Rape Fears, Family Conflicts, Atheist Prayers, and More
Radio Q&A: 9 September 2012
I answered questions on fear of rape, conflicts between family members, prayers of atheists, bans on smoking, and more on 9 September 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: 9 September 2012
Question: Should men be sensitive to women's fears of being raped? Recently, I became aware of an ongoing debate among the online atheist community regarding proper conduct of men toward women they do not know. In a June 2011 video reporting on a conference, "Skepchik" Rebecca Watson talked about her experience of being asked to the room of a strange man in an elevator at 4 am. That invitation made her very uncomfortable, and she thought it was very wrong to so sexualize her. Her comments created a firestorm of controversy. Do you think that men need to be sensitive to women's fears about being raped? Should women have such fears around unknown men?
Answer, In Brief: When dealing with strangers, a person should always be aware of the context, so as to avoid seeming to be threatening to the other person. Moreover, men need to take some extra care in dealing with women they won't know. That's because women are more physically vulnerable than men, and because prominent women are often subject to threatening sexual harassment.
Question: How can I stay out of conflicts between family members? When two people you love have competing claims about the facts in a conflict between them, how do not imply that one or the other is lying? My daughter said she told my wife something important. My wife said my daughter didn't say anything about it. How can you react without destroying one or the other's trust? I wasn't there: I can believe or dis-believe either one. But I am forced by each to choose. When I refuse to choose sides, I'm still subjected to being accused of taking the other's side and calling each one a liar. What can I do to make peace, at least with me?
Answer, In Brief: It's wrong to choose sides in a dispute when you don't know the facts, particularly when the most likely scenario is miscommunication. You should refuse to particpate in any attempts to make you a pawn in this battle between your wife and daughter – even if they protest.
Question: Is it wrong for an atheist to pray? I used to be a Christian, but I've not believed in God for many years. However, I still pray when I'm under stress, even though I know that it doesn't accomplish anything. What's the harm in praying to a non-existent being?
Answer, In Brief: It is wrong for an atheist to pray: it's degrading to your integrity, and it's poor thinking.
Question: Do smoking bans violate rights? Cities are banning smoking in private businesses like bars and even smoke shops. Are these bans immoral – meaning, do they violate rights? Does second-hand smoke violate the rights of non-smoking patrons or employees? What should be the policy for government-owned property like parks, court houses, sidewalks, etc?
Answer, In Brief: The government has no right to ban or regulate smoking on other people's property, but it can do so for reasons of common courtesy on its own property.
Rapid Fire Questions (56:26)
- Which Atlas Shrugged character would be best suited to be the President of the United States?
- Mitt gets elected but falls Ill and Ryan becomes an Objectivist after a debate with his interns. If this happened what would be your reaction?
- Should a government engage in hacking or denial of service attacks? If so, under what conditions?
- Some people when told that free will is something they experience directly say that they don't experience it. Or if they do couldn't know that what they feel is free will. How can I respond to that?
- Can people sexually attracted to children respect rights?
- Would the Defense Department be justified in hacking WikiLeaks to stop the site from releasing sensitive intelligence information?
- Are military education benefits a proper function of government?
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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.