On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll discuss "Argument from Miracles for the Existence of God, Part 2" live with listeners. The live broadcast begins at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Thursday, 23 April 2015. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.

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.

Tags: Business, Economics, Ethics, Honesty, Justice


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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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