On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the nature of mysticism, breast implants, choosing to live in a socialist country, cleaning the house for guests, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 4 November 2012

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Podcast Segments: 4 November 2012

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


My News of the Week: I’ve been updating my personal web site, DianaHsieh.com, soliciting votes for the Podcast Awards, and celebrating Philosophy in Action’s two-year anniversary!

Question 1: The Nature of Mysticism

Question: What is mysticism? Is mysticism distinct from religion, faith, and belief in the supernatural? Can a person be non-religious but mystical? Can a person be religious but non-mystical?

My Answer, In Brief: Theological mysticism is related to, but not the same as, philosophical mysticism. Most religious people are not theological mystics, and many are not philosophic mystics.

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

Question 2: Breast Implants

Question: What advice should I give to a friend considering breast implants? A friend of mine is considering breast implants, purely for cosmetic reasons. In other words, she’s not having reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy: she just wants larger breasts. Do you think that purely cosmetic breast implant surgery is moral? Is it wise? What advice should I give her, if any?

My Answer, In Brief: You should recognize that breast implant surgery is not necessarily moral or immoral. It can be immoral if the woman evades the risks, spends money that she can’t afford, acts on a second-handed desire to please someone else, or otherwise sacrifices greater values. But it can be moral for a woman of healthy self-esteem who has been bothered by the size or shape of breasts, provided that she understands the risks of surgery and can afford the surgery.

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

Question 3: Choosing to Live in a Socialist Country

Question: Is it moral to choose to live in a socialist country? A person might move to England to study at a conservatory or move to China for a job. Would it be moral to do that – meaning, to move to a socialist country and make use their government institutions? Would there be some kind of obligation to “pay back” what the person gains from that country’s taxpayers, such as by donating to organizations that promote capitalism in that country? Or would it be immoral altogether, such that a person should pursue whatever opportunities he can in America (or where he is)?

My Answer, In Brief: You’re not obliged to suffer in the country of your birth, nor responsible for other people’s use of force against you, nor blamed for moving into yet another mixed economy.

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

Question 4: Cleaning the House for Guests

Question: Is is second-handed to work hard to clean and repair your house before company arrives? I’m constantly fighting a battle to get my house looking reasonable. Then, right before company arrives from out-of-town, I make an extra big push to get it as clean and tidy as possible. I’d like it to always be that way, but I’ll work a lot harder when I know that someone else will be in the space. So is it second-handed to want to present a better home than I normally maintain? Or is putting in that effort that a matter of respecting and providing for people that I value?

My Answer, In Brief: Putting an extra effort into cleaning and repairing your house for guests need not be second-handed or dishonest. It can and should serve to provide a warm welcome to your guests, as well as taking pride in your home.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • With regard to doctors suggesting a pinprick as an alternative to female genital mutilation, is your view that preventing the actual harm to the child is more important than making stand against the religious dogma?
  • Isn’t the idea “indigenous property rights” wrong because it assumes collective ownership?
  • Is first-sale copyright a violation of the rights of consumers?
  • What are some (if any) better alternatives for criminal punishment than prison?
  • Isn’t it better to act calmly during a discussion and try to keep your opponent calm as well?

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  • Start Time: 54:14
  • Duration: 11:29
  • Download: MP3 Segment

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


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: 1:03:44

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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