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)

Character, Revenge Porn, Atheism, and More

Q&A Radio: 1 March 2015

I answered questions on the nature of character, revenge porn, coming out as an atheist, and more on 1 March 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.

My News of the Week: I've been busy riding, including jumping for the first time since my concussion. Also, I've uploaded the final versions of the questions to Explore Atlas Shrugged.


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Segments: 1 March 2015


Question 1: The Nature of Character

Question: What is the nature of character? What is meant by a person's "character"? Is that broader than moral character? What is the relationship between character (moral and otherwise) and personality? Are they distinct? Do they overlap?

Answer, In Brief: Character is the sum total of fundamental principles, dispositions, emotions, and other elements of a person's psychology that govern his actions. Moral character and personality are aspects of character.

Tags: Character, Emotions, Ethics, Mind, Moral Character, Personality, Values

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Question 2: Revenge Porn

Question: Should revenge porn be illegal? Apparently, it is increasingly common after a break-up for a person to share sexual pictures or videos of his/her former lover that were taken while in the relationship. Some people think that sharing sexual images intended to be kept private should be illegal, while others argue that such "revenge porn" is protected speech. Which view is right? Should the consent of all parties be required for the posting of sexual imagery?

Answer, In Brief: Posting revenge porn violates the conditions under which the sex video was made. The law should take cognizance of that, and a person should be able to sue for damages.

Tags: Ethics, Law, Pornography, Privacy, Relationships, Rights, Sex, Technology, Torts

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Question 3: Coming Out as an Atheist

Question: How can I avoid coming out as an atheist to my boyfriend's parents? I'm gay and my long-time, live-in boyfriend recently came out to his parents. They are older and pretty religious, but they are doing their best to be accepting of our relationship. However, my boyfriend says that they believe that I am changing him for the worse in that he has not been as communicative and open with them because he didn't come out to them sooner and has not been sharing the progression of our relationship with them. (The whole concept of being in the closet seems completely alien to them.) But they do know our relationship is serious, so they have invited us to spend the holidays with them in order to get to know me better. My boyfriend says that they will insist that we attend church with them and has asked that I not tell them that I'm an atheist right away. I've explained to him that I am not going to lie about anything, but I am not sure how to remain true to my convictions without making things more difficult for my boyfriend and upsetting his parents. What are your suggestions for making the Christmas holidays pleasant while maintaining my integrity?

Answer, In Brief: You should tend to your own moral integrity by refusing to deceive your boyfriend's parents, even while aiming for them to get to know you and trust you before they find out about your atheism. You should not pressure your boyfriend, but allow him to navigate his own relationship with his parents as he sees fit, even if that means making mistakes.

Tags: Adult Children, Atheism, Communication, GLBT, Parenting, Privacy, Religion, Secrets, Values

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Rapid Fire Questions (53:14)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • What color is this dress?
  • How do you deal with situations where you cannot discuss something despite having a great deal of knowledge on that topic, due to non-disclosure agreements? Should you simply not discuss those topics?
  • Is it morally okay to pirate recent episodes of a TV show that is not yet legally available in your country? Does it make a difference if you plan to buy the DVDs when they come out?

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Conclusion (1:04:45)

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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