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)

Pragmatism, Feigning Indifference, Atheism, and More

Webcast Q&A: 29 January 2012

I answered questions on being pragmatic, feigning indifference to attract a man, ignosticism versus atheism, explaining atheism, and more on 29 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: Unfortunately, I've been distracted by the WTFuffles this week. However, since the matter is of little significance to me, and I'll be focusing on my real work this upcoming week, and I encourage others to do the same. Also, remember that SnowCon 2012 will be March 15th to 18th in mountains of Colorado.


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Segments: 29 January 2012


Question 1: Being Pragmatic

Question: What's wrong with being pragmatic? My dictionary defines being pragmatic as "dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations." What's wrong with that, if anything? Is that the same as "pragmatism"?

Answer, In Brief: Pragmatism is a philosophic view that rejects thinking long-range and on-principle in favor of short-term expediency. However, many people just use the term to mean "practical," and others are honestly confused by all the bad theories and principles rampant in the culture.

Tags: Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Pragmatism, Rationality

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Question 2: Feigning Indifference to Attract a Man

Question: Should I act uninterested in a man to attract him? One common theme in romance advice is that a woman should act aloof and unattainable in order to attract a man or to get him to commit to a relationship. Is that dishonest? Is it counterproductive?

Answer, In Brief: It's wrong to make people into conquests in romance. If you do, the kind of person that you'll attract is not the kind of person that you'll want to be with. And you'll not be the kind of person that a good person will want to be with.

Tags: Communication, Dating, Honesty, Relationships, Romance

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Question 3: Ignosticism Versus Atheism

Question: Should rational people describe themselves as "ignostics" rather than "atheists"? By rational principles, no cognitive consideration should be given to arbitrary assertions. Since the concept of God is invariably a floating abstraction and incoherent in its definition, shouldn't the claim that God exists be dismissed as arbitrary and invalid – rather than being answered in the negative? If so, shouldn't rational people describe themselves as ignostics? In contrast to atheism, ignosticism is "[the] view that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition is unfalsifiable, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless." [Wikipedia]

Answer, In Brief: "Atheism," not "ignosticism," is the proper name to describe a person who reject the claim that God exists, and that's justified not only by the failure of the arguments for the existence of God, but also God's impossible qualities.

Tags: Atheism, Faith, Metaphysics, Religion

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Question 4: Explaining Atheism

Question: How can I effectively explain my atheism to religious believers? When I discuss religion with believers – mostly Christians – I find that I can't easily explain why I don't believe in God. Should I appeal to the principle of the "primacy of existence"? Should I explain the problems with the arguments for the existence of God? Or should I try a different approach?

Answer, In Brief: The best way to discuss the reasons for rejecting belief in God depend on the context, particularly whether you are explaining your own views or trying to convince the other person. Either way, be patient and try to speak to their rational concerns.

Tags: Atheism, Communication, Faith, Metaphysics, Religion

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Rapid Fire Questions (57:59)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Why did you and Paul choose to live in Colorado?
  • Recently, Tim Thomas decided not to attend the Bruins trip to the White House. If you were a part of a team going to the White House, would you attend? What if you were personally invited to the White House?
  • What is your opinion of the OPEN Act as an alternative to SOPA and PIPA?
  • How can we start an American philosophical revolution that encourages students to value freedom, independent thinking, and rational egoism rather than altruism and egalitarianism?

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Conclusion (1:04:36)

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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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