Animal Welfare Groups, Unwanted Gifts, and More

Radio Q&A: 5 August 2012

I answered questions on contributing to animal welfare groups, inappropriate gifts from in-laws, sacrifice in war, condemning evil versus praising good, and more on 5 August 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've been programming for Philosophy in Action, as well as preparing for the Ancestral Health Symposium, where I'll have a poster on the follies on the vegan arguments for animal rights. I won't be broadcasting next week, due to those travels.

Listen or Download

You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:

Share This Episode

Segments: 5 August 2012

Question 1: Contributing to Animal Welfare Groups

Question: Should a person contribute to animal welfare organizations? Animal shelters find good homes for abandoned and abused pets. They also offer assistance to pet owners during emergencies, such as the recent wildfires in Colorado. That work seems laudable to me – and something that a rational person might support and even contribute to. Yet such groups often advocate wrong views (such as veganism) and support rights-violations (such as animal welfare laws). So are such groups worthy of support or not?

Answer, In Brief: People concerned with the welfare of animals should avoid political advocacy groups, instead donating to their own local shelters and rescues.

Tags: Activism, Animal Rights, Animals, Charity, Ethics, Politics, Rights

Listen or Download

Relevant Links


Question 2: Inappropriate Gifts from In-Laws

Question: How should I respond to an unwanted gift given to me by my in-laws? My in-laws often give me presents that I don't much like – like frumpy boring sweaters and books I'll never read. I thank them kindly for the present, but I'm not effusive in my praise. Recently, they gave me something really pretty inappropriate for me – on par with giving a bacon cookbook to a vegetarian. I wasn't sure whether it was just clueless or hostile. How should I respond?

Answer, In Brief: Don't assume the worst, but instead use your spouse as the intermediary to help clear up any mistake – or manage any malice. If that doesn't work, stay calm and carry on.

Tags: Communication, Conflict, Ethics, Honesty, Marriage, Relationships

Listen or Download


Question 3: Sacrifice in War

Question: Is it a sacrifice for a soldier to fight for his country? Most people regard fighting for one's country to be a glorious sacrifice. The soldier risks life and limb, but gets little in return. Assuming a proper government and a justified war for self-defense, is serving in the military a sacrifice? And if so, is that sacrifice noble?

Answer, In Brief: Soldiers can and ought to be egoists, fighting for their own purposes and goals, not sacrificing themselves for some supposedly glorious cause greater than themselves.

Tags: Career, Egoism, Ethics, Foreign Policy, Free Society, Integrity, Military, Risk, Sacrifice, Self-Interest, Self-Sacrifice, War

Listen or Download

Relevant Links


Question 4: Condemning Evil Versus Praising Good

Question: Why do so many cultural commentaries condemn the evil rather than praise the good? The virtue of justice, properly understood, means that praising good is more important than condemning evil. As Leonard Peikoff says in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand: "The conventional view is that justice consists primarily in punishing the wicked. This view stems from the idea that evil is metaphysically powerful, while virtue is merely 'impractical idealism.' In the Objectivist philosophy, however, vice is the attribute to be scorned as impractical. For [Objectivists], therefore, the order of priority is reversed. Justice consists first not in condemning, but in admiring – and then in expressing one's admiration explicitly and in fighting for those one admires..." (pg 284). Despite that, the majority of cultural commentaries, including those written by Objectivists, focus on exposing and condemning evil, rather than praising the good. Why is that? Is it a mistake?

Answer, In Brief: Although it's easy to focus on all the evil in the world, doing so is emotionally draining, inaccurate, and ineffective.

Tags: Activism, Evil, Justice, Objectivism, Politics, Progress

Listen or Download

Relevant Links


Rapid Fire Questions (46:34)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Is it altruistic for a business to be 'socially responsible'?
  • What kind of medical care should soldiers get?
  • Do you think lucid dreaming is a real phenomenon? If so do you think it would be worthwhile to try and develop the ability?
  • In regard to Chick-Fil-A's support of anti-gay marriage activism, people say they can support "traditional marriage" without being homophobic, is this possible?

Listen or Download


Conclusion (1:03:53)

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.

Support Philosophy in Action

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.


Once you submit this form, you'll be automatically redirected to a page for payment. If you have any questions or further comments, please email me at

Thank you for contributing to Philosophy in Action! You make our work possible every week, and we're so grateful for that!

If you enjoy Philosophy in Action, please help us spread the word about it! Tell your friends about upcoming broadcasts by forwarding our newsletter. Link to episodes or segments from our topics archive. Share our blog posts, podcasts, and events on Facebook and Twitter. Rate and review the podcast in iTunes (M4A and MP3). We appreciate any and all of that!

About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Brickell. I'm a philosopher specializing in 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 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 radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on most Sunday mornings and some Thursday 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 Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or discuss a topic of interest.

If you join us for the live broadcasts, you can ask follow-up questions and make comments in the text-based chat. Otherwise, you can listen to the podcast by subscribing to our Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

For regular commentary, announcement, and humor, read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and connect on social media too.

I can be reached via e-mail to

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar