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)

Nice Men, Secret Infidelity, Privacy Lies, and More

Webcast Q&A: 9 January 2011

I answered questions on women versus nice men, the harm of undiscovered infidelity, lying to protect privacy, important ideological disagreements, misused words, returning lost property, and more on 9 January 2011. 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: 9 January 2011


Question 1: Women Versus Nice Men

Question: Why do you think most women typically have disdain for men who are 'too nice'?

Answer, In Brief: The distinction between nice or not is not a fundamental character trait. It's largely a matter of style, and its value is wholly dependent on a person's moral character. If a person is a rational egoist, then he can be strong-willed in pursuit of his values, yet also respectful of the facts and of other people.

Tags: Character, Dating, Ethics, Personality, Psychology, Relationships, Romance

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Question 2: The Harm of Undiscovered Infidelity

Question: If a husband cheated on his wife, and she never knew about it, he never got anyone pregnant, and he never got any STDs, would she be harmed? If so, how?

Answer, In Brief: The cheater is doing harm to himself and to the relationship, even if his partner unaware of that.

Tags: Ethics, Honesty, Infidelity, Marriage

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Question 3: Lying to Protect Privacy

Question: Is lying to protect one's own privacy moral or not? Many people regard lies to protect their own privacy as justifiable, even necessary. For example, a woman might tell her co-workers that she's not seeing anyone, even though she's dating the boss. She might tell those co-workers that she didn't get a hefty end-of-year bonus, even though she did. She might tell a nosy acquaintance that she didn't want children, rather than reveal her struggles with infertility. Is that wrong – or unwise? How could the woman protect her privacy in those circumstances without lying?

Answer, In Brief: A person should protect his privacy by advance planning, including cultivating his personal boundaries and social skills, rather than by suffering all the risks and harms of lying.

Tags: Ethics, Honesty, Privacy, Secrets

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Question 4: Important Ideological Disagreements

Question: How can Diana and Greg 'co-exist' with their difference regarding the question of personhood at/before birth, as seen in the 19 December 2010 show? I ask this especially in light of the discussion in the 26 December 2010 discussion of reality being binary. One of you is wrong on the personhood issue and the issue is so fundamental, I could never tolerate a dispute at this level with a close friend.

Answer, In Brief: Not all disagreements need be divisive. Approach others – particularly friends – with respect, give them good arguments and time to think through them, if the matter is important enough to discuss.

Tags: Abortion, Conflict, Philosophy, Pregnancy, Relationships, Sanction

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Question 5: Misused Words

Question: How should we act towards others with poor conceptual habits? How should one act towards others who consistently refuse to use some concepts properly? For example, those who call margarine "butter" despite the drastic difference in their chemical makeup.

Answer, In Brief: You should figure out why the person is misusing words – whether due to mistake, indifference, or malice, then act accordingly.

Tags: Epistemology, Language

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Question 6: Returning Lost Property

Question: Is there a proper policy on keeping lost property? If one were to find property that had been lost, is there a proper policy which would allow the finder to keep it? The most common example is finding an envelope full of money. Is one even morally obligated to report that he has found it? (Suppose that the owner cannot be immediately located, even with a decent amount of effort.)

Answer, In Brief: Because lost property belongs to someone else and because you want to live in a benevolent culture, you should make a reasonable effort to return that property to its rightful owner. Forgetful people like me really appreciate that!

Tags: Ethics, Law, Property, Rights

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Conclusion (58:06)

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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