On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on self-destructive pleasures, privacy in a high-tech society, pushy fundraising, browsing locally then buying online, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 13 May 2012

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Podcast Segments: 13 May 2012

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

Introduction

My News of the Week: 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

Question: 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.

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

Question 2: Privacy in a High-Tech Society

Question: 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.

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

Question 3: Pushy Fundraising

Question: 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.

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

Question 4: Browsing Locally Then Buying Online

Question: 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!

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

Rapid Fire Questions

Questions:

  • 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?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 46:35
  • Duration: 13:04
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion

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: 59:40


About Philosophy in Action Radio

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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