Voting Strategy, Selfish Parenting, Bigotry, and More
Radio Q&A: 26 August 2012
I answered questions on voting for third-party candidates, self-interest in parenting, bigotry against religion, and more on 26 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: 26 August 2012
Question: Is it moral or practical to vote for third-party candidates? The Founders created a two-party political system. With features like geographic representation, first-past-the-post voting for Congress, and the Electoral College for voting for President, the Founders clearly wanted parties consisting of large umbrella groups of wide geographic and ideological interests. As a result, the United States has always had two and only two dominant political parties. Corrupt election laws, passed by these parties, now guarantee that except in rare instances (such as Jesse Ventura, of all people) only members of these two parties can be elected to office. Given these facts, what is the purpose of voting for third party candidates? Unlike the two major umbrella parties, all third parties are composed of ideological kooks of many persuasions. Isn't a vote for a third party candidate thus immoral (for supporting kookdom) and impractical (since they can't win)? Wouldn't it be better to try to improve the two existing parties, or not vote at all?
Answer, In Brief: (1) The Founders did not create a two-party system by design. (2) Voting is the least significant political act you can do, albeit still worthwhile. (3) Fiscal conservatives need to be willing to refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils if they want better candidates. (4) A good candidate from a third party is often a worthwhile protest vote. (5) I don't yet know how I'll vote, although I'm most likely to vote for Gary Johnson. (6) Acrimony over voting is wrong, pointless, and destructive.
Question: Are my interests as a parent always aligned with the interests of my child? I have a two-month-old daughter. She is of great value to me, so to protect and provide for her is in my self-interest. However, might our interests sometimes diverge? If so, should I give priority to her interests or mine?
Answer, In Brief: The objective interests of parents and children do not clash in the long run: neither parent nor child benefits from sacrifices. However, the difficulty lies in giving up unrealistic ideals to find reasonable win-win solutions.
Question: Is criticism of and opposition to religion a form of bigotry? In its entry on bigotry, Wikipedia claims that a "bigot" is "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one who exhibits intolerance and animosity toward members of a group," and that "bigotry may be directed towards those of a differing sex or sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, region, language, religious or spiritual belief, political alignment, age, economic status or medical disability." I hear the charge of bigotry bandied about, often reflexively, particularly by theists when atheists criticize their faith-based beliefs as irrational. Is open criticism of and disrespect for religion a form of bigotry? Or is "bigotry" a loaded concept to be used by anyone whose belief system is critically challenged?
Answer, In Brief: Bigotry is not holding fast to an unpopular opinion, but rather unjustly attacking people solely due to being members of some group. Criticisms of religion – and of religious advocates and adherents – so long as they stick to the facts (including about people as individuals) are not bigotry.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:05:31)
- What is the best way to ask someone to re-friend you after they've de-friended you?
- Is it immoral to attend a Christian University as an atheist if it has exceptional academic excellence in my field of interest?
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.