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)

Statutory Rape, Anti-Gay Politicians, Fantasy, and More

Webcast Q&A: 1 April 2012

I answered questions on statutory rape laws, outing anti-gay politicians as gay, potential employers demanding Facebook logins, enjoying fantasy and theology literature, and more on 1 April 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: My mother has been visiting, so we've been having all kinds of fun. On Wednesday, I'm speaking at Liberty on the Rocks in Denver on luck and responsibility. Also, I plan to finally complete the move of NoodleFood to Philosophy in Action.


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Segments: 1 April 2012


Question 1: Statutory Rape Laws

Question: Are statutory rape laws proper? Statutory rape laws criminalize seemingly consensual sex when at least one party is below the age of consent, but sexually mature, e.g. when an 18 year old has sex with a 15 year old. Are such laws proper? Should the over-age person be convicted if he or she didn't know (or couldn't reasonably know) that the under-age person was under-age? What if the under-age person lied about his or her age? What, if anything, should happen legally when both parties are under-age, e.g. when two 15 year olds have sex?

Answer, In Brief: As currently written, statutory rape laws are unjust. The law can and ought protect sexually mature minors by focusing on consent, using shifting burdens of proof, and allowing parents to use restraining orders.

Tags: Consent, Crime, Law, Proof, Rape, Relationships, Sex

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Question 2: Outing Anti-Gay Politicians as Gay

Question: Is it wrong to "out" a hypocritical anti-gay public figure who is secretly gay? Some conservative politicians have taken strongly anti-gay positions, but are secretly gay themselves. If one learns of this, is it wrong for gay activists to publicly "out" them? What if they don't engage in public hypocrisy, but are just quietly "in the closet"? Should activists respect their privacy in that case?

Answer, In Brief: People who publicly advocate meddling in other people's private choices should not expect others to respect their private hypocrisy. They should be exposed, as a matter of justice.

Tags: Ethics, GLBT, Integrity, Justice, Politics, Privacy

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Question 3: Potential Employers Demanding Facebook Logins

Question: Should employers ask applicants for their Facebook logins and passwords? More employers are asking job applicants for their Facebook logins and passwords as part of a background check. Of course, applicants can decline, in which case they might not be considered for the job. Should employers be asking for this information? Is it proper to want to check on the online activities of potential employees? Is that an invasion of privacy? How should someone respond if asked by a potential employer?

Answer, In Brief: For an employer to ask for your Facebook login and password is a serious invasion of privacy, breach of security, and display of distrust. An employer concerned about the online activities of its employees can and should use other methods.

Tags: Career, Contracts, Law, Law, Privacy, Work

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Question 4: Enjoying Fantasy and Theology Literature

Question: Is an interest in fantasy and theology literature proper? I'm fascinated with fantasy as a literary genre. I find it easier to get excited about a fantastic story rather than about a realistic one, and I'm also really interested in fantasy with a certain sophistication: the extremely well-constructed world of Tolkien in Lord of the Rings, for example, or the mythological background of vampire stories and so on. Along the same lines, I am also fascinated with theology. For example, I found it extremely interesting to read Paradise Lost, and to read up on the many theological questions it raises and answers. Is such an interest proper – or am I indulging in some kind of evasion or escapism from reality? Does it matter that I want to become a writer? I find inspiration for my own potential stories this way.

Answer, In Brief: A person can have wholly good reasons for an interest in fantasy, science fiction, and theology. Mostly, a person should approach such preferences not by focusing on judging himself, but rather on understanding himself.

Tags: Art, Introspection, Literature, Personal Values

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Rapid Fire Questions (54:07)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • How do you know that God doesn't exist?
  • What do you think of the idea of "guilty pleasures"?
  • Isn't life meaningless without God?
  • If the government didn't own the roads, who would set and enforce traffic laws?
  • What's the proper meaning of the word "greedy"?
  • What does it mean to be selfish versus selfless?
  • What is the role of a proper government in regards to the unlicensed spectrum?
  • Happy April Fool's Day!

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Conclusion (1:01:48)

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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