Moral Saints, Inventing Stories, and More
Q&A Radio: 13 February 2014
I answered questions on moral saints, inventing stories about yourself, and more on 13 February 2014. 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: 13 February 2014
Question: Should a person want to be a "moral saint"? In her classic article "Moral Saints," Susan Wolf argues that a person should not wish to be morally perfect, i.e. a moral saint. What is her basic argument? What's right or wrong about it? Does it apply to rational egoism?
Answer, In Brief: In Susan Wolf's fascinating article "Moral Saints," a moral saint is a model of perfect altruism. Wolf persuasively argues that the lives of such people are "too good for their own good" – and ultimately, literally selfless.
Question: Is it wrong to invent stories about yourself to tell to strangers? In the past, I've made up stories about myself (basically assuming a character) and told them to strangers on the bus or in an airport. When I mentioned this to my spouse, I hadn't really thought of this as lying until I saw his horrified reaction. Do you think this is wrong? If so, why? Would it be acceptable in some contexts, such as for an acting class?
Answer, In Brief: To entertain yourself by lying to strangers about yourself is not moral: you're treating another person with contempt without any just cause. Moreover, you risk incurring the justified wrath and distrust of those people, as well as others.
Rapid Fire Questions (43:56)
- Do you know ways to measure and improve your "focus"?
- Are tears of happiness really a sign of the malevolent universe premise? It seems to me that tears are just a way of releasing strong emotion, whether positive or negative.
- What is the difference between truth and fact?
- Who are your biggest heroes?
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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.