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 on 12 August 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: 12 August 2012
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!
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.
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.
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.
Rapid Fire Questions (58:43)
- 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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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 email@example.com.