On Sunday, 2 December 2012, I broadcast a new episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, answering questions on moral luck, parental support of adult children, guaranteed pensions for government employees, right to die, and more. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was the episode’s co-host.

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Q&A Radio: Episode: 2 December 2012

The Whole Episode

My News of the Week: I’m still working on editing my dissertation, but it has been hard to carve out the time.

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You can also download or listen to particular questions from this episode.

Question 1: Moral Luck (2:17)

In this segment, I answered a question on moral luck.

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 dissertation—with an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility.

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Tags: Ethics, Justice, Luck, Moral Luck, Philosophy

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

Question 2: Parental Support of Adult Children (17:19)

In this segment, I answered a question on parental support of adult children.

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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Tags: Adult Children, Independence, Parenting

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

Question 3: Guaranteed Pensions for Government Employees (32:37)

In this segment, I answered a question on guaranteed pensions for government employees.

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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Tags: Contracts, Ethics, Free Society, Government, Law, Pensions, Retirement, Welfare

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

Question 4: Right to Die (48:42)

In this segment, I answered a question on right to die.

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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Tags: Death, Ethics, Law, Suicide

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

Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:07)

In this segment, I answered questions impromptu. The questions were:

  • By what methods should government execute criminals condemned to death?
  • When did you first read Ayn Rand?
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To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion (1:04:03)

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