On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on blaming crime victims, constitutional carry, hijacking Ayn Rand’s ideas, 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: Blaming Crime Victims, Constitutional Carry, Hijacking Ideas, 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: Greg and Tammy tortured themselves by seeing Atlas Shrugged: Part 3, and if you made the same mistake, try listening to the podcasts of Explore Atlas Shrugged as therapy!

Question 1: Blaming Crime Victims (7:30)

In this segment, I answered a question on blaming crime victims.

Is it wrong to suggest that a crime victim should have taken greater precautions? My wife and I were discussing the recent iCloud data breach in which a hacker stole and published nude photos of hundreds of female celebrities. I made the comment that while the hacker’s actions were despicable, at the same time I thought the celebrities were stupid to have trusted iCloud to protect the privacy of their photos in the first place. My wife balked at this, saying that this amounts to blaming the victim, and is no better than saying a woman who is raped was stupid for wearing a short skirt, or for drinking alcohol. But I see it as being more akin to saying a person whose bag was stolen from their car was stupid for leaving the door unlocked. Do comments of this sort really amount to ‘blaming the victim’? Is it proper or improper to make such comments? Does my level of expertise or the victim’s level of expertise make any difference? (As a computer engineer, I am very aware of the dangers of the cloud, whereas your average celebrity would probably be clueless about it.) Intuitively, I feel like the comments would be improper in my wife’s example, proper in my example, and I’m unsure about the data breach itself. But I’m struggling to identify what the defining characteristics are for each case. What’s the right approach here?

My Answer, In Brief: Criminals are fully to blame for their criminal acts – always. However, if only for the sake of preventing future crimes, we should recognize that victims might have provided opportunities to the criminal by taking unnecessary and even negligent risks. In the case of the stolen celebrity nudes, the technology is pretty confusing to non-geeks, but hopefully the incident will inspire people to be more careful in future with their sensitive data.

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

Question 2: Constitutional Carry (27:05)

In this segment, I answered a question on constitutional carry.

Should concealed carry permits be required to carry firearms concealed? In the United States today, most states have “shall-issue” concealed carry laws, whereby the sheriff of a county must issue a concealed carry permit to anyone who meets the requirements. Those requirements usually include no history of criminal activity, no history of mental illness, and some training. However, two states permit “constitutional carry,” meaning that any law-abiding citizen has a right to carry a concealed firearm, without the need for a permit. Is requiring a “concealed carry” permit a violation of the right to self-defense? Or is “constitutional carry” a dangerous form of anarchy?

My Answer, In Brief: Although people might have some reasonable trepidation about “constitutional carry,” the fact is that requiring a concealed carry permit is (1) only a restriction on law-abiding people (not criminals), (2) a violation of those people’s rights, and (3) not required for public safety or a hindrance to criminals.

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Question 3: Hijacking Ayn Rand’s Ideas (44:50)

In this segment, I answered a question on hijacking Ayn Rand’s ideas.

What can be done to prevent the hijacking of Ayn Rand’s ideas? Ayn Rand has become more and more popular over the last decade, and her ideas have begun to spread into academia. There is more literature being written about Objectivism now than ever before. But there is one thing that worries me. There is a great risk that as Ayn Rand becomes “trendy,” second handers will try to use her ideas, manipulate them, to gain respect, and to further their nefarious ends. This is exactly what happened to Friedrich Nietzsche – when his ideas became popular, his philosophy was hijacked by anarchists, Nazis, and postmodernists, completely destroying his reputation for a century. How do we prevent this from happening to Ayn Rand?

My Answer, In Brief: It’s too early to worry about hijacking of Ayn Rand’s ideas. If it happens, you probably can’t do much about it, except point out the facts and refuse to associate with dishonest critics or advocates thereof.

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Rapid Fire Questions (56:24)

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

  • Do you have an opinion on Scottish independence?
  • Should regulations on the definition of a product exist? For example, in the UK, selling a product labelled ‘sausage’ is considered fraudulent if it is less than 42% meat?
  • I enjoyed your analysis of libel and slander laws and their effect on free speech. I think revenge porn laws are likewise anti free speech, and therefore harmful. What do you think?

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

Conclusion (1:05:33)

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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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NoodleCast #308: Rescuing Pets, Large Egos, and More

 Posted by on 12 September 2014 at 8:00 am  NoodleCast
Sep 122014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on rescuing other people’s pets, large egos, 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: Rescuing Pets, Large Egos, 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’m preparing to compete on my horse Lila in Oklahoma this weekend!

Question 1: Rescuing Other People’s Pets (2:55)

In this segment, I answered a question on rescuing other people’s pets.

Should a person be prosecuted for property damage when committed in order to rescue the property owner’s pet from harm or death? Recently, I heard a story about a man who smashed the window of a stranger’s car in order to rescue a dog left inside. It was a very hot day, and the dog would have died or suffered brain damage if it had not been rescued. Was it moral for the man to do this? Should he be charged with criminal damages for smashing the window? Should the owner of the dog be charged with leaving the dog to die in the car?

My Answer, In Brief: You should rescue a pet in serious danger of permanent injury or death, even if you must damage the owner’s property in doing so. The owner should pay for that damage, not you, because he created the emergency and benefits from the rescue.

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

Question 2: Large Egos (16:42)

In this segment, I answered a question on large egos.

Can an egoist have too big an ego? People often speak disapprovingly of “big egos.” The idea seems to be that a person is not supposed to think too well of himself or be too assertive. Is this just the product of altruism, including the idea that a person should be humble? Or can a person really be too big for his britches?

My Answer, In Brief: Big egos can be big in two very different ways: they can be brittle (based on second-handed fakery) or robust (based on honest self-valuing). The rational egoist should not develop a big ego: he should aim for a robust ego, backed up by the virtues, as that person will be respectful of himself and others.

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

Rapid Fire Questions (37:38)

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

  • Does the principle of intervening (from the first question) apply only to living entities or does it apply to inanimate types of property?
  • What do you think of the Ray Rice situation?
  • Is there any value to formal debates, or are they merely publicity stunts?
  • How does one reach out and be a better friend to someone who’s dealing with depression, loneliness, or poor self-esteem? What boundaries should one observe?
  • Would you ever consider doing an Explore The Fountainhead podcast series?
  • What do Dagny and Galt mean when they say: “We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?” To what does the “it” refer?
  • What is cruelty? Could cruelty ever be necessary?
  • Do you think Howard Roark would have a Facebook account?

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

Conclusion (1:01:06)

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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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NoodleCast #307: Net Neutrality and More

 Posted by on 8 September 2014 at 8:00 am  NoodleCast
Sep 082014
 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on net neutrality, 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: Net Neutrality 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 working on the update to Ari Armstrong’s and my paper on abortion rights.

Question 1: Net Neutrality (3:55)

In this segment, I answered a question on net neutrality.

Should “net neutrality” be law? Lately, many people on the left have been advocating for “net neutrality.” What is it? What would its effects be? What are the arguments for and against it? If it shouldn’t be law, might private “net neutrality” be a good thing?

My Answer, In Brief: While the concerns motivating calls for net neutrality are often very real, the diagnosis of the problem and the proposed solution is deeply misguided. A freer internet requires less government regulation, not more.

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

Rapid Fire Questions (51:17)

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

  • Why has the Tea Party movement not gone global in the same way as the Occupy movement?
  • Does Ayn Rand indicate in Atlas Shrugged whether Dagny is morally wrong for having an affair with Hank Rearden? What do you think?
  • Since human understanding is limited, mustn’t there be some things which will always be beyond human understanding?
  • Ayn Rand called charity a ‘minor virtue.’ Do you think she was right, or would you class it as a moral amplifier?

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

Conclusion (1:01:41)

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 “the friend zone”, making hard choices, frivolous lawsuits, 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: The Friend Zone, Hard Choices, Frivolous Lawsuits, 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 inputting the final edits for the print study guide of Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Question 1: “The Friend Zone” (3:55)

In this segment, I answered a question on “the friend zone”.

Is there any validity to the concept of “the friend zone”? The “friend zone” is used to describe the situation of a man who is interested in a woman, but she’s not interested in being more than friends with him. Then, he’s “in the friend zone,” and he can’t get out except by her say-so. So “nice guys” in the friend zone often use the concept to describe the frustration of watching the women they desire date “bad boys” while they sit over to the side waiting for their chance to graduate from being just friends to being something more. Feminists suggest that this concept devalues a woman’s right to determine the context and standard of their sexual and romantic interests, that it treats a woman’s sexual acceptance as something that a man is entitled to by virtue of not being a jerk. Is that right? Or do women harm themselves by making bad choices about the types of men they date versus the types they put in the “friend zone?”

My Answer, In Brief: Too often, the concept of “the friend zone” is a passive-aggressive snipe at women by men who refuse to take an active role in expressing and pursuing their romantic interests. If you want a romantic relationship with another person, you must do something other than just be a friend.

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

Question 2: Making Hard Choices (25:28)

In this segment, I answered a question on making hard choices.

How can a person make better hard choices? How to make hard choices was the subject of a recent TED talk from philosopher Ruth Chang. Her thesis is that hard choices are not about finding the better option between alternatives. Choices are hard when there is no better option. Hard choices require you to define the kind of person you want to be. You have to take a stand for your choice, and then you can find reasons for being the kind of person who makes that choice. Her views really speak to me. In your view, what makes a choice hard? How should a person make hard choices?

My Answer, In Brief: Philosopher Ruth Chang offers a new perspective on hard choices: when the options are “on a par,” the decision is about what kind of person you want to be and what kind of life you want to have. If that’s helpful to you, make use of it!

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Question 3: Frivolous Lawsuits (46:47)

In this segment, I answered a question on frivolous lawsuits.

Should judges refuse to hear cases from lawyers behind frivolous suits? In your 15 May 2014 show, you expressed curiosity about possible improvements to the justice system. I came up with the following idea after sitting on a jury for a civil trial where, after the plaintiff presented his case, the judge dismissed the suit without even having the defendant present his defense. In cases where a judge thinks everyone’s time and money were wasted by a pointless case, the judge should refuse to hear any future cases from the lawyer for the losing side. That would cause the lawyer to think twice about representing any frivolous cases, since he would risk being banned from the presiding judge’s courtroom henceforth. In addition, judges who know each other could share lawyer blacklists, preventing the lawyer from wasting other judges’ time as well. Would this be possible? Would it fix the problem of frivolous lawsuits?

My Answer, In Brief: The problem of frivolous lawsuits cannot simply be fixed: every proposed reform to exclude frivolous lawsuits would affect legitimate cases too. However, some reforms for the better are possible.

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

Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:22)

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

  • What do you think of Richard Dawkins’ recent comments about abortion and Down’s syndrome? Can it ever be right to advocate eugenics, as he was doing?
  • Could it ever be moral to be involved in an orgy?

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

Conclusion (1:06:52)

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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Aug 292014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I interviewed educator Kelly Elmore about “Why Growth Mindsets Matter.” 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: Kelly Elmore on Why Growth Mindsets Matter

Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success offers a new perspective on learning. People with a “fixed mindsets” believe that traits like intelligence or social skills are fixed and cannot be changed much. People with “growth mindsets” believe that humans have the potential to change the traits they possess and constantly learn and improve. As a part of the research for her dissertation, Kelly Elmore has explored the psychological research conducted by Dweck and other cognitive psychologists that led to Dweck’s development of the concept of “mindsets.” In this interview, she explained what mindsets are, how they impact our lives, and how we can develop growth mindsets in ourselves and encourage them in others.

Kelly Elmore is working on her PhD in rhetoric and composition at Georgia State University, teaching freshman composition, helping her 10 year old daughter educate herself, and working with students from 8-18 on writing, Latin, grammar, and rhetoric at a local homeschool co-op. Kelly is in the planning stages of writing her dissertation, which will focus on Carol Dweck’s concept of mindset and its relevance to writing. She also cooks (homemade mayo, anyone?) and practices yoga and mindfulness. She doesn’t have spare time because she fills it all up with values, happiness, and breathing in and out.

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Topics:

  • Fixed mindsets and growth mindsets
  • Mindssets in action
  • Empirical research on mindsets
  • The value of growth mindsets
  • Signs of a fixed mindset
  • Changing a fixed mindset
  • Mindsets and bullying
  • Mindsets in parenting, in education, at work, and in relationships
  • Mindsets and moral growth
  • Mindsets and moral judgments
  • Grading and mindsets

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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 changing personality traits, debating Christian versus Objectivist ethics, conning jerks and blowhards, 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: Reclaiming Personality, Debating Ethics, Conning Jerks

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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: This week, I raised just over $2,000 in pledges for Ari Armstrong’s and my new paper in defense of abortion rights. Also, I’ve finished up the final edits for the print version of Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Question 1: Changing Personality Traits (4:25)

In this segment, I answered a question on changing personality traits.

Can I reclaim lost personality traits? When I was a kid (probably until the age of about 12 or 13), my personality had a strong ‘I’ element (as in the DISC model I). I was fun, energetic and confident. I was willing to express myself openly (and loudly) and do silly things for the sake of laughs. When I went to high school, I was bullied heavily. I became much more quiet and withdrawn. The C element of my personality took over, and the I element all but disappeared. Now as an adult, I would like to be able to “reclaim” my lost personality. I am generally a shy and withdrawn person, and I long for the energy and enthusiasm that I once had. Is it possible to reclaim my lost personality? If so, how?

My Answer, In Brief: The limits of personality change are unclear – and likely vary between individuals. You can make efforts to cultivate your personality in a particular direction, however, and you might as well try!

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

Question 2: Debating Christian Versus Objectivist Ethics (31:52)

In this segment, I answered a question on debating Christian versus Objectivist ethics.

Why is the Objectivist ethics superior to Christian ethics? I was recently invited to participate in a live student debate at a local church on the topic, “Who Was the Better Moral Philosopher: Ayn Rand or Jesus?”. The audience will be mostly Christian or neutral: there will only be a handful of people familiar with Objectivism present. What points would you make if you were to speak to an audience of interested laypeople on this topic? What subjects might be best to avoid? What aspects of Jesus’ ethics might be good to highlight as flaws? What resources – other than the primary sources – might you suggest on this topic?

My Answer, In Brief: Be an ambassador for rationality in this debate. Don’t try to disprove Christian ethics or disparage Christianity. Instead, aim to educate people about what the Objectivist ethics is and show its very practical virtues.

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

Question 3: Conning Jerks and Blowhards (1:04:04)

In this segment, I answered a question on conning jerks and blowhards.

Is it wrong to con jerks and blowhards? I know that dishonesty is wrong, but conning jerks and blowhards out of their money (as seen here) seems like justice at its best. So is it wrong?

My Answer, In Brief: Conning jerks and blowhards makes for delightful fiction, but it’s bad practice in real life. You risk blowback – or worse, corrupting your own character.

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

Conclusion (1:18:07)

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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For Wednesday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a podcast on “Moral Conflicts and the Virtue of Justice.” That podcast 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:

As we live our lives, some people will harm us by their moral wrongs and honest errors, and we may commit such wrongs and errors ourselves. Objective moral judgment is an essential part of the rational response to such events. Yet circumstances often call for more than judgment: sometimes, forgiveness and redemption come into play. In this lecture given to ATLOSCon in 2012, I explored the nature, function, and limits of forgiveness and redemption in relation to the virtue of justice. Then we applied that understanding to common examples of wrongs and errors.

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Topics:

  • The nature and importance of moral conflicts
  • Example moral conflicts
  • Fantasy-based responses to moral conflicts
  • Fact-based responses to moral conflicts
  • The virtue of justice
  • The context of the relationship
  • Evaluating the actions at the root of a conflict
  • Dealing with the aftermath of a conflict

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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.

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, I answered questions on accepting voluntary sacrifices, agnosticism, introducing children to Objectivism, 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: Voluntary Sacrifices, Agnosticism, Teaching Children Objectivism, 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 making the final edits to the book version of Explore Atlas Shrugged, as well as promoting pledges for Ari Armstrong’s and my new paper in defense of abortion rights. So far, 12 pledges for $580, but $1500 required by August 20th to make the project go forward. There won’t be any live Philosophy in Action Radio next week, but I’ll post a podcast on Sunday.

Question 1: Accepting Voluntary Sacrifices (3:02)

In this segment, I answered a question on accepting voluntary sacrifices.

Is accepting voluntary sacrifices from others moral? Imagine that someone offers you a way to increase your wealth, lengthen your lifespan, or achieve your goals at great personal cost to and even sacrifice of himself. Is it wrong to accept that? What if you’ve tried setting them straight and telling them to act in their self-interest, but they still insist on trying to be altruistic? Would accepting such a sacrifice be a breach of integrity for an egoist, or would rational egoism urge you to enjoy the proffered benefits, so long as voluntarily bestowed? In other words, is accepting voluntary sacrifices from others different from forcing others to sacrifice to you?

My Answer, In Brief: A rational egoist understands that sacrifice is poison to relationships – and that accepting sacrifices soon leads to looking for people to exploit. You’re not your brother’s keeper – ultimately, each person must look out for his own interests – but you can and should refuse blatant sacrifices from others, for your sake and theirs.

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

Question 2: Agnosticism (21:04)

In this segment, I answered a question on agnosticism.

Can the non-existence of God be proven? I see how a person could believe – purely based on rational argument – that God’s existence cannot be proven, thereby becoming an agnostic. On the one hand, many non-theists criticize theists for believing in a deity strictly on faith, claiming that there’s no rational reason to believe in a deity. Most theists, however, would probably reject that, saying that they have rational reasons for their beliefs too. On the other hand, atheism seems just as unproveable as theism. Yet atheists claim that their beliefs are based on reason, rather than emotion or faith. As a result, aren’t the atheists covertly relying on faith? Or can atheism be proven purely based on reason? Why not just admit that we don’t know? Also, practically speaking, isn’t the agnostic basically the same as an atheist?

My Answer, In Brief: Agnosticism – in the philosophical sense of claiming that God’s existence or not cannot be known – is not warranted. It violates the burden of proof principle and overlooks the empirical evidence against God’s existence.

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Question 3: Introducing Children to Objectivism (43:19)

In this segment, I answered a question on introducing children to Objectivism.

How should I introduce my teenagers to Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism? I’d like to introduce my teenagers to Ayn Rand’s novels, as well as to the principles of her philosophy of Objectivism. How should I do that? My concern is that I’ll bungle it up and bore them to death or succeed too well and convert them into Objectivist jerks for the next ten years. What’s a rational approach for parents?

My Answer, In Brief: If you’ve been living your philosophy, you’ve been teaching it to your children as well. You should not take a heavy-handed approach, but instead wait for them to express some interest in the ideas.

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Rapid Fire Questions (56:45)

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

  • Does providing voluntary, non-sacrificial help to innocent, unfortunate poor people qualify as virtuous? In a free society, would such charity be a moral obligation?
  • Should it be illegal to take pictures of strangers without their permission, such as when creepy men take “up-skirt” pictures of women on a subway?
  • Am I too charitable with philosophers? Whenever Rand berates some philosopher for being wrong, I read their work and then think “well, they do kind of have a point; well done to them for having a point.”

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Conclusion (1:04:55)

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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Aug 082014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I interviewed Professor Robert Garmong about “Love and Sex in China.” 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: Robert Garmong on Love and Sex in China

What are the traditional ideas about love and sex in Chinese culture? How did those ideas change in Mao’s time? How do Chinese men and women approach romantic and sexual relationships today? Is homosexuality accepted? What is the place of mistresses and prostitutes? Moreover, Robert Garmong told us of the pitfalls of marrying a Chinese woman – and explained why he did exactly that anyway.

Robert Garmong is Lecturer of Business and Liberal Arts at the Surrey International Institute of Dongbei University of Finance and Economics in Dalian, China. He studied economics and political science at the University of Chicago, and has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas (Austin). His blog is “Professor in Dalian.”

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Topics:

  • The teaser about Robert’s marriage
  • Traditional ideas of love and sex
  • The changes under Mao
  • The one-child policy
  • The influence of western culture
  • Dating in China today
  • Sex education
  • STDs and abortion
  • Married life
  • Infidelity
  • Homosexuality
  • Robert’s marriage

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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 compulsory vaccination, requiting evil with good, 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: Compulsory Vaccination, Requiting Evil, 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 gotten the new paper in defense of abortion rights underway. However, that work depends on your support! The update to the paper will only go forward if at least $1500 is pledged by August 20th. If sufficient funds are pledged, the 2014 paper will be published by September 17th. So if you care about abortion rights and wish to oppose the growing “personhood” movement, please pledge!

Question 1: Compulsory Vaccination (5:26)

In this segment, I answered a question on compulsory vaccination.

Should the government mandate vaccination? Advocates of free markets often disagree about whether vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary – and whether they could be justly mandated by law. One problem is that the refusal to vaccinate oneself might put others at risk. Not everyone can be vaccinated, and some people who are vaccinated don’t develop immunity. However, when the vast majority of people are vaccinated, that provides “herd immunity” to people who don’t have immunity. People who choose not to be vaccinated degrade that herd immunity and thereby put others at risk. Moreover, parents have to choose whether to vaccinate their children or not, and the failure to vaccinate is regarded as neglect by many people – on par with Christian Science parents refusing to give a sick child antibiotics. Given that, should vaccinations be mandated by the government? If so, under what circumstances? Or might people be held civilly liable for transmitting diseases? Or should vaccination be considered a purely private matter between individuals (and institutions)?

My Answer, In Brief: Vaccines are neither saviors nor devils: they are medical technology with benefits and risks. The government would violate rights by forcing people to vaccinate themselves or their children. However, the government can quarantine potential and actual carriers in an outbreak, including the unvaccinated.

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Question 2: Requiting Evil with Good (36:48)

In this segment, I answered a question on requiting evil with good.

Can evil be requited with good? Christians claim that evil can and ought to be requited with good. So in “Les Miserables”, the Bishop inspired Jean Valjean to reform by telling the police that he willingly gave Jean the silver plate (and added the candlesticks) even though Jean stole the silver. Does this strategy ever work to reform an evildoer? Or is it merely a license to further evil? In some cases, might it be useful to “heap burning coals on [an evildoer's] head”? If so, when and why?

My Answer, In Brief: A person’s moral nature is a matter of his choice, and that must be respected. Evil is only strengthened by taking advantage of good, but people struggling to do right will be helped by generosity, kindness, and respect.

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Rapid Fire Questions (52:37)

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

  • Greg is a CrossFit athlete, a martial artist, a philosophy expert, a computer whiz, and a jazz sax player. How can one find the time and energy to be/do so many awesome things?
  • If psychology can prove that human beings are not born tabula rasa, what effects would this have on our view of human nature and ethics?
  • Would you ever participate in a formal debate and if so who/what might be some of your preferred opponents & topics?

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

Conclusion (1:04:53)

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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