Utilitarianism, Government Jobs, Planning, and More
Webcast Q&A: 29 April 2012
I answered questions on the wrong of utilitarianism, the morality of working a government job, optimal planning, padding your application, and more on 29 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: 29 April 2012
Question: What's wrong with utilitarianism? The basic principle of utilitarianism is "the greatest happiness for the greatest number." What's wrong with that as a moral standard? Shouldn't a person act for the good of society?
Answer, In Brief: Utilitarianism claims that every person obliged to promote greatest happiness for the greater number. It's an utterly wrong moral theory based on unjustified hedonism, egalitarianism, and collectivism. When put into practice, the result is massive injustice and misery.
Question: Is it moral to work for the IRS? Is it morally wrong to work for government agencies like the IRS (or equivalent tax bureaus), IAS (Indian Administrative Services), or the EPA? I'm an advocate of free markets. Would I be a hypocrite to work for such illegitimate government agencies?
Answer, In Brief: The morality of working for an illegitimate government agency depends on the kind of work that you’ll be done. In many cases, far better to be on welfare.
Question: How much advance planning is optimal? Some people like to plan everything well in advance, while others prefer to allow events to unfold and make decisions on the fly. Is one approach better than the other? How much does it depend on the circumstances? How can people with different preferences coordinate comfortably?
Answer, In Brief: There is a reasonable range of preferences for planning based on personality differences and circumstances, with pathology on both extremes.
Question: Is doing activities just to pad you application or resumé dishonest? Some people work on mastering playing the violin, competing in tennis tournaments, learning calculus, and other activities – not because they have any interest in them or because they think they might develop an interest once tried, but rather because they think these activities will look good on an application or resumé. Is that dishonest? Is it unwise?
Answer, In Brief: A person can make himself a better applicant by various means, and so long as he’s not claiming to have interests or qualities that he doesn’t have, that’s not a moral problem.
Rapid Fire Questions (51:43)
- Who owns the moon?
- How should I respond to a friend always giving me unsolicited advice?
- Is respecting the rights of others an unchosen obligation?
- Where's the line between being sensitive to the feelings of others and being second-handed?
- What do you think of the idea of "guilty pleasures"?
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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.