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Objectivity, Friendships, Child Labor, and More

Radio Q&A: Sunday, 17 June 2012

I answered questions on objectively assessing yourself, friendships with subordinates at work, keeping up with the news, child labor laws, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday, 17 June 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.

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Segments: 17 June 2012


Question 1: Objectively Assessing Yourself (3:42)

Question: How can a person objectively assess his own character? If a person has a good character, then he'll recognize that fact. But if a person has a bad character, then he'll probably deceive himself into thinking himself good. So it seems likely that every person will think that he has a good character, even when that's not true. So, is objective assessment of one's own character possible? If so, how?

Answer, In Brief: While judging your own character can be difficult, any person willing attend to the feedback of reality and other people can do so objectively.

Tags: Character, Ethics, Introspection, Judgment, Justice, Objectivity

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Question 2: Friendships with Subordinates at Work (17:40)

Question: Is it wrong to be friends with subordinates at work? Work is a place where you have a certain contractual and moral obligation to the company you work for to put the company's interests ahead. With workplace friendships, particularly with subordinates, this can lead to problematic situations, particularly in maintaining a sense of objectivity both to yourself and among your peers and subordinates. There are also problems with the friendship itself; items that you are not supposed to share with subordinates and big events in your friend's life (looking for another job, for example) that either put you in a rough situation or have to be left out of the friendship entirely. Is being friends with someone who is subordinate to you at work practical or moral?

Answer, In Brief: A manager should be friendly with his directs – equally friendly. To single out some as friends is unprofessional and creates moral conflicts.

Tags: Business, Ethics, Friendship, Management, Work

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Question 3: Keeping Up with the News (33:17)

Question: Should I keep up with current affairs? As we know, most reporting is pretty bad. In print, and especially on the rolling 24-hour news channels. It's myopic, biased, and lacking in any principled coverage. The reporters are just clueless, and are like children pointing at all the pretty, crazy colors. But there must be some value in reading the paper, right? Or is it only for people in certain intellectual occupations, whose work involves commentary on the world today? I've not followed current affairs for the last few years myself, and I'm happy for it, but do just worry that I'm missing something.

Answer, In Brief: A person should be purposeful and discriminating about the information he consumes, including about current events. Unless doing so serves some genuine purpose, a person is likely to waste time or even damage his psyche.

Tags: Activism, Culture, Media, Politics

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Question 4: Child Labor Laws (45:25)

Question: Should children be protected by child labor laws? Currently, federal and state governments restricts "child labor" in various ways. The US Department of Labor "restricts the hours that youth under 16 years of age can work and lists hazardous occupations too dangerous for young workers to perform." The goal is to "protect the educational opportunities of youth and prohibit their employment in jobs that are detrimental to their health and safety." Is this a proper function of government? Does it violate the rights of parents, children, and/or employers? If so, what's the harm done?

Answer, In Brief: Children can and should be able to work without meddling government regulations.

Tags: Children, Law, Parenting, Politics, Regulations, Work, Young Adults

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Rapid Fire Questions (59:51)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Does the FDA have a proper role in protecting us from harm by unproven drugs?
  • Ayn Rand said that her philosophy was for living on earth. Does that mean that there is a different philosophy for living in space?
  • Who is the wealthiest Objectivist you know?

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Conclusion (1:11:12)

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing 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 Wednesday 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 Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of interest.

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