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)

Religions, Romantic Feelings, Child Abuse, and More

Webcast Q&A: 19 February 2012

I answered questions on judging religions as better and worse, telling a friend about romantic feelings, overfeeding a child as abuse, interest in a lover's writings, and more on 19 February 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.

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Segments: 19 February 2012


Question 1: Judging Religions as Better and Worse

Question: Are some religions better than others? Do certain religions encourage rationality more than others? Do some promote better moral systems than others? I am curious both about different forms of Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, Unitarian, Mormon, etc.), as well as other religions (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Baha'i, etc.). Should rational atheists respect followers of certain religions more than others?

Answer, In Brief: Religions are better or worse in their core doctrines and in their effects on a culture. However, due to the complexity of religions – not merely as ideologies but also as a cultural movements – they can't be easily judged as better or worse. Also, just because a person claims to be an adherent of a given religion doesn't tell much about what he believes or practices, nor whether they are honest.

Tags: Atheism, Christianity, Compartmentalization, Islam, Judaism, Religion

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Question 2: Telling a Friend about Romantic Feelings

Question: Am I obliged to tell a friend that I've developed romantic feelings towards her? Recently, I've developed romantic feelings for a platonic friend. Is it dishonest to withhold this information from her and just continue our friendship? What should I do if she asks me a direct question about my feelings? When would it be wrong to withhold this information from her, if ever?

Answer, In Brief: It's not wrong to keep your feelings to yourself, but lying about them can cause serious harm to your character and your friendship.

Tags: Dating, Emotions, Friendship, Honesty, Relationships, Romance

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Question 3: Overfeeding a Child as Abuse

Question: Is overfeeding a child a form of abuse? In November, county officials in Ohio placed a third-grade child into foster care on the grounds that he's over 200 pounds and his mother isn't doing enough to control his weight. (See the news story.) The boy does not currently have any serious medical problems: he's merely at risk for developing diabetes, hypertension, etc. The county worked with the mother for a year before removing the child, and it claims that her actions constitute medical neglect. Now his mother is only permitted to see him once per week for two hours. Did the state overreach its proper authority in removing the child from his home?

Answer, In Brief: The state should only remove children from their parents when the parents are violating the rights of the child by inflicting permanent physical or psychological harm. This case of supposed overfeeding does not qualify, not by a long shot.

Tags: Child Abuse, Children, Food, Free Society, Government, Health, Nutrition, Parenting, Rights

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Question 4: Interest in a Lover's Writings

Question: Should a person always be interested in the creative works of a romantic interest or lover? I'm romantically interested in a woman who writes as her career. While my admiration of her is based in her virtues and even heroic qualities, I'm don't find the subjects of her writing to be particularly interesting. If I were to begin dating this woman, should I read everything that she's written and writes?

Answer, In Brief: It's strange to be so uninterested in another person's work at the outset of a relationship. You should be interested in your lover or spouse's interests, not always for their own sake, but because your lover or spouse matters to you.

Tags: Career, Dating, Relationships, Romance

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Rapid Fire Questions (49:29)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Should abused kids become wards of the State?
  • Where do the GOP presidential candidates stand on issues that gays might care about?
  • Is there a rational basis or explanation for "intuition?"
  • Is tax evasion or tax fraud morally wrong? What about hiding one's money in foreign banks?
  • Are movies and TV getting better or worse over the years? What does that indicate about our cultural trends?
  • Does social media benefit introverts or extroverts more?
  • Is Objectivism some kind of cult?

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Conclusion (1:07:02)

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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