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 on 16 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: 16 September 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rapid Fire Questions (57:46)
- 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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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.