On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on “the friend zone”, making hard choices, frivolous lawsuits, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: The Friend Zone, Hard Choices, Frivolous Lawsuits, and More

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been inputting the final edits for the print study guide of Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Question 1: “The Friend Zone” (3:55)

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

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

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

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

Question 2: Making Hard Choices (25:28)

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

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

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

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

Question 3: Frivolous Lawsuits (46:47)

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

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

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

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

Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:22)

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

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

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

Conclusion (1:06:52)

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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Aug 292014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I interviewed educator Kelly Elmore about “Why Growth Mindsets Matter.” The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Kelly Elmore on Why Growth Mindsets Matter

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

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

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Topics:

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

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on changing personality traits, debating Christian versus Objectivist ethics, conning jerks and blowhards, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Reclaiming Personality, Debating Ethics, Conning Jerks

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

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

Introduction (0:00)

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

Question 1: Changing Personality Traits (4:25)

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion (1:18:07)

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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For Wednesday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a podcast on “Moral Conflicts and the Virtue of Justice.” That podcast is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

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

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Topics:

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

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on accepting voluntary sacrifices, agnosticism, introducing children to Objectivism, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Voluntary Sacrifices, Agnosticism, Teaching Children Objectivism, and More

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

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been making the final edits to the book version of Explore Atlas Shrugged, as well as promoting pledges for Ari Armstrong’s and my new paper in defense of abortion rights. So far, 12 pledges for $580, but $1500 required by August 20th to make the project go forward. There won’t be any live Philosophy in Action Radio next week, but I’ll post a podcast on Sunday.

Question 1: Accepting Voluntary Sacrifices (3:02)

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

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

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

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Links:

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

Question 2: Agnosticism (21:04)

In this segment, I answered a question on agnosticism.

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions (56:45)

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

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

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

Conclusion (1:04:55)

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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Aug 082014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I interviewed Professor Robert Garmong about “Love and Sex in China.” The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Robert Garmong on Love and Sex in China

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

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

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Topics:

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

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on compulsory vaccination, requiting evil with good, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Compulsory Vaccination, Requiting Evil, and More

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

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve gotten the new paper in defense of abortion rights underway. However, that work depends on your support! The update to the paper will only go forward if at least $1500 is pledged by August 20th. If sufficient funds are pledged, the 2014 paper will be published by September 17th. So if you care about abortion rights and wish to oppose the growing “personhood” movement, please pledge!

Question 1: Compulsory Vaccination (5:26)

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions (52:37)

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

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

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

Conclusion (1:04:53)

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I interviewed emergency medicine physician Dr. Doug McGuff about “Government Controls in Emergency Medicine.” The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Dr. Doug McGuff on Government Controls in Emergency Medicine

The practice of emergency medicine is heavily regulated by the government. What is EMTALA? What are its effects? What have the effects of ObamaCare been so far? How do these laws compromise patient care and make the practice of medicine more difficult? How could emergency medicine be made more free?

Dr. Doug McGuff is an emergency medicine doctor practicing in South Carolina. He graduated from the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio in 1989, and then trained in Emergency Medicine at the University of Arkansas, where he served as Chief Resident. From there, Dr. McGuff served as Faculty in the Wright State University Emergency Medicine Residency and was a staff Emergency Physician at Wright-Patterson AFB Hospital. Today, Dr. McGuff is a partner with Blue Ridge Emergency Physicians. I interviewed Dr. Doug McGuff about fitness, weightlifting, and high-intensity exercise in December 2012 and about avoiding the emergency room in May 2013.

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Topics:

  • Emergency Medicine
  • EMTALA and the history of government controls in medicine
  • ObamaCare and its Accountable Care Organizations
  • Practicing under ObamaCare
  • Quality measures
  • Government versus private insurance

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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 justice of defamation laws, pursuing justice at great personal cost, the cultural effects of superhero movies, 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: Defamation Laws, Pursuing Justice, Superhero Movies, 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: Paul and I had a lovely anniversary vacation in Grand Lake. Also, I’ve been working on final edits to Explore Atlas Shrugged and preparing to raise money for a new version of Ari Armstrong’s and my paper on abortion rights.

Question 1: The Justice of Defamation Laws (2:33)

In this segment, I answered a question on the justice of defamation laws.

Do libel and slander laws violate or protect rights? Every few weeks, the media reports on some notable (or absurd) defamation case – meaning a claim of “false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel.” While a person’s reputation as a business or person is certainly important, do people really have a “right” to their reputation? Isn’t reputation the reaction of others to your own actions and character? How can a person create or own their reputation? Do defamation laws violate the right to free speech by protecting a non-right?

My Answer, In Brief: Although perhaps seeming to be just and proper, my strong provisional view is that defamation laws are unjustified in theory and chill free speech in practice.

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Question 2: Pursuing Justice at Great Personal Cost (32:32)

In this segment, I answered a question on pursuing justice at great personal cost.

Should I pursue justice against a wrongdoer at great personal expense? I am trying to decide if I should file an ethics complaint against my former property manager for a rental property. Basically, she managed the property for me for several years until I visited the property and found it in a state of disrepair that annoyed and concerned me. So, I wanted to fire her. But before she would release me from our agreement, she charged me $1,200 for repairs and maintenance that she had done to the house between tenants. She never asked me if I wanted the work done and when pressed she told me it was a matter of routine and our contract granted her the power to make decisions like that. Upon inspection, I discovered that not only were some of the prices she paid were above market rate, it was her husband’s company doing the work. I’ve reviewed some of the past records and she did this about 50% of the time. The Association of Realtors’ code of ethics in my state specifically notes that she has to disclose relationships like that, but she didn’t. So, I think whether she was in violation is pretty clear cut; however, some have argued that our contract supersedes the code of ethics. (If the board agrees with that argument, then this becomes a contract dispute and not an ethics concern.) If I file the complaint and the board decides to hear the case, I will have to hire a lawyer, make trips to the area, and basically shovel out even more money. The board could take her license or fine her, but in talking to a lawyer, and a couple of officers on the board it’s more likely that they will push for some sort of education rather than taking her license. And none of that would do anything to get my money back. To get my money back, I’d probably have to go through an even more costly process of mediation, then arbitration, then suing her in small claims court where I would never recoup all of my costs. I think it’s pretty obvious she’s in the wrong and I think I can make the case strong enough to bring some measure of justice on her, but it would be expensive and stressful. On the other hand, she was very unpleasant to me and I hate to see her get away with being a horrible person and a corrupt professional. What should I do? How do I decide whether pursuing justice is worth my time and effort?

My Answer, In Brief: You should not ever sacrifice yourself in the pursuit of justice – particularly not to an organization that’s just protecting its members, not weeding out the dishonest and incompetent.

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Question 3: The Cultural Effects of Superhero Movies (47:04)

In this segment, I answered a question on the cultural effects of superhero movies.

Do good ideas in superhero movies and television change people’s philosophy? I have really enjoyed the pro-freedom and pro-personal responsibility messages of some recent superhero movies. However, I wonder whether those messages do any good. Rationally, I believe that a person can enjoy these superhero characters and then relate their qualities to a normal human standard. However, for the average viewer, I wonder whether the gulf between their superpowers and ordinary human powers creates a moral gulf too, so that people see the moral ideals of the superheroes as beyond the reach of us mere mortals. Is that right? Can these movies really affect people’s ideas?

My Answer, In Brief: Like any other films, superhero movies and television shows can influence the culture, if people relate to the human qualities and struggles of the heros.

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Rapid Fire Questions (58:54)

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

  • Parrots have been shown to understand the concepts of ‘bigger’ and ‘smaller’. Does this mean they a conceptual consciousness?

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Conclusion (1:00:35)

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

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

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

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

Introduction (0:00)

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

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

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

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

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

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Question 2: Flunking a Student (28:22)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rapid Fire Questions (54:41)

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

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

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Conclusion (1:07:18)

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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