On Sunday, I hosted another live Rationally Selfish Webcast where I answered people’s questions on practical ethics and the principles of living well. The live webcasts are held every Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. The webcast consists of me broadcasting on video, Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers on audio, and the audience in a text chat.
As usual, an audio recording of Sunday’s live webcast is now available as a NoodleCast podcast. To get these podcasts automatically, you can subscribe to the feed in iTunes — just choose either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format. They’re the same content, but the M4A format breaks each question into its own “chapter.”
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If you prefer to send a check, please write “RS Webcast” in the memo field and send it to “Diana Hsieh; P.O. Box 851; Sedalia, CO 80135.”
The full video for the webcast is only available to live attendees. After the webcast is completed, you can listen and/or download the audio podcast.
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In This Episode
The following segments are marked as chapters in the M4A version of the podcast. Thanks to Tammy Perkins for helping compile the show notes!
Question 1: Atlas Shrugged Movie (2:54)
What did you think of the movie Atlas Shrugged, Part 1?
My Answer, In Brief: The movie was a C+. The basic story and characters were left intact, yet it suffered from a range of defects as a drama, some quite serious. The take-home message is simple: read the book!
- The mediocre movie Atlas Shrugged, Part 1
- The stellar book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
- Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged edited by Robert Mayhew
- Explore Atlas Shrugged by Diana Hsieh
Question 2: Free Riding (22:32)
Is it morally wrong to be a free rider? Some people say that it’s wrong to be a free rider — for example, by sneaking into a movie without paying for it, using a gas station bathroom without buying anything, accepting a ride to the airport but refusing to return the favor, hiking on trails in your community without helping to maintain them, or enjoying the Christmas lights of your neighbors without putting up your own. In such cases, you seem to be enjoying a benefit from someone else that you’ve not paid for or earned. Isn’t that unjust, and hence, morally wrong?
My Answer, In Brief: The term “free rider” is a massive package-deal. Any action ought to serve your long-term rational self-interest: you must act virtuously and respect the rights of others. Within that framework, the myriad benefits available to you from living in society ought to be accepted and enjoyed.
- “The ‘Conflicts’ of Men’s Interests” in The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand
Question 3: Browsing Without Buying (33:38)
Is it immoral to browse a store with no intention of buying there? Is it immoral to take advantage of the freedom to look through books in a bookstore, or to try out a laptop in a shop, with no intention to actually buying it in that shop? For instance, you check out a book in the shop to decide whether you want to buy it, knowing that if you buy it, you’ll do so from Amazon instead. Is that wrong?
My Answer, In Brief: Local merchants must compete with online sellers, and customers ought feign an interest to those merchants if unwilling to give them a chance to compete.
Question 4: Age in Romance (39:05)
Should age matter in romance? Is it in your rational best interest to date someone who is significantly older or younger than you? Assuming that both individuals are mature, is there anything wrong with an 18 year old dating someone who is 38? Or a 40 year old dating someone who is 60? Or a 70 year old dating someone in their 20s? Does age matter?
My Answer, In Brief: Age can matter in romance, because people in different life-stages might not be able to integrate their lives into a happy unity. Hence, a couple would need to discuss and agree on how to deal with the difficulties created by the age gap for the relationship to last.
Question 5: Responsibility for Siblings (45:26)
Do I have any responsibility towards my younger brother? My parents constantly ask me to help my brother with his studies, homework, etc, and look after him when they’re out and do things for him at the expense of my own studies and time. But I don’t find any value in helping my brother. Should I refuse to help my parents in this way?
My Answer, In Brief: You are not your brother’s keeper! However, while under your parents’ roof, your option are limited. Speak to them: calmly express how you feel unfairly burdened by your younger brother, then seek a mutually satisfactory arrangement, such as agreeing to watch him for a certain number of hours per week, payment for watching him, etc.
- Kids and Money and Kids and Money Update by Jenn Casey
- Cultivating the Virtues Podcast #11: Money by Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore
Question 6: Objectivist Answers: Free Will (51:32)
How do you validate free will? For example, if a man is hungry and he values his life, then wouldn’t his eating be predetermined?
My Answer, In Brief: Free will is validated by introspection, including your power to act against bodily appetites like hunger. The question confuses the final causation involved in motivated action with the efficient causation of determined action.
- Diana Hsieh: NoodleFood: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Greg Perkins: Objectivist Answers: email@example.com