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)

Marriage, Last Names, Green Cards, Love, and More

Webcast Q&A: 23 October 2011

I answered questions on state involvement in marriage, last names in marriage, marrying someone for a Green Card, being too much crazy in love, and more on 23 October 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: As usual, I've been tending to Dr. Gimpy. I've also been programming for new web site, particularly splitting the audio files per question for the archives. Everything should be ready for launch in the first webcast in November, if not a bit sooner!


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Segments: 23 October 2011


Question 1: State Involvement in Marriage

Question: Should the state be involved in marriage contracts? Many people say that gay marriage shouldn't be a political issue, because the state shouldn't be involved in defining marriage at all. Is that right? Why or why not?

Answer, In Brief: We ought to separate politics and marriage, by treating marriage like any other contract. The state has a limited but crucial role to play in marriage to ensure that marriage contracts are objective, voluntary, and enforced. However, the state should not play social engineer by deciding who can get married or the terms of that marriage.

Tags: Free Society, Gay Marriage, GLBT, Government, Law, Marriage, Politics, Polygamy, Romance

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Question 2: Last Names in Marriage

Question: Should women adopt the last names of their husbands? In today's culture, some newly-married women adopt the family name of their husbands. Some keep their own last name. Some hyphenate their names together. Some use their maiden name for work, but their married name in their personal life. Some couples adopt a wholly new name for themselves. What do you think of these various options? Should the possibility of divorce affect a woman's decision? Should the husband have a say in the woman's decision? Should men be more willing to change their own last name to that of their new wife?

Answer, In Brief: A married couple has a wide range of options in last names, and they ought to choose whatever suits them best... except hyphenation.

Tags: Culture, Marriage, Romance

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Question 3: Marrying Someone for a Green Card

Question: Is it moral to marry someone just to obtain a green card? Given the difficulties of immigrating to the United States, is it immoral to circumvent those bad laws by marrying someone solely to obtain a green card? Would it matter if the person were a good friend?

Answer, In Brief: America's current immigration laws systematically violate rights, so it's not immoral to break them per se. But in this case, the sacrifice required would likely be too great.

Tags: Ethics, Immigration, Law, Marriage, Politics, Romance

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Question 4: Being Too Much Crazy in Love

Question: Is it irrational to be "crazy in love" with your boyfriend or girlfriend – such as wanting to keep an old shirt and other discarded items? Does it matter whether the relationship is in an early or later stage?

Answer, In Brief: Everything depends on what, how, and why is done, but people shouldn't invent attachments that don't yet or might never exist.

Tags: Dating, Emotions, Rationality, Romance

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:01:32)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Can it be written in the marriage contract that anyone can end their marriage at will?
  • What should you do to defuse an e-mail conversation that has gotten too heated?

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Conclusion (1:05:14)

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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