On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the reality of mental illness, the state’s role in caring for children of unfit parents, resisting illegitimate police action, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 21 April 2013

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Podcast Segments: 21 April 2013

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’m broadcasting from Tuscon today! I’ve been working on the final layout of Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, plus editing show notes from past Q&As into book form!

Question 1: The Reality of Mental Illness

Question: Is mental illness nothing more than a myth? It seems that many members of the free-market movement are enthused about the theory, promulgated by the likes of Thomas Szasz and Jeffrey A. Schaler, that there is no such thing as mental illness. They say that if one cannot pinpoint a direct physiological cause for behavior considered “mentally ill,” there are no grounds for referring to that behavior as a symptom of some “illness.” Furthermore, they argue that the concept of “mental illness” is simply a term that the social establishment uses to stigmatize nonconformist behavior of which it does not approve. Is there anything to these claims? If not, what’s the proper understanding of the basic nature of mental illness?

My Answer, In Brief: Thomas Szasz’s arguments against mental illness are based on deep-rooted philosophical subjectivism. In fact, mental health can be an objective, fact-based, normative concept.

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

Question 2: The State’s Role in Caring for Children of Unfit Parents

Question: What should the state’s role be in dealing with abused children? The state needs to remove children from homes where they’re being abused–where their rights are being violated. But what should it then do with them? Should the state care for them until it can find a new home for them? How should it provide that care? If it cannot find a new home for a child, what happens to that child? Should the state raise the child to adulthood?

My Answer, In Brief: As a matter of protecting the rights of children, the state must assume the costs of care for children if unfit parents refuse to pay, as they ought. It’s bad debt, not welfare.

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

Question 3: Resisting Illegitimate Police Action

Question: When is it moral to resist police action? Last year, the governor of Indiana signed a bill into law granting protection to citizens that resist the unlawful actions of a public servant. If a police officer enters your home without your knowledge or consent – legally or illegally – and you have no way of knowing whether he is an unlawful intruder, are you morally justified in taking violent action against him? When is it moral to forcibly resist police actions?

My Answer, In Brief: When being invaded or brutalized by the police, a person has the moral and legal right to resist, yet doing so might result in worse injury or death. To better protect innocent people, systemic changes are required of the criminal justice system.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • Between the Boston Marathon Bombing and the explosion in Texas, this week has sucked. Any thoughts?
  • What is an artists moral obligation to show reality of life, such as wars?
  • Should women serve in combat in the military?
  • What is the single most important value for securing a meaningful relationship either romantic or friendship?

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  • Start Time: 58:05
  • Duration: 8:54
  • 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: 1:06:59


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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