On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on common sense versus rationality, jealousy over love lost, applying philosophy to new domains, marital infidelity in the military, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 7 July 2013

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Podcast Segments: 7 July 2013

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


My News of the Week: I closed the OLists. That was long overdue, but also bittersweet. Lately, I’ve been moving the podcast archive from Podbean to Libsyn. That’s been a huge amount of work preparing and uploading files, but the much-improved statistics and reliability of downloads will be worth that effort. (Alas, the move is expensive, but you can support that move with a contribution to the tip jar.) My next major improvement for Philosophy in Action is likely to be writing my own script for the Question Queue.

Question 1: Common Sense Versus Rationality

Question: Is “common sense” a form of rationality? Wikipedia defines “common sense” as “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.” Is that a form of rationality? What’s the value of such common sense? Should a rational person rely on common sense in moral decision-making?

My Answer, In Brief: Common sense is not an expression or type of rationality. It’s relative to a culture – meaning that it’s value depends on the rationality of that culture.

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

Question 2: Jealousy over Love Lost

Question: Was Francisco’s lack of jealousy in Atlas Shrugged rational or realistic? In Part 3, Chapter 2 of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Francisco tells Dagny, “…No matter what you feel for [Hank Rearden], it will not change what you feel for me, and it won’t be treason to either, because it comes from the same root, it’s the same payment in answer to the same values…” Is that a rational and realistic response? Given their love for Dagny, shouldn’t Francisco and Hank have been more disappointed in their loss of Dagny to John Galt, and perhaps even jealous of him? Is a person wrong to feel bitter disappointment or jealousy over a lost love?

My Answer, In Brief: Hank Rearden and Francisco d’Anconia were not automatically or easily accepting of Dagny Taggart’s choice of John Galt. They had to endure painful feelings of loss, then come to a rational acceptance. That’s possible and realistic – and it’s the self-interested course too.

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

Question 3: Applying Philosophy to New Domains

Question: Can rational philosophic principles solve problems in philosophy and other disciplines? Many advocates of Ayn Rand’s philosophy hope to see its principles applied to solve philosophy’s tough problems, such as the mind-body relation and the validity of induction. Moreover, they hope to apply the philosophy to other disciplines, such as psychology and education, to advance those fields. Is that possible? If so, what might be a fruitful method of approach? What might be some likely pitfalls?

My Answer, In Brief: To speak in terms of “application” of philosophy to solve new problems is deeply misleading. Any interesting, innovative, substantive intellectual work must be based on, informed by, and integrated with already-known rational principles – not merely “derived” or “deduced” from them.

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

Question 4: Marital Infidelity in the Military

Question: Should the military ban marital infidelity? On your June 2nd, 2013 radio show, you explained why marital infidelity should not be illegal. I agree with you, but I wonder about other contexts. Might some government groups legitimately ban and even criminalize infidelity for its members? According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, infidelity is against the law for military members. Might that be proper, particularly given that we have a volunteer army? More generally, might the military want to enforce strict rules of moral conduct on their members, even for seemingly private matters?

My Answer, In Brief: The military does not have a blanket ban on adultery, which would be irrational and counterproductive. Instead, the rule requires that such negative impact the military in some fashion. That’s reasonable in theory, although the practice may leave something to be desired.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Regarding the third question, do you mean that one must apply Ayn Rand’s inductive approach to check Objectivist conclusions on things like ethics and human sexuality, or can even rational epistemology be rethought and re-examined?
  • What skills and qualities, in short, does it take to be a great programmer? Is it more like math or just plain logic to make code do things you want it to do? What factors should one consider if one wants to write code?
  • Who is the better man? Howard Roark or John Galt? Who would you rather spend a day or evening with?
  • If Dexter Morgan was your brother, and you just discovered he was a serial killer, what would you do next?
  • Would you prefer to live in a world of deeply corrupt morality, but with modern technology, coasting on a past rational era, or a completely undeveloped frontier with rational people?

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  • Start Time: 52:04
  • Duration: 16:55
  • 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: 1:09:00

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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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