Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)

Productivity, Animal Abuse, Apathy, and More

Webcast Q&A: 28 November 2010

I answered questions on productivity versus productiveness, abuse of animals, the redemption of Michael Vick, Facebook friending policy, fighting apathy, cultural equality, and more on 28 November 2010. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life... far and wide. That's why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.

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Segments: 28 November 2010


Question 1: Productivity Versus Productiveness

Question: What is the difference (if any) between 'productiveness' and 'productivity'? People often seem to use the terms interchangeably, but are they the same?

Answer, In Brief: Productivity concerns a person's achievement of his goals effectively and efficiently, whereas productiveness is the virtue of creating the material values required to sustain one's life. Morality requires productiveness, but not maximal productivity.

Tags: Career, Ethics, Productiveness, Productivity

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Question 2: Abuse of Animals

Question: Are people who abuse their pets immoral? Or: Should we think ill of someone for neglecting or abusing their pets? If so, why?

Answer, In Brief: A person's treatment of his pets reveals his character, for better or worse.

Tags: Animals, Ethics, Justice, Pets

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Question 3: The Redemption of Michael Vick

Question: How should we judge NFL quarterback Michael Vick? As an animal lover, I was appalled when the NFL allowed Michael Vick to play pro football again after his dog-fighting episodes. But now that he's doing well, part of me wants to cheer for him, telling myself that he's a "reformed man who deserves a second chance". Is that rational of me? How do we know if someone has truly turned over a new leaf morally after prior bad acts?

Answer, In Brief: Michael Vick seems to have made true steps in the direction of moral reform, and his amazing performance this season seems to be a product of that.

Tags: Animals, Character, Ethics, Football, Judgment, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Redemption, Sports

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Question 4: Facebook Friending Policy

Question: What's a reasonable friending policy for Facebook? I've been getting more Facebook friend requests from people I don't know lately. Should I accept or refuse them?

Answer, In Brief: Adopt a Facebook friending policy that fits with your purpose in using social media.

Tags: Communication, Internet, Relationships, Social Media

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Question 5: Fighting Apathy

Question: How do I fight apathy? How should one go about controlling their emotional response to things better? I have found that a lot of things in life have made me far more apathetic towards life; how should I go about turning this around?

Answer, In Brief: Overcoming any unwanted emotion requires introspection, thought, and action – over and over again.

Tags: Character, Emotions, Introspection, Psycho-Epistemology

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Question 6: Cultural Equality

Question: Are all cultures equal? How can you prohibit or restrict anyone's cultural norms or say they're better or worse than our culture? Is there an objective barometer by which this can be achieved?

Answer, In Brief: The proper standard for all moral judgments – whether of individuals or cultures – is human life and happiness.

Tags: Culture, Ethics, Judgment, Justice, Multiculturalism, Politics, Relativism

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Conclusion (55:18)

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio! If you enjoyed this episode, please contribute to contribute to our tip jar.


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The vast majority of Philosophy in Action Radio – the live show and the podcast – is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because my mission is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as I do every week to thousands of listeners. I love producing the show, but each episode requires requires the investment of time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value my work, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, regular contributors enjoy free access to my premium content.

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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.

You can listen to these 362 podcasts by subscribing to the Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

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.

You can also read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed.

I can be reached via e-mail to diana@philosophyinaction.com.

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