Duty, Stockpiling, Poking Fun, Purposefulness, and More
Webcast Q&A: 22 April 2012
I answered questions on obligation, responsibility, and duty, stockpiling medication, poking fun at friends' ideas online, encouraging friends to be more purposeful, and more on 22 April 2012. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.
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Segments: 22 April 2012
Question: What is the difference between obligation, responsibility, and duty? Often, people use these terms interchangeably. What's difference between them, if any?
Answer, In Brief: Obligations and responsibilities can be valid and powerful – if based on person's own choices. Duties are claims of obligation deriving solely from the say-so of some authority, and that's why they are invalid.
Question: Is it wrong to stockpile medication now in the event of an economic crash in the future? We are concerned that increasing economic troubles will raise the prices of some prescription and over-the-counter medications, and make them hard to find in the future. Is it okay to start a stockpile of some medications (most of which have a long shelf-life)? In the case of prescription medications, is it okay to exaggerate to our doctors or play "musical pharmacies" in order to obtain more medication?
Answer, In Brief: Stockpiling medication in case of an emergency is a very good idea, but don't undermine your relationship with your doctor by lying about your medical condition.
Question: Is poking fun at people's ideas on social media rude, offensive, or otherwise wrong? For example, is it proper to make jokes about Jesus, Obama, or environmentalism on Facebook - knowing that some of your Facebook friends are Christians, Democrats, or environmentalists? Should those people be offended? Should a person limit himself to serious arguments?
Answer, In Brief: Facebook and other online media are like a large cocktail party with everyone talking. Don't rush around seeking out conflict, but rather seek out positive values.
Question: How can I encourage my friends to be more purposeful and passionate? I have been certain about my life's purpose – in terms of what career and personal creative works I'd like to pursue – from a young age. I've had friends who are above-average in their academic and career work, and who explore various hobbies, but they do not pursue those activities with eager passion. They say that they "do not know what they want out of life" and have not "found their calling." What is at the root of uncertainty about one's purpose? Is there a moral breach involved? How can I motivate, encourage, and inspire my friends?
Answer, In Brief: Be sure that your advice would be welcome to your friends – and that you don't fall into the trap of assuming that everyone should be like you.
Rapid Fire Questions (48:08)
- What do you think of Earth Day?
- Is it moral to use a program that blocks website advertisements?
- Please clarify your position on the morality of using the goods and services stolen from Canadian taxpayers.
- Is it irrational to feel worse about a disaster if there are people of your own nationality among the victims (assuming they're all strangers)?
- Do you think that the government will attempt to crack down on free speech on the internet anytime soon - and if so, how?
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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.
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.
I can be reached via e-mail to email@example.com.