On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Arthur Zey and I answered questions on creating a stylized life, legal dueling, permission versus forgiveness, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 25 May 2014

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Podcast Segments: 25 May 2014

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


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Question 1: Creating a Stylized Life

Question: Should a person seek to create a stylized life? In “The Romantic Manifesto,” Ayn Rand said that “An artist does not fake reality – he stylizes it. He selects those aspects of existence which he regards as metaphysically significant – and by isolating and stressing them, by omitting the insignificant and accidental, he presents his view of existence.” Should a person try to stylize his own life, such as by deliberately cultivating a consistent personal aesthetic? Should he aim to make every aspect of his life reflect his values, eliminating the rest? Would that make for a more integrated and meaningful life or might that be dangerous or undesirable in some way?

My Answer, In Brief: Stylizing your life can be thought of as developing your personal values and style, which is fabulous. However, it might mean seeking an impossibly perfect Platonic ideal – or worse, disowning yourself for sake of living up to image in own mind or to please others. That’s a disaster – and reason enough to shy away from thinking about creating a “stylized life.”

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

Question 2: Legal Dueling

Question: Should dueling and other consensual fights be legal? In your September 5th, 2012 interview with Dr. Eric Daniels, you discussed some of America’s violent past traditions, including the practice of dueling. While I have no intention of challenging my rivals to mortal combat, I cannot see why this practice should be illegal. The same might be said of less lethal modern variants such as bar fights, schoolyard fights, and other situations where violence is entered into with the mutual consent of both parties. Should such consensual violence be forbidden by law in a free society – not just for children but perhaps for adults too? If so, what justifies allowing more ritualized forms of combat, such as mixed-martial arts fighting, boxing, or even football?

My Answer, In Brief: Duelling cannot be completely forbidden or completely permitted because a duel may be fully consensual or not. Instead, measures must be taken to ensure consent, but if that’s not clear after the fact, the winner might be justly prosecuted for murder.

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

Question 3: Permission Versus Forgiveness

Question: Should people ask for permission or ask for forgiveness when breaking the rules? People often say that “it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission” when excusing their own rule-breaking. I hate the phrase, but I can’t put my finger on what’s so objectionable about it. So what does the phrase mean? Is it right or wrong? If it’s true for some organizations, doesn’t that indicate that the organization’s rules or policies are somehow bass-ackwards?

My Answer, In Brief: You need not slavishly follow irrational rules, but you do need to act in a way that’s respectful of others and their property. Too often, asking for forgiveness rather than permission is not that.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Have you heard about Harry Binswanger’s new treatise on epistemology?
  • How do individual rights apply to conjoined twins? Do they count as separate individuals? Is this similar to how a baby does not count as individual until after it is born?
  • Should it be against the law to incite violence? Given that the incitement itself does not violate anyone’s rights, doesn’t that assume that the hearers lack free will?
  • Is the placebo effect an incidence of ‘useful evasion’? Is it immoral to use placebos?
  • On an earlier show, you professed your love for David Hume. Would you care to elaborate?

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  • Start Time: 1:01:15
  • Duration: 10:35
  • 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: 1:11:50

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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