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)

Open Minds, Long-Distance Romance, Peanut Bans, and More

Webcast Q&A: 1 May 2011

I answered questions on open minds, long-distance relationships, peanut bans in schools, love at first sight, Objectivist Free State Project, virtue as a mean, and more on 1 May 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: On Tuesday, I hope to put a dent in Colorado's campaign finance laws. Also, I'm still working on my updates to Explore Atlas Shrugged.


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Segments: 1 May 2011


Question 1: Open Minds

Question: When should a rational person be open-minded? Many people seem to have a mistaken idea of what it means to have an open mind. Where should a person draw the line between (a) listening to an opinion/idea and considering its value and (b) writing off the idea/opinion as hogwash?

Answer, In Brief: A person needs an active, critical mind – not an open mind.

Tags: Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophy, Psycho-Epistemology

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Question 2: Long-Distance Relationships

Question: What do you think of long-distance relationships? Do you see any dangers in long-distance relationships? Hasn't the internet made such relationships nearly as good as living in the same city?

Answer, In Brief: Long-distance relationships are a pale shadow of in-person relationships, because two people cannot integrate their lives long-distance.

Tags: Dating, Friendship, Love, Relationships, Romance

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Question 3: Peanut Bans in Schools

Question: Are peanut bans in schools immoral? In particular, do restrictions on certain types of food in schools (such as peanuts due to a known peanut allergy) infringe on the rights of the parents of the non-allergic kids to determine the type of diet their children follow? Are the parents of the non-allergic kids making an immoral sacrifice by following the 'no-peanut' rules? What about parents who choose to ignore the rule and send the food to school anyway? Would this scenario be any different in a private school versus a government school?

Answer, In Brief: For school to ban peanuts due to serious allergy of student is morally right and proper, because it's the most simple and effective means of eliminating a major risk to life and health of a kid in its care.

Tags: Allergies, Benevolence, Children, Education, Ethics, Health, Parenting, Schools

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Question 4: Love at First Sight

Question: Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?

Answer, In Brief: Attraction and interest is possible at first sight, but not love, because love requires deep knowledge of a person and deep affinity based on fundamental values.

Tags: Character, Dating, Emotions, Love, Relationships, Romance, Values

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Question 5: Objectivist Free State Project

Question: Where is the best place in the country for an Objectivist to live? The Free State Project in New Hampshire is proving to be a success for libertarians; especially in the town of Keene. I wonder if there might be some potential for a critical mass of Objectivists along similar lines. Is this even worthwhile?

Answer, In Brief: An Objectivist "Free State" Project would not be effective, nor selfish. Instead, every rationally selfish person should live in whatever location most suits his values.

Tags: Community, Free Society, Libertarianism, Objectivism, Politics

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Question 6: Virtue as a Mean

Question: Is Aristotle's concept of virtue as a mean between extremes of vices valid? In philosophy class my professor attributed the idea of the "Golden Mean" to Aristotle. I understand the concept, and I agree with the principle to some extent, but it still does not sit right with me somehow. (Perhaps the problem is the idea of moderation for moderation's sake.) Is this idea valid as is, or is the essence right with a sloppy framework?

Answer, In Brief: Aristotle's doctrine of virtue as a mean is an attempt to make ethics objective. The theory is wrong, but not as wrong as the common doctrine of "moderation for moderation's sake."

Tags: Aristotle, Ethics, Philosophy

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Conclusion (59:09)

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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