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)

Religious Morality, Ideological Conflicts, Parents, and More

Webcast Q&A: 10 April 2011

I answered questions on religious morality, ideological conflicts in romance, obligations to parents, pressure to procreate, progress in Objectivism, kids and religion, and more on 10 April 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.

My News of the Week: My current projects include my April 13th Webcast on Cultivating Moral Character and the update to Explore Atlas Shrugged.


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Segments: 10 April 2011


Question 1: Religious Morality

Question: Does morality require God? Many devoutly religious people claim that morality requires God. They say that without a supernatural lawgiver, anything would be morally permissible. Is that right? Are relativism or subjectivism the only alternatives to religious morality?

Answer, In Brief: Morality can and ought to be based on facts about man's nature and the nature of the universe. A morality dependent on God is subjective – and ultimately, just another form of relativism.

Tags: Atheism, Ethics, Relativism, Religion

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Question 2: Ideological Conflicts in Romance

Question: How should a person deal with ideological conflicts with a spouse? In particular, if a person discovers and embraces Objectivism while already in a serious relationship (perhaps marriage) with a non-Objectivist, what's the best way to deal with conflicts that arise due to divergent principles?

Answer, In Brief: Provided that the gap can be bridged, each person must be wholly honest with the other, while giving the other space to pursue his/her own values.

Tags: Compromise, Conflict, Dating, Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Relationships, Romance

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Question 3: Obligations to Parents

Question: Is it my responsibility to look after my parents in their old age? Should I expect to support my parents financially and/or care for them as they get older? More generally, what responsibilities do adult children have towards their parents, if any?

Answer, In Brief: An adult child has no duty to sacrifice himself for his parents, but he ought to assist them in proportion to his capacity and their value to him.

Tags: Adult Children, Ethics, Family, Finances, Obligation, Parenting, Responsibility, Sacrifice, Self-Sacrifice

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Question 4: Pressure to Procreate

Question: What do you say to parents pressuring you to have kids? Lately, my parents have been urging my wife and me to have kids. They really want grandkids, I think. So they've been dropping not-so-subtle hints to that effect. Also, they say that I'll regret not having kids, that kids are just part of being an adult, that I'll adore my own kids once I have them, and so on. What should I say in reply to those kinds of hints and comments?

Answer, In Brief: As with other personal decisions, you must establish and maintain your boundaries. Don't be wishy-washy, don't engage in repeated or prolonged discussions. Treat the question – in your own mind and in any discussions about it – as your own personal decision.

Tags: Adult Children, Children, Communication, Conflict, Family, Parenting, Parents, Relationships

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Question 5: Progress in Objectivism

Question: What were Ayn Rand's shortcomings in her understanding and/or practice of Objectivism? After having listened to a number of Rationally Selfish Webcast episodes, some passing statements make it sound like Ayn Rand had a complete understanding and perfect execution of Objectivism. I'm attracted to Objectivism as a rational approach to morality and philosophy but bothered by how untouchable Ayn Rand appears to be. To compare, Isaac Newton did wonders for the world of physics, but if we hadn't evolved his theories, our world would be far less advanced. Maybe a better question would be: What progress in understanding has been made by Objectivists since Ayn Rand's death?

Answer, In Brief: Objectivism is Ayn Rand's philosophy. It's a system of fundamental principles, not everything she said or believed. It's not equivalent to all philosophy, let alone all truth. The wonderful new work done by Objectivists scholars and intellectuals in recent years should be credited to them, not wrongly claimed to be part of Objectivism.

Tags: Objectivism, Philosophy, Progress

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Question 6: Kids and Religion

Question: Should atheistic parents encourage their children to explore religion? Why or why not? And if so, how?

Answer, In Brief: Kids should learn about religion, as a cultural and historical force. Parents should not dogmatize against religion, although parents should openly explain their own views when asked.

Tags: Atheism, Children, Communication, Education, Religion

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Conclusion (1:07:05)

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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