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)

Tenacity, Sex without Love, Inept Co-Workers, and More

Webcast Q&A: 8 January 2012

I answered questions on tenacity in pursuit of goals, sex without love, the ethics of helping inept co-workers, giving back to your communities, and more on 8 January 2012. 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: Welcome to 2012! Sadly, our friend and hero Objectivist historian John Lewis died on Tuesday. See John Lewis, Hero and Friend by me and Remembering John Lewis by Paul Hsieh. On the two week break, I've been doing lots of blogging at NoodleFood, plus updates to the Philosophy in Action. Mostly, I'm glad to be webcasting again!


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Segments: 8 January 2012


Question 1: Tenacity in Pursuit of Goals

Question: How can I become more tenacious in pursuit of my goals? I find that I give up too easily on some of my goals, particularly when success is far away and much effort is required now. What can I do to make myself more tenacious?

Answer, In Brief: Tenacity is an important quality of character to cultivate, but it must be used selectively. If tenacity is a problem for you, don't wallow in guilt: find creative ways to motivate yourself.

Tags: Aristotle, Character, Ethics, Objectivism, Productivity, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology, Tenacity, Virtue

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Question 2: Sex Without Love

Question: Is sex without love or romance irrational? Is it wrong to have sex with someone that you don't love – or don't love yet? (Here, assume that the person isn't unworthy, but just that you're not in love.) Couldn't that be the start of romance? What if you don't have any intentions of pursuing a romantic relationship with this person?

Answer, In Brief: Sex is an inherently intimate act, requiring well-grounded respect, trust, and affection – even if not love.

Tags: Dating, Love, Marriage, Romance, Sex

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Question 3: The Ethics of Helping Inept Co-Workers

Question: Is it moral to help inept co-workers? On my team at work, we have only a very few people who use their time productively. We all get paid for 8 hours of "work", every day, but most of my team would rather talk on their phone, hide from management, and underperform at their job. We also belong to a union, which makes it harder for management to fire the ones who don't work despite being informed about the situation. I often find myself in the position of helping these people, or going in behind them and fixing their work. I am beginning to feel taken advantage of, and am getting fed up with most of my co-workers. Is it moral to continue helping people who do not take their own work seriously?

Answer, In Brief: There's no injustice or other moral problem with doing mission-critical work for your company, even if not your area, provided that you're honest and compensated fairly.

Tags: Business, Co-Workers, Ethics, Honesty, Justice, Sacrifice, Work

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Question 4: Giving Back to Your Communities

Question: Is a person ever obliged to "give back to the community"? Businesses often speak about their charitable work as "giving back to the community." I know that's wrong, because they didn't take anything from it in the first place. But when a person benefits from a certain group or organization, should he "give back" to it by volunteering his time or donating his money? Why or why not?

Answer, In Brief: A person isn't obliged to volunteer at every opportunity, but he should want to volunteer for organizations that he derives great value from – for self-interested reasons.

Tags: Altruism, Benevolence, Charity, Ethics, Trader Principle

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Rapid Fire Questions (55:27)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Why was Rick Perry not included in your discussion of four candidates?
  • What did you think of Herman Cain?
  • Would Hillary Clinton have been a better president than Obama?
  • Does the fact that Newt Gingrich takes Catholicism seriously suggest that he is at least as bad as Mitt Romney?
  • Is Ron Paul a closet Christian dominionist?
  • By not voting for the Republican candidate, are you voting for Obama, in effect?

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Conclusion (1:03:56)

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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