To attend SnowCon, you must register by Sunday, March 11th, using this form. (If you can register sooner, please do so!)
“Four Questions for Philosophy in Action” by Diana Hsieh
On Sunday morning, Diana Hsieh will answer four questions on practical philosophy in her live Philosophy in Action Webcast. Here, we will answer those questions in informal and friendly discussion — not merely to better understand the particular topics but also to clarify ways to think through such problems in a principled way while respecting differences in context and values.
Diana Hsieh received her PhD in philosophy from the University of Colorado in 2009. Every Sunday morning, she answers questions on the application of rational philosophic principles to the challenges of living a happy and virtuous life in her live Philosophy In Action Webcast.
“Our Secular Constitution” by Hannah Krening
This short presentation considers the Constitution’s provisions for the proper relationship between religion and government. Currently, we see the rise of Islam, a religion that explicitly advocates a government of Islamic law and forceful dominion over all people. How does this square with our Constitution? What lessons can Americans, as followers of various belief systems — religious or not — learn from the founders? How is the wisdom of our founders still applicable today, and what can we do to fight an American theocracy, whether Islamic or of any other religion? (This talk is based on the book The Godless Constitution by Isaac Kramnick and R Lawrence Moore.)
Hannah Krening is a classical pianist and private teacher. She lives with her husband in Larkspur, Colorado and is active in Front Range Objectivism. Though she is not an expert on the Constitution, it is an area of interest to her, especially in light of the current cultural understanding of the Constitution on separation of Church and State.
“The Mortal Flaw in the U.S. Constitution, It Isn’t What You Think and It Can Be Healed” by Stephen Bailey
Ayn Rand highlighted the omission of the separation of state and economy as a serious flaw in the U.S. Constitution, when Judge Narragansett in Atlas Shrugged penned his addition to the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade.” Although the importance of separating the state from the economy is obvious for any Objectivist, can anyone honestly conclude that we would not be teetering on the edge of pure socialism, if not absolute tyranny, had Madison and the Founding Fathers included that amendment in the Bill of Rights? Today, various groups advocate for constitutional amendments ranging from the reasonable — balanced budget — to the bizarrely irrelevant — protecting the reference to God in the pledge of allegiance — to the tyrannical — overthrowing the Citizens United ruling which protects freedom of speech. All of these proposed amendments, including the reasonable, are a waste of time unless the fundamental flaw is fixed. The conceptual remedy to this flaw is implicit within the Constitution and its guiding light, the Declaration of Independence. The case will be made for a proposed amendment to the Constitution making explicit what is argued by some as an implicit check on power and innovates its application to make it effective. Most importantly, adoption of the proposed amendment would heal our Constitution and peaceably restore our liberty, if the U.S. remains worthy of saving. It is indispensable to the constitution of any free society.
Stephen Bailey was the Republican candidate to represent Colorado’s 2nd congressional district in 2010. Since November of 2010, Stephen has been analyzing the U.S. Constitution, contemplating its flaws and searching for a path to a restoration of individual rights and personal liberty.
“The Final Abolitionist Frontier” by Anders Ingemarson
The 19th century abolitionist movement resulted in the emancipation of slaves. 150 years later, have we reached the final abolitionist frontier, the emancipation of the individual from the collective? In this talk, Anders Ingemarson will discuss a few similarities and differences between the events leading up to the ending of slavery and today.
Anders Ingemarson is an American by choice living in Denver with his wife Maria and Mitsie, the cat. He is a systems analyst by profession and individual rights activist in his spare time.
“Maintaining Rational Optimism” by Paul Hsieh
Given the state of current American culture and politics, it’s very easy to become pessimistic about the future. What are some methods we can adopt to maintain rational optimism, without falling into either error of undue pessimism or of wishful Pollyannaism? Given the current cultural/political context, how can we best preserve our long-term emotional health and maintain “the courage to face a lifetime”? Participants will be encouraged to share their own personal strategies and techniques, so that we can all incorporate the best of each others’ ideas into our own lives.
Paul Hsieh has engaged in personal activism on health care and other issues for many years, in large part as a method of maintaining his rational optimism.
“The Meaning of ‘Life’” by Ari Armstrong
For many years I was confused about Rand’s claim that “an organism’s life is its standard of value.” How, I wondered, does that fit with end-of-life suicide, risking one’s life for loved ones (as John Galt does), or even spending resources to have children? I tentatively propose that the answer lies in properly understanding the meaning of one’s “life.” One lives life not as an abstraction, but as a particular living entity with a particular nature and a unique genetic inheritance and history. I think the key to understanding the meaning of “life” is to look at the chronological (and logical) progression from valuing things as a child to developing rational moral principles. Thus, while “The Objectivist Ethics” offers a highly condensed and abstract presentation of Rand’s ethics, here I’ll attempt to follow the inductive path that allowed her to reach her conclusions (drawing in some modern findings of biology along the way). Rather than offer definitive conclusions — which I do not yet have — my goal is to generate discussion and solicit feedback in the hopes of further pursuing this line of thinking in the future.
Ari Armstrong publishes FreeColorado.com, coauthors a column for Grand Junction Free Press, and contributes to The Objective Standard. He is also the author of Values of Harry Potter. Ari won the Modern Day Sam Adams award in 2009, and he was a finalist in the 2011 Hoiles Prize for regional journalism.