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)

Consent in Sex, Negligence, Faith, and More

Webcast Q&A: 26 February 2012

I answered questions on consent in sex, terminating online versus in-person acquaintances, compensating the victims of your negligence, the meaning of faith, and more on 26 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.

My News of the Week: This week, Trey was visiting, but mostly I've ben sick. I'm also working on moving NoodleFood to Philosophy in Action – and from Blogger to WordPress.


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Segments: 26 February 2012


Question 1: Consent in Sex

Question: What constitutes consent in sex? Can a person give tacit consent by his or her actions? Is explicit consent required for some sex acts? Once consent has been given, when and how can a person withdraw that consent? Does the legal perspective on these questions differ from the moral perspective?

Answer, In Brief: To consent to sex requires communicating a willingness engaging in the act, whether by word or deed. Consent can be withdrawn at any point, and for the other person to ignore that constitutes sexual assault.

Tags: Consent, Crime, Dating, Ethics, Law, Relationships, Rights, Romance, Sex

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Question 2: Terminating Online Versus In-Person Acquaintances

Question: What's the proper threshold for cutting off a digital versus in-person acquaintance? Morally, when it is wrong to end your friendly interactions with an in-person acquaintance? And when is it wrong not to do so? Does the answer differ for a digital acquaintance – meaning, for example, someone that you know only via Facebook?

Answer, In Brief: No hard and fast rules can apply here, simply because the nature of online and in-person relationships varies so much. However, every person ought to make sure that his relationships, whether primarily online, in-person, or a mixture of both, serve his purposes well.

Tags: Conflict, Friendship, Internet, Relationships, Social Media

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Question 3: Compensating the Victims of Your Negligence

Question: What should you do for a person that you injured in a car accident that was your fault? Does a person have moral obligations – over and above any legal obligations – to the victim, since the accident was due to your own carelessness or mistake?

Answer, In Brief: If you've harmed someone by your negligence, your moral and legal obligation is to make them whole by compensating them for the harm you've caused.

Tags: Ethics, Law, Negligence

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Question 4: The Meaning of Faith

Question: Is it wrong to use "faith" to mean "trust and confidence in a person"? Some people talk about having "faith" in their friends or in themselves – and by that, they mean that they trust and have confidence in those people. Is it wrong to use "faith" in that way? In other words, blind faith is wrong, but is all faith blind faith?

Answer, In Brief: The term "faith," when used to refer to trust or confidence in a person, suggests that such is not justified or warranted based on facts. That's why I avoid the term, and I suggest that others do the same. However, a person is not corrupt for using it.

Tags: Atheism, Epistemology, Faith, Language, Religion

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:07:59)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Is a person rationally considered "male" or "female" based upon: (a) their genitals or other anatomical parts of their body which are involved in sexual reproduction, or (b) or their emotional and psychological wishes to be a man or a woman?Should states have referendums on gay marriage?
  • Has social media or technology changed how people engage each other for sex?
  • Has social media or technology changed how people engage each other for sex?
  • Should states have referendums on gay marriage?

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Conclusion (1:13:59)

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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