New Questions in the Queue

 Posted by on 24 April 2013 at 8:00 am  Question Queue
Apr 242013
 

As you know, on Sunday morning’s Philosophy in Action Radio, I answer four questions chosen in advance from the Question Queue. Here are the most recent additions to that queue. Please vote for the ones that you’re most interested in hearing me answer! You can also review and vote on all pending questions sorted by date or sorted by popularity.

Also, I’m perfectly willing to be bribed to answer a question of particular interest to you pronto. So if you’re a regular contributor to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar, I can answer your desired question as soon as possible. The question must already be in the queue, so if you’ve not done so already, please submit it. Then just e-mail me at diana@philosophyinaction.com to make your request.

Now, without further ado, the most recent questions added to The Queue:

Should marital infidelity be illegal?

Many states, including Colorado, have laws against marital infidelity on the books. These laws are rarely if ever enforced. Politicians often attempt to repeal them, but those attempts are often unsuccessful. Many people think that the government ought to “take a moral stand” even if the law isn’t enforced. Does that view have any merit? Should these laws be repealed? Why or why not?

Do unfit parents have a right to procreate?

Courts today seem to hold the view that people have a right to procreate. As a result, wholly unfit parents can produce child after child. Even if the court removes the latest child from the home when very young, some abuse or neglect must have already occurred. In fact, the child might have health problems at birth due to drug abuse, alcohol consumption, or lack of proper medical care by the mother during pregnancy. Does the current system respect the rights of unfit parents at the expense of their kids? Instead, should unfit parents be required to adopt any new children produced? Should serial abusers be forced to take birth control or even sterilized?

Can the consistent practice of wrong ideas lead to mental illness?

Often, the most consistent practitioners of an ideology – such as Nazism or Islam – seem to become increasingly unhinged over time. Does being fully consistent in a completely fantasy-based ideology require a person to become loony? Are such people then not responsible for what they say or do?

Is a moral career in law enforcement possible today?

Today, anyone involved in law enforcement would likely be required to enforce immoral laws, such as those against drug use, prostitution, and failure to pay taxes. Given that, can a career in law enforcement be moral?

When should a person declare his love for another?

What is an appropriate amount of time to wait before saying “I love you” in a new relationship? New relationships often start out strong, but then the feelings of eros dissipate after a few months. When you meet someone who you share the same values and ideals (and you are super-attracted to him or her) when should you say those three little words?

When should exceptions to established rules be granted?

People often oppose some proposed exception to the rules on the grounds that doing so would set a dangerous precedent and engender abuse. For example, suppose that an honest and diligent student is in the hospital, and he wants to keep up with his school work as much as possible. His parents propose that he take his math exam from the hospital, and they’ll monitor him during the exam. The school refuses on the grounds that if all students were allowed to do that, then cheating would be rampant because not all parents would be honest or diligent monitors. Is that a valid reason for refusing this proposed exception to the rules? When should exceptions be granted to established rules?

Is it wrong to invest in crony businesses?

Crony companies – similar to Orren Boyle’s Associated Steel in “Atlas Shrugged” – seek government favors, such as subsidies for themselves and controls on competitors. Yet their stock may perform well in the short to medium term. Is it immoral to invest in such companies?

How should I respond to friends who fanatically hate President Obama?

As a free-market advocate, I’m distressed about President Obama’s policies. However, I’m increasingly worried about some of my friends in the free-market movement exhibiting an alarming level of hatred for President Obama. I have seen my friends latch on to every “juicy”-sounding accusation against the President, which they spread all over Facebook, such as spurious claims that the administration violently threatened Bob Woodward, or that the President conspires to grant himself a third term. I think a reasonable discourse on Obama’s faults is necessary, but the conspiracy theories and outright hatred cloud people’s judgments. I want to ask my pro-free-market, Obama-hating friends that they not bring up their dubious accusations in conversation, but I don’t know how to do that without offending them. Is there a solution to this dilemma?

Should a person who does not wish to live be forcibly prevented from committing suicide?

John doesn’t like living. He finds no joy in life, and only lives because it would upset other people if he ended his life. He has tried counseling and medication, but he simply has no desire to continue to live. He makes no real contribution to society, nor does he wish to be a part of society. If John wants to die, he can, but the state will attempt to stop him at every turn, even to the point of incarceration. Is there a point when the law (and other people) should simply respect his wishes and allow him to end his life – or perhaps even assist him in doing so?

Am I obliged to help a friend in trouble due to her own poor choices?

I have a friend who is emotionally draining to me, and she is especially “down on her luck” this month. However, her situation is a direct result of especially poor personal choices over the last year, and there is no good path to get her out of the hole of poverty and depression. We don’t have much in common other than similar-aged kids, and active participation in a local moms’ group, but because I have come to her aid in the past, I feel an unspoken obligation to continue. (Maybe it’s guilt or pity, or empathy?) What are my obligations in a friendship that has recently become more taxing than beneficial? I don’t dislike her, and we have many mutual friends, but I just don’t think I can muster the time, financial resources, or energy this time to help bail her out of the latest fiasco. Is it morally acceptable to refuse to help? Should I talk to her about why now – or wait until she’s less vulnerable?

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?

Is it wrong to walk away from a person who suffers from repeated medical emergencies due to their own irresponsibility?

Over a year ago, I was the tenant of a type-1 diabetic who refused to eat properly. As a result, I regularly had to call the ambulance for her, as she would allow her blood-sugar to drop to dangerous levels, such that she couldn’t think or move for herself. She never learned anything from these experiences. She never put emergency food within reach, for example. So a few days or weeks later, I would have to call the ambulance again. I believe that I was being forced – literally – to take care of her. I feared that I’d face manslaughter or other criminal charges if I left her alone in that state. Would it have been morally proper for me to leave her in that state without any advance warning? Should that be legally permissible?

Should I use a pen name for a novel to conceal my sex?

I’m an unrecognized author of a soon-to-be self-published young adult novella – my first. This novella will be published under my real name. In order to keep my interest in writing fresh, plus practice writing strong female characters, I’ve begun brainstorming a new project in the category of, shall we say, ‘women’s fiction.’ The problem is that I am male. Within the genre of women’s fiction and it’s sub-genres, the overwhelming majority of writers names are female. Therefore, if I were to publish something within this genre, my initial preference is to go with a pseudonym. On the one hand, giving a name other than my own seems dishonest – and possibly even impractical, given that my identity wouldn’t be a state secret. On the other hand, using my own name would surely impact my sales for the worse. To see a man’s name on the cover would turn off some potential buyers immediately. In these circumstances, is the use of a pen name right or wrong?

Is mere survival the standard of moral value?

In “The Objectivist Ethics,” Ayn Rand says that man’s life is the standard of value. What does that mean? Is it mere physical survival? Is it mere quantity of years – or does the quality of those years matter too? Basically, what is the difference between living and not dying?

Should disabled kids be kept out of the public eye?

Recently, a waiter at a restaurant refused to serve one party after hearing them make fun of a child with Down’s Syndrome sitting with his family in a nearby booth. Both parties were regulars to the restaurant. Some people have praised the waiter’s actions because he took offense at overhearing the first party say “special needs kids should be kept in special places.” He called them on their rudeness and refused to serve them. Others think he was wrong: his catering to the party with the disabled kid is indicative of a culture that embraces mediocrity and disability. What is the proper assessment of the remark made and the waiter’s response? Should people with disabilities be kept from public view?See: http://rt.com/usa/waiter-garcia-family-syndrome-681/

To submit a question, use this form. I prefer questions focused on some concrete real-life problem, as opposed to merely theoretical or political questions. I review and edit all questions before they’re posted. (Alas, IdeaInformer doesn’t display any kind of confirmation page when you submit a question.)

   
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