In my live Philosophy in Action Webcast on Sunday morning, I’ll answer questions on giving the benefit of the doubt, requests for prayers, selling yourself into slavery, the depth of Ayn Rand’s fictional characters, and more. Please join us for this hour of lively discussion, where we apply rational principles to the challenges of living virtuous, happy, and free lives!
- What: Live Philosophy in Action Webcast
- Who: Diana Hsieh (Ph.D, Philosophy) and Greg Perkins
- When: Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET
- Where: www.PhilosophyInAction.com/live
Here are the questions that I’ll answer this week:
- Question 1: Giving the Benefit of the Doubt: When should we give another person “the benefit of the doubt”? Often, people say that public figures facing some scandal should be given “the benefit of the doubt”? What does that mean in theory and in practice? When ought people give the benefit of the doubt? Is doing so a matter of generosity or justice?
- Question 2: Requests for Prayers: What is the proper response to requests for prayers? A relative of mine recently had surgery to have his appendix removed. I was asked by another relative to pray for the first relative, even though everyone in my family knows that I don’t believe in God or the power of prayer. I tried to let it slide during the conversation, but she was insistent. How should I respond to such requests for prayers, particularly when I don’t want to offend anyone or seem unconcerned?
- Question 3: Selling Yourself into Slavery: Why can’t a person sell himself into slavery? People often decry indentured servitude, whereby people paid for their travel to America with several years of service. But this seems like a perfectly sound trade given certain assumptions about the terms of that service, e.g. you can’t starve or abuse the servant. Is that right? If so, why can’t a person sell himself into slavery? For instance, suppose that my family is poor, so I arrange with someone to give my family money in exchange for me becoming their slave, i.e. literally becoming their property. Is that possible? Should the law forbid that?
- Question 4: The Depth of Ayn Rand’s Fictional Characters: Are the characters in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged flat due to philosophic consistency? I’m reading Atlas Shrugged currently, and rather enjoying it. However, I’ve heard many people claim her characters are ‘flat’, ‘one-dimensional’ etc. I usually respond to this by saying that Ayn Rand’s characters are the incarnation of her ideas, the physical embodiment of her ideas: an individual is consumed with this philosophy, so much so that they are entirely logically consistent (or at least as much as humanly possible, they are human, and do make mistakes, e.g. Rearden’s marriage), thus, because of their abnormally extensive logical consistency within their philosophy, these characters merely appear to be ‘one-dimensional’. Is this an accurate understanding of Rand’s characters?
After that, we’ll do a round of totally impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”
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I hope to see you on Sunday morning!