On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on cultivating powers of self-control, lying for the sake of a happy surprise, people too young to raise children, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 23 June 2013

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Podcast Segments: 23 June 2013

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


My News of the Week: I’ve been busy working, including closing down the OLists. Also, I’ll be playing hookie from Philosophy in Action on August 11th for a one-day three-phase event on Lila! Also, my dear friend Tom sent me the most fabulous present of eight large cans of Costco’s Mauna Loa macadamias, with a card that said, in part, “your podcast helps keep me hopeful for the future.”

Question 1: Cultivating Powers of Self-Control

Question: Should a person cultivate his powers of self-control? What is self-control? Is strong capacity for self-control of value? Does self-control have a downside or limits? How can a person develop more self-control?

My Answer, In Brief: Even a virtuous person must exercise self-control in order to do right sometimes. A person should cultivate a capacity for self-control and deploy that selectively as needed.

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

Question 2: Lying for the Sake of a Happy Surprise

Question: Is it ever okay to tell a lie as part of a happy surprise for someone else? This question is from Ryan (age 11) and Morgan (age 8). We bought birthday presents for our brother Sean, and we had to sneak them into the house. We didn’t want Sean to know what we were doing. At first, we thought we should make up a story about why we were going back and forth to the car. Morgan thought she should tell Sean she was going outside to swing. But then we talked about how that would be a lie and she decided to go out and actually swing before bringing her present inside, that way there was no lying involved. Should we have told the lie to Sean? Is it okay to tell a lie as part of doing something nice for someone?

My Answer, In Brief: It’s hugely important to be honest in our relations with other people, but some lying is justified to pull off a surprise party for a person who would enjoy it. Beware telling mere technical truths, however, as they’re often more dishonest than outright lies.

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

Question 3: People Too Young to Raise Children

Question: What’s the rationale for declaring some physically mature people too young to have children? Given that nature has dictated that both male and female humans can procreate in their early teens and given that morality is deduced from reality, why would sex and procreation at that young age be immoral? Isn’t that what nature intended? More generally, is there a rational basis for moral judgments about the proper age of procreation? Or is it purely subjective?

My Answer, In Brief: The question is fundamentally flawed: it’s rationalistic and context-dropping. The simple fact is that a person must be self-sufficient (and much more) to parent a child decently. Minor teens do not qualify, not by any stretch of the imagination.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • You have said that you have a theory of cooties. Can you elaborate?
  • Are there philosophies besides Objectivism that even have a meta-ethics?
  • Star Trek or Star Wars? Which is better?
  • Should a person still learning about, integrating, testing, and putting into practice the principles of Objectivism call himself an Objectivist?

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  • Start Time: 55:01
  • Duration: 6:42
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.


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: 1:01:44

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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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