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Self-Control, Lying for Surprise, Teen Parents, and More

Q&A Radio: 23 June 2013

I answered questions on cultivating powers of self-control, lying for the sake of a happy surprise, people too young to raise children, and more on 23 June 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 busy working, including closing down the OLists. Also, I'll be playing hookie from Philosophy in Action on August 11th for a one-day three-phase event on Lila! Also, my dear friend Tom sent me the most fabulous present of eight large cans of Costco's Mauna Loa macadamias, with a card that said, in part, "your podcast helps keep me hopeful for the future."


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Segments: 23 June 2013


Question 1: Cultivating Powers of Self-Control

Question: Should a person cultivate his powers of self-control? What is self-control? Is strong capacity for self-control of value? Does self-control have a downside or limits? How can a person develop more self-control?

Answer, In Brief: Even a virtuous person must exercise self-control in order to do right sometimes. A person should cultivate a capacity for self-control and deploy that selectively as needed.

Tags: Aristotle, Ethics, Moral Amplifiers, Psychology, Rationality, Responsibility, Self-Control, Temptation, Virtue, Willpower

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Question 2: Lying for the Sake of a Happy Surprise

Question: Is it ever okay to tell a lie as part of a happy surprise for someone else? This question is from Ryan (age 11) and Morgan (age 8). We bought birthday presents for our brother Sean, and we had to sneak them into the house. We didn't want Sean to know what we were doing. At first, we thought we should make up a story about why we were going back and forth to the car. Morgan thought she should tell Sean she was going outside to swing. But then we talked about how that would be a lie and she decided to go out and actually swing before bringing her present inside, that way there was no lying involved. Should we have told the lie to Sean? Is it okay to tell a lie as part of doing something nice for someone?

Answer, In Brief: It's hugely important to be honest in our relations with other people, but some lying is justified to pull off a surprise party for a person who would enjoy it. Beware telling mere technical truths, however, as they're often more dishonest than outright lies.

Tags: Benevolence, Ethics, Honesty, Relationships, Surprise, Trust

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Question 3: People Too Young to Raise Children

Question: What's the rationale for declaring some physically mature people too young to have children? Given that nature has dictated that both male and female humans can procreate in their early teens and given that morality is deduced from reality, why would sex and procreation at that young age be immoral? Isn't that what nature intended? More generally, is there a rational basis for moral judgments about the proper age of procreation? Or is it purely subjective?

Answer, In Brief: The question is fundamentally flawed: it's rationalistic and context-dropping. The simple fact is that a person must be self-sufficient (and much more) to parent a child decently. Minor teens do not qualify, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Tags: Biology, Children, Ethics, Evolution, Family, Independence, Parenting, Parenting, Rationalism, Young Adults

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Rapid Fire Questions (55:01)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • You have said that you have a theory of cooties. Can you elaborate?
  • Are there philosophies besides Objectivism that even have a meta-ethics?
  • Star Trek or Star Wars? Which is better?
  • Should a person still learning about, integrating, testing, and putting into practice the principles of Objectivism call himself an Objectivist?

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Conclusion (1:01:44)

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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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Brickell. 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 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 radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on most Sunday mornings and some 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 discuss a topic of interest.

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