Dec 032012

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on moral luck, parental support of adult children, guaranteed pensions for government employees, right to die, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 2 December 2012

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Podcast Segments: 2 December 2012

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


My News of the Week: I’m still working on editing Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, but it has been hard to carve out the time.

Question 1: Moral Luck

Question: Is ‘moral luck’ a self-contradictory term? What does it mean? Does it exist?

My Answer, In Brief: Moral luck is a philosophical puzzle about the extent of a person’s responsibility for his actions, their outcomes, and his character–given the pervasive influence of luck. It’s a puzzle that can be solved–as I did in my soon-to-be-published book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame–with an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility.

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

Question 2: Parental Support of Adult Children

Question: When should parents refuse to support their adult children? Some parents continue to support their 30-year-old and even 40-year-old adult children. Usually, these adult children are chronic screw-ups without much interest in improving their lives or even holding down a steady job. Are these parents immoral for helping the child? Are the parents contributing to his or her problems? How can the parents stop in a way that’s fair to the dependent child?

My Answer, In Brief: The purpose of parenting is to create an independent adult, and parents need to help make that happen by refusing to be the perpetual caretaker of their child.

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

Question 3: Guaranteed Pensions for Government Employees

Question: Should pensions to government employees be guaranteed? Many cities and states are running into fiscal trouble and are reneging on promises to pay pensions to retired government employees, such as policemen. Should those promised payments be guaranteed, even if that means raising taxes or cutting back elsewhere? After all, those payments are part of a contract made between the employer and the employee. Or if money is tight for the city/state government, should the retirees have to share the same risk of default as anyone else the government owes money to?

My Answer, In Brief: The government’s contracts with its employees should be respected, within reasonable limits. Hence, government pensions should be restructured as part of massive cuts in spending.

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

Question 4: Right to Die

Question: Is there a right to die and/or a right to be killed? Does a person have a right to die? If so, under what conditions? Moreover, does a person unable to kill himself (due to illness) have a right to be killed by a willing person?

My Answer, In Brief: A person has a right to take his own life, but the law should take steps to ensure that any suicide is done voluntarily by a competent person.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • By what methods should government execute criminals condemned to death?
  • When did you first read Ayn Rand?

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  • Start Time: 1:00:07
  • Duration: 3:56
  • 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: 1:04:03

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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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