Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)

Default Ideas, Unjust Gripes, Veganism, and More

Radio Q&A: 18 November 2012

I answered questions on adopting ideas by default, griping versus moral judgment, veganism as child abuse, sharing lecture notes, and more on 18 November 2012. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life... far and wide. That's why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.

My News of the Week: I've been working on updates to NoodleFood, plus preparing my book Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame (a.k.a. my dissertation) for publication!


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Segments: 18 November 2012


Question 1: Adopting Ideas by Default

Question: Should a person allow his ideology to set his default positions? When people adopt a religion, philosophy, or politics as their own, they often don't think through every issue - or they've not done so yet. Does accepting the various positions of that ideology as a kind of default amount to accepting them on faith? What should a person do when he hasn't thought through the issue for himself?

Answer, In Brief: A person should not swallow any ideology whole. He should judge for himself on matters of importance, and he needs to differentiate what he knows first-hand from merely provisional and plausible claims.

Tags: Conservatism, Epistemology, Ethics, Honesty, Independence, Paleo, Philosophy, Psycho-Epistemology, Rationalism, Rationality

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Question 2: Griping Versus Moral Judgment

Question: What's the difference between griping about people and morally judging them? I try to be careful in my moral judgments of others, and then act accordingly. However, most people don't seem to do that: they bitch about other people out of annoyance, but then do nothing to solve their problems. What's wrong with such bitching? How can I explain my objections to such bitching in a friendly way? How can I avoid being bitched-to or bitched-about?

Answer, In Brief: For a person to merely gripe about serious moral failings in others but then maintain the relationship as before is wrong. Yet it's far worse to bandy about serious but unwarranted moral accusations out of momentary annoyance or spite.

Tags: Communication, Communication, Conflict, Ethics, Judgment, Justice, Relationships, Relationships

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Question 3: Veganism as Child Abuse

Question: Should it be considered child abuse to feed a child a vegan diet? Most experts agree that children need some of the nutrients found in meat and dairy products to develop properly. I've read lots of stories about children whose development is impaired or stunted due to being fed a vegan diet. Should it be considered child abuse to feed a child a strict vegan diet? If so, at which point should the state intervene and take legal recourse against the parents?

Answer, In Brief: Child abuse requires that parents inflict serious and lasting harm on the child that impairs its capacity to develop into healthy, independent, autonomous adult. A vegan diet might do that – in which case the state should intervene. Or it might be perfectly fine – in which case the state should leave the parents and child alone.

Tags: Child Abuse, Children, Free Society, Health, Law, Nutrition, Parenting, Rights

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Question 4: Sharing Lecture Notes

Question: Is it wrong to refuse to share lecture notes with a lazy student? A classmate of mine is nice enough but a bit odd. She's always at least 30 minutes late for lecture, and she doesn't come to lab sometimes. In lecture, she does not take notes but instead usually draws the whole class period. Today, she asked to borrow some of my lecture notes. I told her that I noticed that she was always late and that she didn't take notes, and she denied that. Still, I told her that lending her my notes would be inconvenient, then I suggested that she ask someone else. Normally, I'd be happy to share my notes, but in this case, I didn't want to share the results of my efforts in attending this class on time, every day, and paying attention. Was that wrong?

Answer, In Brief: To offer notes to a fellow student is often generous and proper, if it's not too much trouble. However, in this case, the student was not merely lazy but also dishonest, so sharing your notes would have been wrong.

Tags: Communication, Culture, Education, Ethics, Free Society, Generosity, Honesty, Moral Wrongs, Responsibility

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:59)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • I have Bipolar Disorder. When is a good time in a new romantic relationship to inform the other person of that?
  • What lesson did the Republicans learn from Romney's defeat?
  • Should a sensitive person learn to take criticism well? Why and how?

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Conclusion (1:11:28)

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio! If you enjoyed this episode, please contribute to contribute to our tip jar.


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The vast majority of Philosophy in Action Radio – the live show and the podcast – is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because my mission is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as I do every week to thousands of listeners. I love producing the show, but each episode requires requires the investment of time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value my work, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, regular contributors enjoy free access to my premium content.

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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.

You can listen to these 362 podcasts by subscribing to the Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

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.

You can also read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed.

I can be reached via e-mail to diana@philosophyinaction.com.

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