On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on morality versus prudence, concealing a relationship from parents, death notifications via Facebook, 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: 2 August 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: 2 August 2015

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’ve returned from a fun trip to San Francisco to visit friends, and now I’m back to work.

Question 1: Morality Versus Prudence

Question: In ethics, should moral actions be differentiated from prudential actions? I often hear academic philosophers say that a person should clearly distinguish prescriptive actions that are “prudential” from those that are “moral.” For example, if I want to bake a cake properly, I have to follow a certain set of procedures. However, whether I bake the cake or not – or whether I follow the recipe competently or not – has no bearing on my moral standing. Generally, “prudential actions” are considered actions that would benefit me and not harm others. By contrast, I hear it said that whether my action is moral or immoral is determined by whether it harms others. In moral philosophy, is it valid to separate that which is prudential from that which is moral – and to do so in that way?

My Answer, In Brief: The way that moral actions are distinguished from prudential actions in contemporary academic philosophy is fraught with problems, particularly due to assumptions of altruism. However, we can learn much from Aristotle’s concept of practical wisdom, and a distinction between moral and prudential principles is valid.

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Links:

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

Question 2: Concealing a Relationship from Parents

Question: Is it wrong to conceal information from my father while I live in his home? I am a 21 year old gay college student still living with my parents as I pay my own tuition and progress through college. Both of my parents know I’m gay. My mom is completely fine with it; it’s a sore subject with my dad, and it’s something we don’t discuss. He threatened to kick me out of the house when I came out but then recanted because (I think) he’s wrestling with the morality of the issue. Two months ago, I started dating a really wonderful guy. He comes over often and sometimes spends the night. My mom knows we are together; she is happy for me and approves of my relationship. I haven’t told my dad for fear of being kicked out. My dad specifically told me that he “did not want that kind of activity in his home.” I understand that it is his house (as well as my mom’s, who doesn’t have a problem with my sexuality), and I try to keep things low-key whenever my boyfriend comes over; I also try to spend as much time with him away from my home as possible. But sometimes I would just like to sit down in the comfort of my own room and watch a movie with him. I think my dad would kick me out if he ever thought there was anything going on between me and this guy he knows only as my friend. Am I obligated to tell him about our relationship? Doing so may result in me having to couch-hop until I find a suitable dwelling. It may also make it impossible for me to continue paying my own tuition, a thing I’m quite proud to be able to do. Living at home helps cut a lot of expenses to make that possible. But, is it immoral to lie to my dad about my relationship? I am planning to move out after my bills for the semester are paid and I can save up enough money to afford the down payment on an apartment or house. I will not be keeping my relationship a secret from anyone after that. But, until then, do you think it is immoral to continue lying? I do not understand or sympathize with my dad’s aversion to my sexuality. He’s told me once before that no one else can know, because it would bring embarrassment to him. I think that’s second-handed and irrational. My sexuality has no bearing on anyone but me. Still, I feel like I have to lie to protect my own interests.

My Answer, In Brief: You don’t have any obligation to tell your father about the nature of your relationship with your boyfriend – you’re entitled to your privacy – but while you’re living there, you should respect the rules of the house.

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

Question 3: Death Notifications via Facebook

Question: Am I wrong to be upset that I learned of my uncle’s death via Facebook? My uncle recently died. We weren’t close, but I would have expected a phone call from my parents about it. Instead, I learned about his death via a Facebook status update from one of my cousins (not his child, but his niece). I’ve been really angry that I learned such momentous news that way, but I’m having trouble explaining why to my family. Am I wrong to be upset? If I should be upset, what’s wrong with what happened? What should I say to my parents now?

My Answer, In Brief: You have every right to feel upset about the way that this news was communicated to you. You should have a calm and kind conversation with your parents to tell them how you feel, listen to what happened, and ask for better communication in future.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • I love listening to your podcast, but alas, it’s only once a week. Are there any other podcasts that you enjoy or can recommend?
  • If rights are freedom to pursue values, and a “want” can be proven to be a disvalue, why does one have the right to keep the product of the want, e.g. the purchase of a yacht solely for social status?
  • If ideas are open-ended, and a philosophy is made of ideas, shouldn’t every philosophy be open-ended?
  • I feel an obligation to check out the original works of other philosophic schools but I’m not at all interested in them! Why would I feel that way – and should I do that?
  • Is it a valid role of government to establish a national flag and a national anthem?
  • Is elective plastic surgery moral?
  • Is win-or-lose competition in sports and academics good for children?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 38:17
  • Duration: 20:16
  • 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: 58:34


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, Arthur Zey and I answered questions on honesty under professional confidentiality standards, adopting hobbies just for dating, efficiency in writing, 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: 26 July 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: 26 July 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 taking a much-needed rest with my friends in San Francisco.

Question 1: Honesty under Professional Confidentiality Standards

Question: Do confidentiality standards justify privacy lies? Some professions, like those in clinical psychology, medicine, or law commonly utilize confidentiality standards that apply between professionals and clients due to the sensitive nature of the information shared between them. Generally, such professionals can (and do) have a policy of refusing to answer any questions about their clients and so avoid any supposed need for privacy lies to protect from nosy inquiries. However, these standards also often include the understanding (sometimes explicit) that, if professional and client should ever meet in a social situation, the professional would follow the client’s lead about if and how they knew each other. This means that a client could push the professional into a lie. Yet even in the case where both people are basically honest, the mere act of showing recognition of each other could compromise the client’s privacy if the professional’s job is not a secret. And there are reasonable social situations in which you couldn’t hide familiarity without deceit of some kind. So ethically, we seem to be stuck between (1) clients having their privacy perhaps violated if they are unlucky enough to encounter their professional outside the office or (2) professionals having to lie to protect the privacy of their clients. Is there another alternative here? If not, what’s the best course?

My Answer, In Brief: Professional standards to protect the privacy of a relationship between therapist and client are not dishonest and perfectly justified. They make the therapeutic relationship possible, and because everyone knows or should know the rules, failing to recognize a client is no more dishonest than bluffing in poker.

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

Question 2: Adopting Hobbies Just for Dating

Question: Is it wrong to take up a hobby for the sake of dating? I’m single, and I want to meet more women. Is it wrong or unwise to take up hobbies like dancing, acting, painting, singing, or guitar just to have some skill to show and to meet women interested in those activities? I wouldn’t take up these hobbies without the dating angle: I’m just not interested in them, at least not right now. Is that wrong?

My Answer, In Brief: Don’t attempt to meet women by taking up hobbies that bore you. That’s a losing strategy. Instead, figure out hobbies that interest you, and pursue social goals in addition.

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Links:

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

Question 3: Efficiency in Writing

Question: How can a person improve his productive output in writing? How can he measure and increase his efficiency in writing – whether for blog posts, essays, papers, or anything else? Should a person set a goal of completing a given writing in a given time frame? Should he track time spent? Should he limit editing? Or something else?

My Answer, In Brief: If you want to become more efficient in writing, then experiment with various techniques used to increase productivity in writing and similar kinds of work and see what works for you.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Is there value in naturalistic literature? Can naturalistic literature still be heroic at its core?
  • Is microaggression a real concept?
  • Are there any normative propositions that are axiomatic?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 1:02:07
  • Duration: 10:32
  • 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: 1:12:40


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 resisting arrest, enjoying Atlas Shrugged, stigmatized property, 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: 19 July 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: 19 July 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 occupied with personal matters, apart from the show.

Question 1: Resisting Arrest

Question: How should the police respond to people resisting arrest? Recently, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City have made headlines because they were killed by police officers who, many feel, used excessive force during their respective encounters. While the two cases were quite different, they did have one thing in common. In both cases, the officers were compelled to use force which resulted in lethal injury when the men, Brown and Garner respectively, resisted arrest. Brown attacked officer Wilson and then ran away, refusing to stop until Wilson chased him down. Garner refused to be arrested. Is there a more objective way to deal with an arrest in a free society? Since, in a free society, the government has a monopoly over the use of force, does that mean that the police are allowed to use brutal force when a suspect refuses to comply with the officer’s demands, regardless of the charges against the person in question?

My Answer, In Brief: The culture of policing in America is fraught with serious (but not universal) problems of police misconduct and brutality. In a free and civilized society, the police need to be restrained in their use of force, so that they protect rather than violate rights.

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Links:

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

Question 2: Enjoying Atlas Shrugged

Question: How can I be less annoyed with Atlas Shrugged? I love Ayn Rand’s ideas, and I thoroughly enjoy her non-fiction. I want to enjoy Atlas Shrugged and her other fiction more, but I’m often annoyed with the aesthetics of her work. I acknowledge the fact that the novels are great, but every time I see mention of Francisco’s mocking smile or John Galt’s mocking eyes or Hank Rearden’s mocking laugh or John Galt’s implacable voice or New York City’s implacable skyline or Dagny Taggart’s silent terror, I just want to pull my hair out. I find myself wanting to throw the book at the wall every time she uses those words! I understand that loving her novels is not a prerequisite for applying her philosophy, but I really desire to experience the joy that many other people feel while reading her work. How can I get more enjoyment out of it?

My Answer, In Brief: Atlas Shrugged is an amazing novel, but it has some aesthetic flaws that can impede a person’s enjoyment of it. Try to overlook those, focus on what you love, and if all else fails, it’s okay… give up!

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 3: Stigmatized Property

Question: Should sellers of homes be obliged to report the spiritual or criminal history of the property? Many state laws require that “stigmatized” properties, such as those with a history of paranormal activity or a past owner such as Jeffrey Dahmer, be reported by real estate agents. That leads to the home being devalued in price. Should such a law exist? Moreover, should potential buyers take advantage of any “stigmatized” property, thereby offering and paying less, even though belief in paranormal activity is irrational?

My Answer, In Brief: The law should forbid fraud in real estate transactions, and that likely does not require any mandatory disclosures. Instead, buyers should ask about what they’re interested in with open-ended questions, including perhaps about the spiritual and criminal history of a house.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Does the counterintuitiveness of the Monty Hall problem demonstrate an inherent flaw in the human capability to reason?
  • Is rape about sex or power?
  • How do we know that the mind is tabula rasa?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 41:39
  • Duration: 7:38
  • 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: 49:18


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

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on resisting arrest, enjoying Atlas Shrugged, stigmatized property, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 19 July 2015, in our live studio. If you can’t listen live, you’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page.

This week’s questions are:

  • Question 1: Resisting Arrest: How should the police respond to people resisting arrest? Recently, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City have made headlines because they were killed by police officers who, many feel, used excessive force during their respective encounters. While the two cases were quite different, they did have one thing in common. In both cases, the officers were compelled to use force which resulted in lethal injury when the men, Brown and Garner respectively, resisted arrest. Brown attacked officer Wilson and then ran away, refusing to stop until Wilson chased him down. Garner refused to be arrested. Is there a more objective way to deal with an arrest in a free society? Since, in a free society, the government has a monopoly over the use of force, does that mean that the police are allowed to use brutal force when a suspect refuses to comply with the officer’s demands, regardless of the charges against the person in question?
  • Question 2: Enjoying Atlas Shrugged: How can I be less annoyed with Atlas Shrugged? I love Ayn Rand’s ideas, and I thoroughly enjoy her non-fiction. I want to enjoy Atlas Shrugged and her other fiction more, but I’m often annoyed with the aesthetics of her work. I acknowledge the fact that the novels are great, but every time I see mention of Francisco’s mocking smile or John Galt’s mocking eyes or Hank Rearden’s mocking laugh or John Galt’s implacable voice or New York City’s implacable skyline or Dagny Taggart’s silent terror, I just want to pull my hair out. I find myself wanting to throw the book at the wall every time she uses those words! I understand that loving her novels is not a prerequisite for applying her philosophy, but I really desire to experience the joy that many other people feel while reading her work. How can I get more enjoyment out of it?
  • Question 3: Stigmatized Property: Should sellers of homes be obliged to report the spiritual or criminal history of the property? Many state laws require that “stigmatized” properties, such as those with a history of paranormal activity or a past owner such as Jeffrey Dahmer, be reported by real estate agents. That leads to the home being devalued in price. Should such a law exist? Moreover, should potential buyers take advantage of any “stigmatized” property, thereby offering and paying less, even though belief in paranormal activity is irrational?

After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.

The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Resisting Arrest, Enjoying Atlas Shrugged, Stigmatized Property, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics!

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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 questions about religious beliefs, the power of fiction, trusting a therapist, 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 July 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 July 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 occupied with personal matters this week, except for doing this radio show.

Question 1: Questions about Religious Beliefs

Question: How should a doctor respond to questions about her religious beliefs? My wife recently told me about a colleague of hers – a physician and an atheist – being caught off guard when asked by the parents of one of her cancer patients in the hospital if she believed in God. These parents wanted their son treated only by a doctor who believes in God, and my wife’s friend did not qualify. How should she have answered their question?

My Answer, In Brief: The doctor should never lie, but she can choose to either answer the question honestly or refuse to answer it. If a patient wishes to behave irrationally, let him!

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

Question 2: The Power of Fiction

Question: Why does fiction arouse such a powerful emotional response? Why are people moved emotionally by literature and movies, even though they know that they’re fictional? Shouldn’t people respond emotionally only to real events, not products of imagination? Is there a rational basis for our emotional response to fiction?

My Answer, In Brief: People should respond emotionally to products of the imagination — that has major survival value — and fiction is just the result of that capacity taken to the extreme.

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

Question 3: Trusting a Therapist

Question: How can I trust a therapist to help me? I have psychological problems, and I probably need help. However, I have a negative view of the mental health profession in general due to bad experiences in the past. It bothers me that therapists are educated in modern universities where all forms of leftism and equally irrational psychological theories predominate. In my state, many licensed “counselors” are just social workers (the most leftist whackjob profession of all time) with government licenses to counsel people. I am afraid that they will have me involuntarily committed if I am honest about my thoughts of suicide, which I have ready plans to carry out if I decide to. How can I trust anybody in this [expletive deleted] profession?

My Answer, In Brief: You do need the help of a good therapist, and you can find that by exercising your own powers of judgment to differentiate good from bad within the profession. Please do that!

Listen or Download:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Should I feel empathy for Greeks enduring the financial crisis? Sure many people are innocent, but what of the majority that created this situation?
  • Would it ever be technically possible for a moral dilemma to have no resolution? Can you imagine a problem context for which the better choice could never be deduced?
  • Is there a way to cultivate faith – meaning unfailing trust in oneself and one’s decisions in an uncertain world – without accepting religious dogma?
  • What is the response to the anarchist argument that we already have anarchy since different governments are in anarchy with respect to each other?
  • I find most of the government’s decisions on how my forcibly-collected tax dollars are spent morally reprehensible. Do I need to leave the US to maintain my integrity?
  • What do you think of the publishing of Rand’s “Ideal”? Do you think its publication is motivated by a desire to spread Rand’s ideas, or is it merely a publicity stunt?
  • I can understand why there are few Objectivists among businessmen, but why are there so few businessmen among Objectivists?
  • Why is it not acceptable to buy votes at the booth, but it is acceptable to promise financial gain for a class of voters after the politician gets elected?
  • Is it wrong to take apart a device that you’ve bought just to understand it if the licensing agreement forbids that?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 42:13
  • Duration: 18:11
  • 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: 1:00:24


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, Arthur Zey and I answered questions on satisfying social needs, executing insane murderers, ideological consistency, 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 July 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 July 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 doing some work on the site, working on informally changing my name to Diana Brickell, and lots more.

Question 1: Satisfying Social Needs

Question: What should a person do about social and psychological needs he temporarily can’t satisfy? For right now, the context of my life makes it so that it’s hard to satisfy the needs for companionship. Most of the people around me don’t offer deep and intense enough values to satisfy it, even as I do have friends. The majority of the people who could fulfill my needs live out of state. Furthermore, the industry I work in, by and large, prohibits me from being able to attend clubs and whatnot, as I usually work when they run. As such, I’ve got to grin and bear my loneliness for the meanwhile, temporarily. How can I make myself feel better in doing so?

My Answer, In Brief: The most important and difficult aspect of managing unmet social and psychological needs is to simply accept them. After that, you can try to find partial satisfaction in one-way interactions and people that you have less in common with.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 2: Executing Insane Murderers

Question: Should hopelessly insane murderers be put to death? Imagine a totally psychotic and extremely mentally disturbed person who has a propensity to violently kill innocent people. I am talking about a really stark raving bonkers individual. This person has no capability to think and act rationally. How can this person have any rights whatsoever? Why should it be the job of the state to provide for this person when they are locked up in an asylum? Would it be moral and practical to simply execute this person, thus removing the burden of having to keep an eye on him in case he escapes and kills someone?

My Answer, In Brief: Given that criminally insane murderers are not responsible for their actions, and given that they might be cured at some point, executing them would be terribly unjust and inhumane.

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Links:

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

Question 3: Ideological Consistency

Question: Does ideological consistency lead to absurdities and wrongs? Under “zero tolerance” policies, children have been suspended or expelled from schools for innocuous actions like drawing a picture of a gun. Advocates of free markets claim that a business owner has the right to discriminate against customers for any trivial or irrational reason, including skin color or hair color. In both the cases, the problem seems to be taking some idea to its utmost extreme, to the point of absurdity. Shouldn’t we be more moderate and flexible in our views?

My Answer, In Brief: Ideological consistency per se does not lead to absurdities and wrongs. Good ideas don’t go bad when taken to their logical conclusion. However, the absurdities and wrongs and evils of bad ideas often becomes apparent when they’re put into practice. Also, people can seriously misapply good ideas. When judging ideas, focus on the substance of policies and principles (whether they correspond to reality or not) not on the form (whether they are consistent or not).

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • My son turns 12 in a week and wants a Facebook account. But Facebook policy is no younger than 13. Considering last week’s discussion on rule breaking, should I let him given that he’ll be responsible?
  • Should people get tested for diseases they have predispositions for, if there are no preventive measures/corrective actions that can be taken?
  • What is hope? Could it ever be rational to give up hope?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 47:52
  • Duration: 15:29
  • 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: 1:03:23


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 exceptions to rules, judgments of men versus women for sexual relationships with minors, 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: 28 June 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: 28 June 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 changing my name (socially, not yet legally) from Diana Hsieh to Diana Brickell.

Question 1: Exceptions to Rules

Question: When should exceptions to established rules be granted? People often oppose some proposed exception to the rules on the grounds that doing so would set a dangerous precedent and engender abuse. For example, suppose that an honest and diligent student is in the hospital, and he wants to keep up with his school work as much as possible. His parents propose that he take his math exam from the hospital, and they’ll monitor him during the exam. The school refuses on the grounds that if all students were allowed to do that, then cheating would be rampant because not all parents would be honest or diligent monitors. Is that a valid reason for refusing this proposed exception to the rules? When should exceptions be granted to established rules?

My Answer, In Brief: Rules are not sacrosanct. The critical point – for both rule-makers and rule-followers/rule-breakers is to respect the relevant underlying principles and goals. From that basis, reasonable exceptions can be made.

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

Question 2: Judgments of Men Versus Women for Sexual Relationships with Minors

Question: Why aren’t women strongly condemned for sexual relationships with underage boys? A few years ago, I saw a flurry of news stories about female teachers in their twenties committing statutory rape by having sex with their teenage male students. At the time, many public commentators and comedians said that they didn’t see how the boys could have been harmed, and they thought an adult male teacher having sex with a female student would be much more predatory. Besides, those commentators often added, the female teachers in these cases were “hot.” At the time, I agreed with those views, but lately, I’ve been thinking that I should check my premises. So is it the case that an adult man having sex with a female minor is more predatory than an adult woman having sex with a male minor? Are the teenage male minor’s rights violated if he is seduced into a sexual relationship with a female teacher? Is a double standard at work here?

My Answer, In Brief: My basic advice is to ignore the media hyperventilating over these kinds of cases: you can’t know enough about the relationship to judge. In the meantime, check your premises about male versus female sexual desire.

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Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Is strength a virtue or a moral amplifier?
  • Given that you take requests for questions to answer, how much does voting on the questions really matter? (I’m just curious–your show, your rules!)
  • My coworker makes unfunny, snide comments to me under the guise of kidding around. When I defend myself with cutting responses, he acts taken aback and accuses me of being sensitive. What should I do?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 57:24
  • Duration: 5:55
  • 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: 1:03:19


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.

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 respect without agreement, political correctness, responsibility for stolen firearms, 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: 21 June 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: 21 June 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 busy with work and krav maga!

Question 1: Respect without Agreement

Question: How can I help my father understand that I respect him, even when I disagree with him? I generally value experience for its ability to provide helpful insights, but I am suspicious of people who fall back on appeals to authority in an attempt to win arguments. My father often does that during our debates on various subjects, as we do not see eye-to-eye on many important issues. When I reject his appeals on the grounds that they are logically fallacious, he takes personal offense and accuses me of disrespecting him. I respect my father, and I try to convey my appreciation for his experience in other ways. But I want to have civil discourse with him that doesn’t dead-end in this uncomfortable way someday. My father and I have been estranged for the last five years, in large part due to his tendency toward communicating in this and other manipulative ways, and my current attempt at reconciliation is failing again because of these communication issues. This is a shame because I truly feel that the makings of a good father-daughter relationship are in place, but my father cannot seem to stop predicating our ability to love and respect each other on my willingness to constantly agree with him simply because he is my father. What advice can you give on how best to halt this unhealthy pattern, so that I can save my relationship with my dad?

My Answer, In Brief: You cannot reasonably expect to change your father, but you can decide what you will do – perhaps compartmentalizing the relationship.

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

Question 2: Political Correctness

Question: What is the value of “political correctness”? I used to be a fairly typical right-winger who would regularly cry out “political correctness has gone mad!” While I still come across politically correct ideas that I find ridiculous (e.g. the ban bossy campaign), I’m finding myself more sympathetic to these ideas as I become more informed on them. So I’m now in favor of using the right pronouns for transgender people, avoiding words that can be perceived as derogatory (e.g. fag), and even changing school event names like “parent day” or “Christmas party” to something that doesn’t exclude those it doesn’t apply to. Where should the line be drawn between “political correctness” and making valuable change in our language or practices to be more accommodating and inclusive of people outside the mainstream? Are there legitimate concerns about language becoming more politically correct?

My Answer, In Brief: The whole concept of “political correctness” is meaningless junk that deserves to be scrapped. Language is badly abused in our cultural and political debates, but that needs to be addressed in non-partisan ways.

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

Question 3: Responsibility for Stolen Firearms

Question: Should a person injured by a stolen gun be permitted to sue the original owner thereof for damages? Imagine that a person’s firearm is stolen, then used in a crime to injure an innocent person. Can the crime victim sue the owner of the gun for damages? Would it matter if the gun was left in plain sight or not locked away? Would it matter if the gun was stolen months or years before the crime? Also, what if the gun owner lent his gun to another person who he reasonably thought was honest and law-abiding? If the gun owner is not legally liable, might he be morally culpable?

My Answer, In Brief: A gun owner might be liable for harms inflicted on innocent parties by his weapon if he was negligent with that weapon in some fashion – just as he would be with other kinds of dangerous property.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Was Rachel Dolezal wrong for lying about her race in order to fight against racism for the NAACP?
  • Given our declining freedoms in the USA, have you ever thought about moving out of the country? Would you be willing to leave if greater freedoms existed elsewhere?In the current climate of police distrust and rampant abuses of power, would you advise against filming a police encounter that appeared to be suspicious or violent?When I read postmodern philosophy, it seems like philosophy is starting to “melt” into the social sciences. What do you think of this observation?
  • What are some of the moral concerns with commissioning art?
  • Sometimes, I hear people talk about the importance of “feeling like a part of your community.” Is this just collectivist nonsense? I have never felt like part of a community.

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 41:07
  • Duration: 20:36
  • 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: 1:01:43


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 responsibility for a child, career without aptitude, 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: 14 June 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: 14 June 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 working on personal projects, and I had my first krav maga class this week!

Question 1: Responsibility for a Child

Question: When is a person responsible for an unexpected and unwanted child? Sex sometimes results in an unexpected and perhaps unwanted pregnancy. What are the moral responsibilities of each party in this situation? Do a person’s obligations depend on prior agreements about what would be done in such a case? Do they depend on whether contraception was used or not? If the man said that he didn’t want children and used contraception, yet a pregnancy occurs, does he have any moral or legal obligation to pay for an abortion, support the child, or act as a father? Does the answer change if the woman agreed to have an abortion in advance, then changes her mind? Should couples talk explicitly about these matters before sex?

My Answer, In Brief: Morally and legally, the fundamental principle is that neither men nor women should be compelled to become parents against their will.

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Links:

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

Question 2: Career without Aptitude

Question: Should I pursue a career that interests me even if I don’t have much aptitude for it? I have a strong interest in the field of bioengineering for what it can potentially accomplish. However, in my own estimation, I have little aptitude for hard science and seriously doubt whether I can succeed academically in the areas necessary to enter the field. This self-assessment is based on my academic history, life accomplishments, and aptitude test results. Should I try to pursue this career against the odds anyway, or should I accept that I don’t have the intellectual capability to do so?

My Answer, In Brief: Your interest in bioengineering sounds like an interest in what it produces, not in the day-to-day process of creating that. To make a career in something, you need to love the process. So seek a career where you love the work itself.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • If an infant is born with an incurable disease that will kill it after weeks of suffering, should it be permissible to simply euthanise the infant?
  • How is weed legalization going in Colorado from your observations? Do you notice people casually smoking in public? Does the public there have an overall positive or negative view of it so far?
  • Scanning the internet is shortening my attention span considerably. I feel impatient urges to move on whenever I start reading anything. Any advice for how to lessen the urges and retrain focus?
  • How does a person stop himself from obsessing about a difficult conversation they are planning to have with someone? What are some signs that he has moved beyond reasonable planning to obsessing?
  • A while ago I asked you about the moral considerations involved in having to revive my landlord, who didn’t take care of her type-1 diabetes properly and had me and other people calling an ambulance for her regularly, nearly a dozen times within a year. (She ate irregularly, or skipped meals altogether, causing her to pass out, get very weak, or lose most of her cognitive ability.) My concern was whether it was ethical to just leave her in a catatonic state, and you stated that there’s “duty to rescue” laws, where, given my relationship with my landlord, I was legally obligated to tend to her emergencies, regardless if they were honest or not. However, couldn’t it be said that the landlord was literally forcing me to take care of her, violating my rights, since her diabetic emergencies were due to her irresponsibility? Shouldn’t there be a limit to how many times or in what ways a duty to rescue law can apply? Shouldn’t I be able to press charges, sue, or be relieved of obligations, such as being able to move out without illegally breaking the renter’s contract?
  • Isn’t it true that, if the universe has always existed then that, in and of itself, is the strongest argument against design by God? In other words, for argument’s sake, doesn’t just the possibility of the universe being the metaphysical given render design arguments moot?
  • Did Ayn Rand have a sense of humor? Is there room for humor in Objectivism?
  • Could you give a brief overview of Stoicism and its good versus bad points?
  • Was Oskar Schindler an altruist?
  • Would you agree that musical theatre is the only art form that has always remained romantic? I have never heard or a realist musical or a stream of consciousness musical.
  • Why do people describe John Rawls as an ‘individualist’ when his ideas seem to underly all of modern statism?
  • Do you prefer the original Star Trek or The Next Generation?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 25:36
  • Duration: 37:13
  • 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: 1:02:49


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 needs versus wants, medical care for the poor, 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: 7 June 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: 7 June 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 busy with personal projects.

Question 1: Needs Versus Wants

Question: Is the distinction between needs and wants valid? Anti-capitalist philosophers such as Giles Deleuze accuse the capitalist system of depending on blurring the distinction between needs and wants and tyrannizing over us by implanting artificial needs into our minds. In contrast, George Reisman justifies capitalist extravagance on the basis that human needs are technically infinite and that our needs expand as we become more affluent. Who is right? Is the distinction between needs and wants valid or not? Is it useful in thinking about ethics or politics?

My Answer, In Brief: Needs are the universal requirements for sustaining human life — what every person requires to survive and flourish. Wants, I suggest, are the particular ways that a person desires to satisfy his needs based on his own context, preferences, and resources. Needs and wants do not merely differ in importance, and a person’s rational wants should not be regarded as unimportant.

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

Question 2: Medical Care for the Poor

Question: How would the poor obtain medical care in a free society? In your May 12th, 2013 show, you discussed how EMTALA – the law that obliges emergency rooms and doctors to treat patients, regardless of ability to pay – violates the rights of doctors and results in worse care for the poor. But what is the alternative? How would the poor and indigent get medical care – if at all – in a society without government welfare programs? What if charity wasn’t sufficient?

My Answer, In Brief: The health care system in America is largely a creature of byzantine government regulations and controls. A robust system of charity would be possible with a genuine free market.

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Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • How can you maintain a close friendship with someone if you don’t like their spouse? Is it possible?
  • What’s the proper reaction of a girl who is being oogled and whistled at by guys in public? Is it a sign of lack of self-esteem if she enjoys it? Should the guys’ behavior always be frowned upon?
  • In light of the evolving understand of healthy eating from a paleo perspective, do you have a position on potatoes? Do you eat them?
  • In answer to a chat-room question during a recent podcast, you said that there’s no necessary connection between altruism and the concept of karma, because one will simply infuse karma with whatever basic ethical theory one holds. Isn’t there more to it than that? Isn’t karma an essential prop for altruism? In egoism, there’s a clear bond between cause and effect: you enact certain virtues precisely because they lead to certain values. But in altruism you are expected to act regardless of whether or not the results of your actions are a value to you. It seems to me that karma comes in to fill-in the blank in order to answer all those pesky “why” questions. Why should I sacrifice my life by refusing to terminate a fetus with Down Syndrome? Because karma will reward me for doing so. On all levels, from life-altering choices down to giving a dollar to the panhandler, the concept of karma seems like a way of subverting careful, rational calculations of value. It’s a thumb on the scale to tip any calculations in favor of whichever action would benefit others and away from whichever action would benefit myself.
  • In a free society, would government bonds be a good way of funding the state, or would that infringe on the separation of state and economy?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 40:15
  • Duration: 19:46
  • 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: 1:00:02


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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