Brief: People new to Objectivism – particularly young people – tend to make certain common kinds of errors. They can be avoided, and more experienced Objectivists can help the newer Objectivists with that.

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Rapid Fire Questions (58:22)

In this segment, I answered questions impromptu. The questions were:

  • What is the opposite of egalitarianism? Elitism? Differentialism? Hierarchism? Justice?
  • Is it ever just to ‘make an example’ of a criminal?
  • Would you ever consider doing a TED lecture? If so, what would it be about?

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To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion (1:02:33)

Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!


About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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