Diet Critics, Hitting Kids, Central Purpose, and More
Webcast Q&A: 21 November 2010
I answered questions on conflicts over diet, completing creative work, hitting kids in public, non-renumerative work as productive, finding a central purpose, ethics of public relations, and more on 21 November 2010. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.
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Segments: 21 November 2010
Question: I have a friend who is pretty hardcore paleo and is often very critical of other people's diets. Food is really important to her and I don't think she means to sound so disparaging. How do I kindly tell her to butt out of mine and my friends' eating habits?
Question: A piece of creative work can be polished forever yet still be far from perfect. Besides, there comes a point where it needs to be brought to completion and made available to its recipients, if there are any, to use and enjoy. How does one make the judgment call as to when that point is reached? I hope to go beyond the ranking of values ("How important is this to me, and have I devoted enough time and effort to it already?") and discuss considerations such as: telling whether I'm still adding to the value of the piece, maintaining a clear view of which details are important, keeping the scope of the piece within reasonable bounds without oversimplifying it, and not letting my feelings about the piece interfere with my judgment of its quality.
Question: What (if any) is the appropriate response to a parent hitting his or her child in public? Generally, I remove my own children as quickly as I can so they don't have to witness it, and have shot my share of shocked and disgusted looks toward the parents in question. (For the record, I'm opposed to physical punishment of children, but I even know parents who do spank who are similarly shocked and uncomfortable when others do this in public.)
Question: Ought non-income generating activities such as child rearing, dancing, making friends, etc., be properly considered an exercise of the Objectivist virtue of productivity? In response to my question in an OAC class, Dr. Ghate stated that he interprets Rand's writings to mean that such activities, while rational, ought not be considered "productive" by her definition of the term. Upon further research, I agree with Ghate's interpretation of Rand, but I think I disagree with Rand here. Is it not unusual that someone who chooses motherhood as a career, for instance, is disqualified from practicing the virtue of productivity (assuming she does no other work for pay)? None of the other virtues exclude any rationally acting adult from practicing them. If productivity need to be redefined, would you have an alternate definition to suggest?
Question: I've been thinking about my central purpose in life (CPL) quite a bit lately. A common thread in my current and former passions is art, and I used to love drawing with pencil and coloring with oil pastels. This week I purchased some inexpensive art supplies and I've been experimenting. It's made me feel pretty darn happy. My hesitation with this though is not subsiding. I don't want to be a starving artist and I can't imagine giving up my career in financial planning, which leaves me with little time for art. Can you perform your CPL "on the side" in your spare time and still feel fulfilled, or must it be what you do full-time? For what it's worth, I eventually want to have a child and home-school, which I think will be tremendously fulfilling. Can my CPL be more than one thing? Do you have any recommendations for further reading on CPL?
Question: Would it be ethical for a public relations practitioner to work for a client whose activities, while legal, potentially damage others--e.g., defend cigarette/alcohol companies, or fast food producers, or asbestos manufacturers?
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.