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)

Respect without Agreement, Political Correctness, Stolen Firearms, and More

Q&A Radio: 21 June 2015

I answered questions on respect without agreement, political correctness, responsibility for stolen firearms, and more on 21 June 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: 21 June 2015


Question 1: Respect without Agreement

Question: How can I help my father understand that I respect him, even when I disagree with him? I generally value experience for its ability to provide helpful insights, but I am suspicious of people who fall back on appeals to authority in an attempt to win arguments. My father often does that during our debates on various subjects, as we do not see eye-to-eye on many important issues. When I reject his appeals on the grounds that they are logically fallacious, he takes personal offense and accuses me of disrespecting him. I respect my father, and I try to convey my appreciation for his experience in other ways. But I want to have civil discourse with him that doesn't dead-end in this uncomfortable way someday. My father and I have been estranged for the last five years, in large part due to his tendency toward communicating in this and other manipulative ways, and my current attempt at reconciliation is failing again because of these communication issues. This is a shame because I truly feel that the makings of a good father-daughter relationship are in place, but my father cannot seem to stop predicating our ability to love and respect each other on my willingness to constantly agree with him simply because he is my father. What advice can you give on how best to halt this unhealthy pattern, so that I can save my relationship with my dad?

Answer, In Brief: You cannot reasonably expect to change your father, but you can decide what you will do – perhaps compartmentalizing the relationship.

Tags: Authority, Boundaries, Communication, Epistemology, Logic, Parenting, Relationships, Respect, Rhetoric, Values

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Question 2: Political Correctness

Question: What is the value of "political correctness"? I used to be a fairly typical right-winger who would regularly cry out "political correctness has gone mad!" While I still come across politically correct ideas that I find ridiculous (e.g. the ban bossy campaign), I'm finding myself more sympathetic to these ideas as I become more informed on them. So I'm now in favor of using the right pronouns for transgender people, avoiding words that can be perceived as derogatory (e.g. fag), and even changing school event names like "parent day" or "Christmas party" to something that doesn't exclude those it doesn't apply to. Where should the line be drawn between "political correctness" and making valuable change in our language or practices to be more accommodating and inclusive of people outside the mainstream? Are there legitimate concerns about language becoming more politically correct?

Answer, In Brief: The whole concept of "political correctness" is meaningless junk that deserves to be scrapped. Language is badly abused in our cultural and political debates, but that needs to be addressed in non-partisan ways.

Tags: Benevolence, Communication, Conservatism, Culture, Diversity, Epistemology, Ethics, Package-Deals, Political Correctness, Progressivism, Respect, Tolerance, Values

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Question 3: Responsibility for Stolen Firearms

Question: Should a person injured by a stolen gun be permitted to sue the original owner thereof for damages? Imagine that a person's firearm is stolen, then used in a crime to injure an innocent person. Can the crime victim sue the owner of the gun for damages? Would it matter if the gun was left in plain sight or not locked away? Would it matter if the gun was stolen months or years before the crime? Also, what if the gun owner lent his gun to another person who he reasonably thought was honest and law-abiding? If the gun owner is not legally liable, might he be morally culpable?

Answer, In Brief: A gun owner might be liable for harms inflicted on innocent parties by his weapon if he was negligent with that weapon in some fashion – just as he would be with other kinds of dangerous property.

Tags: Crime, Ethics, Firearms, Law, Negligence, Responsibility, Theft, Torts

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Rapid Fire Questions (41:07)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Was Rachel Dolezal wrong for lying about her race in order to fight against racism for the NAACP?
  • Given our declining freedoms in the USA, have you ever thought about moving out of the country? Would you be willing to leave if greater freedoms existed elsewhere?In the current climate of police distrust and rampant abuses of power, would you advise against filming a police encounter that appeared to be suspicious or violent?When I read postmodern philosophy, it seems like philosophy is starting to "melt" into the social sciences. What do you think of this observation?
  • What are some of the moral concerns with commissioning art?
  • Sometimes, I hear people talk about the importance of "feeling like a part of your community." Is this just collectivist nonsense? I have never felt like part of a community.

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Conclusion (1:01:43)

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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