Mar 052012
 

On Sunday, 4 March 2012, I broadcast a new episode of my live Philosophy in Action Webcast, where I answer questions on the application of rational principles to the challenges of living a virtuous, happy, and free life in a live, hour-long webcast. The webcast is broadcast live every Sunday morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. In the webcast, I broadcast on video, Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers is on audio, and the audience is in a text chat.

As usual, if you can’t attend the live webcast, you can listen to it later as audio-only podcast by subscribing to the NoodleCast RSS Feed:

You can also peruse the archives, listening to whole episodes or just individual questions. The archives are sorted by date and by topic.

We hope that you’ll join the live webcast, because that’s more lively and engaging than the podcast. People talk merrily in the text chat while watching the webcast. Greg and I enjoy the immediate feedback of a live audience – the funny quips, serious comments, and follow-up questions. So please join the live webcast when you can!

The Podcast: Episode: 4 March 2012

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    Duration: 1:04:06

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The Segments: Episode: 4 March 2012

The following segments are marked as chapters in the M4A version of the podcast. Thanks to Tammy Perkins for helping compile the show notes!

Introduction (0:00)

Happy Ten Year Blogiversary to NoodleFood today! On Tuesday, I’ll be speaking at CU Boulder on Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?

Question 1: Giving the Benefit of the Doubt (2:52)

When should we give another person the benefit of the doubt? Often, people say that public figures facing some scandal should be given the benefit of the doubt? What does that mean in theory and in practice? When ought people give the benefit of the doubt? Is doing so a matter of generosity or justice?

My Answer, In Brief: To give someone the benefit of the doubt means that you’re not leaping to conclusions about wrongdoing, but considering their past actions and character, and hence, only condemning when the proof of wrongdoing is definitive. It’s proper to give someone the benefit of doubt when it’s likely that the person didn’t act wrongly, when you’re waiting for definitive evidence, or when your judgments are based on knowledge of character.

Links:

Question 2: Requests for Prayers (20:22)

What is the proper response to requests for prayers? A relative of mine recently had surgery to have his appendix removed. I was asked by another relative to pray for the first relative, even though everyone in my family knows that I don’t believe in God or the power of prayer. I tried to let it slide during the conversation, but she was insistent. How should I respond to such requests for prayers, particularly when I don’t want to offend anyone or seem unconcerned?

My Answer, In Brief: You should tailer your response to the context, but in most cases, you should be clear, firm, and kind in saying that you do not pray.

Question 3: Selling Yourself into Slavery (30:13)

Why can’t a person sell himself into slavery? People often decry indentured servitude, whereby people paid for their travel to America with several years of service. But this seems like a perfectly sound trade given certain assumptions about the terms of that service, e.g. you can’t starve or abuse the servant. Is that right? If so, why can’t a person sell himself into slavery? For instance, suppose that my family is poor, so I arrange with someone to give my family money in exchange for me becoming their slave, i.e. literally becoming their property. Is that possible? Should the law forbid that?

My Answer, In Brief: It’s not merely wrong to sell yourself into slavery: it’s logically impossible.

Links:

Question 4: The Depth of Ayn Rand’s Fictional Characters (37:56)

Are the characters in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged flat due to philosophic consistency? I’m reading the novel currently, and rather enjoying it. However, I’ve heard many people claim her characters are flat, one-dimensional, etc. I usually respond to this by saying that Ayn Rand’s characters are the incarnation of her ideas, the physical embodiment of her ideas: an individual is consumed with this philosophy, so much so that they are entirely logically consistent (or at least as much as humanly possible, they are human, and do make mistakes, e.g. Rearden’s marriage), thus, because of their abnormally extensive logical consistency within their philosophy, these characters merely appear to be ‘one-dimensional’. Is this an accurate understanding of Rand’s characters?

My Answer, In Brief: The criticism that Ayn Rand’s characters are flat is dead wrong, as is the response that they embody ideas.

Links:

Rapid Fire Questions (55:55)

In this segment, I answered a variety of questions off-the-cuff. The questions were:

  • Is everyone racially prejudiced, even just a little?
  • What should one do as an individual in case a war with Iran breaks out, as seems likely?
  • What’s the difference between the Jewish, Christian, or Muslim God and the “God of the Philosophers”?
  • Do you think Objectivism is ‘a’ philosophy or ‘the’ philosophy for living on earth?

Conclusion (1:03:03)

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