Nov 192012

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on adopting ideas by default, griping versus moral judgment, veganism as child abuse, sharing lecture notes, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 18 November 2012

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Podcast Segments: 18 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 working on updates to NoodleFood, plus preparing my book Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame (a.k.a. my dissertation) for publication!

Question 1: Adopting Ideas by Default

Question: Should a person allow his ideology to set his default positions? When people adopt a religion, philosophy, or politics as their own, they often don’t think through every issue – or they’ve not done so yet. Does accepting the various positions of that ideology as a kind of default amount to accepting them on faith? What should a person do when he hasn’t thought through the issue for himself?

My Answer, In Brief: A person should not swallow any ideology whole. He should judge for himself on matters of importance, and he needs to differentiate what he knows first-hand from merely provisional and plausible claims.

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

Question 2: Griping Versus Moral Judgment

Question: What’s the difference between griping about people and morally judging them? I try to be careful in my moral judgments of others, and then act accordingly. However, most people don’t seem to do that: they bitch about other people out of annoyance, but then do nothing to solve their problems. What’s wrong with such bitching? How can I explain my objections to such bitching in a friendly way? How can I avoid being bitched-to or bitched-about?

My Answer, In Brief: For a person to merely gripe about serious moral failings in others but then maintain the relationship as before is wrong. Yet it’s far worse to bandy about serious but unwarranted moral accusations out of momentary annoyance or spite.

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

Question 3: Veganism as Child Abuse

Question: Should it be considered child abuse to feed a child a vegan diet? Most experts agree that children need some of the nutrients found in meat and dairy products to develop properly. I’ve read lots of stories about children whose development is impaired or stunted due to being fed a vegan diet. Should it be considered child abuse to feed a child a strict vegan diet? If so, at which point should the state intervene and take legal recourse against the parents?

My Answer, In Brief: Child abuse requires that parents inflict serious and lasting harm on the child that impairs its capacity to develop into healthy, independent, autonomous adult. A vegan diet might do that – in which case the state should intervene. Or it might be perfectly fine – in which case the state should leave the parents and child alone.

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

Question 4: Sharing Lecture Notes

Question: Is it wrong to refuse to share lecture notes with a lazy student? A classmate of mine is nice enough but a bit odd. She’s always at least 30 minutes late for lecture, and she doesn’t come to lab sometimes. In lecture, she does not take notes but instead usually draws the whole class period. Today, she asked to borrow some of my lecture notes. I told her that I noticed that she was always late and that she didn’t take notes, and she denied that. Still, I told her that lending her my notes would be inconvenient, then I suggested that she ask someone else. Normally, I’d be happy to share my notes, but in this case, I didn’t want to share the results of my efforts in attending this class on time, every day, and paying attention. Was that wrong?

My Answer, In Brief: To offer notes to a fellow student is often generous and proper, if it’s not too much trouble. However, in this case, the student was not merely lazy but also dishonest, so sharing your notes would have been wrong.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • I have Bipolar Disorder. When is a good time in a new romantic relationship to inform the other person of that?
  • What lesson did the Republicans learn from Romney’s defeat?
  • Should a sensitive person learn to take criticism well? Why and how?

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  • Start Time: 1:00:59
  • Duration: 10:29
  • 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: 1:11:28

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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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  • Daniel Smukalla

    As a vegetarian (vegan for 7ish years, but now that’s a bit difficult in Korea), I still enjoyed your podcast – as always!

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