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Regrets, Forgiveness, Heavy Drinking, and More

Webcast Q&A: 6 March 2011

I answered questions on regrets over past mistakes, the necessity of forgiveness, heavy drinking, making fun of others, ending relationships, the bother of honesty, and more on 6 March 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: 6 March 2011


Question 1: Regrets over Past Mistakes

Question: Does a rational person feel regret over past mistakes? Clearly it is most productive to focus on the positive: What can you learn from your mistakes? Etc. Does this mean regret can be eliminated? What do you make of people who say they never have any regrets?

Answer, In Brief: Moral regrets are optional, as morality is always a matter of choice. Ordinary regrets over something that turned out badly are inevitable, and they should not be a source of guilt.

Tags: Emotions, Ethics, Judgment, Justice, Moral Wrongs

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Question 2: The Necessity of Forgiveness

Question: Is forgiveness necessary? Religious connotations aside, popular psychology often tells us that we must forgive those who have hurt us, even if they are no longer in our lives. It's "healthy". Is forgiveness really necessary to emotional healing? Should I forgive, if the offending party hasn't recognized his/her fault?

Answer, In Brief: Forgiveness must be earned by the person who acted wrongly, but a person can always accept that a wrongdoing happened and choose to move on with his life.

Tags: Ethics, Forgiveness, Judgment, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Redemption

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Question 3: Heavy Drinking

Question: What's right or wrong about "heavy drinking"? A while ago, you got into a heated discussion on Facebook about the rationality of what could be described as "heavy drinking." (The CDC defines "heavy drinking" as "consuming an average of more than 2 drinks per day" for men and "consuming an average of more than 1 drink per day" for women.) What's your view of such drinking – and why?

Answer, In Brief: "Heavy drinking" is a loaded term, but if a person is regularly drinking to the point of tipsiness or worse, then that's a sign of something amiss in the person's life.

Tags: Addiction, Alcohol/Drugs, Ethics

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Question 4: Making Fun of Others

Question: Is it moral to make fun of others? Can mocking, or making fun of others ever be good? For instance, many people use it as a way of showing that they dislike someone without having to be direct about it.

Answer, In Brief: So long as it's done honestly, poking good fun at the evil, the incompetent, and the silly can be moral.

Tags: Ethics, Humor

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Question 5: Ending Relationships

Question: What is the best way to cut someone out of one's life? When ending a friendship with someone is one obliged to give them reasons or is a simple "I no longer want to have a friendship with you" sufficient? What if the person would not accept the reasons or maybe even be driven to revenge or depression by such an action?

Answer, In Brief: It's often very productive to speak to a person about problems in your relationship, particularly before any end to the relationship. As a default, friends should explain their reasons for ending a relationship.

Tags: Conflict, Friendship, Judgment, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Relationships

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Question 6: The Bother of Honesty

Question: Why bother being honest, when surrounded by dishonest people? Why not lie, just a little bit to "get ahead". If the guy next to you "games the system" aren't you leaving yourself at a disadvantage? Isn't honesty and integrity, when dealing with people only important if everyone respects those virtues? Why play a game when the rules keep changing?

Answer, In Brief: Life is not a Prisoner's Dilemma! The virtues are necessary to life and happiness, particularly when others are act viciously.

Tags: Ethics, Honesty, Relationships

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Conclusion (58:45)

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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 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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