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)

Faith in Reason, Free Speech, Gay Pride, and More

Q&A Radio: 19 January 2014

I answered questions on faith in reason, free speech of government officials, gay pride, and more on 19 January 2014. 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 very busy preparing for my departure for Aiken, South Carolina, plus I'll be away at SnowCon Tahoe late next week. As a result of that travel, the next live show will be on Tuesday, January 28th. After that, we'll broadcast on Thursday evenings through the end of February. Check out the calendar and episodes on tap for details. The half-price sale on my podcast on Finding Good Prospects for Romance and Friendship ends on January 20th.


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Segments: 19 January 2014


Question 1: Faith in Reason

Question: Does being rational mean having faith in reason? I'm a high school student in a religious school. Many of my classmates claim that my belief in a knowable reality, science, and reason is merely a form of faith. So how can a person validate his own reason and senses? How can a person know that they are reliable means of knowing reality – unless he uses them and thereby engages in circular reasoning? My classmates claim that God is the only way out of this puzzle: God checks our reasoning by verifying and opposing our various conclusions. How can I respond to their arguments effectively?

Answer, In Brief: The validity of perception and logic cannot be proven due to problems of circularity, but they can be validated by noticing that they are fundamental and inescapable in any thinking or claims of knowledge. Faith, in contrast, rejects the need for any justification – not just of itself, but of any claims of faith too.

Tags: Atheism, Axioms, Epistemology, Faith, Foundationalism, Logic, Metaphysics, Perception, Proof, Rationality, Reason, Reason

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Question 2: Free Speech of Government Officials

Question: Does freedom of speech apply to government officials? In August 2013, Rolling Stone caused a furor by putting accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover. In response, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino wrote to the publisher of Rolling Stone, telling him that doing so "rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment" – treatment the magazine should have given to the survivors. Other government officials were similarly critical of Rolling Stone. My first reaction was that these government officials had no place saying anything about a publication. But then I wondered, doesn't the First Amendment still apply to them? In other words, do government officials have freedom of speech?

Answer, In Brief: Politicians have the right to free speech, just like the rest of us. However, they overstep the bounds of proper government when they speak from their political office without an explicit statement recognizing the rights of the people involved.

Tags: Free Society, Free Speech, Government, Law, Politics, Rights

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Question 3: Gay Pride

Question: Are "gay pride" parades good? Sexuality is not chosen, so being gay is not something that a person could be proud of. However, these parades seem like harmless fun, and they might even help alleviate homophobia. (They might perpetuate stereotypes too, however.) So are they, on balance, of benefit? Also, what should be made of the fact that a "straight pride" parade would be seen as homophobic? Isn't the goal here equality? Does that show that gay pride parades are elevating a minority into something special and unequal?

Answer, In Brief: The concept of "gay pride" does not mean taking homosexuality per se to be a virtue. Rather, it recognizes the virtues requires to come out and assert one's rights in today's society.

Tags: Courage, Culture, Ethics, GLBT, Honesty, Independence, Integrity, Pride, Racism, Sexism

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:03:05)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Do you have any opinion about Ann Coulter?
  • Should I be conflicted about enjoying the late Michael Jackson's music given that I believe he molested children (even though he was publicly acquitted)?
  • If one is interested in becoming a voice for a cause or an activist, how does one start?

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Conclusion (1:09:31)

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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