The Major Virtues, Repression, Care of the Body, and More
Q&A Radio: 12 April 2015
I answered questions on the major virtues, signs of repression, the ethics of care for the body, and more on 12 April 2015. 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: 12 April 2015
Question: What's so special about the seven virtues? Ayn Rand identified seven virtues: rationality, honesty, productiveness, independence, justice, integrity, and pride. What's different about those qualities – as compared to other commonly touted virtues like benevolence, creativity, temperance, or courage? Basically, why are those seven the virtues in Objectivism? Is Objectivism right to single them out? Are they exhaustive?
Answer, In Brief: Ayn Rand was not concerned that her virtues be exhaustive or symmetrical. But the major virtues of the Objectivist ethics are such because they provide crucial, fundamental guidance and they're contextual absolutes – unlike moral amplifiers. (Productiveness is an anomaly, in part.)
Tags: Character, Context, Ethics, Honesty, Independence, Integrity, Justice, Major Values, Moral Amplifiers, Objectivism, Pride, Productiveness, Productivity, Purposefulness, Rationalism, Rationality, Virtue
Question: What are the signs of emotional repression? It's very important not to repress your emotions, especially if you are a person with rationalistic tendencies. But how might a person identify when he's repressing some emotions? What are the signs? What can be done to avoid and overcome the tendency to repress, if such a tendency has become habitual?
Answer, In Brief: Repression is an automatized refusal to think or feel that greatly impairs a person's capacity to solve the problems of his life. A person can look for the signs of repression by constantly monitoring himself for signs of shutting down thoughts and feelings. He can overcome repression by allowing himself to think and feel everything, even while declining to act on random thoughts and feelings.
Question: What is the moral status of actions aimed at tending to one's body? In an egoistic ethics, the ultimate end of moral action is the growth and continuation of one's own life. Ayn Rand discussed many of the kinds of actions required to achieve this goal, but she didn't discuss matters of "bodily care," such as cleaning your teeth, eating well, exercising regularly, tending to a wound, and seeking necessary medical care. These constitute a whole universe of actions necessary for the maintenance of one's body and, hence, one's life. Are such actions moral and virtuous? Should bodily care itself be considered a virtue? Or are these actions already subsumed under the virtues? (If so, I would love to know how to brush my teeth with integrity and pride!)
Answer, In Brief: A person's bodily health matters hugely to his well-being and longevity. New virtues are not required to account for this, however, as the virtues of integrity and pride do apply in spades.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:31:16)
- Would it be wrong to say, "When you die, nothing happens" instead of "God bless you" when someone sneezes?
- Is it okay to copy and distribute someone's intellectual property if that person doesn't believe in intellectual property?
- Isn't there a risk in a society without government welfare that the poor would commit crimes in order to go to prison and get free food, shelter etc.?
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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 email@example.com.