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)

Marriage, Religious Ceremonies, Space Travel, and More

Q&A Radio: 28 April 2013

I answered questions on self-interest in marriage, atheists attending religious ceremonies, multigenerational space travel, drugs as treatment for mental illness, and more on 28 April 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: I've been finalizing the layout of my soon-forthcoming book, Responsibility and Luck (a.k.a. my dissertation), and now I'm doing the final review of the text and layouy, creating the index, and planning the podcast series. The book will be available in a week or two!


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Segments: 28 April 2013


Question 1: Self-Interest in Marriage

Question: Can marriage be self-interested? Most people describe marriage as requiring compromise, sacrifice, and concession. Is that right? Is a happy and fulfilling marriage possible where each person pursues his or her own values, without such compromise, sacrifice, or concession? Is some different approach to marriage required?

Answer, In Brief: Marriage need not and should not be sacrificial. A happy marriage is egoistic: each person pursues his own self-interest, including by being respectful and accommodating of his/her spouse.

Tags: Communication, Compromise, Egoism, Ethics, Marriage, Romance, Sacrifice, Self-Interest

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Question 2: Atheists Attending Religious Ceremonies

Question: Is it wrong for an atheist to refuse to attend a sibling's religious ceremony? I've decided not to attend the religious ceremony of my younger sister's upcoming Bat Mitzvah. I'm an atheist, and while I don't think attending would be immoral, I don't want to support any kind of religiosity or connection to religion. Other family members have criticized me for that decision, saying that I should support my sister and not pressure her into agreeing with my own views. Should I attend? If not, how should I handle the family dynamics?

Answer, In Brief: Other things being equal, the morality of attending a religious ceremony depends on the morality and religiosity of the ceremony. Here, attendance is optional, and you should explain your reasons to your sister kindly, and tell your family to mind their own business.

Tags: Atheism, Communication, Ethics, Family, Integrity, Judaism, Religion, Sanction, Siblings

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Question 3: Multigenerational Space Travel

Question: Is multigenerational space travel immoral? According to a panel at SETICon 2012, the designs for multi-generational space ships are already in the works. Are there ethical problems with people bearing children who will never see Earth, and likely never set foot on a planet? Would they be robbed of any ability to determine their own fate? Or is it a moot point since had the circumstances been different, they might not have ever been born at all?

Answer, In Brief: Children are not entitled to the best that Earth has to offer. They are entitled to have real lives, lived in freedom. That would be tricky to implement in space, but possible.

Tags: Children, Ethics, Free Society, Parenting, Rights

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Question 4: Drugs as Treatment for Mental Illness

Question: Is taking antidepressants and other prescribed drugs for mental problems a form of evasion? I'm new to the philosophy of Objectivism, and I've seen that it's rapidly helping cure the last parts of a depression I went through last year. I started taking Adderal about eight months ago, and it has helped tremendously. But I wonder: Does taking these drugs or other antidepressants conflict with the principle that a person should never evade reality?

Answer, In Brief: Some people seem to need need for antidepressants and other drugs to achieve normal mental functioning or restore themselves to that – and to use them in those cases is entirely proper and not evasion.

Tags: Ethics, Evasion, Health, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Psychology

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Rapid Fire Questions (57:18)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Do Objectivists hold each other to higher standards?
  • Is it mystical to name your pets after wizards?
  • Do spouses have an expectation of privacy?

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Conclusion (1:04:25)

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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