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)

Change in Islam, Appearance and Self-Esteem, and More

Q&A Radio: 24 November 2013

I answered questions on positive change in Islam, self-esteem and appearance, and more on 24 November 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 working on various programming projects – including getting all my old podcasts posted. That's taking more work than I expected.


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Segments: 24 November 2013


Question 1: Positive Change in Islam

Question: Can Islam change for the better? Many critics of Islam claim that the religion is inherently totalitarian, violent, and repressive – and hence, that change for the better is utterly impossible. An Islamic reformation or enlightenment will never happen, they say. Is that true? More generally, what are the limits of a religion's ties to its own scriptures?

Answer, In Brief: As in every other religion, Muslims are not bound to the barbaric elements of Islamic texts. Islam can change – and hopefully will, for the better.

Tags: Bible, Christianity, Foreign Policy, Islam, Judaism, Philosophy, Qu'ran, Religion

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Question 2: Self-Esteem and Appearance

Question: How is a person's appearance related to self-esteem? Should a rational person care much about his body – including height, weight, musculature, beauty, and so on? Is that second-handed somehow? How much effort should a person exert to make himself look the way he wants to look? Should a person's looks affect his self-esteem?

Answer, In Brief: A person should care about his body, but he ought to focus more on being healthy, capable, happy, and confident than on satisfying any cultural ideal of beauty.

Tags: Beauty, Body Image, Food, Health, Self-Esteem

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Rapid Fire Questions (56:46)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Given that it's inapt to say taxation is slavery, would it still be a mistake to say that compulsory taxation is 'partial enslavement' or 'a less severe form of slavery'?
  • Is there any validity to the primary/secondary quality distinction?
  • Should a person use the term "black" or "African-American"?
  • Why do socialists want equality of outcome?

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Conclusion (1:09:11)

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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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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