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)

Spanking, Parenting, Cheating, and More

Radio Q&A: 24 June 2012

I answered questions on corporal punishment of kids, parenting as a central purpose, compartmentalized cheating, something greater than yourself, and more on 24 June 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'm on vacation, and alas, that affects the audio quality for the worse.


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Segments: 24 June 2012


Question 1: Corporal Punishment of Kids

Question: Is corporal punishment of children ever proper? The 2011 video of Judge William Adams beating his daughter raises the question of whether it's ever necessary or proper to physically discipline children. Does the age of the child matter, particularly given that you can't reason with younger children? Does the amount of force used matter? When does physical punishment violate the child's rights?

Answer, In Brief: To force obedience on your weak and dependent children by violence is immoral and impractical.

Tags: Adult Children, Children, Corporal Punishment, Ethics, Honesty, Independence, Parenting, Punishment, Rights, Violence

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Question 2: Parenting as a Central Purpose

Question: Can parenting be a central purpose in life? Many people think that only a career can serve as a person's central purpose. They think that a central purpose must be remunerative, and that it can't be merely temporary. Is that right? Can parenting be a person's central purpose, even if only for a few years?

Answer, In Brief: The notion of "central purpose" seems to be misused by many Objectivists: it refers to a person's productive work, not a specific theme thereof. Parenting is a productive activity, and it can be a person's primary productive activity.

Tags: Career, Central Purpose, Children, Family, Objectivism, Parenting, Purpose

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Question 3: Compartmentalized Cheating

Question: Is it true that, "if you cheat on your wife, you'll cheat on your business partner"? A few months ago, a Republican presidential candidate said of Newt Gingrich, "if you cheat on your wife, you'll cheat on your business partner." Leaving aside the specifics of any particular politician's personal life, is the broader principle accurate? If you knew that someone cheated on his wife, does that mean he should be regarded as an untrustworthy for a business partnership? Or as morally unfit to be your doctor? Or as unfit to be an elected official?

Answer, In Brief: Depending on the person's motive for the affair, the cheating might be compartmentalized or infect other areas of his life.

Tags: Business, Character, Compartmentalization, Ethics, Honesty, Marriage

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Question 4: Something Greater than Yourself

Question: Doesn't everyone need to be a part of something greater than themselves? Most people want to be involved with some cause greater than themselves – whether God, their community, the state, the environment. Doesn't everyone need that to help steer them in life? Or do you think that's unnecessary or even wrong?

Answer, In Brief: A person doesn't need a cause greater than himself: he needs to value his own life, find inspiration in the great deeds of others, and accomplish great things himself.

Tags: Central Purpose, Ethics, Life, Purpose

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Rapid Fire Questions (54:17)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Should the exclusionary rule be abolished?
  • Are companies morally responsible for the working conditions of their suppliers?
  • Is a sex offender registry just and proper?

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Conclusion (1:05:34)

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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