On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on the meaning of marriage vows, animals as property, the problem of overwork, 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: Marriage Vows, Animals as Property, Overwork, and More

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been very busy preparing the scripts, web pages, questions, and podcasts for Explore Atlas Shrugged. They’ll be ready and available for sale for $20 this upcoming week.

Question 1: The Meaning of Marriage Vows (3:16)

In this segment, I answered a question on the meaning of marriage vows.

Are the promises of marriage binding when a spouse becomes self-destructive? When couples marry, they often promise to stay together “for better or for worse” and “in sickness and in health.” But imagine that a wife chooses a self-destructive course of action – say, abusing drugs, profligate spending, or gambling. She refuses to listen to reason or change her behavior. Does the husband have an obligation to stay in the marriage or support her financially due to his past promise? Basically, what do the promises of marriage oblige a person to do?

My Answer, In Brief: Marriage vows are neither forever binding promises, nor meaningless verbiage. They are promises to treat spouse with love and respect, with hope and goal of relationship worthy of enduring for lifetime. However, that’s not always possible – and to sacrifice your life and happiness to the marriage is morally wrong.

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Question 2: Animals as Property (25:15)

In this segment, I answered a question on animals as property.

Are animals a special kind of property? On your blog NoodleFood, you claimed that “the law should recognize that beloved pets are not mere property, but rather a special kind of property. To wrongfully cause the death of a pet should carry a significantly higher penalty than merely compensating the owner for the replacement cost of that pet. Moreover, police officers and government officials who indulge in this kind of reckless killing without good cause should be disciplined severely, preferably fired.” Can you explain this view – the theory and the practice – further? Would this standard be akin to that of hate crimes, on the theory that crime is wrong but a crime motivated by hate is more wrong? Would it apply to other property – like my car (because it adds so much value to my life) or family photographs (which have lots of sentimental values but not monetary value)?

My Answer, In Brief: The value of beloved pets to their owners is not limited to merely their economic value or replacement cost. The law – in police action, criminal law, and tort law – should recognize that.

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Question 3: The Problem of Overwork (49:31)

In this segment, I answered a question on the problem of overwork.

Does the example set by Ayn Rand’s heroes encourage overwork? The heroes of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead seem to have a nearly unlimited well of energy. They work long hours, and they don’t have many interests outside work. However, isn’t that dangerous? Does this approach to work risk exhaustion and burnout? More generally, what’s the rational approach to balancing work and self-care?

My Answer, In Brief: The risk of overwork is a major problem for some people and some jobs, and people should be cognizant of that. Ayn Rand’s heroes work hard, often too hard, but she’s not extolling overwork as a moral ideal thereby.

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:04:17)

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

  • What do you think of the term neo-Objectivism (analogous to neo-Kantianism) to describe work that is based on Ayn Rand’s fundamentals?
  • What is authenticity? How does it differ from integrity?

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Conclusion (1:08:02)

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!

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on the errors of “Open Objectivism”, giving back an engagement ring, buying books with military secrets, 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: Open Objectivism, Giving Back Gifts, Military Secrets, and More

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy programming for Philosophy in Action!

Question 1: The Errors of “Open Objectivism” (2:49)

In this segment, I answered a question on the errors of “Open Objectivism”.

What is “open Objectivism”? Recently, I checked out the website of “The Atlas Society,” the organization run by David Kelley. It advocates for “open Objectivism,” which I assume means that each person defines what Objectivism is. Am I interpreting that correctly? What’s wrong with that approach? Does regarding Objectivism as “closed” lead to intolerance, insularity, and schisms?

My Answer, In Brief: The “closed system” view of Objectivism just asks that people respect Ayn Rand’s philosophy as her own creation – and differentiate it from their own or others’ ideas. Contrary to the advocates of the “open system,” that approach doesn’t lead to insularity, dogmatism, or intolerance.

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Question 2: Giving Back an Engagement Ring (35:41)

In this segment, I answered a question on giving back an engagement ring.

Should a woman give back her engagement ring if the relationship goes sour? A friend of mine asked his girlfriend to marry him, and she accepted. However, they broke off the engagement – and the relationship – a few months later. Is she morally or legally obliged to give back the ring? Is the answer different if they married, then split?

My Answer, In Brief: The law on returning engagement rings varies from state to state. Morally, absent fraud or debts, the ring should be returned to the person who bought it.

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Question 3: Buying Books with Military Secrets (43:42)

In this segment, I answered a question on buying books with military secrets.

Is it wrong to buy a book containing sensitive military information? The Pentagon claims that the new book No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Bin Laden reveals some potentially sensitive details about the operation. I’d really like to read about the mission, but I’m worried that the Pentagon’s concerns are valid, and I’d rather not contribute to a work that that puts our soldiers at risk. However, given that the book has already been released, does it matter whether I buy it or not?

My Answer, In Brief: Based on the story about the publication of this book, you can read it without misgivings. In general, you should feel free to read anything on the open market, provided that its very publication isn’t morally wrong.

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Rapid Fire Questions (51:11)

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

  • What is the proper response to people who say, “If you take Objectivism to its logical conclusion, it leads to [this specific conclusion”? They believe you must necessarily come to the same conclusion as them, because their conclusion is the consequence of a syllogistic chain of reasoning, making the conclusion “necessary.”
  • What is the difference between rationalizing and reasoning poorly? Often times people who make bad arguments are accused of rationalization when it might just be that they are mistaken.
  • In a free society, should political parties which advocate statism be outlawed? Or would outlawing them be statism? How else do we stop people voting for tyrants and destroying the free society?

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Conclusion (59:55)

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!

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on evolution’s ethical implications, cultivating a healthy body image, the value of studying theology, 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: Evolution’s Ethical Implications, Body Image, Theology, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy posting my early podcasts to Philosophy in Action’s podcast archive. Everything but the Explore Atlas Shrugged series is done!

Question 1: Evolution’s Ethical Implications (3:31)

In this segment, I answered a question on evolution’s ethical implications.

Should ethics begin with facts about evolution, including altruism? The ethical egoism advocated by Ayn Rand doesn’t seem to incorporate genetics or evolution. Having evolved in tribal and family groups, we are creatures tuned to group behavior more than to individual behavior. Altruism wasn’t invented by religion. In a tribe, helping those around you helps you survive too. Helping your kin helps your genes survive. The fact is that feeling good when you help others is built into the core of being human. The fact is that much status seeking and other seemingly irrational actions are techniques to ensure the propagation of our genes. Objectivism starts with “A is A.” But, if reality is most important, shouldn’t people base their ethics on the facts about humans as they actually are – altruism and all?

My Answer, In Brief: This argument might seem sensible on the surface, but it suffers from three fatal defects: (1) biological altruism is very different from ethical altruism, (2) ethics has a biological foundation, but the principles of ethics are not derived from animal behavior, and (3) many actions to benefit others or a group are not altruistic but self-interested.

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Question 2: Cultivating a Healthy Body Image (25:16)

In this segment, I answered a question on cultivating a healthy body image.

How does a person cultivate a healthy body image? Suppose that a woman realizes that she has been unconsciously influenced by unrealistic body images – as portrayed in movies, magazines, and so on? She is basically healthy, and so it would be good for her to feel good about how she looks. But a person can’t always change everything about herself: she can’t change her height, however much she dislikes it. Even if a person can make changes, most people need to accept that they will never look like movie stars. So how does a person cultivate a healthy body image? How might a person notice and combat an unhealthy obsession with appearance?

My Answer, In Brief: If you struggle with an unjustly negative view of your own body, (1) consciously reject the body ideals of our culture, (2) push yourself to look beyond superficials to the deeper values of your body, (3) recognize and accept your physical limits, and (4) make the most of what you have. If you do that, your view of your body will change.

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Question 3: The Value of Studying Theology (46:17)

In this segment, I answered a question on the value of studying theology.

Can a rational atheist extract any value from studying theology? Theology includes a mix of arguments for the existence of God, plus views on ethics, and more. It’s the earliest form of philosophy. Can a person benefit by cherry picking ideas from theological teachings or does the mysticism and other faults outweigh any benefits?

My Answer, In Brief: A rational atheist can extract quite a bit of value from studying the arguments for the existence of God, religious scriptures, and contemporary religious beliefs and practices. He can better his understanding of the culture, become more culturally literate, understand people better, and develop well-justified views on religion.

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:02:01)

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

  • Does my inability to readily define terms mean that my concepts are unclear?
  • How should you respond to envious people who think that you’re ‘showing them up’ when you work harder than they do?

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Conclusion (1:07:38)

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!

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on concern for future generations, privatizing prisons, buying and returning goods, 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: Future Generations, Privatizing Prisons, Returning Goods, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: My life has returned to normal – finally! I’ve been busy working on various projects for Philosophy in Action. Greg is on vacation, so he’s only here virtually. He and Tammy will return next Sunday.

Question 1: Concern for Future Generations (1:51)

In this segment, I answered a question on concern for future generations.

Should I care about future generations? People often claim that we should act for the sake of future generations, particularly regarding environmental concerns. Is that rational? Why should I care what happens to people after I am dead? Why should I work for the benefit of people who cannot possibly benefit my life and who aren’t even known, let alone of value, to me?

My Answer, In Brief: The interests of future generations do not conflict with our interests. That’s because the requirements of human flourishing – particularly freedom and technology – are the same throughout time. Benefit yourself by securing those values now, and you’ll benefit future generations too – without any sacrifice by anyone.

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Question 2: Privatizing Prisons (20:27)

In this segment, I answered a question on privatizing prisons.

Is running prisons a legitimate function of government or should they be privatized? Private prisons are a billion dollar industry here in the United States, but should they be left to private companies or should the government handle them instead?

My Answer, In Brief: Privately-run prisons may be more effective and cheaper than government-run prisons – or not. Prisons aren’t inherently a function of government, although the government must oversee them and set standards, at the very least.

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Question 3: Buying and Returning Goods (32:31)

In this segment, I answered a question on buying and returning goods.

Is it wrong to buy goods with the intent to return them? A friend of mine will often buy jewelry from large department stores for events, knowing that she’ll likely return the items. (Sometimes, however, she’ll keep an item even when she thought she’d return it.) She returns the goods undamaged and soon after buying. She asked me what I thought of the morality of her actions. In my opinion, she’s acting morally because she’s not committing fraud. The stores in question have liberal return policies (“if you are unhappy for whatever reason…”). They must know that some of their customers might do what she’s doing and think that allowing it is good for business. Is that right?

My Answer, In Brief: Your friend is abusing generous return policies. She’s not acting as an honest trader, but as a devious exploiter. That embodies a wholly wrong approach to morality that I hope she rethinks her actions.

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Rapid Fire Questions (42:18)

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

  • Why do people differ so much in their taste in movies?
  • If a person stumbles upon data (say, logins and passwords) without hacking, it is morally and legally wrong to use that data?
  • Is it morally worse for a mother to abandon her child than for a father to do the same?
  • Why did you choose philosophy over programming?
  • Should college athletes be paid? Doesn’t the current system exploit them?
  • My mother believes she is clairvoyant, and she laughs when I try to explain away her ‘premonitions.’ How can I convince her she is not psychic?
  • My significant other is generally uninterested and/or easily frustrated by philosophy. Is there any way to help a person engage in rational inquiry? Is it necessary for a happy relationship?

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Conclusion (59:57)

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!

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On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on body acceptance, the reliability of memory, the meaning of induction, 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 Acceptance, Reliability of Memory, Induction, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy getting my life back to normal after TahoeCon, Aiken, and SnowCon. Alas, now I have a cold.

Question 1: Body Acceptance (2:03)

In this segment, I answered a question on body acceptance.

Is “body acceptance” rational and healthy – or dangerous? Many people are divided on the issue of accepting one’s body for whatever it is. Some think that a person should be proud to be “healthy at any size” (or even just a larger-than-average size). Others say that such views perpetuate unhealthy lifestyles and destroy standards of beauty and health, perhaps out of envy. What is a rational view of body acceptance? Is “fat shaming” or “fit shaming” ever acceptable? More generally, what are the boundaries of morally acceptable comments on such matters between acquaintances, friends, and strangers?

My Answer, In Brief: The call for “body acceptance” is not about egalitarian hatred of beauty or health. Rather, it’s goal is to challenge our culture’s focus on outward appearance – rather than health, strength, and skills – by accepting the current state of our body and appreciating its virtues.

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Question 2: The Reliability of Memory (21:24)

In this segment, I answered a question on the reliability of memory.

Is memory trustworthy? Memory is often described as being highly fallible and even malleable. Is that true? If so, what are the implications of that for claims about the objectivity and reliability of knowledge? What are the implications for daily life? Should we trust our experiences when we can’t be trusted to remember them?

My Answer, In Brief: Memory is fallible in various known ways, but that doesn’t undermine claims of knowledge. Rather, it’s a reason to exercise caution when relying on memory and to use external records.

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Question 3: The Meaning of Induction (37:05)

In this segment, I answered a question on the meaning of induction.

What does the term “inductive” mean? What is the distinction (if any) between some claim being “inductive” versus (1) ad hoc, (2) non-systematic, (3) disintegrated, (4) anecdotal, and (5) empirical? Basically, what is the proper meaning of the term “inductive”?

My Answer, In Brief: Induction is the process of logical inference from more particular to more abstract knowledge. It is essential to all reasoning.

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Rapid Fire Questions (44:29)

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

  • Are strip clubs moral? Should men or women (whether married, dating, or single) frequent them? Is it wrong to work for one?
  • Will separating school and state will lead to a more religious, ignorant, and economically poor population?
  • What is the value of novelty?
  • Have Ayn Rand’s claims about concept-formation in “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology” in children been validated by developmental psychology?
  • Apart from Ayn Rand and Aristotle, which philosophers have written good and/or interesting works on aesthetics?

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Conclusion (58:52)

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!

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On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on concern for others in egoism, the need for support from others, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Egoism and Social Virtues, Being Supportive, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve had my last lesson – a great XC school – here at Aiken today. Jumped things that were impossible to me before, and did them safely! So much fun, discovered much more in Lila than thought possible. Today, frantically packing. More to do after broadcast, leave tomorrow at 6 am.

Question 1: Concern for Others in Egoism (4:40)

In this segment, I answered a question on concern for others in egoism.

Does ethical egoism promote narcissism and insensitivity to others? People often suggest that ethical egoism – such as the Objectivist ethics advocated by Ayn Rand – promotes unfriendly if not hostile behavior toward other people. Ultimately, the egoist cares for himself above everything else, perhaps to the point that the thoughts and feelings of others aren’t even noticed or of concern. The problem seems to be exacerbated by a commitment to moral absolutes and moral judgment. So do these ethical principles incline a person to be self-absorbed, insensitive, hostile, unkind, or otherwise unpleasant to others? How can egoists take care not to fall into these traps?

My Answer, In Brief: The only true form of egoism is based on voluntary trade to mutual benefit, which requires recognizing the value of other people and respecting them. Some advocates of egoism are jerks, narcissists, or worse, but that’s not due to their egoism, but despite it.

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Question 2: The Need for Support from Others (51:20)

In this segment, I answered a question on the need for support from others.

Should my romantic partner be interested in and supportive of my accomplishments and pursuits? I have struggled for years in a relationship with someone who shows no interest in or support for my pursuits. I try not to be hurt. I tell myself I just need to do better in order to be worthy of respect and admiration. When I explain to my partner why I’m hurt, he says I am being needy and that I shouldn’t need his praise or reinforcement. I don’t know how to logically disagree with this, yet I know how good it feels to receive earned praise from friends, and how painful it feels to accomplish something big and not receive any acknowledgement from my partner. What kind of emotional support should be expected from a partner? If a partner is dismissive and neglectful, how can one gain the confidence needed to leave the relationship?

My Answer, In Brief: Approval and support from your romantic partner is hugely important to any healthy relationship. If you’re not getting that, then you need to change that relationship, pronto.

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Conclusion (1:09:38)

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!

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On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on buying time by voting Republican, avoiding regret over having children, 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: Buying Time in Elections, Regretful Parents, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been very busy in Aiken, particularly with cross-country lessons with Eric Horgan. It’s very demanding, very technical, and dangerous if done wrong – but I’m making lots of progress! My book, Responsibility & Luck, will be reviewed in the upcoming issue of The Objective Standard.

Question 1: Buying Time by Voting Republican (4:18)

In this segment, I answered a question on buying time by voting Republican.

Should voters attempt to “buy time” for liberty by voting for Republican candidates? Often, supporters of free-market capitalism are told that they need to “buy time” in order to advocate for liberty – meaning: they should vote for Republicans to stave off disaster and allow time to persuade the public of the nature and value of freedom. Does the debacle with the rollout of ObamaCare contradict this claim? ObamaCare has suffered from widespread attacks, not just from the right wing, but also from many mainstream media outlets and average citizens. These backlashes have forced the administration to issue substantive revisions of the law, and its political backers appear to be running scared. In this case, a statist policy has gone into effect, the public has felt its harmful effects, and that public has turned against the statist policy and its supporting politicians. After this, I am more optimistic about Americans, as well as less inclined to support Republicans at the federal level. Given the utter failure of free market advocates to turn back the regulatory state, might the public need to learn more lessons like that of ObamaCare, just as much as they need to be educated about abstract philosophy? Does support for Republicans in the federal government, who will at best maintain the mixed economy – where the positives caused by freedom can cloud the negatives caused by controls – actually result in a perpetual solidification of the status quo? If so – and combined with some of the GOP’s irrational theocratic tendencies – should people actively (or passively) support keeping the Republican Party as the minority party in the near future by refusing to vote for or support its candidates?

My Answer, In Brief: If free market advocates want to change America’s political landscape, they need to forget “buying time” or “let them suffer” as political strategies. Instead, we need to work on changing the terms of the debate, so that rights and free markets are part of the discussion.

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Question 2: Avoiding Regret over Having Children (41:18)

In this segment, I answered a question on avoiding regret over having children.

What should prospective parents do to ensure they won’t regret having children? In your 10 March 2013 show, you discussed what parents should do if they regret having children. But what can potential parents do to ensure that won’t happen? How can a person know what being a parent is like – for better or worse – before actually becoming a parent? Is a rational decision on this issue possible?

My Answer, In Brief: People can and should make rational decisions in advance about whether to have kids or not. To do that, they need to gather data about life as a parent, identify their purpose and develop a plan, and be realistic about the demands of parenting.

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

Rapid Fire Questions (59:02)

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

  • I imagine that most of running Philosophy in Action is very fun and rewarding. But what is one task or aspect of it that you dislike?
  • How does one respond to people who use the very annoying phrase “don’t judge” when they actually mean “be socially tolerant”?
  • What is the self? Is it one’s mind or reason?

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

Conclusion (1:07:58)

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!

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Feb 142014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on moral saints, inventing stories about yourself, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Moral Saints, Inventing Stories, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: We’ve been enduring a major ice storm and its aftermath in Aiken, South Carolina. We lost power on Wednesday morning, and so we have no water, no heat, and no electric. We’re camping out, relying on the generator periodically to heat the apartment and charge our devices. We’ve not ridden for three days, but our lessons resume tomorrow. Also, regular pricing ends for SnowCon 2014 on February 16th. Be sure to check out the six lectures just announced!

Question 1: Moral Saints (4:49)

In this segment, I answered a question on moral saints.

Should a person want to be a “moral saint”? In her classic article “Moral Saints,” Susan Wolf argues that a person should not wish to be morally perfect, i.e. a moral saint. What is her basic argument? What’s right or wrong about it? Does it apply to rational egoism?

My Answer, In Brief: In Susan Wolf’s fascinating article “Moral Saints,” a moral saint is a model of perfect altruism. Wolf persuasively argues that the lives of such people are “too good for their own good” – and ultimately, literally selfless.

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Question 2: Inventing Stories about Yourself (26:23)

In this segment, I answered a question on inventing stories about yourself.

Is it wrong to invent stories about yourself to tell to strangers? In the past, I’ve made up stories about myself (basically assuming a character) and told them to strangers on the bus or in an airport. When I mentioned this to my spouse, I hadn’t really thought of this as lying until I saw his horrified reaction. Do you think this is wrong? If so, why? Would it be acceptable in some contexts, such as for an acting class?

My Answer, In Brief: To entertain yourself by lying to strangers about yourself is not moral: you’re treating another person with contempt without any just cause. Moreover, you risk incurring the justified wrath and distrust of those people, as well as others.

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

Rapid Fire Questions (43:56)

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

  • Do you know ways to measure and improve your “focus”?
  • Are tears of happiness really a sign of the malevolent universe premise? It seems to me that tears are just a way of releasing strong emotion, whether positive or negative.
  • What is the difference between truth and fact?
  • Who are your biggest heroes?

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

Conclusion (1:04:50)

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!

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Feb 072014
 

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on feeling unproductive, the value of horror movies, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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

Podcast: Feeling Unproductive, Horror Movies, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been very busy training horses in Aiken, South Carolina, including a jumping lesson today with Olympian Will Coleman. Remember, live broadcasts will be on Thursday evenings for the rest of February!

Question 1: Feeling Unproductive (4:29)

In this segment, I answered a question on feeling unproductive.

How can I overcome feeling like a slacker? I am a very productive person, with multiple projects going on simultaneously, both personal and professional. Generally, I handle juggling things pretty well, and accomplish quite a bit. I can usually attain most of my goals, and I like that about myself. (I’m also a pretty ambitious person so I have many big goals.) However, I also often feel like a complete slacker. I can see all of the things I accomplish, but I often feel like I could be doing more – one more thing, one more project. Sometimes, when I look at the things I’ve accomplished, all I can see are the things I wasn’t able to do and it can be easy to feel defeated and negative about that. How can I reconcile the gap here? How can I get better at feeling the sense of accomplishment I think I should – and deserve – to feel? Do you have any ideas for getting rid of this mantle of slackerness I’ve saddled myself with – unfairly, I think? I’ve been making some changes that have helped, such as writing down my accomplishments each day, but I’m looking for more ideas.

My Answer, In Brief: If you’re the kind of person who unjustly thinks himself a slacker, you should (1) arm yourself with the facts by collecting data, (2) be realistic about what you can reasonably do, (3) introspect and monitor yourself to find ways to be more efficient, (4) beware of overcommitment, and (5) be kind to yourself!

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Question 2: The Value of Horror Movies (36:32)

In this segment, I answered a question on the value of horror movies.

Do horror movies or books have any redeeming value? In The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand argued that horror was the worst genre of art, “belonging more to psychopathology than to esthetics.” Is that right? Might a rational person find some value in a horror film or book? Don’t some horror movies have heroic characters – such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator?

My Answer, In Brief: Horror movies aim to arouse intense feelings of fear via unknown and unmanageable dangers. Many are malevolent and unbounded, but not all. Some people might enjoy them to experience and overcome fear, or simply as a background for good plot and characters.

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

Rapid Fire Questions (53:45)

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

  • What would you say to the idea that the desire to pray is a form of obsessive compulsive syndrome? So, a person basically thinks, “I must do this irrational thing x (in this case praying) otherwise I will see bad consequence y.”
  • Is it a sign of collectivism that people use words like “we” when talking about history to refer to their racial or national ancestors? (e.g. “We really helped out the French in World War I.”)
  • Is it a breach of a child’s privacy for a parent to disclose their names on social media? What is the best way to go about protecting a child’s future interests while having a life on social media?

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

Conclusion (1:01:36)

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!

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On Tuesday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on thinking of virtues as duties, overcoming paralyzing indecision, sharia finance, 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: Virtues as Duties, Indecision, Sharia Finance, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I enjoyed a great time skiing with friends in bad conditions in Tahoe last week, and now I’m frantically making last-minute preparations for Aiken. Remember, the live broadcasts will be on Thursday evenings for the whole of February.

Question 1: Thinking of Virtues as Duties (3:36)

In this segment, I answered a question on thinking of virtues as duties.

What’s wrong with thinking about the virtues as duties? My parents taught me ethics in terms of “duties.” So being honest and just was a duty, along with “sharing” and “selflessness.” They were simply “the right way to be,” period. Now, I tend to think of the Objectivist virtues – rationality, productiveness, honesty, justice, independence, integrity, and pride – as duties. I have a duty to myself to act in these ways. Is that right or is that a mistake?

My Answer, In Brief: A person who thinks of virtue as duties – as obligations, come what may, disconnected from his life and values – invites serious emotional and cognitive problems.

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

Question 2: Overcoming Paralyzing Indecision (15:46)

In this segment, I answered a question on overcoming paralyzing indecision.

How can I overcome my paralyzing indecision? I am caught amid some difficult circumstances at present. To make matters worse, I suffer from almost paralyzing indecision about major life decisions, especially with respect to my career. As a result of my failure to act decisively, I have stagnated painfully for years, missing many opportunities. How can I break out of this horrible pattern?

My Answer, In Brief: Paralyzing indecision is a serious problem. You can do various things to help yourself overcome that – such as setting deadlines, practicing being decisive, and considering the consequences of failing to make decisions. But if your problem is interfering with your life, you should see a therapist.

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

Question 3: Sharia Finance (37:17)

In this segment, I answered a question on sharia finance.

Should financial companies be permitted to offer financial products consistent with sharia law? Sharia Finance – meaning, investments that specifically conform with Islamic law – are growing in popularity and have been adopted by major financial companies like Citi. Should these private businesses be legally permitted to offer whatever their clients want to buy? Or should these investments be banned due to their connection with funding terror, oppressing women, and violating rights in other ways? Morally, should companies offer these investments? Should people protest or boycott companies offering them?

My Answer, In Brief: Sharia finance is economically backwards, but not a violation of rights. Companies should be allowed to offer it – and it’s moral for them to do so or refuse, as they see fit.

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

Rapid Fire Questions (47:01)

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

  • What bedtime stories would you recommend for children?
  • What explains the early Church Fathers’ denunciations of human sexuality? Is it altruism, misogyny, or something else?
  • After recently experiencing a loss, I feel as though grief is the most selfish of all emotions. Is this true? Are some emotions more selfish than others?
  • Is it moral to avoid marriage simply to gain financial aid while in college?
  • Would you recommend Stephen Molyneux’s videos?
  • If morality is not primarily social, and flourishing can be achieved on one’s own, could a flourishing person be morally condemned if they are also a hermit?
  • Would it be wrong for a person to murder a serial killer who framed him for his own murders, and thereby ruined his life completely?
  • What are the ground rules for getting intimate with pets around? How close can they be before it’s creepy?

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

Conclusion (1:01:38)

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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