Psychic Powers, Office Politics, Freedom, and More
Radio Q&A: 8 July 2012
I answered questions on the validity of psychic powers, managing office politics, sanction of friends, the cost of freedom, and more on 8 July 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: 8 July 2012
Question: Are psychic powers bunk? A friend convinced me to join him in visiting a psychic for a tarot card reading. Although I am opposed to mysticism, I didn't mind going and thought it would be funny. I was surprised to find this psychic knew things about me that (while vague) were very accurate descriptors, and could not have been known from my appearance (nor prior knowledge since it was an impromptu visit). It seems highly unlikely they could have guessed (and have guessed so accurately) correct character traits, issues and feelings. Is this evidence in favor of psychic powers? Or have I been misled?
Answer, In Brief: Psychic powers are bunk, and psychics use a variety of well-known techniques to fool their clients.
Question: How can a person effectively manage office politics? In almost any job, the internal politics of the company can be overwhelming. If you speak out, you can be embroiled in conflict and drama. If you stay silent, the pushy people will have their way, often for the worse. What should a person do who wants to actually work?
Answer, In Brief: Too often, "office politics" is just a catch-all for any interactions someone dislikes at work. Here, the person needs to understand the value of productive wrangling at work, and find ways to influence the outcomes that matter to him in ways that suit his personality preferences.
Question: Am I responsible for the actions of my friends? Suppose that a friend of mine does something that others find objectionable. Am I obliged to state my opinion of what my friend did? If I refuse to state an opinion, should others assume that I endorse my friend's actions?
Answer, In Brief: A person endorses his friend's basic character by his friendship, not every word and deed of his friend.
Question: Shouldn't freedom be "free"? I often hear the bromide "freedom isn't free," or some variation of it, such as, "there's a price for freedom." But isn't freedom actually free? A person acts by right in pursuing his own life and happiness, and criminals do not have any right to coerce or threaten others. If freedom is the political expression of rights in a social or political context, it follows that there should be no "cost" to exercising one's rights. It isn't a sacrifice to not violate others rights, since respect for them is a selfish virtue, nor would it be a sacrifice to voluntarily fund a proper government that protects one's rights, since the benefit outweighs the cost. Am I correct in thinking freedom, properly understood and protected, is indeed free, or not? If I am, what do people mean when they say, "freedom isn't free," and what's the proper response?
Answer, In Brief: Although respecting and protecting rights is not any kind of loss or sacrifice, protecting rights against the actions of criminals does require a cost in time, money, and effort to accomplish. However, doing that by compulsion is never justified.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:01:49)
- Should baseball be exempt from antitrust law?
- I've heard that humor is a destructive element, does this mean that clowns are agents of destruction?
- Are free nations obliged to stop genocide?
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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.