On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on the relationship between philosophy and science, marriage without love, participating in superstitious rituals, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 21 December 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.

Public Shamings, Aggressive Dogs, Photography, and More

Q&A Radio: 15 December 2013

I answered questions on public shamings, problems with an aggressive dog, photography as art, and more for Philosophy in Action Radio on 15 December 2013. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download the podcast below.

Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.

My News of the Week: I had a fabulous birthday this week! Many thanks to the reviewers of my new book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame. If you've read it, please review it on Amazon! Get a signed copy for just $25 in December! Also, if you're looking for a last-minute Christmas gift, my podcast on Finding Good Prospects for Romance and Friendship is available for half price – just $10 – through the end of December.

Note: My apologies for the poor audio quality: I was obliged to use the version recorded by BlogTalkRadio.

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  • Duration: 1:09:54

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Segments: 15 December 2013


Question 1: Public Shamings (5:17)

Question: Are public shamings morally justifiable? I often read of judges handing down sentences designed to humiliate the offender, such as standing at a busy intersection wearing a sandwich board apologizing for their offense. Many people favor these kinds of punishments in lieu of jail time because they consume less resources of the penal system. They may be more effective too. Does that justify such shamings? Moreover, what's the morality of similar shamings by parents and businesses? A bodega in my neighborhood posts surveillance camera footage of shoplifters, usually with some snarky comment about their theft. I find this practice amusing, but is that moral? Is it akin to vigilantism?

Answer, In Brief: Public shaming for petty crimes can help protect the community, deter crime, incent reparations, and empower the victim – particularly when done by the victim.

Tags: Crime, Ethics, Justice, Law, Moral Wrongs, Parenting, Punishment, Reputation

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Question 2: Problems with an Aggressive Dog (22:58)

Question: What should a person do about a neighbor's aggressive dog? My husband was attacked (but barely injured) by a neighbor's dog. No one else was in the room at the time. Our children often play at this person's house, and the dog has always been friendly in the past. How do you suggest handling the situation? Should we allow our children to play with the dog, as we always have in the past? What should the owner do about the dog?

Answer, In Brief: An aggressive dog is dangerous, so you need to have a calm but frank conversation with the owner, set limits for your family, and teach everyone about dealing with strange dogs.

Tags: Communication, Neighbors, Parenting, Pets, Relationships, Risk

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Question 3: Photography as Art (39:46)

Question: Does photography qualify as art? I've always viewed photography as a legitimate form of art. However, many people I disagree: Ayn Rand argued that it's a technical rather than a creative skill. However, I regard photography as a technical and creative skill, just like painting. So does photography qualify as art? If not, does that mean that photography doesn't have value – or has less value than proper art forms like painting? If photography has value nonetheless, what is the source of that value?

Answer, In Brief: In my view, photography is not, strictly speaking, art because it's not wholly the creation of the artist in the way that painting is. However, that doesn't imply anything about the value of photography, which is often considerable.

Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Painting, Photography, Spiritual Values, Values

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Rapid Fire Questions (58:27)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • If a professional football player suffers a career-ending injury in the 1st of a 3-year contract, should he give the money back for the years he doesn't play?
  • What do you think of the comparison between the NBC drama Dracula and Atlas Shrugged?What should a person do when they see others treating people unjustly, e.g. by making fun of fat people?
  • Are schoolyard bullies motivated by the death premise?

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Conclusion (1:08:20)

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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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