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)

Moral Judgments, Online Jerks, Tattoos, and More

Webcast Q&A: 16 January 2011

I answered questions on judgments of actions and ideas, judging people efficiently, online jerks, seeking popularity, tattoos and piercings, dating a pot-smoker, and more on 16 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: 16 January 2011


Question 1: Judgments of Actions and Ideas

Question: How does one properly judge a person's actions and ideas? I've read that one can judge a person's ideas as good or evil based on whether they are true or false, respectively. I've also read/heard that it's usually better to judge a person's actions since people often aren't very exact in their ideas and in what they say. Should you judge a persons ideas or actions? Or both? And, what is the proper way to judge a person's ideas and actions?

Answer, In Brief: You should judge a person for his whole person – meaning his thinking, ideas, and actions. But take care to focus on his serious commitments.

Tags: Ethics, Evil, Judgment, Justice, Sanction

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Question 2: Judging People Efficiently

Question: How can I judge people more efficiently? It would be helpful to be more efficient in judging whether certain individuals are appropriate for a friendship. Sometimes it takes me a long time to decide whether I would like to be friends with someone or not. It takes me even longer to decide whether I would like to be in a romantic relationship with someone. How can I speed this process up? What are some key factors that might help me make these types of decisions more efficiently?

Answer, In Brief: Relationships are not all or nothing. Allow the intimacy of the relationship to develop naturally, notice and judge what emerges, and then move closer or back off accordingly.

Tags: Dating, Dating, Ethics, Friendship, Judgment, Justice, Relationships, Romance

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Question 3: Online Jerks

Question: Why are some people such jerks on the internet? Some seemingly decent people become downright malicious bastards on the internet, particularly when posting anonymously. Why is that? What does such behavior say about a person's moral character? How can a person keep his manners, his benevolence, and his cool in full force when online?

Answer, In Brief: The possibility of anonymity and psychological distance of online communication often makes being a jerk easy, so watch for those tendencies in yourself.

Tags: Character, Communication, Conflict, Ethics, Internet, Judgment, Justice, Relationships, Social Media

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Question 4: Seeking Popularity

Question: Is it always wrong to seek popularity? Because of the character Peater Keating I can't figure out in what context it would be right for an Objectivist to value or desire popularity, if at all.

Answer, In Brief: The moral problem with Peter Keating was his second-handed mode of thinking and acting, not his seeking of popularity per se. Popularity can be a rational value, in some contexts.

Tags: Ethics, Fame, Independence

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Question 5: Tattoos and Piercings

Question: Are tattoos or piercings – all of them, or just some kinds – irrational and/or self-destructive? If so, why?

Answer, In Brief: The rationality of body art depends largely on what a person does and why. Given its permanence, a person should be careful that it reflects his values and enhances the beauty of his body.

Tags: Body Modification, Ethics

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Question 6: Dating a Pot-Smoker

Question: Is it proper to date a girl who smokes pot? This woman, while not being an Objectivist, has many great qualities like being smart, attractive, funny, pro-reason and pro-man in general. She, however, likes to smoke marijuana. She says that it provides a great pleasure and relaxes her body and mind after a long day of work. What should I do about it? Confront her? Immediately break up with her?

Answer, In Brief: Regular marijuana use is a red flag for a person with problems in life, but try having a conversation – or two or three – to understand her views and your own. Also, a 30-day pot-free challenge might be very telling for everyone.

Tags: Addiction, Alcohol/Drugs, Dating, Egoism, Ethics, Judgment, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Relationships, Romance, Self-Interest

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Conclusion (59:46)

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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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