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)

Body Acceptance, Reliability of Memory, Induction, and More

Q&A Radio: 16 March 2014

I answered questions on body acceptance, the reliability of memory, the meaning of induction, and more on 16 March 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 busy getting my life back to normal after TahoeCon, Aiken, and SnowCon. Alas, now I have a cold. Greg is on vacation, so he's only here virtually.


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Segments: 16 March 2014


Question 1: Body Acceptance

Question: Is "body acceptance" rational and healthy – or dangerous? Many people are divided on the issue of accepting one's body for whatever it is. Some think that a person should be proud to be "healthy at any size" (or even just a larger-than-average size). Others say that such views perpetuate unhealthy lifestyles and destroy standards of beauty and health, perhaps out of envy. What is a rational view of body acceptance? Is "fat shaming" or "fit shaming" ever acceptable? More generally, what are the boundaries of morally acceptable comments on such matters between acquaintances, friends, and strangers?

Answer, In Brief: The call for "body acceptance" is not about egalitarian hatred of beauty or health. Rather, it's goal is to challenge our culture's focus on outward appearance – rather than health, strength, and skills – by accepting the current state of our body and appreciating its virtues.

Tags: Benevolence, Body Image, Ethics, Fitness, Health, Justice, Shaming

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Question 2: The Reliability of Memory

Question: Is memory trustworthy? Memory is often described as being highly fallible and even malleable. Is that true? If so, what are the implications of that for claims about the objectivity and reliability of knowledge? What are the implications for daily life? Should we trust our experiences when we can't be trusted to remember them?

Answer, In Brief: Memory is fallible in various known ways, but that doesn't undermine claims of knowledge. Rather, it's a reason to exercise caution when relying on memory and to use external records.

Tags: Epistemology, Memory, Objectivity, Psychology, Skepticism

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Question 3: The Meaning of Induction

Question: What does the term "inductive" mean? What is the distinction (if any) between some claim being "inductive" versus (1) ad hoc, (2) non-systematic, (3) disintegrated, (4) anecdotal, and (5) empirical? Basically, what is the proper meaning of the term "inductive"?

Answer, In Brief: Induction is the process of logical inference from more particular to more abstract knowledge. It is essential to all reasoning.

Tags: Epistemology, Induction, Rationality

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Rapid Fire Questions (44:29)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Are strip clubs moral? Should men or women (whether married, dating, or single) frequent them? Is it wrong to work for one?
  • Will separating school and state will lead to a more religious, ignorant, and economically poor population?
  • What is the value of novelty?
  • Have Ayn Rand's claims about concept-formation in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" in children been validated by developmental psychology?
  • Apart from Ayn Rand and Aristotle, which philosophers have written good and/or interesting works on aesthetics?
  • John Aglialoro (the producer of the Atlas Shrugged movies) apparently plans to include a scene in Part 3 in which Dagny Taggart talks to a priest. The first two movies weren't anything to write home about, but is this enough reason to boycott Part 3 completely?
  • What would you do if, in the Trolley Problem, Paul was the solo person on the track?

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Conclusion (58:52)

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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