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Mistakes, Body Modifications, Evasion, and More

Webcast Q&A: 13 November 2011

I answered questions on admitting mistakes at work, aesthetic body modifications, evasion versus rationalization versus context-dropping, how to decline too-expensive outings, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on 13 November 2011. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download the podcast below.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

My News of the Week: Dr. Gimpy has moved from crutches to a cane! Hooray! I've been making tweaks to the new web site, in between talking to high school students in Frisco (Colorado) about The Fountainhead and Objectivism and attending FreedomWorks' BlogCon 2011.

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  • Duration: 1:02:41

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Segments: 13 November 2011


Question 1: Admitting Mistakes at Work (4:23)

Question: Should you always own up to your mistakes? Recently, I made a huge mistake at work, accidentally discarding some very important files. When inquiry was made, I denied knowing anything about it. Should I have fessed up?

Answer, In Brief: Everyone makes mistakes, and it's neither moral nor practical to conceal your mistakes by deception. Don't evade your problems – face them openly and fix them!

Tags: Business, Character, Ethics, Honesty, Moral Wrongs, Responsibility, Work

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Question 2: Aesthetic Body Modifications (22:19)

Question: What kinds of aesthetic body modifications are moral or immoral? What differentiates piercing your ears from circumcision? Is tattooing moral? Does the amount of tattoos matter? What about stretching, piercing kids' ears, scarring, dying hair, plastic surgery, and so on? Where do you draw the line – and why?

Answer, In Brief: A person needs to think seriously about the purpose, value, and costs of any aesthetic body modification. It's not enough to want it now: you need to know that you'll happy with it in years to come.

Tags: Beauty, Body Modification

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Question 3: Evasion Versus Rationalization Versus Context-Dropping (33:43)

Question: How are evasion, rationalization, and context-dropping similar and different? When thinking over a problem I notice that these terms can often be applied simultaneously. So what do they mean – and how are they similar and different?

Answer, In Brief: Evasion is the fundamental phenomena, and the source of evil. Rationalization and context-dropping are two common methods of concealing and thereby assisting that evasion.

Tags: Abortion, Emotions, Epistemology, Ethics, Infidelity, Marriage, Politics, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology

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Question 4: How to Decline Too-Expensive Outings (42:40)

Question: How can I politely decline outings with friends that I cannot afford? Recently, a friend proposed an outing that was far too costly for my limited budget. In such cases, how do you recommend telling the person that it's too pricey? If the person then offers to pay my way, is it wrong to accept that? I don't want to be an object of charity, nor pressure my friends into paying for me in any way.

Answer, In Brief: You should be be up-front about the fact that you can't afford the outing, and propose an alternative within your budget.

Tags: Conflict, Ethics, Finances, Friendship, Honesty, Relationships

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Rapid Fire Questions (48:56)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • What kind of respect is due to people to whom we owe a great personal debt, but who sometimes say or do things publicly that we disagree with?
  • What's the point of adhering to conventions in clothing, e.g. casual versus business versus formal?
  • What do you think of Occupy Wall Street?
  • How do you deal with people who flirt with your attractive girlfriend or boyfriend?
  • What do you think of a person who hits on married women?
  • Voting for or against a measure on the basis of who advocates them is second-handed, yes?
  • Why do online arguments about very peripheral and non-essential values (e.g., Android vs. iPhone) generate such intense fervor almost akin to a medieval religious debate?

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Conclusion (1:01:43)

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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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