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)

Blaming Crime Victims, Constitutional Carry, Hijacking Ideas, More

Q&A Radio: 21 September 2014

I answered questions on blaming crime victims, constitutional carry, hijacking Ayn Rand's ideas, and more on 21 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: Greg and Tammy tortured themselves by seeing Atlas Shrugged: Part 3, and if you made the same mistake, try listening to the podcasts of Explore Atlas Shrugged as therapy!


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Segments: 21 September 2014


Question 1: Blaming Crime Victims

Question: Is it wrong to suggest that a crime victim should have taken greater precautions? My wife and I were discussing the recent iCloud data breach in which a hacker stole and published nude photos of hundreds of female celebrities. I made the comment that while the hacker's actions were despicable, at the same time I thought the celebrities were stupid to have trusted iCloud to protect the privacy of their photos in the first place. My wife balked at this, saying that this amounts to blaming the victim, and is no better than saying a woman who is raped was stupid for wearing a short skirt, or for drinking alcohol. But I see it as being more akin to saying a person whose bag was stolen from their car was stupid for leaving the door unlocked. Do comments of this sort really amount to 'blaming the victim'? Is it proper or improper to make such comments? Does my level of expertise or the victim's level of expertise make any difference? (As a computer engineer, I am very aware of the dangers of the cloud, whereas your average celebrity would probably be clueless about it.) Intuitively, I feel like the comments would be improper in my wife's example, proper in my example, and I'm unsure about the data breach itself. But I'm struggling to identify what the defining characteristics are for each case. What's the right approach here?

Answer, In Brief: Criminals are fully to blame for their criminal acts – always. However, if only for the sake of preventing future crimes, we should recognize that victims might have provided opportunities to the criminal by taking unnecessary and even negligent risks. In the case of the stolen celebrity nudes, the technology is pretty confusing to non-geeks, but hopefully the incident will inspire people to be more careful in future with their sensitive data.

Tags: Crime, Ethics, Moral Judgment, Negligence, Responsibility, Technology

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Question 2: Constitutional Carry

Question: Should concealed carry permits be required to carry firearms concealed? In the United States today, most states have "shall-issue" concealed carry laws, whereby the sheriff of a county must issue a concealed carry permit to anyone who meets the requirements. Those requirements usually include no history of criminal activity, no history of mental illness, and some training. However, two states permit "constitutional carry," meaning that any law-abiding citizen has a right to carry a concealed firearm, without the need for a permit. Is requiring a "concealed carry" permit a violation of the right to self-defense? Or is "constitutional carry" a dangerous form of anarchy?

Answer, In Brief: Although people might have some reasonable trepidation about "constitutional carry," the fact is that requiring a concealed carry permit is (1) only a restriction on law-abiding people (not criminals), (2) a violation of those people's rights, and (3) not required for public safety or a hindrance to criminals.

Tags: Crimes, Firearms, Law, Politics, Rights, Self-Defense

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Question 3: Hijacking Ayn Rand's Ideas

Question: What can be done to prevent the hijacking of Ayn Rand's ideas? Ayn Rand has become more and more popular over the last decade, and her ideas have begun to spread into academia. There is more literature being written about Objectivism now than ever before. But there is one thing that worries me. There is a great risk that as Ayn Rand becomes "trendy," second handers will try to use her ideas, manipulate them, to gain respect, and to further their nefarious ends. This is exactly what happened to Friedrich Nietzsche – when his ideas became popular, his philosophy was hijacked by anarchists, Nazis, and postmodernists, completely destroying his reputation for a century. How do we prevent this from happening to Ayn Rand?

Answer, In Brief: It's too early to worry about hijacking of Ayn Rand's ideas. If it happens, you probably can't do much about it, except point out the facts and refuse to associate with dishonest critics or advocates thereof.

Tags: Academia, Culture, Libertarianism, Objectivism, Objectivist Movement, Philosophy

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Rapid Fire Questions (56:24)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Do you have an opinion on Scottish independence?
  • Should regulations on the definition of a product exist? For example, in the UK, selling a product labelled 'sausage' is considered fraudulent if it is less than 42% meat?
  • I enjoyed your analysis of libel and slander laws and their effect on free speech. I think revenge porn laws are likewise anti free speech, and therefore harmful. What do you think?

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Conclusion (1:05:33)

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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