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Hedonism, Taking Drugs, Santa Claus, and More

Webcast Q&A: 2 January 2011

I answered questions on hedonism, taking drugs, judging mixed people, romance with an irrational person, Santa Claus and kids, when to speak out, and more on 2 January 2011. 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: 2 January 2011


Question 1: Hedonism

Question: What's wrong with hedonism? What's the difference between "rational selfishness" and hedonism? What's wrong with attempting to maximize pleasure over the course of a whole life?

Answer, In Brief: Hedonism is purely subjective: it says that a person ought to pursue whatever he finds pleasurable. Rational egoism is objective: it says that a person ought to pursue what actually promotes his life as a rational human being.

Tags: Egoism, Ethics, Hedonism, Pleasure, Self-Interest

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Question 2: Taking Drugs

Question: Which mind-altering or mood-altering substances are rational to take? (alcohol, caffeine, marijuana, etc.) And what principles do you apply in deciding?

Answer, In Brief: If you are seeking pleasure in the impairment of your body and mind, then it's time to examine your life and your premises.

Tags: Addiction, Alcohol/Drugs, Ethics, Health, Rationality

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Question 3: Judging Mixed People

Question: How do you judge people of mixed premises? Many people are of "mixed" premises. How does one develop close and personal friendships or pursue long-term, serious, romantic relationships when many people are not consistently rational or moral? How does one judge such people objectively as to their worthiness for friendship or as a potential romantic interest?

Answer, In Brief: When judging mixed people, seek a clear understanding of what's black and white in them, then determine whether and what kind of relationship with them will serve your values – if any.

Tags: Conflict, Dating, Ethics, Friendship, Judgment, Justice, Philosophy, Relationships, Relationships, Sanction

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Question 4: Romance with an Irrational Person

Question: Suppose you were a rational man in a relationship with a less rational woman, how would you handle your girlfriend's ever-expanding irrational behavior?

Answer, In Brief: Irrationality in a lover is a killer of romance.

Tags: Dating, Rationality, Relationships, Romance

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Question 5: Santa Claus and Kids

Question: Is it moral to introduce the idea of Santa Claus to children – and why or why not? Some Objectivists say that introducing Santa or staying silent on the issue to let the child figure it out for himself constitutes deception and lying. Others say it's a playful and fun game with Santa as a hero standing for justice in a way kiddies can understand.

Answer, In Brief: The pleasure and value of Santa Claus lies in the meaning and richness of the stories about him, not in the delusion that he's real.

Tags: Children, Holidays, Honesty, Parenting

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Question 6: When to Speak Out

Question: Under what circumstances does it become incumbent to challenge another's beliefs, especially in a religious context?

Answer, In Brief: Focus on taking responsibility for your own beliefs and actions. Don't assume responsibility for what others think and do.

Tags: Communication, Integrity, Responsibility, Sanction

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Conclusion (58:02)

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback, as well as for Kindle and Nook. 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 radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on most Sunday mornings and some Thursday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or discuss a topic of interest.

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