On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on forcing people to govern, vaccinating for herd immunity, minimizing interruptions at work, 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: Forcing People to Govern, Herd Immunity, and Interruptions at Work

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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: Paul visited me here in Aiken, and now my parents are visiting.

Question 1: Forcing People to Govern (4:07)

In this segment, I answered a question on forcing people to govern.

Could unwilling people be compelled to govern? Imagine a situation in which no-one – not a single person – wants to work for the government. This would create a state of anarchy by default because government requires people to govern. Since the existence of a government is necessary for the protection of individual rights via the subordination of society to objective moral law, would compelling some people to govern be necessary and proper?

My Answer, In Brief: If you want people to work for the government, you need to pay them sufficient money to do so. Forcing people to govern would violate their rights, and be a recipe for them violating the rights of others.

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Question 2: Vaccinating for Herd Immunity (19:00)

In this segment, I answered a question on vaccinating for herd immunity.

Do parents have a moral duty to vaccinate their children to improve “herd immunity”? My doctor is currently making the case for my son (age 12) getting the Gardasil/HPV vaccination, arguing that even though HPV won’t really harm him, he could become a carrier and spread HPV to women he has sex with at some time in the future, and thereby harm them. I don’t think he has a duty to become one of the “immunized herd” (referring to the idea of “herd immunity” regarding vaccines) and therefore I am not inclined to have him vaccinated against HPV. Should he choose to do so at a later time, he is free to make that decision. Does my son – or do I as a parent – have an obligation to vaccinate purely to promote “herd immunity”? If not in this case, where there is a clear issue of undergoing the vaccination primarily for the sake of risk to others, then what about in other cases of vaccines? Does a person have an obligation to society in general to become part of the immunized herd, even if taking a vaccination is probably at low risk to that person’s health?

My Answer, In Brief: A person does not have any obligation to undergo medical treatments purely for the sake of herd immunity. People should vaccinate themselves and their children when doing so benefits themselves and loved ones.

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Question 3: Minimizing Interruptions at Work (42:13)

In this segment, I answered a question on minimizing interruptions at work.

How can I minimize interruptions at work? I’m a programmer, and I need long stretches of quiet time in order to be productive. Unfortunately, my work has an open floor plan, and people tend to pop by my desk if they have a question. I hate those interruptions, but I don’t know how to discourage them without being snippy or unfriendly. Plus, sometimes my co-workers have good reason to interrupt me with a question or news. So how can I eliminate the unimportant interruptions?

My Answer, In Brief: Interruptions at work are often major productivity killers. You can try to create a bubble for yourself, and you can try to change practices in the workplace.

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

Conclusion (1:10:48)

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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Feb 162015
 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on developing resilience, nuisance limits for new technology, spouses sharing activities, 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: Resilience, Nuisances, Sharing Activities, 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 recovering from Thursday’s concussion after falling off my horse Phantom.

Question 1: Developing Resilience (4:27)

In this segment, I answered a question on developing resilience.

Does developing resilience require enduring hardship? Many people assume that having faced great hardship is a necessary part of having resiliency – meaning: the ability to withstand great challenges in the future. These people think that if you have faced less-than-average hardship in your youth, that makes you soft, spoiled, pampered, and weak, and therefore ill-equipped to face challenges throughout your adulthood. As an extreme (but, sadly, real) example, I have a relative who insists to me, “All of the men I have met who attended private school are weak and naive. In their private schools, they were able to leave their belongings unattended without fear of their belongings being stolen. That’s not the real world! By contrast, the public school we attended is the school of hard knocks that shows you the Real World. We remember, all too well, that when anyone left possessions unattended, the norm was for the possession to be stolen. That’s Real Life. That builds character and gave me a thicker skin. That’s why, when I have children, I will send them to public school to toughen them up. I refuse to raise privileged weaklings.” I seethe and feel tempted to respond, “What if you got really drunk and beat up your children? Following the logic of your assumptions, wouldn’t that toughen them up even further?” Why are these assumptions about hardship so prevalent? How can a person develop great discipline, stamina, and fortitude absent hardship and cruelty? What can be done to combat the idea that hardship in youth is necessary for strength and resilience as an adult?

My Answer, In Brief: Resilience is not a virtue, but as a moral amplifier, it’s a character trait that people should cultivate and deploy selectively. It’s properly cultivated by pursuing important and difficult goals of your own choosing, not by having hardships imposed on you.

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Question 2: Nuisance Limits for New Technology (33:37)

In this segment, I answered a question on nuisance limits for new technology.

How should nuisance limits be set for new technology? Often new technologies initially involve negative side effects, and sometimes those side effects impact even those who didn’t choose to use the new technology. Here’s an example: supersonic flight. Supersonic aircraft are generally noisier than slower aircraft – they lay down a sonic boom when they fly over. In the US, supersonic travel has been banned outright since the 1960s due to concerns about boom noise. There’s technology to help quiet the aircraft, but no one knows how much “quiet” (and political muscle) it will take to reverse this ban – and as a result we’re still trundling around at 1960s speeds. But this is only one example. Many other technologies (such as fossil fuels) initially have some physical impact even on those who choose not to adopt, until they advance sufficiently that the impact is immaterial. In a free society, how should these technologies be allowed to develop? What restrictions should be placed, and how? How does one objectively determine, for instance, how much noise pollution from aircraft or smoke from a train constitutes a rights violation?

My Answer, In Brief: The law needs to allow for the development of new technology and protect the rights of bystanders and nearby property owners. It can do so via a rational standard for nuisances, where the courts compare the nuisance of the new technology to what’s currently accepted and well-tolerated.

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Question 3: Spouses Sharing Activities (50:31)

In this segment, I answered a question on spouses sharing activities.

Should spouses always share activities? A friend of mine is loathe to pursue any hobbies or interests that her husband doesn’t share. He’s not controlling: she’s the same way. Although I know that they want to spend time together, that seems really limiting to me. Is that a reasonable policy in a marriage – or does it lead to self-sacrifice and mutual resentment?

My Answer, In Brief: People in happy marriages should pursue activities together, but not always. Each person should freely pursue his or her own interests too, independent of his or her spouse.

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:03)

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

  • In England, it will soon become illegal for parents to smoke in the car when their children are with them. What is your take on this?
  • Should someone be condemned if they have no moral problem with homosexuality, but nevertheless find it disgusting?

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Conclusion (1:10:45)

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 choosing between egoism and altruism, changing jobs quickly, the morality of boycotts, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Egoism and Altruism, Changing Jobs, Boycotts, 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 settling into my life with the horses in Aiken, South Carolina. That has been going swimmingly!

Question 1: Choosing Between Egoism and Altruism (2:56)

In this segment, I answered a question on choosing between egoism and altruism.

Are egoism and altruism mutually exclusive? Most people have a common-sense view of ethics. They think that a person should spend lots of time pursuing his own goals and happiness. They also think that a person should sometimes set aside such pursuits to help others. Basically, on this view, a person can be an egoist and an altruist, and that he should be a little of both. Yet I’ve heard that egoism and altruism are two wholly incompatible moral theories too. So what’s right or wrong about the common-sense view?

My Answer, In Brief: The “common sense” view that people should take a moderate path in life of some egoism and some altruism is wrong: that indicates a failure to understand the fundamental question involved. However, it’s not an unreasonable approach, given people’s misunderstandings about the nature of egoism and altruism.

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Question 2: Changing Jobs Quickly (32:04)

In this segment, I answered a question on changing jobs quickly.

Is it immoral or unwise to accept a better job soon after starting a different one? I am ready to change jobs. I could probably move to another role within my company pretty quickly and easily and continue to move my career forward, but I could make more money and get better experience outside of my company. Outside job hunts can be lengthy and full of disappointments and all the while I would have to work at a job that is, frankly, killing my soul. I think it’s pretty clear that – if I accept a new job in my company and immediately turn around and give notice to go somewhere else – I run a high risk of burning bridges with key contacts at my current company. But would it be unethical in some way to do that? When you accept a job are you making a tacit promise to work there for some period of time? If so, what’s the minimum amount of time?

My Answer, In Brief: When you take a job, you should not do so under false pretenses, including any pretense that you’ll stay for longer than you actually plan to do. That way, you’re providing genuine value in exchange for your salary, and you won’t burning bridges.

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Question 3: The Morality of Boycotts (44:45)

In this segment, I answered a question on the morality of boycotts.

It is moral to advocate for the boycott of a business? Over the holidays, my brother and I discussed cases in which businesses are compelled by government to provide services against their will. For example, the Colorado courts demanded that a bakery make cakes for gay couples or face fines. We agreed that the business should be left free to operate as they see fit, absent violating anyone’s actual rights, and reap the rewards or penalties from their choice. Where we diverged was on the moral status of the business owner and whether the bakery deserved to be boycotted. In my view, the decision of the owner of the Colorado bakery was immoral: they were being irrational, discriminating by non-essentials. My brother disagreed. Moreover, my brother opposed any advocacy of a boycott, seeing this as a call for force to be applied against the owner. This would be wrong, in his view, but he would be fine with suggesting that people patronize a different store. Ultimately, I found that I could not adequately explain why I think people might actively and openly oppose wrong acts by businesses, even if those acts don’t violate rights. So what justifies such boycotts, if anything?

My Answer, In Brief: So long as conducted peacefully and honestly, boycotts do not violate rights. When used properly – in service of worthy causes and by worthy means – they can be powerful and important methods of cultural change.

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:07:48)

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

  • Someone feels an acute pang of explosive, potentially self destructive anger. He has the urge to break his TV or curse out his boss. How can he alleviate or ride out this emotional emergency?

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Conclusion (1:13:04)

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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 #332: Rapid Fire Extravaganza

 Posted by on 30 January 2015 at 8:00 am  NoodleCast
Jan 302015
 

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

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Podcast: Rapid Fire Extravaganza

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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 frantically preparing to depart for Aiken, which happens in the wee hours of Friday morning!

Rapid Fire Questions (2:44)

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

  • What is your view of common-law marriages?
  • Are smart animals like the sign-language-using ape, math-speaking African Grey parrot, dolphins, and some crows using concepts?
  • What are some good sources of humor that are consistent with and supportive of a rational, Objectivist worldview?
  • So, habitual drug use is bad. And so is impairing one’s mind in as much as our minds are our primary means of survival. I don’t do such drugs on principle, and am very happy this way. The question is: do you think it is rational to accept the offer to partake in a safe one-time experience using a relatively safe psychedelic drug that is similar to psilocybin, i.e. mushrooms? The intention would be to have a deep bonding experience with a trusted loved one (who is initiating the request).
  • Should emotions be subjected to moral judgment?
  • I can’t comprehend how some people care more about animals more than humans. Could it be that they’ve just met lots of jerks?
  • Can a person be justly blamed for not doing something he should have done, when the thought of doing it never occurred to him, but he would have done it if the thought had occurred to him?
  • Is love really a battlefield, or did Pat Benatar get it wrong?
  • Have you read any Kafka? If so, do you think interpreting his work as dark humour makes it seem more acceptable?
  • Is limiting the use of water during a drought a proper function of government? What about under normal circumstances?

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Conclusion (1:04:38)

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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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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on the regulation of ultrahazardous activities, declining gift solicitations, 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: Ultrahazardous Activities, Declining Gift Solicitations, 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 copyediting Explore Atlas Shrugged one last time and preparing for the trip to Aiken!

Question 1: The Regulation of Ultrahazardous Activities (2:28)

In this segment, I answered a question on the regulation of ultrahazardous activities.

Would the government of a free society issue bans or otherwise regulate activities dangerous to bystanders? At the turn of the 20th century it was common to use cyanide gas to fumigate buildings. Although it was well-known that cyanide gas was extremely poisonous and alternatives were available, its use continued and resulted in a number of accidental deaths due to the gas traveling through cracks in walls and even in plumbing. With the development of better toxicology practices, these deaths were more frequently recognized for what they were and at the end of summer in 1825 the NYC government banned its use. In this and other situations, it was recognized that the substance in question was extremely poisonous and could only be handled with the most extreme care – care that was rarely demonstrated. The question is this: Should the government step in and ban the substance from general use or should it simply stand by and wait for people to die and prosecute the users for manslaughter? Or is there another option?

My Answer, In Brief: Ultrahazardous activities should be subjected to a standard of strict liability in tort law, rather than the negligence standard used in other cases. If a negligence standard were used, that would allow businesses who engage in ultrahazardous activities to privatize profits and socialize costs.

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  • Duration: 47:07
  • Tags: Business, Epistemology, Government, Law, Philosophy, Regulation, Rights, Risk, Science, Technology, Torts
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    To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

    Question 2: Declining Gift Solicitations (49:35)

    In this segment, I answered a question on declining gift solicitations.

    How can I refuse solicitations for gifts for co-workers? I work in a department of about thirty people. In the past few months, we have been asked to contribute money to buy gifts for co-workers – for engagements, baby showers, bereavement flowers, and Christmas gifts for the department chair, administrative assistants, housekeeping staff, and lab manager. Generally these requests are made by e-mail, and I can see from the “reply all” messages that everyone else contributes. Often these donations add up to a large amount ($10-20 each time). I do not wish to take part, but am worried that since I am a newer employee my lack of participation will be interpreted negatively. What can I do?

    My Answer, In Brief: Businesses should not permit their employees to be socially pressured to give money for gifts and celebrations: they should institute policies that protect employees from the cost and distraction of a parade of small parties and gifts. If a business won’t do that, an employee can still decide whether and how much to participate in these office social rituals, and hopefully others will be understanding of their reasons.

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

    Rapid Fire Questions (1:06:08)

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

    • Should prisoners have the right to vote?

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    Conclusion (1:07:51)

    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 right to die, marriage without love, creating art, 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: Right to Die, Marriage without Love, Creating Art, and More

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

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

    Introduction (0:00)

    My News of the Week: I’ve been busy with the show, as well as preparing for Aiken.

    Question 1: The Right to Die (2:12)

    In this segment, I answered a question on the right to die.

    Should a person who does not wish to live be forcibly prevented from committing suicide? John doesn’t like living. He finds no joy in life, and only lives because it would upset other people if he ended his life. He has tried counseling and medication, but he simply has no desire to continue to live. He makes no real contribution to society, nor does he wish to be a part of society. If John wants to die, he can, but the state will attempt to stop him at every turn, even to the point of incarceration. Is there a point when the law (and other people) should simply respect his wishes and allow him to end his life – or perhaps even assist him in doing so?

    My Answer, In Brief: A person’s right to his own life includes the right to commit suicide. The law’s sole job is to ensure that a person’s choice to die reflects his considered judgment, freely made, as well as to differentiate between helpers and murderers.

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    Question 2: Marriage without Love (25:00)

    In this segment, I answered a question on marriage without love.

    Should people who merely like and respect each other ever marry? Imagine that a person doesn’t think that he’ll ever find true and deep love – perhaps for good reason. In that case, is it wrong to marry someone you enjoy, value, like, and respect – even if you don’t love that person? What factors might make a decision reasonable, if any? Should the other person know about the lack of depth in your feelings?

    My Answer, In Brief: A relationship that begins with mutual affection and respect but not love can grow into a romance, if both people put in a serious effort. If not, it’ll likely be a disaster of two unsatisfied people growing apart.

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

    Question 3: Creating Art (41:03)

    In this segment, I answered a question on creating art.

    Is creating art necessary for a moral life? Since material values are a human need, independence requires that human beings engage in productive activity. Can the same logic be applied to art? Since art is a human need, does independence require human beings to be artistically creative? Would someone who enjoys art without producing any be an “aesthetic moocher”?

    My Answer, In Brief: The experience of art is necessary to human life, but the creation of art is not. This argument is deduction gone awry.

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

    Rapid Fire Questions (49:26)

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

    • Where have the Audible book recommendations gone?
    • What, if anything, should be done to help the people of North Korea, such as distributing literature or helping citizens leave?
    • Do you know of any resources or websites that list businesses or career opportunities for human beings that follow the Objectivist Philosophy?
    • Should doctors who purport to be able to “cure homosexuality” be prosecuted for fraud?

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

    Conclusion (1:04:41)

    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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    Jan 162015
     

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

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    Podcast: Chat on Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Six

    Can an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility solve the problem of moral luck? In particular, how does the theory of responsibility for actions handle the proposed cases of “circumstantial moral luck”? I will answer these questions and more in this discussion of Chapter Six of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame.

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    Topics:

    • Review of Chapter Five
    • Circumstantial moral luck
    • Three cases
    • On moral judgment and moral responsibility
    • Analysis of the three cases
    • Further questions

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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 the importance of credibility, third party payments in medicine, insulting with racial epithets, and more with Arthur Zey. 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: Credibility, Third Party Payments, Racial Insults, and More

    Listen or Download:

    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 broadcast live in front of a small audience in Tahoe. The kindle ebook version of my book Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame will be on sale for half price – just $4.99 – from January 15th and 16th. Don’t miss this great sale!

    Question 1: The Importance of Credibility (2:47)

    In this segment, I answered a question on the importance of credibility.

    Should a person’s credibility matter in judging his empirical claims? Is it rational to use a person’s track record – meaning the frequency or consistency of truth in his past statements – in judging the likely truth of his current statements? In Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics, Tara Smith explains that to believe something just because someone said it is a violation of the virtue of independence. Also, to judge an argument based on the speaker is known as the fallacy of “ad hominem.” However, doesn’t the character of the speaker matter when considering whether to believe his claims? For example, when Thomas Sowell makes an empirical claim, my knowledge that he vigorously tests his hypotheses against the facts makes me more likely to judge his claim as true, even before I’ve confirmed his statement. Likewise, if a person is frequently wrong in his factual claims, I’d be sure to require lots of evidence before believing him. Is that rational? Or should all factual claims be treated equally regardless of who makes them?

    My Answer, In Brief: The credibility and track-record of the person who asserts a claim matters. Along with many other factors, it’s not proof or evidence of truth, but it’s can be reason to take an idea seriously or regard it as plausible.

    Listen or Download:

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

    Question 2: Third Party Payments in Medicine (25:45)

    In this segment, I answered a question on third party payments in medicine.

    What should be done about third party payments in medicine? I was fascinated by your statement in your November 7th, 2012 discussion of the election that the real need in medicine was to do away with third party payments. It’s quite a radical proposal, one of the most radical I’ve heard from you. How would you think such a thing might be implemented through ethically proper means – as opposed to measures such as legally prohibiting third party payments? Are there types of medical care – perhaps for catastrophic illness or injury – where third party payment would need to be kept in place, or where people in a free economy would likely still choose to keep them in place?

    My Answer, In Brief: Medicine is rife with third-party payments, largely thanks to government interference in the economy. A free market, however, would allow consumers far more control over their health care spending, and incentivize them to use that more wisely.

    Listen or Download:

    Links:

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

    Question 3: Insulting with Racial Epithets (56:36)

    In this segment, I answered a question on insulting with racial epithets.

    Is it wrong to use racist epithets to insult the truly evil? A now-former Facebook friend used a racist epithet in reference to Islamic terrorists. I asked him if he understood that it was a racist term and he said he did and said that he used it on purpose to insult those evil-doers because they are so evilly evil that they deserve not even a little respect. I told him he was wrong because race is not the same as ideology and that I can’t find any justification for racism, so I un-friended him. I agree that Islamic terrorists are evil, but is it morally okay to be a racist toward evil people?

    My Answer, In Brief: Racially-based insults are never warranted, even if the target of them is the scum of the earth. Don’t sanction racism, but condemn that person for his actual wrongs.

    Listen or Download:

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

    Rapid Fire Questions (1:09:57)

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

    • Should divorce be no-fault? Or should some wrongdoing be required for divorce?
    • If a pregnant woman uses drugs or drinks heavily during pregnancy – thereby damaging her fetus – should the law do anything about that?

    Listen or Download:

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

    Conclusion (1:20:01)

    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!

    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 participating in superstitious rituals, punishing yourself, 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: Superstitious Rituals, Punishing Yourself, and More

    Listen or Download:

    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: After answering last week’s question on overcoming lethargy, I got my own rear in gear! I spend about 15 hours in another round of updates to the Explore Atlas Shrugged Study Guide.

    Question 1: Participating in Superstitious Rituals (4:33)

    In this segment, I answered a question on participating in superstitious rituals.

    Is it wrong to participate in superstitious rituals without taking them seriously? If I make some perfunctory observance or participation in some superstitious ritual, and do not believe the superstitious ritual is of any literal importance, am I still promoting irrationality? If I regularly read the horoscope in the newspaper, but do not believe astrology has any real impact on my life, does reading the horoscope promote irrationality? Likewise, in Hawaii, almost all retail establishments possess what are called “good-luck cats.” A good-luck cat is a relatively inexpensive Asian figurine depicting a cat with one paw raised. Having this figurine is supposed to bring good luck to your business. You can commonly see such good-luck cat figurines in doctor’s offices in Honolulu, and for your retail establishment not to have such a figurine would easily strike people as strange. If I spent just a little money on such a good-luck cat to decorate my business, and I didn’t literally believe the figurine itself affected my fortunes, would the purchase be a concession to irrational thinking? Would such a gesture be “social proof” that would help other people rationalize more obviously pathological forms of irrationality, such as wasting hundreds of dollars on fortune tellers and psychic hotlines?

    My Answer, In Brief: Belief in horoscopes, superstitions, and the like is irrational and destructive. If you’re tempted by that kind of thinking, perform some scientific experiments. If you live in a community where it’s taken seriously, don’t encourage it by seeming to endorse it.

    Listen or Download:

    Links:

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

    Question 2: Punishing Yourself (34:42)

    In this segment, I answered a question on punishing yourself.

    Should a person punish herself for wrongdoing by depriving herself of a value? A friend of mine destroyed her phone in a fit of anger over a difficult situation that wasn’t her fault. Now my friend feels guilty about her outburst. She thinks that she doesn’t deserve to properly replace her phone, as that would reward her irrational outburst. She wants to either buy a cheap phone or go without a phone for a while. That seems needlessly self-destructive. How can I explain to her that she really ought to replace her phone?

    My Answer, In Brief: Punishment is a deeply misguided way to teach children, and it’s little better for adults. Instead, this friend should focus on the root problem of her temper, and work on solving that so as to avoiding future outbursts.

    Listen or Download:

    Links:

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

    Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:30)

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

    • Is it wrong for rival studios to encourage theaters to drop “The Interview”? Some rival studios are worried that the threat against “The Interview” (even if not terribly credible) will discourage holiday season movie goers from going to the theater. Cynics will point out, though, that this also eliminates some of their competition. Do you think it’s wrong for other studios to encourage theater chains not to carry the film?
    • Given that the word ‘voluntary’ does not mean what most opponents of coercion think it means, what word should we use instead?

    Listen or Download:

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

    Conclusion (1:14:49)

    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!

    Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

    Dec 292014
     

    On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on extremism versus consistency, overcoming lethargy, 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: Extremism, Overcoming Lethargy, and More

    Listen or Download:

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

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

    Introduction (0:00)

    My News of the Week: I’ve been busy celebrating Christmas!

    Question 1: Extremism Versus Consistency (3:03)

    In this segment, I answered a question on extremism versus consistency.

    What’s the difference between consistency and extremism? I’m often called an “extremist” for my views – in my view, because I’m very consistent and refuse to compromise. Religious people are often called extremists too, yet that’s really only consistency with their scripture. So how does “extremism” differ from consistency, if at all?

    My Answer, In Brief: “Extremism” is a junk concept, often used as a slur to refer to dangerous, totalitarian ideologies. Don’t use it yourself, but if faced with it, don’t take it as a point of pride, but instead try to address the person’s reasonable concerns about your views.

    Listen or Download:

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

    Question 2: Overcoming Lethargy (32:23)

    In this segment, I answered a question on overcoming lethargy.

    How can I motivate myself to act to further my goals despite my overwhelming lethargy? I struggle with motivating myself to do what I know I should. I’m not inclined to do wrong, but I just find it hard to act to further my goals in life. I’m 26 and I live with my dad while I (slowly) finish my degree. I want to become financially independent and move out on my own, but I struggle with the normal, necessary daily habits required to get this done. For example, my dad wants me to do more house chores, and I can see how this is a fair thing to ask, given that he works two jobs to support both of us. However, when I think about all the things I should be doing a wave of lethargy overcomes me. It’s the same story when I think about the homework I need to do, which isn’t even very hard to do. Job searching and trying to build my resume are also on my mind, but I can’t seem to get motivated to do that either. I have implemented GTD, but obviously once it comes to actually carrying out all of the plans, I can get a good burst of motivation for a short while, but then something doesn’t go my way, and the lethargy hits me again. Both of my parents have clinical depression and anxiety problems, and I have seen first hand how it has affected their lives. I have spent most of my life combating depression and anxiety. I can always summon up a good mood for myself – sometimes by evading the pressure of my responsibilities, which is not good – and when I feel anxiety I am able to calm myself down by introspecting and thinking through it. So I know that I have the tools to solve problems in my life and achieve my goals, but self awareness has only gotten me so far. What can I do to raise my motivation and keep it up? How do I overcome the tendency to procrastinate and ignore my responsibilities? How do I put my philosophy into action?

    My Answer, In Brief: For many people, summoning up the motivation to work can be really difficult. Accept that, and find clever ways to help yourself.

    Listen or Download:

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

    Conclusion (1:10:02)

    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!

    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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