On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on evolution’s ethical implications, cultivating a healthy body image, the value of studying theology, 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: Evolution’s Ethical Implications, Body Image, Theology, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: I’ve been busy posting my early podcasts to Philosophy in Action’s podcast archive. Everything but the Explore Atlas Shrugged series is done!

Question 1: Evolution’s Ethical Implications (3:31)

In this segment, I answered a question on evolution’s ethical implications.

Should ethics begin with facts about evolution, including altruism? The ethical egoism advocated by Ayn Rand doesn’t seem to incorporate genetics or evolution. Having evolved in tribal and family groups, we are creatures tuned to group behavior more than to individual behavior. Altruism wasn’t invented by religion. In a tribe, helping those around you helps you survive too. Helping your kin helps your genes survive. The fact is that feeling good when you help others is built into the core of being human. The fact is that much status seeking and other seemingly irrational actions are techniques to ensure the propagation of our genes. Objectivism starts with “A is A.” But, if reality is most important, shouldn’t people base their ethics on the facts about humans as they actually are – altruism and all?

My Answer, In Brief: This argument might seem sensible on the surface, but it suffers from three fatal defects: (1) biological altruism is very different from ethical altruism, (2) ethics has a biological foundation, but the principles of ethics are not derived from animal behavior, and (3) many actions to benefit others or a group are not altruistic but self-interested.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 2: Cultivating a Healthy Body Image (25:16)

In this segment, I answered a question on cultivating a healthy body image.

How does a person cultivate a healthy body image? Suppose that a woman realizes that she has been unconsciously influenced by unrealistic body images – as portrayed in movies, magazines, and so on? She is basically healthy, and so it would be good for her to feel good about how she looks. But a person can’t always change everything about herself: she can’t change her height, however much she dislikes it. Even if a person can make changes, most people need to accept that they will never look like movie stars. So how does a person cultivate a healthy body image? How might a person notice and combat an unhealthy obsession with appearance?

My Answer, In Brief: If you struggle with an unjustly negative view of your own body, (1) consciously reject the body ideals of our culture, (2) push yourself to look beyond superficials to the deeper values of your body, (3) recognize and accept your physical limits, and (4) make the most of what you have. If you do that, your view of your body will change.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 3: The Value of Studying Theology (46:17)

In this segment, I answered a question on the value of studying theology.

Can a rational atheist extract any value from studying theology? Theology includes a mix of arguments for the existence of God, plus views on ethics, and more. It’s the earliest form of philosophy. Can a person benefit by cherry picking ideas from theological teachings or does the mysticism and other faults outweigh any benefits?

My Answer, In Brief: A rational atheist can extract quite a bit of value from studying the arguments for the existence of God, religious scriptures, and contemporary religious beliefs and practices. He can better his understanding of the culture, become more culturally literate, understand people better, and develop well-justified views on religion.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Rapid Fire Questions (1:02:01)

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

  • Does my inability to readily define terms mean that my concepts are unclear?
  • How should you respond to envious people who think that you’re ‘showing them up’ when you work harder than they do?

Listen or Download:

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

Conclusion (1:07:38)

Be sure to check out my blog NoodleFood and to submit and vote on questions for upcoming episodes.

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 Wednesday 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!

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

 

On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on evolution’s ethical implications, cultivating a healthy body image, the value of studying theology, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 30 March 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: Evolution’s Ethical Implications: Should ethics begin with facts about evolution, including altruism? The ethical egoism advocated by Ayn Rand doesn’t seem to incorporate genetics or evolution. Having evolved in tribal and family groups, we are creatures tuned to group behavior more than to individual behavior. Altruism wasn’t invented by religion. In a tribe, helping those around you helps you survive too. Helping your kin helps your genes survive. The fact is that feeling good when you help others is built into the core of being human. The fact is that much status seeking and other seemingly irrational actions are techniques to ensure the propagation of our genes. Objectivism starts with “A is A.” But, if reality is most important, shouldn’t people base their ethics on the facts about humans as they actually are – altruism and all?
  • Question 2: Cultivating a Healthy Body Image: How does a person cultivate a healthy body image? Suppose that a woman realizes that she has been unconsciously influenced by unrealistic body images – as portrayed in movies, magazines, and so on? She is basically healthy, and so it would be good for her to feel good about how she looks. But a person can’t always change everything about herself: she can’t change her height, however much she dislikes it. Even if a person can make changes, most people need to accept that they will never look like movie stars. So how does a person cultivate a healthy body image? How might a person notice and combat an unhealthy obsession with appearance?
  • Question 3: The Value of Studying Theology: Can a rational person extract any value from studying theology? Theology includes a mix of arguments for the existence of God, plus views on ethics, and more. It’s the earliest form of philosophy. Can a person benefit by cherry picking ideas from theological teachings or does the mysticism and other faults outweigh any benefits?

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: Evolution’s Ethical Implications, Body Image, Theology, 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 Wednesday 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

Lenny Kravitz Being Awesome

 Posted by on 27 March 2014 at 12:30 pm  Cool, Music
Mar 272014
 

Life is full of so much awesome… and thanks to the internet, now we can enjoy even more of it! Check out this bit of awesome, for example, in which Lenny Kravitz stumbles on a choir playing one of his songs:

The drums! The voice! The cool! Oh my!

How Not to Advise a Disgruntled Teenager

 Posted by on 25 March 2014 at 2:00 pm  Ethics, Law, Parenting
Mar 252014
 

You remember that story of the teenager who sued her parents for support? Happily, the lawsuit was recently withdrawn, and she’s back at home. But here’s the kicker… her lawsuit was facilitated — and surely encouraged — by the father of a friend of hers.

“Canning had been living in Rockaway Township with the family of her best friend. The friend’s father, former Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino, was paying for the lawsuit.”

This father-of-a-friend deserves a bitchslap or two, particularly given that the girl has become such a public spectacle. What a mess.

Search Philosophy in Action!

 Posted by on 25 March 2014 at 9:00 am  Announcements
Mar 252014
 

Over the weekend, I added a long-overdue search feature to Philosophy in Action. You can access this search any time via the “search” item in the orange menubar. Here, try it out:

For now, I’m using a free Google Custom Search, so you’ll have to put up with the ads.

 

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered questions on concern for future generations, privatizing prisons, buying and returning goods, 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: Future Generations, Privatizing Prisons, Returning Goods, 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 individual questions from this episode below.

Introduction (0:00)

My News of the Week: My life has returned to normal – finally! I’ve been busy working on various projects for Philosophy in Action. Greg is on vacation, so he’s only here virtually. He and Tammy will return next Sunday.

Question 1: Concern for Future Generations (1:51)

In this segment, I answered a question on concern for future generations.

Should I care about future generations? People often claim that we should act for the sake of future generations, particularly regarding environmental concerns. Is that rational? Why should I care what happens to people after I am dead? Why should I work for the benefit of people who cannot possibly benefit my life and who aren’t even known, let alone of value, to me?

My Answer, In Brief: The interests of future generations do not conflict with our interests. That’s because the requirements of human flourishing – particularly freedom and technology – are the same throughout time. Benefit yourself by securing those values now, and you’ll benefit future generations too – without any sacrifice by anyone.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 2: Privatizing Prisons (20:27)

In this segment, I answered a question on privatizing prisons.

Is running prisons a legitimate function of government or should they be privatized? Private prisons are a billion dollar industry here in the United States, but should they be left to private companies or should the government handle them instead?

My Answer, In Brief: Privately-run prisons may be more effective and cheaper than government-run prisons – or not. Prisons aren’t inherently a function of government, although the government must oversee them and set standards, at the very least.

Listen or Download:

Links:

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

Question 3: Buying and Returning Goods (32:31)

In this segment, I answered a question on buying and returning goods.

Is it wrong to buy goods with the intent to return them? A friend of mine will often buy jewelry from large department stores for events, knowing that she’ll likely return the items. (Sometimes, however, she’ll keep an item even when she thought she’d return it.) She returns the goods undamaged and soon after buying. She asked me what I thought of the morality of her actions. In my opinion, she’s acting morally because she’s not committing fraud. The stores in question have liberal return policies (“if you are unhappy for whatever reason…”). They must know that some of their customers might do what she’s doing and think that allowing it is good for business. Is that right?

My Answer, In Brief: Your friend is abusing generous return policies. She’s not acting as an honest trader, but as a devious exploiter. That embodies a wholly wrong approach to morality that I hope she rethinks her actions.

Listen or Download:

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

Rapid Fire Questions (42:18)

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

  • Why do people differ so much in their taste in movies?
  • If a person stumbles upon data (say, logins and passwords) without hacking, it is morally and legally wrong to use that data?
  • Is it morally worse for a mother to abandon her child than for a father to do the same?
  • Why did you choose philosophy over programming?
  • Should college athletes be paid? Doesn’t the current system exploit them?
  • My mother believes she is clairvoyant, and she laughs when I try to explain away her ‘premonitions.’ How can I convince her she is not psychic?
  • My significant other is generally uninterested and/or easily frustrated by philosophy. Is there any way to help a person engage in rational inquiry? Is it necessary for a happy relationship?

Listen or Download:

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

Conclusion (59:57)

Be sure to check out my blog NoodleFood and to submit and vote on questions for upcoming episodes.

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 Wednesday 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!

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

Activism Recap

 Posted by on 23 March 2014 at 10:00 pm  Activism Recap
Mar 232014
 

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.

Five Years with Doggie Conrad

 Posted by on 22 March 2014 at 10:00 am  Dogs, Personal
Mar 222014
 

On this day in 2009, Paul and I adopted Doggie Conrad. He was my present to myself for completing the first draft of my dissertation. He’s been a fabulous dog for us — friendly, loyal, and playful. I hope that he’s as happy over the next five years as he’s been for the past five years!

Link-O-Rama

 Posted by on 21 March 2014 at 1:00 pm  Link-O-Rama
Mar 212014
 

Presidencies in One Line

 Posted by on 20 March 2014 at 11:00 am  Politics
Mar 202014
 

Here’s an interesting phenomenon, I think. Some statements by US Presidents have taken on the status of memes. They’re false statements made by the President that cynically summarize his character and policies.

For example:

  • Richard Nixon: “I am not a crook.”
  • George H W Bush: “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
  • Bill Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinski.”

What would you propose for Barack Obama? I’d say, without a doubt:

  • “If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.”

That’s a pretty damn good summary of his two terms, I think.

Can you think of examples for other recent presidents? George W Bush? Ronald Reagan? Jimmy Carter?

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha