William Hickman, Sustainable Agriculture, and More
Webcast Q&A: 9 October 2011
I answered questions on Ayn Rand's alleged admiration for William Hickman, the validity of sustainable agriculture, product placements in art, teaching young people to use credit cards wisely, and more on 9 October 2011. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.
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Segments: 9 October 2011
Question: Did Ayn Rand draw inspiration from the serial-killer William Hickman? I ask due to this article by Mark Ames on Alternet: "Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer." According to the article, Rand idolized the serial killer William Hickman and used him as inspiration for the leads male characters in her books, notably Howard Roark. Also, Rand is said to seek an environment in which sociopaths like Hickman can thrive. Are these claims true or not? If so, would they affect the validity of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism?
Answer, In Brief: The article is a baseless, dishonest smear. If a person wants to reject Ayn Rand's ideas, he should do so on the basis of her actual mature views, not invented claims based on private journal entries written when she was 23 about a long-since abandoned writing project.
Question: Is "sustainable agriculture" a legitimate concept? Many advocates of a paleo diet also advocate "sustainable agriculture," including Robb Wolf and Mat Lelonde. Is sustainable agriculture a valid concept? What does (or should) it entail? Should consumers be concerned that their food producers practice "sustainable agriculture"?
Answer, In Brief: The ideology of "sustainability" is a package-deal of legitimate concerns in agriculture and leftist collectivist nonsense. "Sustainability" is a false moral standard, and farmers need free markets, not more controls.
Question: Is product placement in art a breach of artistic integrity? Given that an artist must select every aspect of an artistic work, does delegating some selection to the highest bidder breach the integrity of the work? Does the type of artwork matter? Would it be okay in movies, television, and literature but not paintings? Why?
Answer, In Brief: Here, the crucial question is not whether the artist is paid, but whether he's exercising proper selectivity in his art. If an artwork refers to or includes some element (whether a product or not, whether paid or not) that detracts from its theme, then to include that element is an artistic failure.
Question: How can young adults learn to use credit cards responsibly? Some young adults (usually college students) seem to make terrible financial decisions, often getting themselves into serious and overwhelming credit card debt. Others seem to handle their new financial responsibilities just fine. How would you recommend that parents teach their teenage children to use credit cards wisely? What advice would you give to young people headed to college about managing their finances well?
Answer, In Brief: Parents need to teach kids more than just managing credit cards: they need to teach them a reality-oriented approach to managing their own personal finances.
Rapid Fire Questions (57:40)
- Is being overly sensitive of what others think of your naked body a sign that you are a social metaphysician?
- In the same way that 'sustainable agriculture' is a package deal, is the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd likewise mixing something real with bad ideas?
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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.
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.
I can be reached via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.