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)

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.

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.

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Segments: 29 July 2012


Question 1: The Morality of Cloning

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.

Tags: Children, Cloning, Ethics, Family, Genetic Engineering, Parenting, Personal Identity, Psychology, Rights

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Question 2: Hypocritical Allies

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.

Tags: Activism, Ethics, Honesty, Hypocrisy, Integrity, Moral Wrongs, Responsibility

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Question 3: Standards of Beauty

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.

Tags: Beauty, Body Modification

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Question 4: Capitalism Versus Altruism

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.

Tags: Altruism, Business, Capitalism, Conservatism, Egoism, Politics, Sacrifice, Self-Interest, Self-Sacrifice

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:02:50)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • 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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Conclusion (1:08:58)

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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