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Infidelity, Children, Abortion, PhDs, and More

Webcast Q&A: 23 January 2011

I answered questions on honesty about infidelity, pursuing someone already attached, children as an optional value, the morality of abortion, the value of a PhD, discrimination and rights, and more on 23 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: 23 January 2011


Question 1: Honesty about Infidelity

Question: If a woman, for example, has cheated on her husband, should she always tell him afterward? So if a woman cheats on her husband, then regrets doing so, and decides to re-commit herself to the marriage. Should she tell her husband about that infidelity? What if the cheating was a short fling rather than a serious affair? What if the revelation would seriously damage or even destroy the marriage?

Answer, In Brief: Whatever the consequences for the marriage, for the cheater to fail to tell the spouse is a major fraud.

Tags: Honesty, Infidelity, Marriage, Relationships, Romance

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Question 2: Pursuing Someone Already Attached

Question: Is it moral and/or wise to pursue someone else's "significant other"? In particular: (1) Is it immoral to try to pursue or court another person's committed romantic partner? (2) Would a rational woman want to be with a man, for example, who abandoned an existing relationship to be with with her? Also: (3) And if pursuing an already-attached person can be moral, do you have any advice about succeeding?

Answer, In Brief: Unless a person is married, he/she is still properly considered on the market, to some extent. But... beware the cheater.

Tags: Dating, Ethics, Relationships, Romance

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Question 3: Children as an Optional Value

Question: Why are children only an 'optional value'? What does it mean to say that children are an "optional" value? Does that mean that every person should regard them as optional in his/her life – or something else? Also, given that life is the standard of value and the none of us would exist without reproduction, don't we have a moral obligation to bear and raise the next generation?

Answer, In Brief: Children are a fantastic value to many people, but not necessary for a flourishing life.

Tags: Children, Ethics, Parenting, Personal Values

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Question 4: The Morality of Abortion

Question: When is abortion morally right or wrong? Is abortion only proper in "extreme" cases like risk to life or health of the mother, rape or incest, or serious fetal deformity? Is terminating a healthy but unwanted pregnancy morally wrong? Is it an evasion of responsibility for the known consequences of one's actions?

Answer, In Brief: A choice as important as whether to raise a child should not be determined by the biological accident of conception.

Tags: Abortion, Children, Ethics, Parenting, Pregnancy

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Question 5: The Value of a PhD

Question: Given your comments in a prior webcast about the pointlessness of much of modern college education, why did you get a PhD in philosophy? More generally, do you think that a Ph.D can be of value?

Answer, In Brief: The value of a Ph.D depends on a person's particular circumstances... but do think twice before doing that!

Tags: Academia, Education

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Question 6: Discrimination and Rights

Question: In the essay "Racism" in The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand mentions that public institutions and government agencies should not discriminate against or on behalf of individuals. In her talk of private property, however, she says that government should not attempt to prevent private racism in private establishments and that a man's rights are not violated by a private individual's refusal to deal with him. My question is: How are his rights not violated if the owner discriminates against him?

Answer, In Brief: A person's rights are not violated because someone else doesn't want anything to do with him – even if his reasons are vicious.

Tags: Business, Discrimination, Gender, Justice, Law, Property, Race

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Conclusion (59:09)

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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. 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 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 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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