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)

Immigration, Life Extension, Lost Money, and More

Webcast Q&A: 14 August 2011

I answered questions on proper immigration policy, cryonics and life extension, returning lost money, deliberately losing a pricey library book, and more on 14 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.

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Segments: 14 August 2011


Question 1: Proper Immigration Policy

Question: Why should a free country have open borders? In your July 24th webcast, you agreed with the questioner that the current laws restricting immigration are wrong. Why? Shouldn't Americans be able to restrict immigration, if they so choose? What, if any, limits should be set on immigration?

Answer, In Brief: A policy of open immigration is the only moral policy for a free society because it's the only policy that respects individual rights. It's also the only practical policy because immigrants enhance the culture and the economy. Opposition to immigration almost always stems from collectivism.

Tags: Conservatism, Economics, Ethics, Free Society, Immigration, Law, Politics

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Question 2: Cryonics and Life Extension

Question: What's the proper view of using cryonics as a means of extending one's life? Suppose there is at least a small chance that, if I am cryonically frozen in the coming years, doctors will be able to revive me at some point in the future. And suppose that the cost is not an impediment – meaning that I don't have to give up any other important values in order to pay. Would this then be morally required because life is the standard of value? Would it be morally optional? Or is there some reason why it would be irrational?

Answer, In Brief: If you're considering cryonics, you should think seriously about range of possible outcomes, as well as how else that money could be spent. In the end, if you think it worth doing, then do it. If not, then don't.

Tags: Ethics, Health, Life, Life Extension

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Question 3: Returning Lost Money

Question: If you find money in a house that you've purchased should you return it? A man recently found about $45,000 hidden in the house that he'd recently bought. (See this article.) It was saved up by the prior owner, now dead. He returned it to the man's children. Should the buyer of the house have returned the money? Was he morally or legally obligated to do so? If not, was doing so foolish or altruistic?

Answer, In Brief: In some such cases, you cannot regard yourself as morally entitled to the money, even if it's legally yours. In that case, you should return it, and to fail to do so would be a breech of integrity.

Tags: Benevolence, Ethics, Honesty, Justice, Property, Property, Rights

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Question 4: Deliberately Losing a Pricey Library Book

Question: Is it moral to "defraud" a public library? There is an out-of-print book that I can't get for less than $100, a price I am not willing to pay. My library has a copy but they won't offer it for sale. Is it wrong to tell the library it is "lost" and just pay the fees, assuming they are reasonable? Does it matter that the library is an illegitimate government program that I'm taxed to support?

Answer, In Brief: To do that would be dishonest, because you're faking reality to gain a value. Even though the library is a government entity, you're not forced to deal with it, and you shouldn't use the government to obtain a good that you're not willing to pay market rates for.

Tags: Ethics, Government, Honesty, Politics

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Rapid Fire Questions (51:24)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • What do philosophers mean when they talk about "zombies"?
  • Should Israel allow unlimited immigration?
  • Would you control the rate of entry in immigration?
  • What other policies might need to be changed with open immigration?
  • What do you think of Yaron Brook's "buy a house, get a green card" proposal?

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Conclusion (1:00:21)

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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