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Aristotle, Corrupt Siblings, Studying Philosophy, and More

Q&A Radio: 30 June 2013

I answered questions on Aristotle on the final end, dealing with a morally corrupt sibling, studying philosophy in academia, the legality of DDoS attacks, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on 30 June 2013. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download the podcast below.

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Segments: 30 June 2013


Question 1: Aristotle on the Final End (4:33)

Question: Is Aristotle's argument for flourishing as the final end valid? In the "Nicomachean Ethics," Aristotle argues that flourishing (or happiness) is the proper final end. What is that argument? Does it have merit? How does it differ from Ayn Rand's argument for life as the standard of value?

Answer, In Brief: Aristotle's argument for happiness – or rather flourishing – as the proper final end for persons is interesting and well-founded, even if not as fundamental as Ayn Rand's argument for life as the standard of value.

Tags: Aristotle, Ethics, Flourishing, Happiness, Hedonism, Meta-Ethics, Objectivism

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Question 2: Dealing with a Morally Corrupt Sibling (21:45)

Question: How should I respond to my morally corrupt sister? My 20 year old sister is morally destitute. She is an unapologetic shoplifter. Her justifications amount to things like: "My shoplifting is not an addiction because I can stop anytime I want to," "everyone does it," "companies account for shoplifters in their business plans so they mark prices higher to compensate for it," "I'd never steal from a friend," "I need to steal while I look young and can get away with it because no one suspects me," etc. Over the years she has stolen hundreds if not thousands of dollars from our parents, too. She lies and cheats frequently. She's accepted money in return for writing a paper for a friend. She knows what she does is "wrong," and she maintains that such is better than not knowing, at least. (That makes no sense, I know.) I also just found out that she's selling marijuana because, as she says, she needs a way to support her expensive taste in clothes and makeup. She has no integrity or moral conscience. She doesn't care about my horror at her behavior. She does not respond to reason. Part of me wants to help her by trying to talk sense into her. I care about her, and I want her to be a healthy person and not have a miserable life. Another part of me wants to forget her and let her ruin herself. Yet I don't want to stand by and watch that happen, and I also know that there's only so much I can do to really help her. What is the rational thing to do?

Answer, In Brief: Your sister is toxic – by her own choice. You should cut ties with her completely and immediately, so that she can't use you or harm you.

Tags: Crime, Emotions, Ethics, Evasion, Family, Rationality, Relationships, Siblings

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Question 3: Studying Philosophy in Academia (35:35)

Question: Is studying philosophy in academia a waste? I have a strong interest in Objectivism, and I'd like to learn more about philosophy. However, my experience taking philosophy classes has been horrible. I'd like a class in which (1) I can trust the professor's objectivity enough to enjoy a lecture, (2) I can agree with the professor's analysis of a particular topic, and/or (3) the class is taught in an integrated, logical fashion. I've not found any of that. When I've mentioned my interest in Ayn Rand, I've gotten comments like "Well, I think she's someone to be outgrown." Do you know of any schools with good philosophy departments? How should I approach studying philosophy in academia? How could I make the best of what's offered?

Answer, In Brief: You can learn much about philosophy from academia, but you have to wade through – and diligently avoid – lots of chaff in doing so.

Tags: Academia, Education, Objectivism, Philosophy

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Question 4: The Legality of DDoS Attacks (1:00:00)

Question: Should Distributed Denial of Service (a.k.a. DDoS) attacks be illegal? DDoS computer attacks are illegal in the United Kingdom. Are such attacks analogous to convincing people to send many letters to an organization or to calling on the phone repeatedly, thereby crippling its infrastructure? Or are they more like trespassing on property? How should the law deal with them?

Answer, In Brief: Denial of Service attacks are not merely torts. As willful and deliberate violations of rights, they should be considered crimes.

Tags: Crime, Law, Technology, Torts

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Conclusion (1:16:43)

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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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