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)

Forgiveness, Life's Meaning, Online IP, and More

Webcast Q&A: 6 May 2012

I answered questions on forgiving yourself, unforgivable acts, the meaning of life, respecting intellectual property online, and more on 6 May 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: I've been working on updates to Philosophy in Action, and I'm going to start preparing my talks for ATLOSCon 2012. And... Happy Birthday, Tammy!


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Segments: 6 May 2012


Question 1: Forgiving Yourself

Question: Should we forgive ourselves? How can a person free himself from guilt over past errors and wrongs, particularly irrationality? Should such a person forgive himself – and if so, what does that entail?

Answer, In Brief: The idea of "forgiving yourself" is somewhat metaphorical, but it's useful for applying objective moral standards to yourself when recovering from a wrongdoing.

Tags: Ethics, Forgiveness, Guilt, Justice, Moral Wrongs

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Question 2: Unforgivable Acts

Question: Can an ordinary person do something unforgivable? Could a friend act in a way that would make rational forgiveness impossible? Might a person do something so hurtful or unfair that you couldn't ever trust them again? In such cases, how should the person wronged acted towards the unforgivable person?

Answer, In Brief: People can do truly unforgivable things, particularly when they betray the fundamental basis of the relationship.

Tags: Conflict, Ethics, Forgiveness, Friendship, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Relationships, Rights

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Question 3: The Meaning of Life

Question: Does life have a purpose or meaning? Religious people say that God gives their lives meaning, purpose, and direction. Other people find meaning in doing good for others or society as a whole. As an atheist and egoist, what do you think the purpose of life is? Does it have any inherent meaning – or should a person arbitrarily decide its meaning? And shouldn't a person think that something is more important than himself and his own petty concerns?

Answer, In Brief: A person who fully values himself will reject the idea of an externally-imposed purpose, but instead identify and pursue his own central purpose by reason.

Tags: Central Purpose, Ethics, Life, Purpose

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Question 4: Respecting Intellectual Property Online

Question: Is downloading music from YouTube a violation of intellectual property rights? Given that content creators can remove YouTube videos that violate their intellectual property rights, is it wrong to assume that they consent to the posting if they've not asked to remove it? It is wrong to watch or share clips that seem to be uploaded without permission? It is wrong to download music from YouTube for my own personal use, whether uploaded by the creator or someone else?

Answer, In Brief: It's often difficult to judge whether online intellectual property is legitimate or not. Use common sense to judge whether likely legitimate or not, and don't attempt to sneak out of paying.

Tags: Ethics, Intellectual Property, Internet, Law, Rights

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Rapid Fire Questions (57:56)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Could you give an example of a central purpose?
  • Is it morally okay to associate with a religious charity if you believe in its secular mission?

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Conclusion (1:01:32)

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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