On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on ambition as a virtue, happiness without close friends, refusing involvement in a biological child's life, responsibility for a sibling, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 27 April 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.

Adoption, Sex-Selective Abortion, Frustration, and More

Radio Q&A: Sunday, 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 for Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday, 19 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 busy with New Kitty Merlin. My Monday talk at Liberty on the Rocks - Flatirons on How to Be Principled about Election Politics went really well. Thanks to everyone who came!

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Segments: 19 August 2012


Question 1: The Role of Government in Adoption (4:10)

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.

Tags: Adoption, Children, Free Society, GLBT, Government, Parenting, Rights

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Question 2: Sex-Selective Abortions (17:08)

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.

Tags: Abortion, Children, Culture, Discrimination, Ethics, Medicine, Parenting, Pregnancy, Rights, Sexism

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Question 3: Expressing Frustration (32:14)

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.

Tags: Communication, Conflict, Emotions, Ethics, Relationships, Work

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Question 4: Hatred for a Friend's Husband (44:28)

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.

Tags: Conflict, Ethics, Friendship, Marriage, Relationships

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Rapid Fire Questions (55:46)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • 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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Conclusion (1:05:51)

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing 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 Wednesday 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 Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of interest.

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