Podcast #329: Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Six

 Posted by on 16 January 2015 at 8:00 am  Podcasts
Jan 162015
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I discussed “Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Six” with listeners. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Podcast: Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Six

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

Listen or Download:

Topics:

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

Links:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Arthur Zey and I answered questions on the importance of credibility, third party payments in medicine, insulting with racial epithets, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Whole Podcast: 11 January 2015

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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


Podcast Segments: 11 January 2015

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

Introduction

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

Question 1: The Importance of Credibility

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

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

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

Question 2: Third Party Payments in Medicine

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

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

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Links:

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

Question 3: Insulting with Racial Epithets

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

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

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

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

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 1:09:57
  • Duration: 10:03
  • Download: MP3 Segment

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 1:20:01


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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Jan 052015
 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on participating in superstitious rituals, punishing yourself, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Whole Podcast: 4 January 2015

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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


Podcast Segments: 4 January 2015

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

Introduction

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

Question 1: Participating in Superstitious Rituals

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

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

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Links:

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

Question 2: Punishing Yourself

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

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

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Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

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

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 1:00:30
  • Duration: 14:10
  • Download: MP3 Segment

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 1:14:49


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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Podcast #326: Extremism, Overcoming Lethargy, and More

 Posted by on 29 December 2014 at 8:00 am  Podcasts
Dec 292014
 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on extremism versus consistency, overcoming lethargy, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Whole Podcast: 28 December 2014

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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


Podcast Segments: 28 December 2014

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

Introduction

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

Question 1: Extremism Versus Consistency

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

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

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

Question 2: Overcoming Lethargy

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 1:10:02


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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Dec 222014
 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the relationship between philosophy and science, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Whole Podcast: 21 December 2014

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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


Podcast Segments: 21 December 2014

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: If you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas gift, consider my book Responsibility & Luck, my course Explore Atlas Shrugged, my podcast on Finding Good Prospects for Romance and Friendship.

Question 1: The Relationship between Philosophy and Science

Question: What is the proper relationship between philosophy and science? People commonly assert that science proves that the traditional claims of philosophy are wrong. For example, they’ll say that quantum mechanics proves that objective reality and causality are just myths and that psychology experiments disprove free will. In contrast, other people claim that philosophy is so fundamental that if any claims of science contradict philosophical principles, then the science must be discarded as false. Hence, for example, they say that homosexuality cannot possibly be genetic, whatever science says, since philosophy tells us that people are born “tabula rasa,” including without any knowledge of “male” versus “female.” So what is the proper view of the relationship between philosophy and the sciences? Does either have a veto power over the other? Is science based on philosophy or vice versa?

My Answer, In Brief: Neither philosophy nor science has priority over the other. Philosophers should strive to be more familiar with the full range of scientific facts, and scientists should strive to be more aware of their philosophic assumptions. Everyone should be focused on the facts, rather than defending theory.

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Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Are practical jokes wrong?
  • If someone insults or attacks my spouse online, e.g. on Facebook, should I cut ties with that person?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 54:44
  • Duration: 8:32
  • Download: MP3 Segment

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 1:03:17


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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Podcast #324: Paul Hsieh on Radiology in Practice

 Posted by on 19 December 2014 at 8:00 am  Podcasts
Dec 192014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I interviewed Dr. Paul Hsieh about “Radiology in Practice.” The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Podcast: 18 December 2014

Most people have seen cool medical imaging devices such as CT and MRI scanners on TV shows. But what do those machines really do? Advanced medical imaging has revolutionized patient care in the past 25 years, allowing doctors to make diagnoses more accurately, quickly, and safely than ever before. Radiologist Dr. Paul Hsieh discussed the basics of modern radiology (x-rays, MRI, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine), how these different tests work, what they show about the human body, and how they help doctors take better care of patients.

Dr. Paul Hsieh is a radiologist in practice in South Denver. He received his MD from the University of Michigan, then completed a residency in diagnostic radiology at Washington University in St. Louis, and an MRI fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Prior to entering private practice, he was an Assistant Professor of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine. He is the co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM). He has written scores of columns, mostly on health care policy, as well as articles for The Objective Standard. He blogs offbeat tech news at GeekPress.

Listen or Download:

Topics:

  • About radiology
  • The different imaging modalities
  • X-rays
  • CAT Scans
  • MRI Scans
  • Ultrasound
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • PET Scans
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Radiation dangers
  • Medical education
  • Access to the radiologist
  • Specialization in radiology
  • Paul’s work
  • Paul’s choice of radiology

Links:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on managing differences with family, forbidding the sale of dangerous goods to minors, worthy charities, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Whole Podcast: 14 December 2014

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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


Podcast Segments: 14 December 2014

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy celebrating my birthday! Earlier this week, I resumed my podcast series on Philosophy of Religion.

Question 1: Managing Differences with Family

Question: How should a young adult manage persistent differences with his family? As I grew up, I turned out radically different from what my family expected. They think college is necessary for success in life. I didn’t, and I dropped out. They eat the Standard American Diet and hate fat. I eat Paleo, and I glorify fat. And so on. Basically, we diverge on many points. I’ve never committed the mistake of attempting to preach to my family in order to persuade them, but many of them grew unduly concerned with these differences between us. They would argue with me on the subject for months, if not years, no matter what good results I had to show them. Assuming that the relationship is otherwise worth maintaining, how should an older child or young adult handle such contentious differences with his family? How can he best communicate his point of view to them – for example, on the question of college, after they’ve saved for two decades for his college education?

My Answer, In Brief: Persistent differences with your family are to-be-expected for a thinking, independent adult. Discuss them in a rational way to air your differences, then make your own choice. If the other family members won’t let it go, kindly but firmly refuse to discuss the matter with them any further.

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

Question 2: Forbidding the Sale of Dangerous Goods to Minors

Question: Should minors be forbidden from buying dangerous goods? Under current law, minors are often restricted from buying goods regarded as dangerous, such as cigarettes, alcohol, fireworks, or firearms. In a free society, should those restrictions be abolished or upheld? Should parents be allowed to permit their children to buy such goods?

My Answer, In Brief: The default for adults should be that they’re competent to buy dangerous goods, but that can be overridden. Minors should be assumed incompetent, although that can be overridden too, most obviously by parental consent.

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Links:

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

Question 3: Worthy Charities

Question: What kinds of charities are worthy of support? Many people laud donating to charities, but they don’t seem particularly concerned with which charities they support. However, I’d like my charitable dollars to do some good in the world – and do me good in return. So when is it proper to donate to charity? What kinds of charities are worthy of support or not? How can I judge the effectiveness of a charity? Are local charities better than national or international charities?

My Answer, In Brief: The worthiness of charities can and should be judged by the worthiness of their cause, their effectiveness at achieving their goals, and their efficiency in the use of money.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 1:06:45


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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Dec 122014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I discussed “Design Arguments for the Existence of God, Part 4″ with listeners. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Podcast: Design Arguments for the Existence of God, Part 4

Does the complexity, delicacy, and purposefulness of living organisms prove the existence of God? William Paley argues that it does in his Analogical Argument from Design. Here, we explore philosophical objections to his argument, as well as the alternative explanation of evolutionary theory.

This podcast is part of ReligionCasts – my series of podcasts on the philosophy of religion.

Listen or Download:

Topics:

  • About the podcast series
  • Review of Design Arguments
  • Philosophical objections to Objections to Paley’s Analogical Argument for Design
  • The alternative of Darwinian evolution
  • Evolution and chance
  • Evolution versus design
  • Objections to evolutionary theory
  • Questions

Links:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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


 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the reality of karma, responsibility for pets, meaningless gift exchanges, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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


Whole Podcast: 7 December 2014

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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


Podcast Segments: 7 December 2014

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I resumed the chapter-by-chapter discussions of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, this week! Today, I’m testing out broadcasting on the way to foxhunting, where I have much faster internet.

Question 1: The Reality of Karma

Question: Is karma real? Although the concept of “karma” has religious roots, it seems to contain a grain of truth, namely that people will, in the end, get what they deserve. So if a father is mean to his children, he will find them unwilling to help him when he suffers a health crisis in his old age. In contrast, children raised with love and kindness will be eager to help their ailing father. Is this understanding of karma true? Is this a concept that rational people might or should use in their moral thinking?

My Answer, In Brief: Because the concept of “karma” lumps together moral causality and matters of luck, it’s mysticism cannot ever be fully shed. Use it colloquially or tongue-in-cheek, but not for serious thinking about ethics.

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Links:

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

Question 2: Responsibility for Pets

Question: Should I put my cat down rather than leave him in a shelter? After listening to the podcast question about the person who lived in Philadelphia and wanted to get out of the ghetto, I got the motivation to land a great new job in Seattle. I am moving to a new city in a few weeks and will be traveling quite a bit. I will not be able to take care of my cat with all of the traveling. I don’t have the money to hire people to watch my pet while I am gone. I have put the cat up on billboards and ebay classifieds with no responses. The cat isn’t friendly to anyone but me, so I doubt a prospective adopter would choose to take him after meeting him. As my move date grows closer, I am wondering if it would be better to have my cat put down than to leave him with a shelter. What should I do?

My Answer, In Brief: You have an obligation to this cat, and please explore some more options before you put him down. There are ways that you could find him a new home or enable him to stay with you.

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

Question 3: Meaningless Gift Exchanges

Question: How can I stop exchanging meaningless holiday presents with my siblings? My siblings and I are friendly but not close, but we still exchange Christmas presents. Mostly, that means that we buy each other stuff that we really don’t want. That seems like a waste of time and money. I’d like to stop exchanging gifts with them, but how can I do so without hurting their feelings?

My Answer, In Brief: You have lots of options besides the traditional models of gift-giving. Broach the topic with your family in a spirit of benevolence and goodwill about how to improve the holidays for everyone.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Does the typical usage of Karma have an altruistic implication – that your good standing in the world is based on doing good for others?
  • What do people mean when they tell you you’re being ‘harsh’? Is it the same as being unjust?
  • What do you think of Interstellar?
  • What modern fiction writer would you recommend?
  • How can a person be objective in evaluating the people that he dates?
  • What’s wrong with the nihilistic argument that life is meaningless because death is inevitable?
  • I’ve begun reading Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s new book, “The DIM Hypothesis.” If you’ve read it I’d be very interested to hear what you think of it. Might it represent a “new” philosophy or “turning point”?
  • Why have Objectivists (including Ayn Rand) tended to use deontic language (“right” and “wrong”) to describe actions rather than virtue ethics language (“good and “bad”)?
  • Should the independent creator of a technology be barred from using or producing it due to an existing patent? Should it matter if the independent inventor lives in a different state or country?
  • Is it moral to allow a young child extremely fascinated with the human body to watch simple surgery videos to learn what doctors do, provided the parent prescreens the video for gruesomeness?

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  • Start Time: 33:51
  • Duration: 26:32
  • Download: MP3 Segment

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 1:00:23


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the objectivity of manners, fighting words, obsessing over past conversations, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 30 November 2014

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Podcast Segments: 30 November 2014

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy catching up on work.

Question 1: The Objectivity of Manners

Question: Are manners objective? In a recent Rapid Fire Question, I think you rather too quickly dismissed the idea that manners or etiquette can be objective. You fairly quickly threw the whole lot of them over into the socially-subjective category. However, I think there’s a lot that’s not at all subjective, nor even optional, about manners. I happen to live in a country, China, which is much-renowned for its lack of basic human decency, and I would argue that this is a fair claim. For example, it’s quite regular for a parent to pull his child’s pants down and facilitate his or her urinating or defecating all over a vehicle of transportation, up to and including an international flight. It’s also quite normal to hawk in such a way as to clear every cavity in one’s upper torso, admire a particular piece of ground, and splat the results of one’s personal nasal expiration for all to admire and tread upon. After a home-cooked meal, a guest is expected to belch massively. A small belch is a sign of dissatisfaction. To me, the latter seems quite a matter of optional cultural choice. What you said before about manners applies quite nicely to that issue: it’s fairly arbitrary whether you should or you should not belch after your meal. At my in-laws’ place, please do. At my mom’s place, please don’t. However, when I think about other ways in which Chinese people are “rude” to an American, I can think of a thousand examples where it’s not just subjective. Pissing or shitting on a public bus is not just arbitrarily unacceptable to us silly overwrought Westerners. It’s objectively rude. For another example, today when I was trying to get onto a bus, hale and hearty Chinese twenty-somethings were pushing in front of me in a giant triangle of evil. Nobody cared if I was there before them, nobody cared if the signs all said to line up respectfully, they just elbowed each other out of the way in order to get on the bus. So are manners objective, at least in part?

My Answer, In Brief: Manners are objective: good principles of manners are well-grounded in facts. Many are an application of proper moral principles to social interactions, and others are matters of efficiency. However, etiquette is often a matter of optional convention.

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

Question 2: Fighting Words

Question: Do verbal insults sometimes justify a response of physical violence? In a recent discussion of bullying, most people agreed that the child in question should not have hit the kids bullying him, given that those bullies were merely making awful remarks, as opposed to being violent or threatening. However, one person suggested that a physically violent response might be justified if all other avenues were exhausted – meaning that the bully was told to stop, efforts to enlist the help of the authorities failed, and a warning was given. Is that right? Is it ever right to respond to purely verbal insults with physical violence?

My Answer, In Brief: Unless the words are implicitly threatening or inviting a fight, a person can and should walk away from merely verbal harassment. That applies to kids as much to adults, but in the case of kids, parents and teachers have a responsibility to protect kids from situations in which verbal bullying can only be stopped by physical violence.

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

Question 3: Obsessing over Past Conversations

Question: How can I stop obsessing over past conversations? After having a conversation with someone, I often obsess about what I said to them and the way that I said it. I think about they ways they could have misinterpreted what I meant, and I worry that they thought I was being rude or disrespectful. Most of the time, of course, whatever nuances I thought would offend them were either non-existent or just went straight over their head. How can I overcome this obsessiveness, while still maintaining a healthy level of concern for how what I say may be interpreted?

My Answer, In Brief: It’s not healthy to obsess over past conversations, and you can help your brain overcome that tendency by noticing when you do it, seeking out objective feedback, and more. If you can’t do it alone, seek therapy.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Could you ever be friends with an IRS agent?
  • Should ‘cleanliness’ be classed as a virtue? If so, is it minor or major?
  • Ayn Rand called the military-industrial complex ‘a myth or worse’. Was she right? What is the military industrial complex? What would it look like in a free society?
  • What role do you think insurance plays in the ever-increasing regulatory environment in our culture?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 52:30
  • Duration: 12:31
  • Download: MP3 Segment

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

Conclusion

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

  • Start Time: 1:05:02


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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

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


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