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)

Moderation, Spying on Kids, Urban Legends, and More

Webcast Q&A: 17 July 2011

I answered questions on calls for moderation, spying on children, family members spreading urban legends, racism in dating, and more on 17 July 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: 17 July 2011


Question 1: Calls for Moderation

Question: What's right or wrong about calls for "moderation"? Many things are black and white, but sometimes moderation seems like the right course. For example, you don't want to stuff yourself full of every food that strikes your fancy, nor deny yourself foods that you enjoy. So you should eat moderately. Similarly, you don't want to agree to or deny every favor asked by a friend, but rather do some moderate amount. Is moderation a good guide in some areas of life?

Answer, In Brief: The supposed ideal of "moderation" ignores the complex array of values at stake in our decisions. Too often, it's just an excuse for unthinking adherence to the status quo. Instead, a person ought to identify the proper standards of value based his purposes and the means of achieving them, then act accordingly... even if that requires doing something quite "extreme" by conventional standards.

Tags: Absolutes, Aristotle, Ethics, Nutrition, Relationships

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Question 2: Spying on Children

Question: Is it proper (and sensible) for parents to "spy" on their children? Amid the recent controversy over the iPhone's location tracking database, I realized that some enterprising parents might use it to surreptitiously track their teenager's whereabouts. In most cases, I'd assume the parents have good intentions in doing so. Is this responsible parenting – or an invasion of the child's privacy?

Answer, In Brief: Children don't have a right to privacy, but parents shouldn't be "spying" on their kids, but rather setting and enforcing appropriate limits.

Tags: Children, Honesty, Parenting, Technology

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Question 3: Family Members Spreading Urban Legends

Question: How should I respond to the urban legends forwarded by a family member? I've repeatedly pointed this family member to Snopes.com, in response to his forwarding of yet another urban legend. I keep hoping that he'll get the hint – and check for himself before hitting the "forward" button. Yet he never does so, and he's sending false, defamatory, and/or possibly dangerous information to everyone in his address book. This person is pretty smart – and he's kind and friendly. I'd hate to do anything that would mar our relationship. What should I do?

Answer, In Brief: Be clear about what you want from the family member – then ask for that, firmly but kindly.

Tags: Epistemology, Family, Honesty, Internet, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Rationality

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Question 4: Racism in Dating

Question: Is it racist to refuse to date people of a certain ethnic background? Recently, black singer Jill Scott said that she felt her soul "wince" whenever a black man married a white woman. Many people have denounced that as racism, and I agree with that. However, I was shocked to see a black man (known to me only via Facebook) say that he'd never date a white woman due to the history of slavery in America. He even suggested that Tiger Woods was some kind of traitor to his race for marrying blonde beauty Ellen Nordegren. Is that racist?

Answer, In Brief: People are individuals, and ought to be treated as such. To judge people as worthy or not based on ethnic origin is racist – whoever does it!

Tags: Dating, Discrimination, Marriage, Race, Racism, Relationships

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Rapid Fire Questions (43:48)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Is it okay to act "moderately" when you don't know what the proper standards are?
  • Should spouses share internet logins and passwords?
  • What's wrong with hippies?
  • Should people clap (or otherwise make noise) in the middle of movies?
  • What about hipsters?
  • Is fidelity to one person in marriage a psychological issue – i.e. the special sciences – rather than a philosophical matter?
  • What's the value of saying "I love you" to your significant other – and doesn't it get old if said too much?
  • Do you think that it's irrational for a person to only date people with certain genetic traits, such as blonde hair?
  • What do you think about organic farming?

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Conclusion (1:00:08)

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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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