Adoption, Sex-Selective Abortion, Frustration, and More
Radio Q&A: 19 August 2012
I answered questions on the role of government in adoption, sex-selective abortions, expressing frustration, hatred for a friend's husband, and more on 19 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: 19 August 2012
Question: What is the proper role of government in adoption, if any? Many religious people recoil at the notion of gay marriage due to its implications for adoption. They fear that the government will then allow gay couples to adopt on a broader scale. I suspect that the government is taking too great a role in adoption, and that's what causes this particular controversy. So what role should the government play in adoption? Should it screen parents and forbid some people from adopting? More broadly, what would adoption look like in a free society?
Answer, In Brief: The government should stop meddling with adoption, instead recognizing adoption as a private contract. Private individuals and groups are entitled to discriminate however they see fit, but the government and its agents cannot.
Question: Are sex-selective abortions wrong? In Canada, some hospitals refuse to tell prospective parents the sex of their fetus when discovered in a second-trimester ultrasound, because the members of many immigrant groups will selectively abort girls. Apparently, such sex-selective abortions are common enough that the birth demographics in some areas are clearly skewed. Are such abortions wrong? Should doctors withhold information about the sex of a fetus in an effort to stop the practice? Could a doctor legitimately choose to perform abortions for any reason at 8 weeks, but refuse to do so at 21 weeks simply because the parents don't want a girl? If so, what's the moral difference between those two situations?
Answer, In Brief: The problem with sex-selective abortions is not the abortion per se, but rather with the deep sexism of cultures that don't value girls and women.
Question: When and how should I express my frustration to another person? I've always found it difficult to determine whether I should express a frustration to another person, whether in a personal or professional context. When and how should I tell someone that they've disrespected, offended, or insulted me? Does the nature of the relationship – purely financial or deeply emotional, for example – matter?
Answer, In Brief: While expressing frustration often feels satisfying, it's often destructive to your goals and relationships. Only do it when it serves your goals, rather than merely indulges your emotions.
Question: Should I spend time with a friend and her husband if I can't stand him? A friend of mine is married to a man with the same views of love and marriage as Jim Taggart. He is of no value to me, and I hate being in his presence. My friend invites me to spend time with the two of them and other friends of hers. Should I decline the invitations so that I do not grant her husband any undeserved attention or friendliness? Or should I accept so that I can see my friend? To do the latter feels like insulting my friend and betraying my own values.
Answer, In Brief: As much as you might dislike him, your friend has chosen to marry and stay with this man – and that reveals much about her values. Socialize with her separately, but don't attempt to drive a wedge between them.
Rapid Fire Questions (55:46)
- If a person plans to vote for the lesser of two evils, how should he weigh the different evils? What principles or policies are significantly worse than others?
- Shouldn't "animal cruelty" be called "animal brutality"? Isn't there a difference between inflicting pain for its own sake versus for some legitimate goal (such as medical research)?
- Is evolutionary theory compatible with Objectivism?
- Are parents who are, for example, Christian Scientists and won't treat their children's disease negligent? Does the government have a role to intervene?
- Is there any relation or difference between humanism and Objectivism?
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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.