I broadcast a new episode of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday, 27 January 2013, answering questions on the nature of addiction, unions for government employees, materialism in marriage, mandatory child support, and more. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host.

If you missed the live broadcast, you can listen to or download the audio podcast (or segments thereof) any time. You’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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Podcast: 27 January 2013: Addiction, Government Unions, Materialism, and More

My News of the Week: I’ve been enjoying the National Western Stock Show with my parents and Paul, then getting back to work.

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

Question 1: The Nature of Addiction (3:09)

In this segment, I answered a question on the nature of addiction.

Is addiction a genuine phenomena? Can a person become dependent on alcohol or drugs to the point that he cannot prevent himself from consuming it, except perhaps by a supreme effort of will? Is such addiction physiological – or just a matter of bad habits of thought and action? Similarly, can a person be addicted to certain foods (such as sugar or wheat) or certain activities (like gambling or pornography)? If so, what does that mean? If a person is addicted to something, is the cure to abstain from it forever?

My Answer, In Brief: Drug and alcohol abuse and dependence are very serious problems, yet the standard disease model whereby a person cannot control his use of drugs or alcohol is wrong.

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Tags: Addiction, Alcohol/Drugs, Character, Ethics, Food, Habits, Psychology, Values

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

Question 2: Unions for Government Employees (33:58)

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

Should government employees be permitted to unionize? In your 16 December 2012 discussion of “right to work” laws, you said that business owners should have the right to refuse to hire union members (or to fire them). How would that work for government employees? In a free society, could legislators (or departments) forbid government workers from being union members? Could they require union membership?

My Answer, In Brief: The role of unions for government employees can and ought to be set by the voters and/or legislators, but a smart policy would permit such unions to exist, but forbid any collective bargaining or any form of closed shop.

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Tags: Free Society, Government, Law, Politics, Rights, Unions, Work

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

Question 3: Materialism in Marriage (39:31)

In this segment, I answered a question on materialism in marriage.

Are materialistic couples less likely to have a lasting relationship? A recent study by Brigham Young University claims to show that concern for money causes stress in a relationship and that people who love money tend to be more impersonal and less passionate towards their loved ones. Is that right? Does it reveal some defect with a morality of worldly values?

My Answer, In Brief: The study in question was flawed — as is the standard distinction between “materialism” and “non-materialism.” People should recognize the importance of both material and spiritual values in their pursuit of the best that this world (i.e. the only world) has to offer.

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Tags: Capitalism, Ethics, Finances, Justice, Marriage, Psychology, Romance, Value-Density, Values, Wealth

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

Question 4: Mandatory Child Support (53:29)

In this segment, I answered a question on mandatory child support.

Isn’t mandated child support basically just welfare for needy children? What is the moral difference between compelling parents to support their children and compelling all people to support the needy in society? Many critics of the welfare state believe that parents should be compelled to support their children with basic levels of physical sustenance and education, such that failing to provide these constitutes violating children’s rights. But how is that different from compelling people to support other needy or vulnerable people? Is the blood relationship what creates the obligation to support the child – and if so, how?

My Answer, In Brief: The obligations of parents to care for their children are not based on need or blood, but rather the voluntary assumption of that responsibility.

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Tags: Abortion, Adoption, Children, Ethics, Fatherhood, Free Society, Government, Law, Parenting, Pregnancy, Welfare

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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:

  • You said that Ayn Rand got a few things wrong on Aristotle. Which things?
  • Why do many people talk about nihilism as if it’s a type of depression?
  • Are there any works you’d recommend that in your opinion proof the legitimacy of transsexuality?
  • Do you consider yourself primarily a philosopher?
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To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion (1:06:51)

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