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.

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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).

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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.

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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

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: 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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Links:

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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Links:

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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Links:

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.

Listen or Download:

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.

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Podcast #349: Workshop on Procrastination

 Posted by on 1 June 2015 at 8:00 am  Podcasts
Jun 012015
 

For Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a podcast on “Workshop on Procrastination.” That podcast is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Podcast: 31 May 2015

A virtuous person does not merely need to know the abstract principles of rational egoism: he needs to live them, day in and day out, in word and deed. When faced with the kinds of complex problems that arise in ordinary life, acting virtuously can be a major challenge. In this workshop, I lead a discussion on how to think about one such real-life problem, namely procrastination, in a principled way, while respecting differences in context and values. This talk was given at ATLOSCon 2012 on 27 May 2012.

Listen or Download:

Topics:

  • The purpose of philosophy
  • Method #1: Introspect thoughts and feeling routinely, in depth
  • Method #2: Review your experiences and solicit the experiences of others
  • Method #3: Identify when and how context and circumstances matter
  • Method #4: Distinguish between personality and morality
  • Method #5: Experiment
  • Method #6: Communicate
  • Method #7: Be kind to yourself.

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Arthur Zey and I answered questions on philosophical underpinnings of fixed versus growth mindsets, John Galt’s motor, acting rightly, 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: 24 May 2015

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.


Podcast Segments: 24 May 2015

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: We’re live from ATLOSCon!

Question 1: Philosophical Underpinnings of Fixed Versus Growth Mindsets

Question: What are the philosophical underpinnings of growth versus fixed mindsets? At SnowCon, we discussed the negative impact of the doctrine of Original Sin on Western culture over breakfast one morning. We saw that this idea – which tells people that they are hopelessly flawed by nature – could encourage fixed mindsets. In contrast, an Aristotelian understanding of virtue and vice as dispositions cultivated by repeated action would seem to promote a growth mindset. What other philosophic ideas might tend to promote a fixed versus a growth mindset?

My Answer, In Brief: Fixed mindsets can be promoted by bad philosophical ideas such as determinism, intrinsicism, putting wishes over facts, not respecting cause and effect, viewing life as stasis, and fearing the unknown. If you want a growth mindset (and you should!) reject these ideas in all areas of your life for true ones.

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

Question 2: John Galt’s Motor

Question: Was John Galt evil, wrong, or a jerk for not commercializing his motor? In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt went on strike when the world seemed only a little worse off than today politically in America. Things got really bad so fast because Galt dismantled everything. If, instead of going on strike, he had quit the Twentieth Century Motor Company and started the Galt Motor Company, things seem like they would have gone a very different way. By my reading, Galt’s motor was pretty much a free energy miracle – for the same price as a car engine a car could need no fuel and be nearly maintenance free. Electricity would be too cheap to meter and probably within a decade the Galt Motor Company would provide the engines for every plane, train, automobile, and power plant in America. The resulting economic boom from ultra-cheap energy would have probably improved conditions – there’d be fewer calls for controls because everything would be going so swimmingly. Galt could have gone into the other countries and demanded they liberalize their economies if they wanted him to electrify their countries. His wealth and influence would let him meet with titans of industry and convince them of his morality. He could invest in Hollywood and make movies and TV shows that showed his views. He could have met Dagny and fallen in love with her, and I’m sure over months of dating she would have come around to realize that his morality was right. Her resistance was, after all, to the strike, not really the idea that we should be selfish. People seem to get more panicky and politicians more lusting after power when the economy is doing poorly. In huge booms things seem to get better. People who are well off don’t cry out for a savior and accept whatever anyone tells them will make things better, because things are going pretty well. If Galt probably could have gotten rich, liberalized the economies of the world, married Dagny, and sparked a moral revolution all without dismantling civilization, shouldn’t he have? If his motor really could save everyone (and it seems like it could have), he is at least kind of a jerk to not commercialize it – and probably self-destructive too. So why go on strike at all?

My Answer, In Brief: John Galt was not evil, wrong, or a jerk for refusing to commercialize his motor. That’s because (1) people care about more than just wealth and prosperity, and that’s part of point of Atlas Shrugged, (2) JG doesn’t have a duty to others to save them, and that’s also part of point of Atlas Shrugged. Moreover, (3) while Atlas Shrugged is a great novel, it is not a good blueprint for cultural reform.

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Question 3: Acting Rightly

Question: How can I learn to act on principles that I know to be true? I believe in reality, rationality, individualism, self-interest, and self-esteem. Yet I don’t act on these beliefs. Right now, I don’t have any self-esteem. Once I act upon believing in reality, instead of merely believing in it, I will develop self-esteem. But I’m really lost as to how to apply reality in my life. I don’t know what that would mean. How can I act on my beliefs?

My Answer, In Brief: You need to develop the knowledge and skills to put your ideas into practice. To do that, focus on developing the mental habits of rational egoism.

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Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • I am, reluctantly, but strongly considering voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Can you think of a better alternative?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 57:40
  • Duration: 3:34
  • 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: 1:01:14


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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May 182015
 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on atoning for a past crime, the value of earning money, friendship with a devout theist, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Whole Podcast: 17 May 2015

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Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.


Podcast Segments: 17 May 2015

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’ve been consumed by personal matters, but I’m really looking forward to ATLOSCon next weekend!

Question 1: Atoning for a Past Crime

Question: What should a person do to make up for a past unpunished crime? Suppose that a man, say when between 9 to 12 years old, committed a serious offense such as sexual assault or rape. At the time, he did not realize the effect of his actions. Now, as an adult, he is living a decent life – meaning that he’s gotten a good education, he has a good job, and he’s developed good sense of ethics. He’s never told anyone about this incident. It was never reported, and he was never investigated for or convicted of that offense as a juvenile. Legally, he need not report this incident to anyone. But ethically, what should he do about it? Should he disclose it to someone – such as his family, friends, a therapist, or even the police? Should he do anything else?

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

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Question 2: The Value of Earning Money

Question: Should a person always care to work or earn money? Most people need to work to earn their bread, so to speak. They need to be productive – and be paid for that – to survive. However, that’s not true in all cases. Perhaps someone has inherited enough money to provide for his life, or he has won the lottery, or a spouse can provide for the two of them. That person still needs a purpose in life to work toward, but must that purpose be productive, in the strict sense of creating material values? Might the person reasonably choose to spend his time studying subjects of interest to him, without any other goal in mind? Might he choose to spend the rest of his life travelling? Or producing art for his own personal satisfaction? Could such a person live a happy, virtuous, and meaningful life?

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

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Question 3: Friendship with a Devout Theist

Question: Should I end my friendship with a persistent and devout Christian? I am an atheist who has been befriended by a very devout Christian (read: an ex-missionary). I often find that our philosophical differences prevent me from expressing myself the way I would like. However, this friend has been very devoted to pursuing a deeper friendship with me despite my attempts to keep the relationship very casual. She calls me her “best friend” to others and goes out of her way to forge a deeper bond by regularly telling me how “special” I am to her and reiterating how close to me she feels. She will often say that she regards me as a “sister.” I am puzzled by her persistence, given that she has so many friendship options within her Church and the rest of the Christian community. I am also increasingly uncomfortable with our interactions, given their necessarily narrow breadth and depth: we tend to focus our discussions mainly on a shared hobby we enjoy that has nothing to do with religion or philosophy. I really value time spent engaging in philosophical discussions with my other friends, and this is simply not possible with her. The dilemma is that she has been admirably non-judgmental toward my lifestyle, at least outwardly. She does not proselytize or try to “convert” me. (I have made it clear to her that this is not possible.) Still, our friendship feels vacant to me. I have tried to express my concerns to her at various times but her response is always that she loves me and accepts me “no matter what.” I think she is being sincere, but it feels like a manipulation or, at least, an evasion of our many differences. Still, I always end up feeling guilty for keeping her at a distance while she works so hard to be my friend. Should I end this friendship once and for all?

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

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

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

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 48:11
  • Duration: 11:30
  • Download: MP3 Segment

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 59:41


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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 waivers to rights-violating laws, the validity of intuition, overcoming past failures, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Whole Podcast: 10 May 2015

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.


Podcast Segments: 10 May 2015

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’ve been recovering nicely from last Sunday’s visit to the Emergency Room.

Question 1: Waivers to Rights-Violating Laws

Question: Are waivers to rights-violating laws good or bad? There are many examples of immoral laws in which the government initiates force against individuals. There are also many examples of groups of people being carved out of the application of such laws via waivers. Some waivers are based on rational motivations, such as business exemptions from Obamacare based on economic burdens. Some waivers are based on irrational motivations, such as religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws or requirements to provide insurance for birth control because compliance would conflict with a “religious conscience.” If we begin by agreeing that all initiation of force is immoral, how can we proceed with analyzing whether waivers to immoral laws are good or bad? Are the exceptions good if they’re based on rational reasons and bad if based on irrational reasons? Or should we think of the exceptions as either universally good or bad? Philosophically, I’m confused. On one hand, how can I not support all waivers when, in fact, they would result in less initiation of force? On the other hand, I can think of a philosophical argument against all waivers on the following basis: unequal standards for the application of political force implies a variance in the ethical standards which implies a variance in the metaphysical nature of man. If we accept the implication that there are essential differences in our nature as human beings, then we have given up the objective basis for rights and open the door to widespread destruction of freedom. Is that right? How should a person who wants to consistently support individual rights think about this issue of waivers, in principle?

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

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Question 2: The Validity of Intuition

Question: Does intuition have any validity? Intuition is defined as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” Assuming that we’re not talking about mystical insight, is this possible? When, if ever, should a person rely on such intuitions? How should he check them?

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

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

Question 3: Overcoming Past Failures

Question: How can I overcome my past failure to capitalize on the perfect opportunity? Two years ago, after years of struggling in the post-2008 job market, I had a job opportunity that could have been the best thing that ever happened to me. It was a job that represents my values and could have brought me much-needed financial success if I had pulled it off. But it was also an extremely difficult, demanding, and stressful proposition, and I was uncertain whether I had what it would take to succeed at it. To make matters worse, when it came along, I was depressed to the point of having lost the will to live. In my bad emotional state, I was unable to go through with the job, and I let the opportunity slip. In the two years since then, I have done nothing but hold down a menial job while reflecting on the missed opportunity. I can’t move on or get over the fact of what I did and have become almost obsessed with it. I need to approach the employer and ask him for another chance at it. It is doubtful that he would say yes, but I have nothing to lose by trying. However, for all the same reasons I didn’t go through with it before, I still cannot work up the will to do it. Every day I wake up wanting to die and I am so depressed that I can’t feel the warmth of a great opportunity; everything just seems hopeless and pointless. How can I rehabilitate myself enough to approach the employer for a second chance?

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

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

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

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 56:16
  • Duration: 5:02
  • Download: MP3 Segment

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 1:01:19


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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 doctrine of double effect, the obligation to report a crime, cutting ties with homophobic family members, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Whole Podcast: 3 May 2015

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.


Podcast Segments: 3 May 2015

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

Introduction

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

Question 1: Doctrine of Double Effect

Question: Is the doctrine of double effect true? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says: “The doctrine (or principle) of double effect is often invoked to explain the permissibility of an action that causes a serious harm, such as the death of a human being, as a side effect of promoting some good end. It is claimed that sometimes it is permissible to cause such a harm as a side effect (or ‘double effect’) of bringing about a good result even though it would not be permissible to cause such a harm as a means to bringing about the same good end.” How has this principle used in analyzing real-world ethics? Is it true? Why or why not?

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

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

Question 2: The Obligation to Report a Crime

Question: When is a person obliged to report a crime? About ten years ago, as a nurse, I heard a patient planning to do something illegal – particularly, to lie to an insurance company about the relationship between her injuries and the car accident so that she could keep all the settlement money. At the time, I decided to disengage but not confront or report her. I opted for that due to concerns about patient privacy, the non-violence of the planned crime, and the fact that the insurance company could detect her lie from her medical records. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the situation again. I’m trying to come up with a principle to apply, and I’m getting all muddled. What is my moral responsibility to intervene or report when I know that another person is planning or has done something illegal – meaning, something that would violate someone’s rights? Does my responsibility change if it’s a friend (assumed in confidence) or stranger (overheard in public)? Does it matter if the crime has already taken place or is merely in the works? Where is the line regarding severity of the crime? (I’d obviously report if I even heard a stranger plotting murder.) Also, what if you might be harmed if you report, such as in the case of a gang murder? Is there some basic principle that can clarify when a person is obliged to report knowledge of a crime?

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

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

Question 3: Cutting Ties with Homophobic Family Members

Question: Should I cut ties with my homophobic family? My boyfriend and I visit my family every year for Christmas, and every year they treat him rudely and unfairly. This is solely because they do not accept my sexuality, and they blame him for it. I have made it very clear that if their behavior continues, I will no longer visit them on holidays. They always agree to my terms, but as soon as we arrive, they immediately go back on their word. To make matters worse, I visited them alone this summer for my birthday. During my visit, the daughter of a family friend “just happened to stop by.” It was very clear to me that this was a set up. When we received a moment alone, I told her that I was in a happy, committed relationship with a man. Her reaction showed that she was entirely deceived. I left the house, and I have not spoken to my family since. I have no desire to have a relationship with them. Should I permanently end the relationship?

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

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

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

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 50:34
  • Duration: 6:44
  • Download: MP3 Segment

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 57:18


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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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