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)

Morality, Guns with Kids, Tact, Abusive Marriage, and More

Webcast Q&A: 26 June 2011

I answered questions on morality and living well, the risk of guns with kids, tact versus honesty, staying in an abusive marriage for the kids, and more on 26 June 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: 26 June 2011


Question 1: Morality and Living Well

Question: What makes some action or choice of ethical concern? In your description of this webcast, you say that you answer questions on "practical ethics and the principles of living well." What's the line between those categories? When does a person acting unwisely cross the line into immorality? When does a person deserve moral praise for acting wisely? I'd appreciate a few examples, such as career choices, family relationships, eating habits, interacting with strangers, etc.

Answer, In Brief: Ethics concerns the fundamental principles that ought to guide our choices and actions, but many differences in people's choices are due to optional matters of style or values or honest mistake – not immorality.

Tags: Ethics, Life, Personal Values, Philosophy, Values

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Question 2: The Risk of Guns with Kids

Question: Should people give up their guns when they have kids? Many people think that having guns in the house with kids is terribly risky, if not child endangerment. They say that the kids might get to the guns, even if locked away, and injure or even kill themselves in an accidental discharge. Is that right? If parents choose to keep their guns in the house, what should they do to minimize the risk of injury?

Answer, In Brief: Don't try to kid-proof guns, but instead, gun-proof your kids by training them in the principles of gun safety.

Tags: Children, Ethics, Firearms, Parenting, Politics, Risk, Self-Defense

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Question 3: Tact Versus Honesty

Question: Is it dishonest to use tact when talking to someone? When I have something important to tell someone and I am concerned that the other person might be put on the defensive or have hurt feelings, I try to say what I need to say with tact. That is, I change what I say from brutal honesty to something easier for a person to hear and accept. However, I worry that I'm being dishonest in doing so. When does using tact cross the line into dishonesty?

Answer, In Brief: Tact may or may not be dishonest. Tact is a matter of style, not content, and sometimes (but not always) it's an effective method of communication.

Tags: Communication, Ethics, Etiquette, Honesty

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Question 4: Staying in an Abusive Marriage for the Kids

Question: Is it moral to stay in an abusive marriage for the sake of the children? Should a woman stay in a marriage where the husband is abusive toward her because she has kids with the husband and wants her kids to have some sort of future? Does it matter if the man in question has some – or even all – the financial capability?

Answer, In Brief: Yes, yes, yes! To stay in an abusive marriage for the sake of the children is a farce, because the children will be hugely damaged thereby. The woman needs to be the adult – and take responsibility for herself and her kids.

Tags: Children, Ethics, Marriage, Parenting, Rights, Romance

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Rapid Fire Questions (52:24)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Should Americans celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden?
  • Is nuclear power so risky that it should be banned?
  • What's the proper view of homosexuality and gay sex?
  • What's wrong with a person neglecting his pets and what should be done about such a person?
  • Is it okay to require training and have a permit system for guns?

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Conclusion (1:07:26)

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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