Wrongdoers, Firings, Sacrifice, IP, and More
Radio Q&A: 20 May 2012
I answered questions on warning others about dangerous people, responding to an unjust firing, investment versus sacrifice, downloading music after hard drive failure, and more on 20 May 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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My News of the Week: I'll be travelling, then broadcasting from ATLOSCon 2012 next week! Due to those travels, I won't be broadcasting a radio show on Wednesday evening.
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Segments: 20 May 2012
Question: Should you warn others about vicious people in your community? If you know a person to be dishonest, but that person is well-regarded in your community, should you tell others in that community what you know? Does it matter if the person is in a position of authority (perhaps over an organization's finances), such that he could do a whole lot of damage? What kinds of immorality would be serious enough to warrant warning others?
Answer, In Brief: If you know of a wolf in sheep's clothing threatening your values and your community, don't remain silent. You need to speak and act – but do that carefully.
Question: Should an employer have to explain and justify his firing of an employee? Should an employer be able to fire an employee for some alleged misconduct, even though the employer never bothered to verify the misconduct, nor asked the employee for his side of the story? For example, suppose that when the employee shows up for work he is simply told that he's been fired because someone made a complaint about him. The employee could easily prove the complaint to be false but the employer isn't concerned with proof or lack thereof. The employee's reputation in the eyes of possible future employers is damaged, even if the employer never discusses the firing with anyone else. In such a case, should the employee be able to sue for having been fired without proper cause?
Answer, In Brief: In a free society, absent a contract, employers are entitled to fire employees at will, including for unjust reasons or in unjust ways. An employee wrongfully fired should move on with his life, stating the facts about what happened as necessary to protect his reputation.
Question: What is the difference between "investment" and "sacrifice"? In your February 26, 2012 webcast, you indicated that you regard sacrifices as something very different from investments. But doesn't sacrifice just mean giving up something? In that case, don't investments in the future require sacrifice now? Or: What's the difference between sacrificing some ease and comfort for your goal versus investing time and work to achieve a goal?
Answer, In Brief: The term "sacrifice" is a confused mess that conflates loss for its own sake with loss for the sake of greater gain. A person ought to pursue his own life and happiness, which means pursuing investments, not sacrifices.
Question: Does respecting intellectual property require me to re-purchase my music collection lost due to hard drive failure? Over the years I have purchased quite a bit of digital music and have built quite a large library. Recently, due to a computer crash and lack of backup, a large segment of that library was erased. Since I paid for all of the music that was lost, I would like to restore it, whether by copying from my friends or by downloading illegal copies from the internet. But I am not entirely sure what I have the right to do based on my original purchases. What do you think?
Answer, In Brief: It's perfectly moral to obtain new copies of intellectual property that you've lost, but be careful about your choice of means: obtain the lost files from friends, not piracy-peddling web sites.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:01:07)
- What's the proper meaning of the word "greedy"?
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.