Dec 042014
 

Alex Epstein’s new book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels — available in hardback or kindle — recently received a glowing review from the Wall Street Journal. The review begins:

Which would be worse: a hostile foreign regime using a sinister magnetic pulse to take down the entire electrical grid–or the chief executives of the world’s major oil companies having a collective personal crisis about carbon emissions, shutting down their operations, and sending their employees to live the rest of their days off the grid in rural Vermont? Either way, the country goes dark. Transportation stops. Schools, hospitals and businesses close down. We are left to grow our own scrawny vegetables and slaughter our own animals for meat. We cannot even text.

If you drive a car, or use modern medicine, or believe in man’s right to economic progress, then according to Alex Epstein you should be grateful–more than grateful. In “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” the author, an energy advocate and founder of a for-profit think tank called the Center for Industrial Progress, suggests that if all you had to rely on were the good intentions of environmentalists, you would be soon plunged back into a pre-industrial hell. Life expectancy would plummet, climate-related deaths would soar, and the only way that Timberland and Whole Foods could ship their environmentally friendly clothing and food would be by mule. “Being forced to rely on solar, wind, and biofuels would be a horror beyond anything we can imagine,” writes Mr. Epstein, “as a civilization that runs on cheap, plentiful, reliable energy would see its machines dead, its productivity destroyed, its resources disappearing.”

When you consider that most of us live what we would consider decent, moral lives, it seems extraordinary that anyone feels it necessary to write a book called “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.” We use fossil fuels and their by-products in everything we do and rarely consider it a vice. A pang of conscience may strike us when we read of oil spills or melting icebergs. But not when we are sitting on a plastic chair, visiting a power-guzzling hospital or turning on our computers. To call fossil fuels “immoral” is to tarnish our entire civilization and should plunge us all into a permanent state of guilt, which seems a bit strong.

Fabulous! Go read the whole thing… and then check out The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

I interviewed Alex Epstein about “How Coal and Oil Improve Our Lives” on the 12 September 2012 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. If you’ve not yet heard it, you can listen to or download the podcast here:

For more details, check out the episode’s archive page.

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on the reality of karma, responsibility for pets, meaningless gift exchanges, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 7 December 2014, in our live studio. If you can’t listen live, you’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page.

This week’s questions are:

  • Question 1: The Reality of Karma: Is karma real? Although the concept of “karma” has religious roots, it seems to contain a grain of truth, namely that people will, in the end, get what they deserve. So if a father is mean to his children, he will find them unwilling to help him when he suffers a health crisis in his old age. In contrast, children raised with love and kindness will be eager to help their ailing father. Is this understanding of karma true? Is this a concept that rational people might or should use in their moral thinking?
  • Question 2: Responsibility for Pets: Should I put my cat down rather than leave him in a shelter? After listening to the podcast question about the person who lived in Philadelphia and wanted to get out of the ghetto, I got the motivation to land a great new job in Seattle. I am moving to a new city in a few weeks and will be traveling quite a bit. I will not be able to take care of my cat with all of the traveling. I don’t have the money to hire people to watch my pet while I am gone. I have put the cat up on billboards and ebay classifieds with no responses. The cat isn’t friendly to anyone but me, so I doubt a prospective adopter would choose to take him after meeting him. As my move date grows closer, I am wondering if it would be better to have my cat put down than to leave him with a shelter. What should I do?
  • Question 3: Meaningless Gift Exchanges: How can I stop exchanging meaningless holiday presents with my siblings? My siblings and I are friendly but not close, but we still exchange Christmas presents. Mostly, that means that we buy each other stuff that we really don’t want. That seems like a waste of time and money. I’d like to stop exchanging gifts with them, but how can I do so without hurting their feelings?

After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.

The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Karma, Responsibility for Pets, Gift Exchanges, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics!

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I’ll chat about “Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Five” with listeners. This episode of internet radio airs at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Thursday, 4 December 2014, in our live studio. If you can’t listen live, you’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page.

In Chapter Three of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle develops the outlines of a theory of moral responsibility. He argues that responsibility requires (1) control and (2) knowledge. In Chapter Five of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, I explored and further developed this theory of responsibility. In our discussion of this chapter, we’ll explore this theory in depth, considering twists and turns like the role of regret and involuntary ignorance and incapacity.

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask follow-up questions in the text chat.

The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Chat on Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Five. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in this topic!

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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Progress of Black America?

 Posted by on 1 December 2014 at 2:00 pm  Culture, Racism
Dec 012014
 

I didn’t find much of interest in this interview with Chris Rock, but this bit is quite interesting:

So, to say Obama [as the first black president] is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

That strikes me as substantially correct, as far as racism goes.

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on the objectivity of manners, fighting words, obsessing over past conversations, and more with Greg Perkins. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading. You’ll find it on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

Remember, you can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

Podcast: Objectivity of Manners, Fighting Words, Past Conversations, and More

Listen or Download:

Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy catching up on work.

Question 1: The Objectivity of Manners (1:56)

In this segment, I answered a question on the objectivity of manners.

Are manners objective? In a recent Rapid Fire Question, I think you rather too quickly dismissed the idea that manners or etiquette can be objective. You fairly quickly threw the whole lot of them over into the socially-subjective category. However, I think there’s a lot that’s not at all subjective, nor even optional, about manners. I happen to live in a country, China, which is much-renowned for its lack of basic human decency, and I would argue that this is a fair claim. For example, it’s quite regular for a parent to pull his child’s pants down and facilitate his or her urinating or defecating all over a vehicle of transportation, up to and including an international flight. It’s also quite normal to hawk in such a way as to clear every cavity in one’s upper torso, admire a particular piece of ground, and splat the results of one’s personal nasal expiration for all to admire and tread upon. After a home-cooked meal, a guest is expected to belch massively. A small belch is a sign of dissatisfaction. To me, the latter seems quite a matter of optional cultural choice. What you said before about manners applies quite nicely to that issue: it’s fairly arbitrary whether you should or you should not belch after your meal. At my in-laws’ place, please do. At my mom’s place, please don’t. However, when I think about other ways in which Chinese people are “rude” to an American, I can think of a thousand examples where it’s not just subjective. Pissing or shitting on a public bus is not just arbitrarily unacceptable to us silly overwrought Westerners. It’s objectively rude. For another example, today when I was trying to get onto a bus, hale and hearty Chinese twenty-somethings were pushing in front of me in a giant triangle of evil. Nobody cared if I was there before them, nobody cared if the signs all said to line up respectfully, they just elbowed each other out of the way in order to get on the bus. So are manners objective, at least in part?

My Answer, In Brief: Manners are objective: good principles of manners are well-grounded in facts. Many are an application of proper moral principles to social interactions, and others are matters of efficiency. However, etiquette is often a matter of optional convention.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 2: Fighting Words (24:16)

In this segment, I answered a question on fighting words.

Do verbal insults sometimes justify a response of physical violence? In a recent discussion of bullying, most people agreed that the child in question should not have hit the kids bullying him, given that those bullies were merely making awful remarks, as opposed to being violent or threatening. However, one person suggested that a physically violent response might be justified if all other avenues were exhausted – meaning that the bully was told to stop, efforts to enlist the help of the authorities failed, and a warning was given. Is that right? Is it ever right to respond to purely verbal insults with physical violence?

My Answer, In Brief: Unless the words are implicitly threatening or inviting a fight, a person can and should walk away from merely verbal harassment. That applies to kids as much to adults, but in the case of kids, parents and teachers have a responsibility to protect kids from situations in which verbal bullying can only be stopped by physical violence.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 3: Obsessing over Past Conversations (39:36)

In this segment, I answered a question on obsessing over past conversations.

How can I stop obsessing over past conversations? After having a conversation with someone, I often obsess about what I said to them and the way that I said it. I think about they ways they could have misinterpreted what I meant, and I worry that they thought I was being rude or disrespectful. Most of the time, of course, whatever nuances I thought would offend them were either non-existent or just went straight over their head. How can I overcome this obsessiveness, while still maintaining a healthy level of concern for how what I say may be interpreted?

My Answer, In Brief: It’s not healthy to obsess over past conversations, and you can help your brain overcome that tendency by noticing when you do it, seeking out objective feedback, and more. If you can’t do it alone, seek therapy.

Listen or Download:

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

Rapid Fire Questions (52:30)

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

  • Could you ever be friends with an IRS agent?
  • Should ‘cleanliness’ be classed as a virtue? If so, is it minor or major?
  • Ayn Rand called the military-industrial complex ‘a myth or worse’. Was she right? What is the military industrial complex? What would it look like in a free society?
  • What role do you think insurance plays in the ever-increasing regulatory environment in our culture?

Listen or Download:

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

Conclusion (1:05:02)

Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!


About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Remember, with every episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, we show how rational philosophy can help you find joy in your work, model virtue for your kids, pursue your goals effectively, communicate with respect, and advocate for a free society. We can’t do that without your support, so please remember to tip your philosopher!

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Activism Recap

 Posted by on 30 November 2014 at 12:00 pm  Activism Recap
Nov 302014
 

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine):

Follow FIRM on Facebook and Twitter.


This week on The Blog of Modern Paleo:

Follow Modern Paleo on Facebook and Twitter.

Link-O-Rama

 Posted by on 28 November 2014 at 11:00 am  Link-O-Rama
Nov 282014
 

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on the objectivity of manners, fighting words, obsessing over past conversations, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 30 November 2014, in our live studio. If you can’t listen live, you’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page.

This week’s questions are:

  • Question 1: The Objectivity of Manners: Are manners objective? In a recent Rapid Fire Question, I think you rather too quickly dismissed the idea that manners or etiquette can be objective. You fairly quickly threw the whole lot of them over into the socially-subjective category. However, I think there’s a lot that’s not at all subjective, nor even optional, about manners. I happen to live in a country, China, which is much-renowned for its lack of basic human decency, and I would argue that this is a fair claim. For example, it’s quite regular for a parent to pull his child’s pants down and facilitate his or her urinating or defecating all over a vehicle of transportation, up to and including an international flight. It’s also quite normal to hawk in such a way as to clear every cavity in one’s upper torso, admire a particular piece of ground, and splat the results of one’s personal nasal expiration for all to admire and tread upon. After a home-cooked meal, a guest is expected to belch massively. A small belch is a sign of dissatisfaction. To me, the latter seems quite a matter of optional cultural choice. What you said before about manners applies quite nicely to that issue: it’s fairly arbitrary whether you should or you should not belch after your meal. At my in-laws’ place, please do. At my mom’s place, please don’t. However, when I think about other ways in which Chinese people are “rude” to an American, I can think of a thousand examples where it’s not just subjective. Pissing or shitting on a public bus is not just arbitrarily unacceptable to us silly overwrought Westerners. It’s objectively rude. For another example, today when I was trying to get onto a bus, hale and hearty Chinese twenty-somethings were pushing in front of me in a giant triangle of evil. Nobody cared if I was there before them, nobody cared if the signs all said to line up respectfully, they just elbowed each other out of the way in order to get on the bus. So are manners objective, at least in part?
  • Question 2: Fighting Words: Do verbal insults sometimes justify a response of physical violence? In a recent discussion of bullying, most people agreed that the child in question should not have hit the kids bullying him, given that those bullies were merely making awful remarks, as opposed to being violent or threatening. However, one person suggested that a physically violent response might be justified if all other avenues were exhausted – meaning that the bully was told to stop, efforts to enlist the help of the authorities failed, and a warning was given. Is that right? Is it ever right to respond to purely verbal insults with physical violence?
  • Question 3: Obsessing over Past Conversations: How can I stop obsessing over past conversations? After having a conversation with someone, I often obsess about what I said to them and the way that I said it. I think about they ways they could have misinterpreted what I meant, and I worry that they thought I was being rude or disrespectful. Most of the time, of course, whatever nuances I thought would offend them were either non-existent or just went straight over their head. How can I overcome this obsessiveness, while still maintaining a healthy level of concern for how what I say may be interpreted?

After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.

The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Objectivity of Manners, Fighting Words, Past Conversations, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics!

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

One Day Sale on Paleo Kindle Books

 Posted by on 24 November 2014 at 10:00 pm  Paleo
Nov 242014
 

BuckBooks has put together a great sale on the kindle editions of a slew of paleo books… but just for Tuesday, November 25th. So get them while they’re hot and cheap… meaning, right now!

These books are available for $0.99:

These are available for $1.99:

These are $2.99:

(As for why they’re not all 99 cents: “Due to Amazon’s file delivery costs on huge files, five of the cookbooks, which are filled with tons of high-resolution images, will be priced at $1.99 and two others at $2.99. This is the lowest price Amazon would allow them to be priced. Still a fantastic deal, and you’ll likely never see them priced that low ever again!”)

If you’re interested in fabulous sales on other kindle books, be sure to sign up for the mailing list of BuckBooks, as they regularly put kindle books on sale for 99 cents (or as cheap as possible).

The More Cats Change…

 Posted by on 24 November 2014 at 2:00 pm  Animals, Cats, Personal
Nov 242014
 

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha