On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the meaning of life as the standard of value, broken relationships, the morality of an armed society, the sex scandals of politicians, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 16 June 2013

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Podcast Segments: 16 June 2013

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: I’ve been extracting myself from WTFery, and Greg and Tammy did the amazingly hard GORUCK Challenge.

Question 1: The Meaning of Life as the Standard of Value

Question: What does it mean to say that life is the standard of value? In “The Objectivist Ethics,” Ayn Rand says that man’s life is the standard of value. What does that mean? Does that mean 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?

My Answer, In Brief: While survival and flourishing can be distinguished conceptually, in reality, they are one and the same. Survival in the long term requires flourishing.

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

Question 2: Broken Relationships

Question: When is a relationship broken beyond repair? Relationships can be severely strained, fraught with anger and frustration, and perhaps put on ice for weeks or months or years. Yet in the end, the two people can often reconcile in some way, so that they can enjoy a genuine (even if not deep) relationship again. In some cases, however, that’s not possible. Why not? In such cases, must the problem be that one person (or both people) continue to behave badly? Or might reconciliation be impossible between two good people? If so, why?

My Answer, In Brief: A relationship is permanently broken when your trust in the person’s rationality, decency, and goodwill has been destroyed. If that trust has merely been damaged, that might be repaired — but be careful.

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

Question 3: The Morality of an Armed Society

Question: Is an armed society a polite society – or a violent society? Author Robert Heinlein famously said that “An armed society is a polite society.” Many liberals, however, fear an armed society as barbaric and violent. Is widespread ownership and/or carry of arms a positive or a negative feature of a society?

My Answer, In Brief: An armed society may be a polite society — or not. Firearms are mere tools, and they take on the moral qualities of the people wielding them. They cannot make thugs in to decent people, nor decent people into thugs.

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

Question 4: The Sex Scandals of Politicians

Question: Should we stop caring about the sex lives of politicians? In response to the affair and resignation of David Petraeus, many argued that such sex scandals are the absurd consequence of American puritanism. These people claim that sex is easily compartmentalized in a person’s life, such that sexual fidelity has no bearing on a person’s intelligence, character, or suitability for public office. Is that right?

My Answer, In Brief: So long as politicians wield enormous power over our lives and display their marriages as evidence of their good character, people are entitled to judge them for any revelations of marital infidelity. That’s because a politician’s cheating on his or her spouse raises serious doubts about his moral character, invites blackmail, and risks security leaks.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • What do you think about the NSA “snooping” scandal?

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  • Start Time: 1:01:52
  • Duration: 6:18
  • 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: 1:08:11


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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