Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)

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.

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.

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Segments: 15 September 2013


Question 1: Identifying a Central Purpose

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.

Tags: Career, Central Purpose, Ethics, Hobbies, Life, Productiveness, Work

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Question 2: Immanuel Kant on Sex

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.

Tags: Academia, Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Love, Philosophy, Relationships, Romance, Sex

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Question 3: Becoming an Educated Voter

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.

Tags: Elections, Politics, Voting

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Question 4: Atheists Patronizing Religious Businesses

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.

Tags: Atheism, Boundaries, Business, Integrity, Justice, Religion, Respect, Sanction

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:40)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • 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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Conclusion (1:05:07)

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The vast majority of Philosophy in Action Radio – the live show and the podcast – is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because my mission is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as I do every week to thousands of listeners. I love producing the show, but each episode requires requires the investment of time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value my work, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, regular contributors enjoy free access to my premium content.

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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.

You can listen to these 362 podcasts by subscribing to the Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

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.

You can also read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed.

I can be reached via e-mail to diana@philosophyinaction.com.

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