Preview: Philosophy in Action Webcast

 Posted by on 29 February 2012 at 2:00 pm  Announcements
Feb 292012
 

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.”

If you can’t attend the live webcast, you can listen to these webcasts later as audio-only podcasts by subscribing to the NoodleCast RSS feed:

Be sure to connect with us on social media too.

You can listen to full episodes or just selected questions from any past episode in the Webcast Archive. Also, don’t forget to submit and vote on the questions that you’d most like me to answer from the ongoing Question Queue.

I hope to see you on Sunday morning!

Video: Consent in Sex

 Posted by on 29 February 2012 at 8:00 am  Ethics, Law, Love/Sex, Politics, Videocast
Feb 292012
 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed consent in sex. The question was:

What constitutes consent in sex? Can a person give tacit consent by his or her actions? Is explicit consent required for some sex acts? Once consent has been given, when and how can a person withdraw that consent? Does the legal perspective on these questions differ from the moral perspective?

My answer, in brief:

To consent to sex requires communicating a willingness engaging in the act, whether by word or deed. Consent can be withdrawn at any point, and for the other person to ignore that constitutes sexual assault.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

Warning: This video is loooong at 42 minutes. (It’s a new record for me!)

If you enjoy the video, please “like” it on YouTube and share it with friends via social media, forums, and e-mail! You can also throw a bit of extra love in our tip jar.

Join the next Philosophy in Action Webcast on Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET at www.PhilosophyInAction.com/live.

In the meantime, Connect with Us via social media, e-mail, RSS feeds, and more. Check out the Webcast Archives, where you can listen to the full webcast or just selected questions from any past episode, and our my YouTube channel. And go to the Question Queue to submit and vote on questions for upcoming webcast episodes.

 

I’m delighted to announce that SnowCon 2012 — March 15th to 18th in Frisco, Colorado — will feature a full slate of fabulous lectures and discussions by our local Front Range Objectivism talent!

To attend SnowCon, you must register by Sunday, March 11th, using this form. (If you can register sooner, please do so!)

Thursday Evening

“Four Questions for Philosophy in Action” by Diana Hsieh

On Sunday morning, Diana Hsieh will answer four questions on practical philosophy in her live Philosophy in Action Webcast. Here, we will answer those questions in informal and friendly discussion — not merely to better understand the particular topics but also to clarify ways to think through such problems in a principled way while respecting differences in context and values.

Diana Hsieh received her PhD in philosophy from the University of Colorado in 2009. Every Sunday morning, she answers questions on the application of rational philosophic principles to the challenges of living a happy and virtuous life in her live Philosophy In Action Webcast.

Friday Evening

“Our Secular Constitution” by Hannah Krening

This short presentation considers the Constitution’s provisions for the proper relationship between religion and government. Currently, we see the rise of Islam, a religion that explicitly advocates a government of Islamic law and forceful dominion over all people. How does this square with our Constitution? What lessons can Americans, as followers of various belief systems — religious or not — learn from the founders? How is the wisdom of our founders still applicable today, and what can we do to fight an American theocracy, whether Islamic or of any other religion? (This talk is based on the book The Godless Constitution by Isaac Kramnick and R Lawrence Moore.)

Hannah Krening is a classical pianist and private teacher. She lives with her husband in Larkspur, Colorado and is active in Front Range Objectivism. Though she is not an expert on the Constitution, it is an area of interest to her, especially in light of the current cultural understanding of the Constitution on separation of Church and State.

“The Mortal Flaw in the U.S. Constitution, It Isn’t What You Think and It Can Be Healed” by Stephen Bailey

Ayn Rand highlighted the omission of the separation of state and economy as a serious flaw in the U.S. Constitution, when Judge Narragansett in Atlas Shrugged penned his addition to the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade.” Although the importance of separating the state from the economy is obvious for any Objectivist, can anyone honestly conclude that we would not be teetering on the edge of pure socialism, if not absolute tyranny, had Madison and the Founding Fathers included that amendment in the Bill of Rights? Today, various groups advocate for constitutional amendments ranging from the reasonable — balanced budget — to the bizarrely irrelevant — protecting the reference to God in the pledge of allegiance — to the tyrannical — overthrowing the Citizens United ruling which protects freedom of speech. All of these proposed amendments, including the reasonable, are a waste of time unless the fundamental flaw is fixed. The conceptual remedy to this flaw is implicit within the Constitution and its guiding light, the Declaration of Independence. The case will be made for a proposed amendment to the Constitution making explicit what is argued by some as an implicit check on power and innovates its application to make it effective. Most importantly, adoption of the proposed amendment would heal our Constitution and peaceably restore our liberty, if the U.S. remains worthy of saving. It is indispensable to the constitution of any free society.

Stephen Bailey was the Republican candidate to represent Colorado’s 2nd congressional district in 2010. Since November of 2010, Stephen has been analyzing the U.S. Constitution, contemplating its flaws and searching for a path to a restoration of individual rights and personal liberty.

Saturday Evening

“The Final Abolitionist Frontier” by Anders Ingemarson

The 19th century abolitionist movement resulted in the emancipation of slaves. 150 years later, have we reached the final abolitionist frontier, the emancipation of the individual from the collective? In this talk, Anders Ingemarson will discuss a few similarities and differences between the events leading up to the ending of slavery and today.

Anders Ingemarson is an American by choice living in Denver with his wife Maria and Mitsie, the cat. He is a systems analyst by profession and individual rights activist in his spare time.

“Maintaining Rational Optimism” by Paul Hsieh

Given the state of current American culture and politics, it’s very easy to become pessimistic about the future. What are some methods we can adopt to maintain rational optimism, without falling into either error of undue pessimism or of wishful Pollyannaism? Given the current cultural/political context, how can we best preserve our long-term emotional health and maintain “the courage to face a lifetime”? Participants will be encouraged to share their own personal strategies and techniques, so that we can all incorporate the best of each others’ ideas into our own lives.

Paul Hsieh has engaged in personal activism on health care and other issues for many years, in large part as a method of maintaining his rational optimism.

“The Meaning of ‘Life’” by Ari Armstrong

For many years I was confused about Rand’s claim that “an organism’s life is its standard of value.” How, I wondered, does that fit with end-of-life suicide, risking one’s life for loved ones (as John Galt does), or even spending resources to have children? I tentatively propose that the answer lies in properly understanding the meaning of one’s “life.” One lives life not as an abstraction, but as a particular living entity with a particular nature and a unique genetic inheritance and history. I think the key to understanding the meaning of “life” is to look at the chronological (and logical) progression from valuing things as a child to developing rational moral principles. Thus, while “The Objectivist Ethics” offers a highly condensed and abstract presentation of Rand’s ethics, here I’ll attempt to follow the inductive path that allowed her to reach her conclusions (drawing in some modern findings of biology along the way). Rather than offer definitive conclusions — which I do not yet have — my goal is to generate discussion and solicit feedback in the hopes of further pursuing this line of thinking in the future.

Ari Armstrong publishes FreeColorado.com, coauthors a column for Grand Junction Free Press, and contributes to The Objective Standard. He is also the author of Values of Harry Potter. Ari won the Modern Day Sam Adams award in 2009, and he was a finalist in the 2011 Hoiles Prize for regional journalism.

Sheep Cyclone

 Posted by on 27 February 2012 at 2:00 pm  Animals, Funny
Feb 272012
 

Oh my, it’s a sheep cyclone:


Sheep aren’t known for their great intelligence, but just following the tail of the sheep in front of you around and around seems to require something special in the stupidity department!

NoodleCast #119: Live Philosophy in Action Webcast

 Posted by on 27 February 2012 at 8:00 am  NoodleCast
Feb 272012
 

On Sunday, 26 February 2012, I broadcast a new episode of my live Philosophy in Action Webcast, where I answer questions on the application of rational principles to the challenges of living a virtuous, happy, and free life in a live, hour-long webcast. The webcast is broadcast live every Sunday morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. In the webcast, I broadcast on video, Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers is on audio, and the audience is in a text chat.

As usual, if you can’t attend the live webcast, you can listen to it later as audio-only podcast by subscribing to the NoodleCast RSS Feed:

You can also peruse the archives, listening to whole episodes or just individual questions. The archives are sorted by date and by topic.

We hope that you’ll join the live webcast, because that’s more lively and engaging than the podcast. People talk merrily in the text chat while watching the webcast. Greg and I enjoy the immediate feedback of a live audience – the funny quips, serious comments, and follow-up questions. So please join the live webcast when you can!

The Podcast: Episode: 26 February 2012

Listen Now

    Duration: 1:15:06

Download the Episode

Subscribe to the Feed

The Segments: Episode: 26 February 2012

The following segments are marked as chapters in the M4A version of the podcast. Thanks to Tammy Perkins for helping compile the show notes!

Introduction (0:00)

This week, Trey was visiting, but mostly I’ve ben sick. I’m also working on moving NoodleFood to Philosophy in Action – and from Blogger to WordPress.

Question 1: Consent in Sex (3:39)

What constitutes consent in sex? Can a person give tacit consent by his or her actions? Is explicit consent required for some sex acts? Once consent has been given, when and how can a person withdraw that consent? Does the legal perspective on these questions differ from the moral perspective?

My Answer, In Brief: To consent to sex requires communicating a willingness engaging in the act, whether by word or deed. Consent can be withdrawn at any point, and for the other person to ignore that constitutes sexual assault.

Links:

 

  • Law Prof on the Loose: Rape Law by Jon Siegel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question 2: Terminating Online Versus In-Person Acquaintances (45:34)

What’s the proper threshold for cutting off a digital versus in-person acquaintance? Morally, when it is wrong to end your friendly interactions with an in-person acquaintance? And when is it wrong not to do so? Does the answer differ for a digital acquaintance – meaning, for example, someone that you know only via Facebook?

My Answer, In Brief: No hard and fast rules can apply here, simply because the nature of online and in-person relationships varies so much. However, every person ought to make sure that his relationships, whether primarily online, in-person, or a mixture of both, serve his purposes well.

Links:

Question 3: Compensating the Victims of Your Negligence (51:48)

What should you do for a person that you injured in a car accident that was your fault? Does a person have moral obligations – over and above any legal obligations – to the victim, since the accident was due to your own carelessness or mistake?

My Answer, In Brief: If you’ve harmed someone by your negligence, your moral and legal obligation is to make them whole by compensating them for the harm you’ve caused.

Question 4: The Meaning of Faith (54:44)

Is it wrong to use “faith” to mean “trust and confidence in a person”? Some people talk about having “faith” in their friends or in themselves – and by that, they mean that they trust and have confidence in those people. Is it wrong to use “faith” in that way? In other words, blind faith is wrong, but is all faith blind faith?

My Answer, In Brief: The term “faith,” when used to refer to trust or confidence in a person, suggests that such is not justified or warranted based on facts. That’s why I avoid the term, and I suggest that others do the same. However, a person is not corrupt for using it.

Rapid Fire Questions (1:07:59)

In this segment, I answered a variety of questions off-the-cuff. The questions were:

    • Is a person rationally considered “male” or “female” based upon: (a) their genitals or other anatomical parts of their body which are involved in sexual reproduction, or (b) or their emotional and psychological wishes to be a man or a woman?Should states have referendums on gay marriage?

 

  • Has social media or technology changed how people engage each other for sex?

 

 

  • Has social media or technology changed how people engage each other for sex?

 

 

  • Should states have referendums on gay marriage?

 

Conclusion (1:13:59)

Comments or questions? Contact us!

 

 

Support the Webcast

The Philosophy in Action Webcast is available to anyone, free of charge. We love doing it, but it’s not free for us to produce: it requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value what we’re doing, please contribute to the webcast’s tip jar!

If you’d like to make a one-time contribution in an amount not listed, use this link. For instructions on canceling or revising your monthly contribution, visit the support page.

Thank you, if you’ve contributed to the webcast! You make our work possible every week, and we’re so grateful for that! Also, whether you’re able to contribute financially or not, we always appreciate your helping us spread the word about this webcast to anyone you think might be interested, as well as submitting and voting on questions for upcoming webcasts.

Activism Recap

 Posted by on 26 February 2012 at 1:00 pm  Activism Recap
Feb 262012
 

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine):

This week on Politics without God, the blog of the Coalition for Secular Government:

This week on Mother of Exiles:

This week on the blog of Modern Paleo:

Open Thread #333

 Posted by on 26 February 2012 at 10:00 am  Open Thread
Feb 262012
 

Nature

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with other NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

NoodleFood’s Open Threads feature creative commons photographs from Flickr that I find interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!

 

This is really good news: Colorado Supreme Court upholds “magic words” test for political spending by 527s. That sounds strange, but here’s what it means:

Handing political organizations known as 527s a big victory heading into the 2012 election, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the groups should not be limited in how much money they may accept from donors if their political advertisements don’t include so-called magic words such as “vote for” or “elect.”

Ads that simply state a candidate’s position on an issue or that include flattering — or not-so flattering — things about a candidate but don’t include the “magic words” established in an earlier U.S. Supreme Court ruling are considered free speech, the unanimous court found.

Attorney Mario Nicolais, who argued before the court on behalf of the Senate Majority Fund and the Colorado Leadership Fund, called the case “a complete victory for the defendants and free speech.”

This seems to be a really great ruling for free speech in Colorado’s elections! I loved this quote from “attorney Jason Dunn, who represents the Colorado Leadership Fund”:

“Voters clearly wanted a bright line as to when expressing their opinion about issues of the day crosses into regulated political speech. To do otherwise would chill political speech, resulting in everyday citizens being unable to know when simply expressing their opinion on issues of the day becomes regulated speech subject to the complex world of campaign-finance law and its penalties for any misstep.”

So true!

You can read the whole story here.

Feb 242012
 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed judging religions as better and worse. The question was:

Are some religions better than others? Do certain religions encourage rationality more than others? Do some promote better moral systems than others? I am curious both about different forms of Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, Unitarian, Mormon, etc.), as well as other religions (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Baha’i, etc.). Should rational atheists respect followers of certain religions more than others?

My answer, in brief:

Religions are better or worse in their core doctrines and in their effects on a culture. However, due to the complexity of religions – not merely as ideologies but also as a cultural movements – they can’t be easily judged as better or worse. Also, just because a person claims to be an adherent of a given religion doesn’t tell much about what he believes or practices, nor whether they are honest.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

If you enjoy the video, please “like” it on YouTube and share it with friends via social media, forums, and e-mail! You can also throw a bit of extra love in our tip jar.

Join the next Philosophy in Action Webcast on Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET at www.PhilosophyInAction.com/live.

In the meantime, Connect with Us via social media, e-mail, RSS feeds, and more. Check out the Webcast Archives, where you can listen to the full webcast or just selected questions from any past episode, and our my YouTube channel. And go to the Question Queue to submit and vote on questions for upcoming webcast episodes.

Objectivist Roundup

 Posted by on 23 February 2012 at 3:00 pm  Objectivist Roundup
Feb 232012
 

The Objectivist Roundup is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

Rational Jenn hosted this week’s Objectivist Roundup. Go take a look!

You can submit your blog article to the next edition of The Objectivist Roundup using this submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found here. If you’re an Objectivist blogger, you can get weekly reminders to submit to the carnival by subscribing to OBloggers @ OList.com.

Also, here are the ten most recent additions to the question queue for the Philosophy in Action Webcast. Please vote for the questions that you’re most interested in hearing me answer!

Join us for the live webcast at www.PhilosophyInAaction.com on Sundays at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. In the meantime, check out the show’s extensive archives by topic, peruse the upcoming question queue, and submit your own questions.

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