Central Purpose, Kant on Sex, Voter Education, and More
Q&A Radio: 15 September 2013
I answered questions on identifying a central purpose, Immanuel Kant on sex, becoming an educated voter, atheists patronizing religious businesses, and more on 15 September 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: 15 September 2013
Question: How can I identify my own central purpose? I understand the importance of a central purpose to organize my values and pursuits. However, I'm not sure how to identify what my central purpose is. What if I have a few major pursuits, but none dominates the others? What if my career is in flux – or not yet settled? Also, how concrete or abstract should my central purpose be?
Answer, In Brief: A person's central purpose is not any kind of divine calling, but rather a cultivated career. Often, a person can identify a theme to his work that's helpful to guiding his decision-making about future endeavors.
Question: What are Immanuel Kant's views on sex? In your June 30th, 2013 discussion of studying philosophy in academia, you said that Immanuel Kant has some very distinctive and revealing views about marriage, sex, and masturbation. What are they? What do they reveal about this ethics? Have they been influential in academia or the culture?
Answer, In Brief: Kant's views on sex are horrific – and they reveal the true meaning of his Categorical Imperative, as well as his willingness to fabricate arguments to reach his desired conclusions.
Question: How should I educate myself so that I can cast informed votes in elections? I'm 25, and I've never voted in any local, state, or national election. I have good reason for that, I think: I've never been able to educate myself sufficiently on the candidates to be certain of who to vote for. Also, as a marketing student with a passion for advertising and public relations, I don't think I could vote until I'd seen the inside of a campaign team as a member of it, so that I have a personal understanding of how much the candidate presented is real or idealized. I know that that is unrealistic, because I wouldn't know which candidate to work for. Instead of that, what steps could I take to inform myself, without consuming too much time, so that I could vote in the next presidential election?
Answer, In Brief: A person ought to educate himself before voting, and that's relatively easy to do with a bit of research into the candidate's positions and record.
Question: Is it wrong for an atheist to patronize religious businesses? Is it an endorsement of religion or failure of integrity for an atheist to buy goods or services from a religious business, such as hiring an explicitly religious (and advertised as such) plumber or joining the local YMCA?
Answer, In Brief: Most people are religious, and they're good trading partners. However, when a person injects his religion into his business, that's increasing the likelihood of unwanted proselytizing, as well as seeming to endorse his religiosity. In that case, find another person to do business with, if possible.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:40)
- About the trolley problem, wouldn't flipping the switch still legally make you a murderer?
- What is the best argument to stop me from telling people on the internet they are wrong? I know it won't go anywhere, but I still feel an urge to point it out.
- Can silly poop jokes or other forms of very silly pointless humor be a central purpose in life? Can silliness in general be a central purpose?
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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.