Individualism, Disabled Children, Arranged Marriages, and More
Q&A Radio: 19 May 2013
I answered questions on individualism versus anti-social atomism, poor communication from the boss, visibility of disabled children, arranged marriages, and more on 19 May 2013. 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: 19 May 2013
Question: Does individualism imply social isolation and atomism? Many critics of Ayn Rand argue that her individualism is hostile to love, concern, and respect for other people. They claim that her "atomistic individualism" doesn't permit, let alone support, groups or community. Are these criticisms true? What is the right view of human society and sociability?
Answer, In Brief: Individualism does not mean eschewing society or groups. It means respecting the rights, lives, and minds of individuals in society and groups. It's the basic moral foundation of healthy social relations.
Question: How can I make my boss more communicative? My boss hardly ever tells me company news affecting my projects, even when critical. As a result, I've wasted days and weeks on useless work, and I've gotten into needless conflicts with co-workers. I'm always guessing at what I should be doing, and I just hate that. What can I do to make my boss to be more communicative with me?
Answer, In Brief: You cannot manage your boss, but you can request more channels of communication, protect yourself from blame for his screw-ups, and if necessary, find a new boss.
Question: Should disabled kids be kept out of the public eye? Recently, a waiter at a restaurant refused to serve one party after hearing them make fun of a child with Down's Syndrome sitting with his family in a nearby booth. Both parties were regulars to the restaurant. Some people have praised the waiter's actions because he took offense at overhearing the first party say "special needs kids should be kept in special places." He called them on their rudeness and refused to serve them. Others think he was wrong: his catering to the party with the disabled kid is indicative of a culture that embraces mediocrity and disability. What is the proper assessment of the remark made and the waiter's response? Should people with disabilities be kept from public view?
Answer, In Brief: Disabled people have every right to be out in the world, pursuing their values – so long as they respect rights and act decently – just as do normal people. To suggest that disabled people should be locked away, as the people at this table did, is morally monstrous.
Question: Are arranged marriages legally and socially valid? A coworker of mine in his early 20s grew up in India. His parents have arranged his marriage to a young woman who also now lives in the US. He appreciates that his parents selected a wife for him: he doesn't want to spend the time or take the risk of finding a wife himself. Should such a marriage be considered legally valid? Is it just a marriage of convenience? Is the practice of arranged marriages immoral and/or impractical?
Answer, In Brief: Arranged marriages are legally and socially valid marriages. However, the institution of arranged marriages is a deeply immoral one: the choice of a spouse is too important to leave to others, and if a person isn't competent or interested to decide for himself, then he shouldn't marry.
Rapid Fire Questions (55:59)
- Given that socialists call profits greed, why don't they call reported losses generosity?
- How do you pick the questions that you'll answer each week? Are you worried about running out of topics?
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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 email@example.com.