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Luck, Public Breastfeeding, Memories, and More

Webcast Q&A: 8 April 2012

I answered questions on cultivating good luck, public breastfeeding, national identification card, mulling over memories, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on 8 April 2012. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download the podcast below.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

My News of the Week: I really enjoyed giving a talk on luck and responsibility at Liberty on the Rocks in Denver on Wednesday. Alas, much of my time for the rest of the week was consumed by WTFuffles. This week, I will finally complete the move of NoodleFood to Philosophy in Action!

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  • Duration: 59:30

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Segments: 8 April 2012


Question 1: Cultivating Good Luck (3:04)

Question: Can and should a person try to cultivate his own "good luck"? For example, a construction worker might leave his business card with neighbors in case they or anyone they might know happens to need his services in the future. Similarly, an investor might look to buy stock in companies with promising patents pending or forthcoming products. Is pursuing these kinds of uncertain opportunities a means of cultivating good luck?

Answer, In Brief: Good luck is not a force in the universe that a person can cultivate. Rather, to the extent that a person extends his knowledge and control over his life, he minimizes the effects of luck in life. That's the right approach.

Tags: Causality, Ethics, Luck, Metaphysics, Purpose, Virtue

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Question 2: Public Breastfeeding (14:05)

Question: Is breastfeeding children in public wrong? My wife and I want to have kids, and one question we have concerns public breastfeeding. Is it immodest or improper to breastfeed in public? Should stores permit or forbid it on their premises? Should public breastfeeding be restricted or banned by law as indecent?

Answer, In Brief: People ought to support public breastfeeding, even if they prefer not to look at it. It's not a sexual act, and mothers should be able to feed their babies when they're out and about.

Tags: Breastfeeding, Children, Ethics, Etiquette, Parenting

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Question 3: National Identification Card (29:57)

Question: Should the government institute a national id card? Periodically, politicians speak of instituting a national identification card in order to protect identify and track potential terrorists, prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants, stop welfare fraud, and more. Would such a national id card violate rights – or be unwise for other reasons? Are state-level identification cards sufficient? Are they proper?

Answer, In Brief: A national ID card is not only unnecessary: it's a grave threat to rights. A person should not have to show his papers to engage in ordinary activities.

Tags: Crime, Free Society, Immigration, Law, Politics, Security

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Question 4: Mulling Over Memories (43:00)

Question: Should I mull over my memories less frequently? Is it unhealthy for a person to continuously mull over previous events and specific memories? I go over past events in my mind on a constant basis. I try to recall specific details (i.e., things I was thinking at the time, etc.) and keep a perfect "image" of the memory/event in my mind as long as possible. Is this strange, unhealthy, or counterproductive?

Answer, In Brief: You need to ask yourself: What's the purpose and value of this practice? You need to make sure that it's helping you live in reality, not serving as an escape from reality.

Tags: Emotions, Ethics, Memory, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology

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Rapid Fire Questions (49:04)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • What do you think about the EU?
  • What is the difference between someone who identifies themselves as rational but not an Objectivist and someone who identifies as rational and an Objectivist?
  • Is moral perfection a habit and if so is it one of yours?
  • Isn't life meaningless without God?
  • Why do you think that paganism has been almost entirely replaced by monotheism?
  • How do you know that God doesn't exist?

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Conclusion (58:35)

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback, as well as for Kindle and Nook. 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 radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and most Thursday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or chat about a topic of interest.

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For regular commentary, announcement, and humor, read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and connect on social media too.

I can be reached via e-mail to diana@philosophyinaction.com.

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