Immanuel Kant, Virtuous But Not Happy, Abortion Rights, and More
Q&A Radio: 20 April 2014
I answered questions on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, being virtuous but not happy, defending abortion rights, and more on 20 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: 20 April 2014
Question: What's so bad about the philosophy of Immanuel Kant? In academic philosophy, Kant is often regarded as the culmination of the Enlightenment. According to this standard view, Kant sought to save reason from skeptics such as Hume, he aimed to ground ethics in reason, and he defended human autonomy and liberty. In contrast, Ayn Rand famously regarded Kant as "the most evil man in mankind's history." She rejected his metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, saying that "the philosophy of Kant is a systematic rationalization of every major psychological vice." Who is right here? What's right or wrong with his philosophy?
Answer, In Brief: Immanuel Kant's metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics represent radical departures from the Enlightenment traditions – and they ushered in the close of that period of thought. Ayn Rand's philosophic criticisms of him are well-deserved.
Question: How can I live more joyfully? I believe that the world is a wonderful place full of opportunity, great things, and lovely people. I also believe that I am an efficacious person, and therefore capable of flourishing and achieving happiness. So why do my emotions not match my convictions? I want to live more joyfully. I adhere to the cardinal virtues to the best of my ability. I've tried mental exercises, such as listing all my personal values and thinking about how important and good they are for me, but it still doesn't make me feel happy. What am I doing wrong? What can I do instead?
Answer, In Brief: You need to jettison this overly abstract view of your life, and instead learn to live in all the messy particular moments of your days, so that those moments add up to an interesting, engaging, challenging, and meaningful life.
Question: How can abortion rights be more effectively defended? Although the biblical case against abortion is weak, the religious right has gained much traction against abortion rights in the last decade or two. The "personhood" movement is growing every year, and incremental restrictions on abortion have mushroomed. Even more alarming, the demographics seem to be against abortion rights: young people are increasingly opposed to abortion. What can be done to more effectively defend abortion rights? Can any lessons be drawn from the success of the campaign for gay marriage?
Answer, In Brief: The advocates of abortion bans are largely motivated by the divine command, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," which is then often cast in the language of the "right to life." To combat that, those people need to be confronted with the reality of what abortion bans mean to women and couples.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:25:43)
- What do you think of Sartre's dictum that when you make choices, you should always imagine that you are serving as a role model for the rest of mankind?
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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.