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Judging Others, Chivalry, Blue Laws, and More

Radio Q&A: 16 September 2012

I answered questions on judging people struggling with temptations, judging others when I'm flawed, chivalry as a virtue, blue laws, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on 16 September 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: Paul and I were visiting my parents early in the week, and now I'm super-busy preparing for the Coalition for Secular Government's trial in federal court against Colorado's anti-free-speech campaign finance laws.

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Segments: 16 September 2012


Question 1: Judging People Struggling with Temptations (6:08)

Question: Does a person deserve extra moral praise for acting rightly despite strong contrary emotions? How does overcoming strong emotions in order to do the right thing (or refrain from doing the wrong thing) factor into morally judging a person? If person A has no emotional conflict and thus does the right thing more or less "effortlessly," while person B takes the same correct action despite strong emotional motivation to act otherwise, does person B deserve any extra moral credit for the amount of emotional or mental effort he made? Or is moral judgment to be made solely on the basis of actions, with internal mental effort being irrelevant?

Answer, In Brief: It is far better for a person to cultivate a virtuous moral character so that right actions are easy for him, rather than constantly struggling against temptation. Still, it's proper to praise moral effort, not only because it's better to struggle than to sink into wrongdoing, but also because such moral effort is the process by which a person creates a virtuous character.

Tags: Character, Christianity, Emotions, Ethics, Judgment, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Pleasure, Pride, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology, Self-Control, Temptation, Willpower

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Question 2: Judging Others When I'm Flawed (27:09)

Question: It is wrong to judge others when I'm still flawed? Given that I have various inconsistencies and unresolved contradictions, for me to morally judge others seems like self-righteousness. Does a person need to be morally good (or even perfect) to justly judge others?

Answer, In Brief: A person needs to morally judge others in order to protect and advance his goals – and that's true whether he's fully virtuous or still in the process of achieving that.

Tags: Character, Christianity, Ethics, Honesty, Hypocrisy, Independence, Integrity, Justice, Moral Wrongs

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Question 3: Chivalry as a Virtue (37:46)

Question: Is chivalry virtuous? In the Aurora Masacre, three men died in the process of physically shielding their girlfriends from the gunfire. Is that kind of sacrifice noble? More generally, does chivalry have any place in an ethic of rational egoism?

Answer, In Brief: Chivalry is not a virtue, but an religious, altruistic, and sexist moral code. Sacrificial ethics work as well in emergencies as they do in ordinary life – which is, not at all. In an emergency, people should work together to survive, not offer themselves as sacrifices.

Tags: Chivalry, Emergencies, Ethics, History, Integrity, Religion, Sacrifice, Self-Interest, Self-Sacrifice, Sexism, Virtue

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Question 4: Blue Laws (51:21)

Question: Do "blue laws" violate rights? Many communities have "blue laws" – such as prohibitions on selling liquor, or even cars or other goods, on Sundays. Are these laws violations of the separation of church and state?

Answer, In Brief: Blue laws violate rights, including the proper separation of church and state. They should be repealed, to the last.

Tags: Alcohol/Drugs, Business, Law, Politics, Religion, Rights

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Rapid Fire Questions (57:46)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • In his recent e-mail to Cato employees, John Allison said "I have come to appreciate that all objectivists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are objectivists". Would this mean something different of one or both of the terms "libertarian" or "objectivist" were capitalized?
  • What do you think of New York City's ban on big sugary drinks?
  • When, if ever, should children be tried as adults?
  • How should intellectual property be protected abroad?
  • How come America only has two parties? I live in a country that's smaller than some of your states and saw twenty candidates on our ballot today.

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Conclusion (1:10:11)

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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 Thursday 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 Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or chat about a topic of interest.

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