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)

Introspection, JK Rowling, Ignoring News, and More

Webcast Q&A: 7 August 2011

I answered questions on introspection, JK Rowling's welfare payments, ignoring current news and politics, meeting estranged former friends, and more on 7 August 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: I've been having all kinds of paleo fun at the Ancestral Health Symposium this week!

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Segments: 7 August 2011

Question 1: Introspection

Question: What is introspection? Why should a person introspect? What should a person introspect about – or not? How can a person introspect effectively?

Answer, In Brief: Introspection is indispensable to life: without it, you're driven to speak and act based on who-know-what from the dark depths of your mind. Also, nothing is off-limits to introspection.

Tags: Emotions, Ethics, Introspection, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology

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Question 2: JK Rowling's Welfare Payments

Question: Should JK Rowling repay the British government for welfare payments made to her? She famously wrote the first Harry Potter novel while "on the dole." She has been fabulously successful since then, but she likely could not have written that first book without state support. Should she now pay back all the government welfare paid to her during that period?

Answer, In Brief: JK Rowling has has no obligation to repay the welfare payments made to her, because already repaid them millions of times over. The same is true for any now-productive person formerly on welfare.

Tags: Ethics, Government, Justice, Literature, Statism, Taxes, Welfare

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Question 3: Ignoring Current News and Politics

Question: Is it wrong to not keep up with current news and politics? Every time I open a newspaper's website I feel overwhelmed by all the crap going on in the world and disheartened by the bad politics. It feels like a soul-draining activity and a waste of time. I feel better not reading the news, but I also feel a tad guilty for not being aware of the pending laws and current events that affect me. So should I try to keep up with the news more or not?

Answer, In Brief: A person should only keep tabs on the political news if doing so serves some purpose for him, such as furthering political activism. While very person ought to promote his values in the culture in some way, as a matter of self-interest, not every person should be a political activist.

Tags: Activism, Culture, Ethics, Politics

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Question 4: Meeting Estranged Former Friends

Question: What should you do when you meet someone who treated you badly in the past? Recently, I ran into a person at an event who I used to know as a fellow member of a local discussion group. When he left the group about a year ago, he posted a long rambling e-mail to our mailing list condemning us for all kinds of imaginary sins. The letter was unfair and rude – not to mention wholly unnecessary. I avoided talking to him when I saw him recently, but I wish I'd said something pointed to him. What, if anything, should I have said?

Answer, In Brief: In general, you should avoid the person as much as possible, but if you must speak, be chilly and cool.

Tags: Communication, Conflict, Ethics, Judgment, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Relationships

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Rapid Fire Questions (45:14)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Why did you say in answer to a prior Rapid Fire Question that Richard Dawkins dedicated his career to finding a biological basis for altruism?
  • Might someone who strongly prefers one racial type over another for dating be a racist?
  • Shouldn't egoists want want others to be altruists?
  • What would stop an egoist from selling his children into slavery, if paid enough?
  • What would stop an egoist from kill others over tiny slights and offenses?
  • How should you respond when someone attempts to guilt you into sacrificing yourself for a group that you're involved in?
  • How should you respond when someone looks down on you for your virtues, e.g. atheism, justice, honesty, etc?

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Conclusion (1:01:53)

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

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