Marriage Vows, Animals as Property, Overwork, and More
Q&A Radio: 13 April 2014
I answered questions on the meaning of marriage vows, animals as property, the problem of overwork, and more on 13 April 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 April 2014
Question: Are the promises of marriage binding when a spouse becomes self-destructive? When couples marry, they often promise to stay together "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health." But imagine that a wife chooses a self-destructive course of action – say, abusing drugs, profligate spending, or gambling. She refuses to listen to reason or change her behavior. Does the husband have an obligation to stay in the marriage or support her financially due to his past promise? Basically, what do the promises of marriage oblige a person to do?
Answer, In Brief: Marriage vows are neither forever binding promises, nor meaningless verbiage. They are promises to treat spouse with love and respect, with hope and goal of relationship worthy of enduring for lifetime. However, that's not always possible – and to sacrifice your life and happiness to the marriage is morally wrong.
Question: Are animals a special kind of property? On your blog NoodleFood, you claimed that "the law should recognize that beloved pets are not mere property, but rather a special kind of property. To wrongfully cause the death of a pet should carry a significantly higher penalty than merely compensating the owner for the replacement cost of that pet. Moreover, police officers and government officials who indulge in this kind of reckless killing without good cause should be disciplined severely, preferably fired." Can you explain this view – the theory and the practice – further? Would this standard be akin to that of hate crimes, on the theory that crime is wrong but a crime motivated by hate is more wrong? Would it apply to other property – like my car (because it adds so much value to my life) or family photographs (which have lots of sentimental values but not monetary value)?
Answer, In Brief: The value of beloved pets to their owners is not limited to merely their economic value or replacement cost. The law – in police action, criminal law, and tort law – should recognize that.
Question: Does the example set by Ayn Rand's heroes encourage overwork? The heroes of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead seem to have a nearly unlimited well of energy. They work long hours, and they don't have many interests outside work. However, isn't that dangerous? Does this approach to work risk exhaustion and burnout? More generally, what's the rational approach to balancing work and self-care?
Answer, In Brief: The risk of overwork is a major problem for some people and some jobs, and people should be cognizant of that. Ayn Rand's heroes work hard, often too hard, but she's not extolling overwork as a moral ideal thereby.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:04:17)
- What do you think of the term neo-Objectivism (analogous to neo-Kantianism) to describe work that is based on Ayn Rand's fundamentals?
- What is authenticity? How does it differ from integrity?
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.