Cloning, Hypocritical Allies, Beauty, and More
Radio Q&A: 29 July 2012
I answered questions on the morality of cloning, hypocritical allies, standards of beauty, capitalism versus altruism, and more on 29 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: 29 July 2012
Question: If cloning humans were possible, would it be wrong? Most people think that cloning humans, if possible, would be terribly immoral and creepy. What are their arguments? Are those arguments right or wrong? Also, would cloning a person without his or her consent be some kind of rights violation?
Answer, In Brief: Although many people respond to the thought of cloning humans with repugnance, the major arguments against cloning are not persuasive. A cloned child is just a child with an older identical twin, and its parents would have all the usual challenges of good parenting.
Question: What should you do when your allies are exposed as hypocrites? Just because a person advocates good ideas doesn't mean that he practices them. For example, a defender of free markets might use zoning laws to prevent the construction of a new building on land adjacent to his home to preserve his view. Or an advocate of justice and independence as virtues might condemn and ostracize people who disagree with him on trivial matters. Or an advocate of productive work might sponge off friends and relatives. When you discover such behavior in your allies, what should you do? Should you attempt to defend them? Should you try to keep the hypocrisy quiet? Should you condemn them? Should you say that "nobody's perfect"? What's fair – and what's best for your cause?
Answer, In Brief: When an ally is revealed as a hypocrite, you need to distance yourself from the person – but how far and how publicly depends on the particulars of the case.
Question: Isn't beauty in the eye of the beholder? In your November 13th, 2011 webcast discussion of aesthetic body modification, you rejected the idea that beauty is just a matter of personal taste or cultural norms. What's your view – and why?
Answer, In Brief: Standards of beauty for people and other creatures are properly based on the fundamental normative standard: the life of the organism, including its health. Nonetheless, within that range, people can have different personal preferences.
Question: Is capitalism altruistic? Some people attempt to defend capitalism and free markets on altruistic grounds. Under capitalism, they say, a successful businesses must serve the needs of its customers. Hence, capitalism promotes altruism. Is that true? Is it an effective way to defend capitalism?
Answer, In Brief: Capitalism is not altruistic. Altruism is when a person seeks a net loss, whereas egoism is when a person seeks a net profit. Capitalism enables trade to mutual benefit, meaning net profits for everyone.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:02:50)
- Is rooting your country in the Olympics collectivistic or nationalistic?
- Do you consider yourself a Objectivist philosopher or a philosopher who is an Objectivist?
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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.