The Morality of Free Riding
Webcast Q&A: 17 April 2011, Question 2
I answered a question on the morality of free riding on 17 April 2011. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.
Is it morally wrong to be a free rider? Some people say that it's wrong to be a free rider – for example, by sneaking into a movie without paying for it, using a gas station bathroom without buying anything, accepting a ride to the airport but refusing to return the favor, hiking on trails in your community without helping to maintain them, or enjoying the Christmas lights of your neighbors without putting up your own. In such cases, you seem to be enjoying a benefit from someone else that you've not paid for or earned. Isn't that unjust, and hence, morally wrong?
My Answer, In Brief: The term "free rider" is a massive package-deal. Any action ought to serve your long-term rational self-interest: you must act virtuously and respect the rights of others. Within that framework, the myriad benefits available to you from living in society ought to be accepted and enjoyed.
- Duration: 11:06
- Download: MP3 Segment (3.8 MB)
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- "The 'Conflicts' of Men's Interests" in The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand
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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.
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.
I can be reached via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.