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)

Progress on Goals, White Privilege, and More

Q&A Radio: 29 December 2013

I answered questions on progress on long-term goals, claims of white privilege, and more on 29 December 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 enjoyed Christmas with my parents and husband in Breckenridge. Also, if you want a signed copy of my new book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, be sure to order that before the end of December! They won't be available again until April.


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Segments: 29 December 2013


Question 1: Progress on Long-Term Goals

Question: How can I make better progress on my long-term goals? I have the curious affliction of stagnating, often for very long periods of time, on long term goals. That happens even when those goals pertain to pursuits I enjoy. This pattern has me confused and somewhat alarmed, because I know that these long term goals I have set for myself will be the most meaningful for me to accomplish. Although I see the great value in skill-building for a new career, learning to play the piano, learning a new language, and so on, I cannot seem to get myself to take the daily, repeated action required for more than a week or two. That happens, despite my applying GTD and breaking down the larger task into manageable pieces. My neophile personality simply takes interest in something else, and I miss a day (then two, then three) of taking action, preventing me from ever establishing an activity as a habit. How can I break this cycle of mediocrity, so that I can really start making progress on long term goals?

Answer, In Brief: You can get more done if you (1) know the real-life purpose of your endeavor, (2) track your progress in objective way, (3) respect the major effort required to concentrate, (4) are realistic about what's possible to you, and (5) monitor yourself as you work.

Tags: Concentration, Goals, Life, Mental Inertia, Productivity, Purpose, Self-Improvement, Skills

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Question 2: Claims of White Privilege

Question: What is the individualist response to claims about "white privilege"? In May 2013, you published a blog post entitled "Personal Motives for Benevolence" where you introduced the idea that prejudice is often formed by favoritism and not overt bigotry. Clearly, such favoritism can be based on race too. So what is the proper and just response to claims of "white privilege" – such as found in the article "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh?

Answer, In Brief: Talk of "white privilege" is often saturated with collectivism and other false assumptions. However, the phenomena of in-group privilege is a very real and important influence on social behavior, due to our natural affinity for people similar to us. However, we must ensure that such doesn't render our actions – and particularly not the criminal justice system – unjust.

Tags: Benevolence, Crime, Culture, Ethics, Groups, Individualism, Justice, Privilege, Race, Racism, Sexism

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:08:31)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • If the universe has always existed, does that make it an actual infinity?
  • Why do the philosophical skeptics, who claim that even skepticism could be wrong, seem to be the ones least willing to entertain any argument that concludes that such is the case?

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Conclusion (1:16:24)

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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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