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Willpower, Deduction, Advertising to Kids, and More

Radio Q&A: 12 August 2012

I answered questions on overcoming weakness of will, deductive reasoning, advertising to children, medicine in a free society, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on 12 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 very happy that I decided not to attend the Ancestral Health Symposium. Instead, I've been developing Philosophy in Action's Newsletter, including by adding exclusive practical advice tidbits to each email, as seen in the August 11th edition. You can subscribe here. And last night, my dogs Conrad and Mae got into a horrible fight. Yikes!

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Segments: 12 August 2012


Question 1: Overcoming Weakness of Will (6:50)

Question: What are the best strategies for dealing with weakness of will? I want to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier, and I know it would be a good thing to do, for reasons both of health and productivity. Yet I often have a problem with actually going to sleep before midnight. Things tempt me to stay awake, like the internet, video games, or just having a bit of "me time" after a day at the university. Occasionally, I have similar problems in regard to work. Are there general strategies to deal with temptation and overcoming weakness of will?

Answer, In Brief: When faced with a problem of weakness of will, work on resolving the value conflict rather than just forcing yourself into some painful deprivation. Be creative and helpful to yourself!

Tags: Ethics, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology, Self-Control, Temptation, Willpower

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Question 2: Deductive Reasoning (21:28)

Question: What is the proper role of deductive reasoning? Is it proper, for example, to deduce the principles of intellectual property from the more general principles of individual rights? Or is that rationalism? More generally, when and how should a person use deduction as opposed to induction?

Answer, In Brief: Deduction – the application of abstractions to particulars – is a major form of reasoning, yet rationality requires constant shuttling between abstractions and concretes, not formal deduction.

Tags: Deduction, Epistemology, Induction, Logic, Proof, Rationality

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Question 3: Advertising to Children (33:56)

Question: Should the government regulate advertising to children? Most people think that advertising products to children is morally wrong, if not coercive. They say that the government should regulate or even ban such advertising to protect children and parents from pushy advertisers. In the case of junk food, for example, people claim that children are not old enough to understand the damage that junk food does to their health. Therefore, they claim, children must be protected. While I can understand forbidding advertising drugs or liquor to children, to forbid food advertisements seems like a violation of individual rights. So should the government have any role in regulating advertisements directed at children?

Answer, In Brief: The fact that children might be misled by advertising cannot justify regulating or banning it. The free speech rights of people engaged in business ought to be recognized and protected, and parents ought to actually parent their children.

Tags: Children, Food, Free Speech, Government, Parenting, Rights

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Question 4: Medicine in a Free Society (43:00)

Question: What would the practice of medicine look like in a free society? Today, the practice of medicine is highly regulated and controlled by the government, including in its business aspects. How would medicine change if the government fully respected rights? What would remain the same?

Answer, In Brief: While the particulars of a free market in medicine cannot be predicted, that free market would be far, far superior for doctors and patients than our current mixture of welfare and controls.

Tags: Business, Free Society, Medicine, Rights

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Rapid Fire Questions (58:43)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • What do you think of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's choice for VP?
  • Could drug companies mandate prescriptions, particularly on new drugs?

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Conclusion (1:03:05)

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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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