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)

Forcing People to Govern, Herd Immunity, and Interruptions at Work

Q&A Radio: 22 February 2015

I answered questions on forcing people to govern, vaccinating for herd immunity, minimizing interruptions at work, and more on 22 February 2015. 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.

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Segments: 22 February 2015


Question 1: Forcing People to Govern

Question: Could unwilling people be compelled to govern? Imagine a situation in which no-one – not a single person – wants to work for the government. This would create a state of anarchy by default because government requires people to govern. Since the existence of a government is necessary for the protection of individual rights via the subordination of society to objective moral law, would compelling some people to govern be necessary and proper?

Answer, In Brief: If you want people to work for the government, you need to pay them sufficient money to do so. Forcing people to govern would violate their rights, and be a recipe for them violating the rights of others.

Tags: Anarchism, Force, Government, Rights, Taxation

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Question 2: Vaccinating for Herd Immunity

Question: Do parents have a moral duty to vaccinate their children to improve "herd immunity"? My doctor is currently making the case for my son (age 12) getting the Gardasil/HPV vaccination, arguing that even though HPV won't really harm him, he could become a carrier and spread HPV to women he has sex with at some time in the future, and thereby harm them. I don't think he has a duty to become one of the "immunized herd" (referring to the idea of "herd immunity" regarding vaccines) and therefore I am not inclined to have him vaccinated against HPV. Should he choose to do so at a later time, he is free to make that decision. Does my son – or do I as a parent – have an obligation to vaccinate purely to promote "herd immunity"? If not in this case, where there is a clear issue of undergoing the vaccination primarily for the sake of risk to others, then what about in other cases of vaccines? Does a person have an obligation to society in general to become part of the immunized herd, even if taking a vaccination is probably at low risk to that person's health?

Answer, In Brief: A person does not have any obligation to undergo medical treatments purely for the sake of herd immunity. People should vaccinate themselves and their children when doing so benefits themselves and loved ones.

Tags: Children, Collectivism, Ethics, Government, Health, Herd Immunity, Honesty, Medicine, Parenting, Risks, Vaccination

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Question 3: Minimizing Interruptions at Work

Question: How can I minimize interruptions at work? I'm a programmer, and I need long stretches of quiet time in order to be productive. Unfortunately, my work has an open floor plan, and people tend to pop by my desk if they have a question. I hate those interruptions, but I don't know how to discourage them without being snippy or unfriendly. Plus, sometimes my co-workers have good reason to interrupt me with a question or news. So how can I eliminate the unimportant interruptions?

Answer, In Brief: Interruptions at work are often major productivity killers. You can try to create a bubble for yourself, and you can try to change practices in the workplace.

Tags: Business, Concentration, Productivity, Psychological Inertia, Psychology, Work

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Conclusion (1:10:48)

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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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