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)

Love, Bisexuality, Asking Someone Out, and More

Webcast Q&A: 20 March 2011

I answered questions on the nature of love, unrequited love, bisexuality and relationships with men and women, hypotheticals in ethics, recommending the upcoming Atlas Shrugged movie, asking a person out, and more on 20 March 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: 20 March 2011


Question 1: The Nature of Love

Question: What is love? How would you distinguish between romantic love and the love of close friendship? What is the difference between infatuation and love? How can a rational person know when he or she is "in love"?

Answer, In Brief: For a person to be in love with another person does not just concern the strength of the emotional attachment, but also the nature of the relationship and depth of knowledge of the other person.

Tags: Friendship, Love, Relationships, Romance

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Question 2: Unrequited Love

Question: How does one best deal with unrequited love? I am most interested in this from the perspective of someone who harbors feelings for a friend. In particular, how do you "move on"? When I have been in this situation, I have found it difficult to be interested in others I'm trying to date when so "hung up". Is it necessary to distance oneself from the object of one's affection, even if it means to some extent giving up a life-enhancing friendship? What if one would rather remain single than diminish the friendship? Can that be a rational choice? If so, for how long? Does the answer change if the initial rejection was not unequivocal, but based on some possibly temporary circumstances (like a current relationship)?

Answer, In Brief: While much depends on the particular circumstances, the crucial question is whether the friendship can be maintained as a friendship despite the love-interest or not – or whether feelings of angst or jealousy are simply so strong as to require a break.

Tags: Conflict, Dating, Emotions, Friendship, Introspection, Jealousy, Relationships, Romance

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Question 3: Bisexuality and Relationships with Men and Women

Question: If one is bisexual and derives different values from relationships/sex with men than with women, is it proper to maintain concurrent relationships with both? Assume here, that if such an individual were to forsake having a relationship or sex with either gender, he/she would feel like something is missing and would long for the other.

Answer, In Brief: It's not possible, in my view, to maintain a deep and meaningful sexual relationship with more than one person. So the answer to this dilemma seems to lie in introspection and perhaps experimentation.

Tags: Dating, GLBT, Monogamy, Relationships, Romance, Sex

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Question 4: Hypotheticals in Ethics

Question: Are hypothetical scenarios useful in ethics? In your 27 February 2011 webcast, you talked about a hypothetical in which saving a stranger costs $200 and two hours of time. How can you know such details, except by stipulation? Aren't such hypotheticals useless because they're not the like the circumstances that people actually face, which usually involve lots of unknowns?

Answer, In Brief: Hypotheticals are useful in ethics provided that they are metaphysically and epistemically realistic.

Tags: Ethics

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Question 5: Recommending the Upcoming Atlas Shrugged Movie

Question: Assuming the Atlas Shrugged movie turns out to be decent, would it be immoral to recommend it to others since the movie is backed by a trustee of The Atlas Society?

Answer, In Brief: While the movie's connection to The Atlas Society is regrettable (see why), that connection is tenuous enough that recommending the movie cannot be construed as an endorsement thereof. However, the critical thing is that people recommend reading the book, not just watch the movie!

Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Film, Sanction

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Question 6: Asking a Person Out

Question: How should one approach a girl one is interested in? How does one go about asking her on a date?

Answer, In Brief: Be straightforward: ask to spend some time together based on the nature of your interest (which should be more than mere looks).

Tags: Communication, Dating, Relationships, Romance

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Conclusion (1:00:19)

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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