On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on the moral arguments for veganism, the validity of concealed carry permits, hijacking Ayn Rand's ideas, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 21 September 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.

Libertarianism, Mental Illness, Rights, and More

Q&A Radio: 9 June 2013

I answered questions on Objectivism versus libertarianism, bad ideas as a cause of mental illness, doctors refusing to perform abortions, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on 9 June 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.

My News of the Week: I had a great time visiting my sister earlier this week! I resumed the tedious work of editing the galley proofs of my soon-forthcoming book, Responsibility and Luck (a.k.a. my dissertation). Last night, I gave my talk on "Moral Amplifiers" to the Great Lakes Objectivists. We did it remotely via Skype, and that worked remarkably well!

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  • Duration: 1:10:28

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Segments: 9 June 2013


Question 1: Objectivism Versus Libertarianism (3:01)

Question: Are Objectivism and libertarianism allies in the struggle for liberty? Libertarians have long claimed that Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism (or just its politics) is a form of libertarianism, but Objectivists rejected that. More recently, however, notable Objectivist John Allison assumed the presidency of the thoroughly libertarian Cato Institute with the support of the Ayn Rand Institute, and he claimed that "all objectivists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are objectivists." Is that true? What is the essence of libertarianism? When, if ever, should Objectivists ally or collaborate with libertarians?

Answer, In Brief: Objectivists are not libertarians: the libertarian movement is premised on philosophical relativism and merely wanting "smaller government." Objectivists should work with libertarians just as they do with liberals and conservatives – meaning, on an ad hoc basis.

Tags: Activism, Compromise, Ethics, Libertarianism, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

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Question 2: Bad Ideas as a Cause of Mental Illness (42:32)

Question: Can the consistent practice of wrong ideas lead to mental illness? Often, the most consistent practitioners of an ideology – such as Naziism or Islam – seem to become increasingly unhinged over time. Does fully embracing a fantasy-based ideology entail or encourage mental illness, such as paranoia and delusions? If so, are such people then not responsible for what they say or do?

Answer, In Brief: A person can damage his mind severely by consistent practice of evasion and irrationality, and religion and other fantasy-based ideologies can help a person do that.

Tags: Epistemology, Mental Illness, Philosophy, Psychology, Rationality, Religion

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Question 3: Doctors Refusing to Perform Abortions (54:58)

Question: Does a doctor violate a woman's rights by refusing to perform an abortion? Many people on the left claim that a doctor who refuses to perform an abortion – or a pharmacist who refuses to dispense Plan B – is thereby violating the rights of the woman. Those doctors and pharmacists, however, claim that they're exercising their own freedom of religion. Who is right?

Answer, In Brief: A doctor does not violate a woman’s right to abortion by refusing to perform an abortion, and a doctor’s freedom of religion does not entitle him to renege on the terms of his employment.

Tags: Abortion, Conservatism, Ethics, Medicine, Politics, Progressivism, Religion, Rights

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:01:42)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Do you believe "inductive" and "inductively" have become generic positive modifiers (i.e., used merely to lend positive connotation without specific denotation) in Objectivist circles, when used outside the context of speaking of the process of induction proper - for example, when used in a statement such as: "X organization engages in inductive advocacy"?
  • Would you support the admission of Puerto Rico to the U.S. as a state given the results of the last year controversial referendum (54% against current status, 61% of valid votes for statehood)?

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Conclusion (1:07:21)

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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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