On Sunday, 13 May 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.

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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: 13 May 2012

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    Duration: 1:00:44
Download the Episode Subscribe to the Feed The Segments: Episode: 13 May 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)

I’m experimenting with moving the webcast to an audio-only stream on BlogTalkRadio, as well as experimenting with my new call-in radio show on Wednesday evening. Soon, ATLOSCon 2012!

Question 1: Self-Destructive Pleasures (3:58)

It is wrong to pursue self-destructive pleasures? Suppose that you know that drinking to excess is not good for your mind or body, but you want to enjoy the oblivion of drunkenness. Or perhaps you know that sleeping with your ex-girlfriend is a very bad idea, but you want the pleasure of sex with a warm body. Is it wrong to pursue these pleasures, if you’re willing to accept their destructive consequences?

My Answer, In Brief: To live morally means to pursue your life and your values with gusto, not jump into the gutter. To yearn for self-destructive pleasures indicates psychological problems in need of fixing.


Question 2: Privacy in a High-Tech Society (11:53)

Do you have the right to privacy with respect to information that I can gather about you from observation of you while I’m on my own property? For instance, if I have technology that allows me to gather photons or sound waves that you emit from your property while I’m sitting on my property next door, can I post that information on YouTube or Facebook? For example, imagine that I have an infrared video of your activities emitted through your bedroom wall or the audio of your personal phone conversation that can be detected by sensitive microphones from 100 yards away. Have I violated your rights by gathering and publicizing information you’ve chosen to allow to be broadcast to anyone who can detect it with the right equipment?

My Answer, In Brief: Privacy is a value, and the law ought to recognize a fact-based distinction between private and public activities. The line should likely be drawn at what’s perceptible by the unaided senses or perceptible with ordinary technology.

Question 3: Pushy Fundraising (32:56)

How should I respond to the constant demands to contribute to fundraisers from my child’s school? I am barraged with “requests” for contributions to school fundraisers. This week, for example, each student in the band is asked to put together a “buddy bag” with sweets (against my views), a toy (more plastic junk to fill the landfills), and a gift (I can’t afford that). Every week, there’s another fundraiser, for which parents are asked to spend their money on things they don’t value or aren’t a fair value. Should I refuse these requests – and if so, how should I do so?

My Answer, In Brief: Be a good role model for your kids: recognize that you’re not obliged to contribute, establish your own standards for contribution, and be firm and clear in communicating what you’re willing to do (or not) to others.

Question 4: Browsing Locally Then Buying Online (37:59)

Is it wrong to browse in a local store but then buy online? Suppose that you shop for an item in a brick-and-mortar store, taking advantage of the opportunity to browse and get recommendations from staff, but then make your purchases at a discounted online retailer – for example, browsing through a local bookstore but then buying from Amazon at a lower price. Is that wrong or unfair?

My Answer, In Brief: It’s not wrong to buy online after browsing in a local store, provided that it’s done honestly – just as it’s not wrong to check out reviews online, but then buy in a local store. Be a self-interested consumer!


Rapid Fire Questions (46:35)

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

  • What should you do when you suspect that friends or acquaintances are depending on your opinion in second-handed ways?
  • Why would an egoist want to live in society?
  • What are some resources to communicate with tact and being more clear?
  • Is it wrong to “throw away your vote” on a candidate without any hope of being elected?
  • If the government didn’t own the roads, who would set and enforce traffic laws?
Conclusion (59:40)

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