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Unhealthy Food, Voting, Holidays, and More

Webcast Q&A: 6 November 2011

I answered questions on working for a minister, giving away unhealthy food, voting for horrible politicians, celebrating holidays, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on 6 November 2011. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download the podcast below.

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Segments: 6 November 2011


Question 1: Working for a Minister (5:28)

Question: Is working for a minister giving religion moral sanction? As an atheist, I once worked for an ordained minster who was the owner of a gallery. I became his manager when I made it clear that I was an atheist, but that I was a good framing manager. I don't think I gave him a moral sanction for his irrationality by working for him under those terms. What do you think?

Answer, In Brief: An atheist shouldn't want to endorse or assist religion, but that doesn't preclude secular business relationships with religious believers.

Tags: Atheism, Business, Christianity, Ethics, Integrity, Judgment, Justice, Religion, Work

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Question 2: Giving Away Unhealthy Food (17:16)

Question: Is it immoral to give away food that you regard as unhealthy? Assuming that one believes (as I do) that candy and sweets are harmful to health (especially in quantity), is it immoral to participate in trick-or-treat by giving children candy when they come to your door? Or, is it immoral to "dispose" of an unwanted gift of, say, a rich chocolate cake by leaving it by the coffee machine at work to be quickly scarfed up by one's co-workers (as an alternative to simply discarding it)? Is the morality of these two cases different because in one case the recipients are children while in the other case they are adults?

Answer, In Brief: If I give a person something, it's because I value them. So I'd rather not give people something damaging, particularly if they're oblivious to its dangers. Ultimately, however, people are going to make their own decisions about what to eat.

Tags: Diet, Ethics, Health, Integrity, Nutrition, Paleo, Responsibility

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Question 3: Voting for Horrible Politicians (30:07)

Question: All the candidates are nearly perfectly horrid, just in different ways. Why should I even bother to vote?

Answer, In Brief: We're not always faced with choice between two varieties of evil in elections, and in those cases, it's proper to vote. Also, it's good to vote for ballot measures. So vote selectively!

Tags: Abortion, Elections, Politics, Republican Party, Rights, Rights, Voting

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Question 4: Celebrating Holidays (37:20)

Question: What is the value of celebrating holidays? How do you think holidays should or should not be celebrated? Also, what is your favorite holiday and how do you like to celebrate it?

Answer, In Brief: The joy of holidays is not just a break from ordinary life but also a sense of personal integration and community fellowship. Holidays should be celebrated selfishly, so that they're meaningful and enjoyable!

Tags: Holidays, Personal Values, Tradition

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Rapid Fire Questions (44:09)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Ayn Rand said publicly that homosexuality was immoral and disgusting. If you were around at the time, would you say publicly that her view was "horribly ignorant, armchair philosophizing at its worst ... truly unjustified and unjust" – as you said about Dr. Peikoff's views of transexuals?
  • What do you think of Dr. Hurd's strategy of voting in anyone including Romney just to get rid of Obama?
  • Why is Gary Johnson being excluded from the debates?
  • Does Herman Cain really want to ban abortion?
  • What's wrong with Roe v Wade?
  • To what degree has Cain benefitted from affirmative action and white guilt?
  • Is instituting daylight savings time a proper function of government?
  • What is your favorite holiday music?

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Conclusion (1:00:36)

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing in 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 Thursday 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 Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or chat about a topic of interest.

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