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Immortality, Illegal Immigrants, Concealed Carry, and More

Webcast Q&A: Sunday, 24 July 2011

I answered questions on the effects of immortality on ethics, the morality of hiring illegal immigrants, the reasons for carrying a concealed weapon, explaining egoism to others, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday, 24 July 2011. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download the podcast below.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

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Segments: 24 July 2011


Question 1: The Effects of Immortality on Ethics (2:49)

Question: If science can someday secure immortality, would that affect a person's values and morals? Imagine that scientists discover how to keep our bodies forever young, that all diseases were prevented or cured by nanotechnology, and that we could withstand massive amounts of physical force, virtually all extremes of temperature, and all forms of radiation due to robotic and genetic enhancements. Imagine, in short, that a person could only die by being sucked into a black hole, but that would never happen because we know where all of them are and could easily avoid them. Would this change anything fundamental about human life, particularly about ethics? Given that the Objectivist ethics is founded on the conditionality of life, would and should virtually immortal people still pursue their happiness and other values? Would ethics have to be redefined or put on a new foundation?

Answer, In Brief: Be realistic in thinking about ethics! Even if scientists conquer aging and other common causes of death, life will still require the dogged pursuit of rationally selfish values – and the result of failure is death.

Tags: Ethics, Life Extension, Values

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Question 2: The Morality of Hiring Illegal Immigrants (14:14)

Question: Is it immoral to hire illegal immigrants? While laws restricting immigration seem terribly irrational – both in terms of intent and effects – they are still technically the law. Illegal immigrants often make themselves available for day-to-day work, and hiring them for a day has an almost zero chance of legal punishment for myself for having hired them. Is it moral to disobey an irrational law if I'm unlikely to be punished for it?

Answer, In Brief: Laws restricting immigration are destructive, irrational, and unworthy of respect. Illegal immigrants and their employers are victims of unjust laws, not criminals.

Tags: Business, Ethics, Immigration, Law, Politics

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Question 3: The Reasons for Carrying a Concealed Weapon (23:29)

Question: Why would an ordinary person wish to carry a gun? In your July 3rd webcast, you mentioned that you have a concealed carry permit. Why? Even if a person should be allowed to carry a firearm, shouldn't we rely on the experts – namely the police – to protect us from criminals?

Answer, In Brief: To carry a concealed firearm is not just practical, but moral too. Every person ought take responsibility for his own life, including defending it when threatened by a criminal.

Tags: Ethics, Firearms, Law, Politics, Self-Defense

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Question 4: Explaining Egoism to Others (34:35)

Question: Why should I be an egoist? How do you explain that in layman's terms to someone in your life?

Answer, In Brief: When explaining to someone why you're an egoist – or what that means – draw on your own personal experience to make your answers clear and meaningful.

Tags: Communication, Egoism, Ethics, Self-Interest

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Rapid Fire Questions (47:43)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • What's your preferred firearm – and is that what you carry?
  • What do you think of the new atheists like Richard Dawkins?
  • How do you respond when people say that they're going to pray for you?
  • How do you respond when people ask you to pray for them?
  • What do you do when you're eating dinner with people who pray before eating?
  • Shouldn't an egoist want other people to be altruists?

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Conclusion (1:04:25)

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing 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 Sunday mornings and most Wednesday 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 Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of interest.

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