Mar 302011

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on immoral means to great values, optional values versus moral values, adoption versus abortion, the excuse of ‘I’m only human’, Objectivist conferences, laws and regulations, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 27 March 2011

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Podcast Segments: 27 March 2011

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


My News of the Week: Let’s get started!

Question 1: Immoral Means to Great Values

Question: Is it ever acceptable to act immorally if one is willing to accept the consequences? This question was sparked by a statement in the 9 January 2011 webcast that it would be wrong to deceive a partner in order to save a relationship. Are there ever cases where one cares so much about a particular value that it can be legitimate to act immorally (and thus, in all probability, hurt one’s own life) in order to gain or keep that value? For example, what if life were not worth living without that value?

My Answer, In Brief: To act viciously in pursuit of a value destroys the actual worth of that value – and degrades your own moral character.

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

Question 2: Optional Values Versus Moral Values

Question: Are “optional values” genuine values? Sometimes Objectivists distinguish between “moral values” and “optional values.” What does that mean? Is the distinction legitimate? How does it apply to real life?

My Answer, In Brief: Optional values genuinely promote a person’s life and happiness, but they are not universally necessary, but rather depend on a person’s particular circumstances.

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

Question 3: Adoption Versus Abortion

Question: Why do you think that giving a child up for adoption can be “problematic”? Why wouldn’t adoption be preferable to abortion in most cases? (This question is a follow-up to the discussion in the 23 January 2011 webcast about children as an optional value.)

My Answer, In Brief: Adoption is a wonderful option in many cases, but the differences between an embryo or early-stage fetus and born baby often make adoption far more emotionally and morally difficult.

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

Question 4: The Excuse of “I’m Only Human”

Question: What do you think of the oft-quoted bromide “I’m only human”? I have heard that phrase often, and it seems there are several uses to which it is applied, some legitimate and some seem nefarious and ugly.

My Answer, In Brief: The phrase has two distinct meanings – “don’t expect me to be good” and “hey, pay attention to my limits.” The former is a false excuse (and often vile), while the latter is a useful reminder. Due to these mixed meanings, the phrase is perhaps best avoided.

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

Question 5: Objectivist Conferences

Question: What are the benefits of attending Objectivist conferences in person? I know that there are several regional Objectivist conferences this year in addition to the Ayn Rand Institute’s OCON. What are the benefits of attending these in person, rather than just listening to the lectures via a webcast or buying the lectures afterwards?

My Answer, In Brief: Objectivist conferences offer huge benefits in the form of social interaction and networking, even apart from the lectures!

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

Question 6: Laws and Regulations

Question: Are regulations necessarily different from laws? Regulations do not violate the presumption of innocence – they are jurisprudential signals. A law against murder does not violate the presumption of innocence; rather, it is a signal that denotes a consequence that will be levied upon the violator of the law. This is the same standard that regulations follow. A law is a “regulation” on behavior in the way that legislative regulations are, in fact, “regulations” on business behavior. Is this a correct assessment of laws and regulations?

My Answer, In Brief: Legislation differs from regulations on two axes: the source of the laws and their objectivity.

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To comment on this question or my answer, 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: 57:13

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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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