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Seeking Welfare, Friendship, Humor, and More

Q&A Radio: Sunday, 6 January 2013

I answered questions on manipulating finances to qualify for welfare, initiating contact in friendship, poking fun at values, gay 'conversion' therapy, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday, 6 January 2013. 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.

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Segments: 6 January 2013


Question 1: Manipulating Finances to Qualify for Welfare (3:18)

Question: Is it wrong to manipulate your finances to qualify for welfare? An acquaintance of mine – who is moderately wealthy – feels justified in manipulating her finances to get government aid whenever possible on the grounds that it is "getting back" some of what she has paid. For example, she had her elderly mother buy a new car for her own use, in order to have her mother deplete her savings faster and qualify for Medicaid. However, while she had paid much in tax, her mother collects more in social security every month than she ever paid in taxes. Is it rational to view this as "getting back" money that was taken inappropriately, or is it actually immoral and self-destructive?

Answer, In Brief: It's wrong and destructive to game the welfare system. To do that is different in its essence from seeking to maximize tax breaks or attending a state university.

Tags: Ethics, Government, Honesty, Integrity, Law, Welfare

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Question 2: Initiating Contact in Friendship (22:59)

Question: Should friends initiate contact with each other roughly equally? Some of my friends never initiate contact with me. They are friendly, loyal, and otherwise great friends. But for any interaction or get-togethers, I must initiate conversation, suggest activities, and so on. Sometimes, I feel as if I value the friendship much, much more than the other person does. Is that an accurate assessment or is something else going on? Should I just seek other friends? Should I talk to these friends about this issue? (If so, what should I say?)

Answer, In Brief: Friends need not initiate contact equally, as that can be a matter of personality differences or other inessentials. If you think that might mean that the friendship itself is unequal, then initiate friendly conversation to find out – and hopefully solve the problem.

Tags: Communication, Friendship, Personality, Psychology

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Question 3: Poking Fun at Values (35:42)

Question: When does humor work against my values? Sometimes, I wonder whether my jokes undermine what I value. Is it wrong to poke fun at my friends or myself? Is it wrong to joke about principles that I hold dear? How do I draw the line?

Answer, In Brief: Humor, even when involving serious values, is all well and good provided that the intent and context are such that it's purely benevolent, without any hidden malice or sneering.

Tags: Benevolence, Communication, Ethics, Friendship, Fun, Humor, Introspection, Relationships, Values

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Question 4: Gay "Conversion" Therapy (53:27)

Question: Was California right or wrong to ban "gay cure" therapy for minors? Recently, California banned "reparative" or "conversion" therapy – meaning, therapy that aims to make gay teenagers straight. Such therapy is widely regarded as dangerous pseudo-science by mental health professionals. The ban only applies to patients under 18. So adults can still choose such therapy for themselves, but parents cannot foist it on their minor children. Is such therapy a form of child abuse? Or should parents have the power to compel such therapy on their children, even if they're morally wrong to do so?

Answer, In Brief: Gay "conversion" therapy, even when voluntary, can be deeply destructive to a teenager. I'm not sure that it should be banned, however.

Tags: Ethics, GLBT, Law, Parenting, Psychology, Rights, Science, Torts

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:17:25)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • What do you think of the fake "Brady Campaign" ads floating around Facebook lately?

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Conclusion (1:21:13)

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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 Wednesday 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 Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of interest.

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