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)

Rescuing Pets, Large Egos, and More

Q&A Radio: 11 September 2014

I answered questions on rescuing other people's pets, large egos, and more on 11 September 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'm preparing to compete on my horse Lila in Oklahoma this weekend!


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Segments: 11 September 2014


Question 1: Rescuing Other People's Pets

Question: Should a person be prosecuted for property damage when committed in order to rescue the property owner's pet from harm or death? Recently, I heard a story about a man who smashed the window of a stranger's car in order to rescue a dog left inside. It was a very hot day, and the dog would have died or suffered brain damage if it had not been rescued. Was it moral for the man to do this? Should he be charged with criminal damages for smashing the window? Should the owner of the dog be charged with leaving the dog to die in the car?

Answer, In Brief: You should rescue a pet in serious danger of permanent injury or death, even if you must damage the owner's property in doing so. The owner should pay for that damage, not you, because he created the emergency and benefits from the rescue.

Tags: Animals, Benevolent, Ethics, Law, Property Rights, Rights, Torts

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Question 2: Large Egos

Question: Can an egoist have too big an ego? People often speak disapprovingly of "big egos." The idea seems to be that a person is not supposed to think too well of himself or be too assertive. Is this just the product of altruism, including the idea that a person should be humble? Or can a person really be too big for his britches?

Answer, In Brief: Big egos can be big in two very different ways: they can be brittle (based on second-handed fakery) or robust (based on honest self-valuing). The rational egoist should not develop a big ego: he should aim for a robust ego, backed up by the virtues, as that person will be respectful of himself and others.

Tags: Altruism, Egoism, Ethics, Honesty, Mindsets, Psychology

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Rapid Fire Questions (37:38)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Does the principle of intervening (from the first question) apply only to living entities or does it apply to inanimate types of property?
  • What do you think of the Ray Rice situation?
  • Is there any value to formal debates, or are they merely publicity stunts?
  • How does one reach out and be a better friend to someone who's dealing with depression, loneliness, or poor self-esteem? What boundaries should one observe?
  • Would you ever consider doing an Explore The Fountainhead podcast series?
  • What do Dagny and Galt mean when they say: "We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?" To what does the "it" refer?
  • What is cruelty? Could cruelty ever be necessary?
  • Do you think Howard Roark would have a Facebook account?

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Conclusion (1:01:06)

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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