Social Influence, Accepting Welfare, Government Scientists, and More
Q&A Radio: 10 November 2013
I answered questions on winning friends and influencing people, accepting government welfare, mercenary essay contest writing, government scientists in a free society, and more on 10 November 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: 10 November 2013
Question: Should a person try to "win friends and influence people"? In the classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie offers a wide range of advice on how to get what you want from other people. Some of this seems manipulative or second-handed, but is that right? Is the advice in the book of genuine value to a rational egoist seeking honest trade with others?
Answer, In Brief: How to Win Friends and Influence People is a mixed work in so many ways. Yet its basic advice on treating other people with genuine interest and respect can be of great value for people concerned to work and play well with others.
Question: Should a person without other options accept welfare from the government? I've had generalized anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember. I live in Sweden, and my government has so many labor regulations that no business can hire me, and charities don't exist to help me. Is it wrong, in such a case, to accept government assistance? I don't have any savings, and it seems like my only other options are criminal activity and suicide.
Answer, In Brief: A moral person without the ability to support himself can accept government welfare in the short term, but the long-term goal must be to create a meaningful, purposeful, and self-sufficient (as much as possible) life for oneself.
Question: Is it wrong to write essays I don't believe to win contest money? I am a current university student with severe financial limitations. I've found that one of my best assets is my knack for writing a solid, persuasive essay. Recently, I've come across a trove of very generous scholarship essay contests. I feel confident that I could write a solid essay for most of them. The problem is that the majority are funded by organizations whose values I don't support. Specifically, I'd have to write essays in favor of social and political policies with which I disagree. Would it be moral for me to enter these writing competitions? If I did, would I just be demonstrating my writing ability - or misleading the sponsor into thinking that I agree with what I've written?
Answer, In Brief: Writing false essays for contest money means promoting wrong ideas, plus eroding your own character and reputation. No amount of cash is worth that!
Question: Would the government of a free society employ scientists? In a fully free society, would there be any scientists employed full-time by the government for police, legislative, or judicial services? If not, how would judges obtain the necessary scientific knowledge to make proper rulings in the court cases that would replace today's environmental and other regulations? Might scientists be hired by the government of a free society for the military or other purposes?
Answer, In Brief: In a free society, the government's sole function would be to protect rights. In some few areas, that would require employing scientists, but most science should be privatized,
Rapid Fire Questions (59:25)
- Does the credible testimonies of pilots, military personnel, and other non-yahoos about UFO encounters justify not dismissing the subject?
- Would it be good for public health if people could be held civilly liable for transmitting their serious diseases? For instance, if I gave someone an STD, what if that person could sue me for transmitting that STD?
- Is knowledge power?
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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.