On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the value of a central purpose, self-confidence at work, keeping secrets for competitive advantage, hate crime laws, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 8 September 2013

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Podcast Segments: 8 September 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 busy editing my forthcoming book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame.

Question 1: The Value of a Central Purpose

Question: What is the meaning and value of a central purpose? In “The Objectivist Ethics,” Ayn Rand says that “productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values.” I find that confusing. What constitutes a central purpose? How does it function in a person’s life, particularly in relation to other values like a spouse, children, and hobbies? Should I be worried if I don’t have a clearly identified central purpose?

My Answer, In Brief: A central purpose is important to organizing and integrating the various activities of your life – and giving your life meaning and direction. For most people, their central purpose is their career.

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

Question 2: Self-Confidence at Work

Question: How can a person gain the self-confidence required to ask for a promotion at work? I know some people who don’t socialize much, and they really seem to struggle during interviews for promotions. They seem to lack confidence in themselves. How can they gain it? Does that kind of self-confidence depend on social acceptance and support?

My Answer, In Brief: A person might be hesitant to ask for a raise or promotion for all kinds of reasons, some based on personality, principles, or self-esteem. Provided that you deserve that advancement, they can and should be overcome!

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

Question 3: Keeping Secrets for Competitive Advantage

Question: Is it wrong to protect my competitive advantage in a sport by refusing to share information? I am an aspiring MMA fighter. I’ve done a lot of work studying personal fitness, how to prevent and fix personal injuries, and how to maximize force output. I recently signed up for an MMA gym to prepare for some amateur fights. I’m concerned that when I do non-conventional “stretches” before or after a workout I’ll get questions from curious people. Then I’m in a dilemma. I would like to make friends, but I really don’t want to give away for free my knowledge that I have worked hard to achieve – knowledge which gives me an edge over many competitors. I don’t want to tell them where I got this information either. Perhaps if they ask what I’m doing, I could say “trade secret” or something else. Ultimately though, I don’t want to give potential competitors the tools that will help them beat me. Is this legitimate? Is it immoral or unwise?

My Answer, In Brief: When training for physical skills, particularly when you’re a novice, your goal should be to soak up all the knowledge possible from others. That requires you to freely share what you know, rather than adopting a closed and proprietary approach.

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

Question 4: Hate Crime Laws

Question: Are hate crime laws just? Hate crime laws impose additional penalties for crimes motivated by hatred for or bias against the victim for his group membership, such as religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or ethnic background. Do such laws protect or violate individual rights? Should such laws be maintained, modified, or repealed?

My Answer, In Brief: While some the basic rationale for hate crimes laws – namely, regarding bias against groups or communities as an aggravating factor in crimes – is legitimate, its focus on certain preferred groups is wrong.

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • In his essay “Political Freedom and Its Roots in Metaphysics,” Moshe Kroy argued that Ayn Rand’s advocacy of government, in contrast to the libertarians’ advocacy of anarchism, stemmed from her having a different view of the nature of man than Murray Rothbard did. Is Kroy right?

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  • Start Time: 1:08:59
  • Duration: 2:53
  • 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: 1:11:52


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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