Moral Luck, Adult Children, Promised Pensions, and More
Radio Q&A: 2 December 2012
I answered questions on moral luck, parental support of adult children, guaranteed pensions for government employees, right to die, and more on 2 December 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: 2 December 2012
Question: Is 'moral luck' a self-contradictory term? What does it mean? Does it exist?
Answer, In Brief: Moral luck is a philosophical puzzle about the extent of a person's responsibility for his actions, their outcomes, and his character--given the pervasive influence of luck. It's a puzzle that can be solved--as I did in my soon-to-be-published book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame--with an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility.
Question: When should parents refuse to support their adult children? Some parents continue to support their 30-year-old and even 40-year-old adult children. Usually, these adult children are chronic screw-ups without much interest in improving their lives or even holding down a steady job. Are these parents immoral for helping the child? Are the parents contributing to his or her problems? How can the parents stop in a way that's fair to the dependent child?
Answer, In Brief: The purpose of parenting is to create an independent adult, and parents need to help make that happen by refusing to be the perpetual caretaker of their child.
Question: Should pensions to government employees be guaranteed? Many cities and states are running into fiscal trouble and are reneging on promises to pay pensions to retired government employees, such as policemen. Should those promised payments be guaranteed, even if that means raising taxes or cutting back elsewhere? After all, those payments are part of a contract made between the employer and the employee. Or if money is tight for the city/state government, should the retirees have to share the same risk of default as anyone else the government owes money to?
Answer, In Brief: The government's contracts with its employees should be respected, within reasonable limits. Hence, government pensions should be restructured as part of massive cuts in spending.
Question: Is there a right to die and/or a right to be killed? Does a person have a right to die? If so, under what conditions? Moreover, does a person unable to kill himself (due to illness) have a right to be killed by a willing person?
Answer, In Brief: A person has a right to take his own life, but the law should take steps to ensure that any suicide is done voluntarily by a competent person.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:07)
- By what methods should government execute criminals condemned to death?
- When did you first read Ayn Rand?
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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.