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)

Studying Personality, The Golden Rule, and More

Q&A Radio: 3 February 2013

I answered questions on the value of studying personality, the golden rule, yelling at employees, atheism as religion, and more on 3 February 2013. 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: Last night, I attended a great lecture by Craig Biddle on "The Trinity of Liberty." Also, registration for SnowCon 2013 is now open!


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Segments: 3 February 2013


Question 1: The Value of Studying Personality

Question: What is the value of understanding personality differences? You've become increasingly interested in personality theory lately. What are the major practical benefits of better understanding personality? Is understanding personality differences as important – or perhaps more important – than knowing philosophy?

Answer, In Brief: If a person wants to deeply integrate the virtues into his own life, make better choices about his life and work, and enjoy more rewarding relations with others, then studying personality theory is invaluable!

Tags: Ethics, Personality, Psychology

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Question 2: The Golden Rule

Question: Is the Golden Rule a valid and useful principle of ethics? In past podcasts, you've mentioned that you consider the Golden Rule – meaning, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" – as flawed. What are some of the problems with this rule? Does it have any value?

Answer, In Brief: The Golden Rule aims at some genuine values in ethics, but it’s too deeply rooted in subjectivism and formalism to be a valid or useful principle of ethics.

Tags: Christianity, Ethics, Judaism, Justice, Religion

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Question 3: Yelling at Employees

Question: Is yelling at and shaming an employee ever justifiable? Imagine that a product at work must be shipped by a certain deadline – and if it's late, the company will suffer a major loss. All the workers involved know that, yet as the deadline approaches, one worker works slowly, seemingly without concern for the deadline. When reminded, he acknowledges the deadline, yet his work continues to be as slow as ever. In such cases, might yelling at that worker – even shaming him in front of co-workers – be just what he needs to motivate him to get the project done? If not, what else should be done?

Answer, In Brief: Yelling at and shaming employees is a disastrously unprofessional tactic in the workplace. It's not only likely to backfire with that particular employee, but likely to destroy your relationships with your other employees too.

Tags: Ethics, Personality, Productivity, Psychology, Work

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Question 4: Atheism as Religion

Question: Is atheism just another form of religion? I often hear from religious people that atheism is just another form of religion – and just as much based on faith as Christianity and the like. Is that right or wrong?

Answer, In Brief: Atheism is not any kind of religion or faith. Religion involves belief (without adequate evidence) in the supernatural, and atheism denies such claims because they're utterly without rational foundation.

Tags: Atheism, Faith, Religion

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Rapid Fire Questions (58:22)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?
  • What do you think about celebrating Ayn Rand's birthday as "Randsday"?

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Conclusion (1:03:24)

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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