On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on the moral arguments for veganism and vegetarianism, courage as a struggle against fear, ungrateful people, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 23 November 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.

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 for Philosophy in Action Radio on 5 August 2012. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download the podcast below.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

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.

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Segments: 5 August 2012


Question 1: Contributing to Animal Welfare Groups (3:58)

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

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Question 2: Inappropriate Gifts from In-Laws (16:44)

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

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Question 3: Sacrifice in War (26:09)

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

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Question 4: Condemning Evil Versus Praising Good (37:12)

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

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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?

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Conclusion (1:03:53)

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. 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, as well as for Kindle and Nook. 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 Sunday mornings and most 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 chat about a topic of interest.

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