On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll chat live on "Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Five" with listeners. The live broadcast begins at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Sunday, 6 November 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.

Extramarital Affairs, Government Controls, Art, and More

Q&A Radio: 24 March 2013

I answered questions on being someone's extramarital affair, epistemic effects of government controls, the boundaries of art, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on 24 March 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: 24 March 2013


Question 1: Being Someone's Extramarital Affair (3:51)

Question: Is it wrong to have a romantic relationship with a married person? In Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, Dagny Taggart had an affair with Hank Rearden, knowing that he was married. How should those actions be judged in real life? Clearly, Hank's cheating was dishonest and wrong. Was Dagny wrong to pursue the affair? What should she have done instead? Or, imagine that Dagny didn't know that Hank was married until after they'd slept together. What should she have done in that case upon finding out the truth? Should she stop the affair? Should she inform the wife about the cheating? Should she apologize to the wife? Also, if your answer is different than Dagny's, how do you reconcile that?

Answer, In Brief: Fiction is not always the best guide: it's morally wrong and practically dangerous to be the "other man" or the "other woman" in another person's marriage.

Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Character, Honesty, Infidelity, Integrity, Moral Wrongs, Relationships, Romance, Sex

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Question 2: Epistemic Effects of Government Controls (22:52)

Question: How do government controls encourage short-range thinking in business? In your discussion of the principle of sustainability in December 2011, you said that government controls encourage people to think short-range – to grab what they can and run with it – including in business. Why is that? What are some examples?

Answer, In Brief: When the government can change the rules of the game anytime by new laws and regulations, people cannot rationally plan for the long run, so many people get what they can while they can.

Tags: Ethics, Government, Psycho-Epistemology, Regulations, Rights

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Question 3: The Boundaries of Art (37:57)

Question: What counts as art? Ayn Rand defined art as "a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments." What does that mean? If art is a selective re-creation of reality, does that mean that anything can be art – such as a shoe or my kitchen trash? If art involves metaphysical value-judgments, does that mean that all art is implicitly a kind of philosophy?

Answer, In Brief: Ayn Rand's definition of art identifies the core similarities between certain kinds of human creations, namely those with the most potential to serve as spiritual fuel.

Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Personal Values, Spiritual Values

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Rapid Fire Questions (58:26)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Is it true that all snowboarders are knuckle-dragging, retrograde delinquents?
  • How are we to decide which parts of fiction to carry into real life and which parts are only "devices" for the story?

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Conclusion (1:07:51)

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing in 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 Thursday 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 Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or chat about a topic of interest.

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