On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on overcoming an abusive childhood, proposals to ban Muslim immigration, correcting a cashier’s mistake, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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Podcast: Disabled Children, Muslim Immigrants, Cashier’s Mistake, 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: My new horse Phantom arrived on Monday, and I’ve been having a whole lot of fun playing with her!

Question 1: Overcoming an Abusive Childhood (2:54)

In this segment, I answered a question on overcoming an abusive childhood.

How can a disabled person overcome a toxic childhood? I am a fifty-one-year-old woman with several neurological disabilities, and I would have liked to have been reared as a human being. Instead, I was frequently informed (usually by my mother) that I was a “retarded, subhuman spectacle” – a “vegetable,” a “handicapped monstrosity,” a “travesty of a human being.” It was daily made plain to me that I was being reared purely out of my parents’ sense of duty, so as not to burden other people with my existence. It was likewise continually made clear to me that, whenever anyone played with me or tried to become acquainted with me, they did this purely out of an imposed sense of a duty to do so: for instance, because they were following a parent’s or teacher’s commands in order to avoid being punished for avoiding me. My disabilities (dyspraxia, dysgraphia, and severe Asperger’s among some others) are not physically visible. However, their effects on my behavior led to my being perceived as retarded despite a tested IQ above 150. (This tested overall IQ, in turn, was although scores on three of the subtests were in the 80-90 range.) By that standard, at least – the objective standard of lacking some reasoning power – I am a handicapped human being. As you know, Ayn Rand points out that no child ought to be exposed to “the tragic spectacle of a handicapped human being.” How should this principle have been carried out with regard to me, as a child? Further, the consequences for me of growing up in this way include an immense fear of other people, and a feeling (which I have been unable to change or vanquish) that I am indeed subhuman and should be rejected by anyone I admire, anyone worth dealing with. This feeling persists despite what I rationally consider to be productive adult achievement in the personal and professional realms. So how can I best undo the damage that has been done to my sense of life by my situation itself (being a handicapped human being, and recognizing this) and by how I was reared (which was at least partly a consequence of what I was and am)?

My Answer, In Brief: The treatment that you suffered from parents and teachers in your childhood was deeply wrong and unjust. You should continue to struggle against feelings of unworthiness – and to reject the idea that you are in any way responsible for the abuse of your childhood.

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Question 2: Proposals to Ban Muslim Immigration (26:47)

In this segment, I answered a question on proposals to ban Muslim immigration.

Does the lack of respect for rights among some Muslim immigrants justify banning all Muslim immigrants? Sometimes, I hear people say that immigrants from Muslim countries are so illiberal (in the classical sense) that they ought to banned from entering the United States and Western Europe. The anti-immigrationists say that when people from Muslim countries are allowed to reside in the West, such immigrants remain committed to political Islam, honor-kill their own daughters, rape native-born women, and plot to impose sharia law on the West through “stealth jihad.” Is the illiberalism of some (or even many) Muslim immigrants grounds for limiting immigration from Muslim countries? What is the proper response to this problem?

My Answer, In Brief: Muslims are a diverse group of people, just like every other immigrant group. They are not a unique or special threat to the rights of Americans. Terrorists and criminals should be excluded when possible – and prosecuted if they commit crimes in the United States.

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Question 3: Correcting a Cashier’s Mistake (49:57)

In this segment, I answered a question on correcting a cashier’s mistake.

Is it wrong to remain silent when a cashier makes a mistake in your favor? At a popular department store, I wanted to buy two items for $2.94 each and condoms for $14.00. The cashier was about my grandmother’s age. She scanned the $2.94 items three times and said the total was $8.82. I knew the price wasn’t right, but I didn’t want to say to the elderly woman, “Excuse me, but you didn’t scan my condoms.” I got a good deal, but I think that was somewhat immoral on my part. Is that right? What should I have done?

My Answer, In Brief: As a matter of protecting your own moral character, you should have overcome your embarrassment to correct the cashier’s mistake. You could have done so discreetly, and even now, you should correct the mistake if you can do so easily.

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Rapid Fire Questions (59:46)

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

  • Did Christianity introduce the concept of individualism?
  • If statism is in fact slowly taking over, why do socialists not seem to realise this? Most socialists seem to believe that they are fighting a losing battle against neoliberalism and global capitalism.

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Conclusion (1:09:02)

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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Jun 062014
 

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

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

Podcast: Chat on Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Two

What are some of the common proposed solutions to the problem of moral luck? How and why do they fail? I will answer these questions and more in this live discussion of Chapter Two of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame.

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Topics:

  • Review and about the proposed solutions
  • The Epistemic Solution
  • The Equalization Solution
  • The Identity Solution
  • The Modern Compatibilist Solution
  • The Character-Based Compatibilist Solution
  • The Moral Praise Without Moral Blame Solution
  • The Agency as Illusion Solution

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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 creating a stylized life, legal dueling, permission versus forgiveness, and more with Arthur Zey. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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Podcast: Stylized Life, Legal Dueling, Asking Permission, and More

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’m broadcasting live from ATLOSCon!

Question 1: Creating a Stylized Life (2:22)

In this segment, I answered a question on creating a stylized life.

Should a person seek to create a stylized life? In “The Romantic Manifesto,” Ayn Rand said that “An artist does not fake reality – he stylizes it. He selects those aspects of existence which he regards as metaphysically significant – and by isolating and stressing them, by omitting the insignificant and accidental, he presents his view of existence.” Should a person try to stylize his own life, such as by deliberately cultivating a consistent personal aesthetic? Should he aim to make every aspect of his life reflect his values, eliminating the rest? Would that make for a more integrated and meaningful life or might that be dangerous or undesirable in some way?

My Answer, In Brief: Stylizing your life can be thought of as developing your personal values and style, which is fabulous. However, it might mean seeking an impossibly perfect Platonic ideal – or worse, disowning yourself for sake of living up to image in own mind or to please others. That’s a disaster – and reason enough to shy away from thinking about creating a “stylized life.”

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Question 2: Legal Dueling (24:25)

In this segment, I answered a question on legal dueling.

Should dueling and other consensual fights be legal? In your September 5th, 2012 interview with Dr. Eric Daniels, you discussed some of America’s violent past traditions, including the practice of dueling. While I have no intention of challenging my rivals to mortal combat, I cannot see why this practice should be illegal. The same might be said of less lethal modern variants such as bar fights, schoolyard fights, and other situations where violence is entered into with the mutual consent of both parties. Should such consensual violence be forbidden by law in a free society – not just for children but perhaps for adults too? If so, what justifies allowing more ritualized forms of combat, such as mixed-martial arts fighting, boxing, or even football?

My Answer, In Brief: Duelling cannot be completely forbidden or completely permitted because a duel may be fully consensual or not. Instead, measures must be taken to ensure consent, but if that’s not clear after the fact, the winner might be justly prosecuted for murder.

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Question 3: Permission Versus Forgiveness (43:44)

In this segment, I answered a question on permission versus forgiveness.

Should people ask for permission or ask for forgiveness when breaking the rules? People often say that “it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission” when excusing their own rule-breaking. I hate the phrase, but I can’t put my finger on what’s so objectionable about it. So what does the phrase mean? Is it right or wrong? If it’s true for some organizations, doesn’t that indicate that the organization’s rules or policies are somehow bass-ackwards?

My Answer, In Brief: You need not slavishly follow irrational rules, but you do need to act in a way that’s respectful of others and their property. Too often, asking for forgiveness rather than permission is not that.

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:01:15)

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

  • Have you heard about Harry Binswanger’s new treatise on epistemology?
  • How do individual rights apply to conjoined twins? Do they count as separate individuals? Is this similar to how a baby does not count as individual until after it is born?
  • Should it be against the law to incite violence? Given that the incitement itself does not violate anyone’s rights, doesn’t that assume that the hearers lack free will?
  • Is the placebo effect an incidence of ‘useful evasion’? Is it immoral to use placebos?
  • On an earlier show, you professed your love for David Hume. Would you care to elaborate?

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Conclusion (1:11:50)

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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May 232014
 

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

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

Podcast: Chat on Responsibility & Luck, Chapter One

What is the “problem of moral luck”? Why does it matter to ethics, law, and politics? What is its connection to John Rawls’ egalitarianism? Why did I choose to write my doctoral dissertation on the topic? I answered these questions and more in this live discussion of Chapter One of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame.

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Topics:

  • About the podcast series
  • The problem of moral luck
  • Three kinds of moral luck
  • Moral luck and John Rawls’ egalitarianism
  • Outline of the book
  • Questions

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About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on egoism and harm to others, the presence of juries at trials, philosophy in romance, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Egoism, Juries, Philosophy in Romance, 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 finalized the text for Explore Atlas Shrugged. The updated and revised questions, podcasts, and other resources, are available for purchase for $20. Alas, I’m not the owner of a new horse, as I’d hoped to be today.

Question 1: Egoism and Harm to Others (3:22)

In this segment, I answered a question on egoism and harm to others.

Should an egoist be willing to torture millions to benefit himself? In your discussion of explaining egoistic benevolence on December 22, 2013, you indicated that you regarded such a scenario as absurd. Could you explain why that is? Why wouldn’t such torture be not merely permitted but rather obligatory under an egoistic ethics? Why should an egoist even care about what happens to strangers?

My Answer, In Brief: To benefit himself most, the egoist must value other people, trading with them to mutual benefit. Harming other people doesn’t produce any genuine or lasting benefits but risks destroying everything of value in life.

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Question 2: The Presence of Juries at Trials (39:44)

In this segment, I answered a question on the presence of juries at trials.

Should juries be present at trials? In fictional portrayals of trials, the jury is often told to disregard certain statements. Also, interruptions in the form of objections are common. Wouldn’t it be easier for the jury to be absent from the trial itself, then presented with all and only the admissible evidence and testimony afterward? In fact, the jury need not see the parties in question, nor even know their names. Wouldn’t that eliminate the possibility of racial discrimination and other irrelevant judgments?

My Answer, In Brief: In most cases, the tone, demeanor, and body language of a witness are very important for a jury to witness first-hand. That’s not merely critical for judging the honesty of the witness, but also for understanding the meaning of the testimony.

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Question 3: Philosophy in Romance (51:54)

In this segment, I answered a question on philosophy in romance.

Is sharing an interest in philosophy necessary for a good romance? I am extremely interested in philosophy. I’m studying it and planning to make it my career. My girlfriend is not. She wants nothing to do with philosophy, although she is perfectly happy with me doing it. However, I find that I am missing that intellectual engagement with her. I’ve asked a number of times if she would try to talk to me about any sort of philosophical issue – really just anything deeper than day to day happenings – and she just can’t do it. She becomes uninterested or even begins to get overwhelmed and frustrated to the point of tears. Is it necessary for us to engage in this activity together to be happy? Is there any way that I can help her to engage in rational inquiry without it being forced on her, if at all?

My Answer, In Brief: The conflict in this relationship might be that the girlfriend has no interest in even very practical philosophy or that the boyfriend is forcing unwelcome conversations about academic philosophy on her – or somewhere in between. Either case would be a serious problem, but the relationship might be worth saving – or not.

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:08:15)

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

  • Do you have an opinion on the recent armed standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy?
  • Should the CDC exist? How should sudden outbreaks of a new and infectious disease be controlled?
  • After reading Nietzsche, and then looking at the evidence all around me, I’m starting to think that democracy was a bad idea. What do you say to this?

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Conclusion (1:17:45)

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on weak versus strong atheism, dating people with psychological problems, 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: Varieties of Atheism, Dating People with Psychological Problems, 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: Starting today, I’m running a “Kindle Countdown Deal” on the Kindle edition of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame Basically, the price starts super-low: $3.99. Then, day by day, the price will slowly rise, until it reaches its regular price of $9.99 by next weekend. So if you want the best deal, buy your copy today! Last week, I spent many hours writing the character summaries for Explore Atlas Shrugged. The updated and revised questions, podcasts, and other resources, are available for purchase for $20. A print-on-demand and ebook will be avilable soon. Next week, because Lila and I will be competing in our first event of the season over the weekend, Greg and I will broadcast on Thursday evening, rather than Sunday morning.

Question 1: Weak Versus Strong Atheism (8:07)

In this segment, I answered a question on weak versus strong atheism.

Should a rational person’s atheism be weak or strong? People often distinguish between “weak atheism” and “strong atheism.” The weak atheist regards the arguments for the existence of God as invalid, so that God’s existence has not been proven. The strong atheist positively asserts that God does not exist. Which of these views is correct?

My Answer, In Brief: Weak atheism is the result of seeing that the arguments for the existence of God fail. Strong atheism is the result of seeing that God’s very nature is impossible. Both views are true, and the view that any person should adopt is the view consistent with his best understanding and thinking.

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Question 2: Dating People with Psychological Problems (42:11)

In this segment, I answered a question on dating people with psychological problems.

Is it a mistake to enter into a serious relationship with a person with serious psychological problems? Recently, my wife took her own life after a long struggle with major depression and other psychological issues. When we started dating, I saw clearly that she had issues although they were not as bad at the time. She was also intelligent, beautiful, and ambitious – among other good qualities. At the time, I thought she could work through her psychological issues with support, and she did improve for a while. However, after her loss, I’ve decided that, when and if I’m to the point where I’m interested in dating again, I will avoid becoming involved with women who display clear psychological problems. This decision has forced me to wonder if it was a mistake to become involved with my wife in the first place. So is it a mistake to enter into a serious relationship, knowing that the person has serious psychological struggles?

My Answer, In Brief: You face two different issues: (1) Should I risk doing this again? (2) Should I regret having done it? The answer to both questions seems to be “no.” So don’t date women with clear psychological problems, but don’t regret your marriage to your wife.

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:01:27)

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

  • How would you articulate why consciousness cannot come before existence?
  • In “Pride and Prejudice,” is it Mr Darcy’s fault that people perceive him as arrogant, or are they just too quick to judge?
  • Are you superstitious about anything? If so, why?

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Conclusion (1:11:59)

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on public displays of body dysmorphia, licensing parents, responsibility for a sibling, 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: Body Dysmorphia, Licensing Parents, Irresponsible Siblings, 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 very bush creating the print-on-demand book of study questions for Explore Atlas Shrugged. The updated and revised questions, podcasts, and other resources, are available for purchase for $20.

Question 1: Public Displays of Body Dysmorphia (7:16)

In this segment, I answered a question on public displays of body dysmorphia.

What should I do when a friend exhibits severe body dysmorphia on social media? At several points in my life, I had a valued friend who seemed otherwise rational and grounded, but who also exhibited dangerous body dysmorphia on social media. In these cases, the friend would first go through a several-month phase of confessing to several psychological problems, such as fantasizing about suicide and of cutting herself with a blade. This friend would then sternly add that she has since recovered, but would admit to still feeling that her natural physical features are ugly and deformed. Then, months later, the friend would go into another phase. On social media, in front of many other people, she would make brazen gestures indicating body dysmorphia, such as uploading photoshopped pictures of herself as a corpse ready for burial or saying that she planned to starve herself to achieve her ideal of being skeletally thin. A major problem was the reaction from our online mutual acquaintances. Some admitted that they saw these problems, yet they acted like the friend was behaving normally. Others outright complimented the dysmorphic imagery and statements. In these cases, I think that my friend knew that her body dysmorphia was dangerous. She put it on display so that others would normalize her pathology, because then she could more easily rationalize her behavior as harmless. That seems really dangerous, but what is the proper alternative? How should people respond when a person puts his pathological self-destruction on display?

My Answer, In Brief: This girl is in the grips of a very serious and deeply-embedded pathology: she needs professional help. You might encourage her to get that, but mostly, you need to extract yourself from a miserable situation about which you can do nothing.

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Question 2: Licensing Parents (27:53)

In this segment, I answered a question on licensing parents.

Should parents be licensed? Given the cost to society of parents shirking their obligations to their children, to entrust children to just anyone able to bear that child seems negligent. The state does, after all, forbid chronic drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel again. On the other hand, to give discretionary power to the state over such a personal matter seems very dangerous. Is there any middle ground that would better protect kids from abusive or neglectful parents and protect society from the growing scourge of poor parenting?

My Answer, In Brief: Parental licensing is a terrible idea. Without preventing child abuse and neglect, the bureaucracy would be costly, arbitrary, and unjust. Any such scheme would violate the rights of prospective parents. However, the courts could – and sometimes should – order people convicted of serious abuse and neglect not to procreate and order any new children produced to be placed for adoption.

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Question 3: Responsibility for a Sibling (51:23)

In this segment, I answered a question on responsibility for a sibling.

Is a person responsible for his incapable sibling? Imagine that your brother (or sister) is not capable of taking care of himself: he makes poor choices, he has poor work habits, and he is emotionally immature. Are you thereby responsible for him? Should you try to help as much as possible, so long as you don’t drag yourself down? Or should you refuse to help on the principle of “tough love,” even though that won’t help him take care of himself? If you take the latter approach, doesn’t that mean that you’re foisting the care for your sibling on society? Wouldn’t that be shirking your responsibilities as a sibling? Also, does your responsibility depend on whether your brother is incapable due to his own choices, as opposed to merely bad luck?

My Answer, In Brief: You do not have a moral duty to help a sibling – ever. You might want to (and sometimes ought to) help a beloved sibling suffering from the effects of bad luck or from an honest mistake, as an expression of your caring for them. You should not help a self-destructive sibling if that’s a sacrifice to you – particularly not when your help will just enable more self-destructive behavior.

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

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

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:03:15)

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

  • If someone in a shop gives you too much change, should you tell them or just pocket it?
  • Is “LOL” a lie if I didn’t really laugh out loud?

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

Conclusion (1:09:30)

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 the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on public displays of body dysmorphia, licensing parents, responsibility for a sibling, the presence of juries at trials, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 4 May 2014, in our live studio. If you can’t listen live, you’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page.

This week’s questions are:

  • Question 1: Public Displays of Body Dysmorphia: What should I do when a friend exhibits severe body dysmorphia on social media? At several points in my life, I had a valued friend who seemed otherwise rational and grounded, but who also exhibited dangerous body dysmorphia on social media. In these cases, the friend would first go through a several-month phase of confessing to several psychological problems, such as fantasizing about suicide and of cutting herself with a blade. This friend would then sternly add that she has since recovered, but would admit to still feeling that her natural physical features are ugly and deformed. Then, months later, the friend would go into another phase. On social media, in front of many other people, she would make brazen gestures indicating body dysmorphia, such as uploading photoshopped pictures of herself as a corpse ready for burial or saying that she planned to starve herself to achieve her ideal of being skeletally thin. A major problem was the reaction from our online mutual acquaintances. Some admitted that they saw these problems, yet they acted like the friend was behaving normally. Others outright complimented the dysmorphic imagery and statements. In these cases, I think that my friend knew that her body dysmorphia was dangerous. She put it on display so that others would normalize her pathology, because then she could more easily rationalize her behavior as harmless. That seems really dangerous, but what is the proper alternative? How should people respond when a person puts his pathological self-destruction on display?
  • Question 2: Licensing Parents: Should parents be licensed? Given the cost to society of parents shirking their obligations to their children, to entrust children to just anyone able to bear that child seems negligent. The state does, after all, forbid chronic drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel again. On the other hand, to give discretionary power to the state over such a personal matter seems very dangerous. Is there any middle ground that would better protect kids from abusive or neglectful parents and protect society from the growing scourge of poor parenting?
  • Question 3: Responsibility for a Sibling: Is a person responsible for his incapable sibling? Imagine that your brother (or sister) is not capable of taking care of himself: he makes poor choices, he has poor work habits, and he is emotionally immature. Are you thereby responsible for him? Should you try to help as much as possible, so long as you don’t drag yourself down? Or should you refuse to help on the principle of “tough love,” even though that won’t help him take care of himself? If you take the latter approach, doesn’t that mean that you’re foisting the care for your sibling on society? Wouldn’t that be shirking your responsibilities as a sibling? Also, does your responsibility depend on whether your brother is incapable due to his own choices, as opposed to merely bad luck?
  • Question 4: The Presence of Juries at Trials: Should juries be present at trials? In fictional portrayals of trials, the jury is often told to disregard certain statements. Also, interruptions in the form of objections are common. Wouldn’t it be easier for the jury to be absent from the trial itself, then presented with all and only the admissible evidence and testimony afterward? In fact, the jury need not see the parties in question, nor even know their names. Wouldn’t that eliminate the possibility of racial discrimination and other irrelevant judgments?

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

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

The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Body Dysmorphia, Licensing Parents, Irresponsible Siblings, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

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

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

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on ambition as a virtue, happiness without close friends, refusing involvement in a biological child’s life, 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: Ambition, Lacking Friends, Absent Fathers, and More

Listen or Download:

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

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve finalized and posted the questions for Explore Atlas Shrugged, and now I turn to making print-on-demand and ebook versions. At 4 am this morning, I watched Martha Deeds’ mare Peekies give birth to a handsome colt! That was exciting!

Question 1: Ambition as a Virtue (3:05)

In this segment, I answered a question on ambition as a virtue.

Is ambition a virtue? Ayn Rand defined ambition as “the systematic pursuit of achievement and of constant improvement in respect to one’s goal.” If we apply ambition only to rational goals – as happens with the virtue of integrity, where loyalty to values only constitutes integrity if those values are rational – then could ambition be considered a virtue? Or at least, could ambition be an aspect of a virtue like productiveness?

My Answer, In Brief: Ambition is not a virtue: it doesn’t share the core qualities of the virtues. However, ambition is morally significant: it’s a moral amplifier. So ambition is a quality of character that makes a good person better and a bad person worse. It’s a quality that you should cultivate in yourself – and then deploy selectively, based on the context.

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Links:

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

Question 2: Happiness without Close Friends (22:51)

In this segment, I answered a question on happiness without close friends.

How can I maintain my sense of self when surrounded by people I don’t relate to deeply? At places like work I have trouble relating to my coworkers on a significantly deep level. For the most part, we just don’t share the deepest or most important aspects of life, such as a genuine interests in ideas, various nuances of the culinary arts, and so on. However, I enjoy interacting with these people, but I’m not likely to engage in frequent outings and whatnot. Yet, in other aspects of life – for the time – I don’t have the ability to deal with people I share a “like soul” with, to use Aristotelian terms. Thus, how can I truthfully express my personality and values while maintaining, or even deepening, my friendship with these people? I feel like I’m “faking” myself too often.

My Answer, In Brief: Intimate friends are often few and far between, but you can manage and arrange your life to give yourself a greater chance to find such people. Appreciate and cultivate your lesser friends, expand your social network, develop yourself without compromise or concealment, and don’t give up!

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

Question 3: Refusing Involvement in a Biological Child’s Life (40:00)

In this segment, I answered a question on refusing involvement in a biological child’s life.

It is wrong to refuse any involvement in my biological child’s life? Some years back I had a contraceptive malfunction, and a child was conceived as a result. I offered to pay for an abortion but the woman refused. The child was born, and the mother and child moved away. I voluntarily pay child support, but I have no desire to be part of the child’s life. I never wanted to be a father nor do I want to now. Am I right – morally and legally – to take this stance?

My Answer, In Brief: A man doesn’t have any moral obligation to play the role of a father to a child, simply because he contributed his sperm. Being a parent is a very serious obligation, and it should not be undertaken lightly by either men or women.

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

Rapid Fire Questions (52:42)

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

  • Are all people really created equal?
  • What is your opinion of camp as an aesthetic style? Is it in any way nihilistic?
  • Wouldn’t the principles (or maxim) of ones action’s be universally applicable according to Objectivism – just as for Kantian ethics?
  • Sometimes when people talk openly about sex or their sex life, I just think ‘Eeek! How tasteless and vulgar. Keep it to yourself!’ Am I too prudish?
  • What does it really mean to be a ‘nice person’? Can someone be too nice?

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

Conclusion (1:04:56)

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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

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

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, being virtuous but not happy, defending abortion rights, 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: Immanuel Kant, Virtuous But Not Happy, Abortion Rights, and More

Listen or Download:

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

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been finalizing the questions for Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Question 1: The Philosophy of Immanuel Kant (6:14)

In this segment, I answered a question on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

What’s so bad about the philosophy of Immanuel Kant? In academic philosophy, Kant is often regarded as the culmination of the Enlightenment. According to this standard view, Kant sought to save reason from skeptics such as Hume, he aimed to ground ethics in reason, and he defended human autonomy and liberty. In contrast, Ayn Rand famously regarded Kant as “the most evil man in mankind’s history.” She rejected his metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, saying that “the philosophy of Kant is a systematic rationalization of every major psychological vice.” Who is right here? What’s right or wrong with his philosophy?

My Answer, In Brief: Immanuel Kant’s metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics represent radical departures from the Enlightenment traditions – and they ushered in the close of that period of thought. Ayn Rand’s philosophic criticisms of him are well-deserved.

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

Question 2: Being Virtuous But Not Happy (38:52)

In this segment, I answered a question on being virtuous but not happy.

How can I live more joyfully? I believe that the world is a wonderful place full of opportunity, great things, and lovely people. I also believe that I am an efficacious person, and therefore capable of flourishing and achieving happiness. So why do my emotions not match my convictions? I want to live more joyfully. I adhere to the cardinal virtues to the best of my ability. I’ve tried mental exercises, such as listing all my personal values and thinking about how important and good they are for me, but it still doesn’t make me feel happy. What am I doing wrong? What can I do instead?

My Answer, In Brief: You need to jettison this overly abstract view of your life, and instead learn to live in all the messy particular moments of your days, so that those moments add up to an interesting, engaging, challenging, and meaningful life.

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

Question 3: Defending Abortion Rights (56:43)

In this segment, I answered a question on defending abortion rights.

How can abortion rights be more effectively defended? Although the biblical case against abortion is weak, the religious right has gained much traction against abortion rights in the last decade or two. The “personhood” movement is growing every year, and incremental restrictions on abortion have mushroomed. Even more alarming, the demographics seem to be against abortion rights: young people are increasingly opposed to abortion. What can be done to more effectively defend abortion rights? Can any lessons be drawn from the success of the campaign for gay marriage?

My Answer, In Brief: The advocates of abortion bans are largely motivated by the divine command, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” which is then often cast in the language of the “right to life.” To combat that, those people need to be confronted with the reality of what abortion bans mean to women and couples.

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Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions (1:25:43)

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

  • What do you think of Sartre’s dictum that when you make choices, you should always imagine that you are serving as a role model for the rest of mankind?

Listen or Download:

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

Conclusion (1:29:06)

Be sure to check out my blog NoodleFood and to submit and vote on questions for upcoming episodes.

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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