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)

Unmet Needs, Criminal Insanity, Ideological Consistency, and More

Q&A Radio: 5 July 2015

I answered questions on satisfying social needs, executing insane murderers, ideological consistency, and more on 5 July 2015. Arthur Zey 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 doing some work on the site, working on informally changing my name to Diana Brickell, and lots more.


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Segments: 5 July 2015


Question 1: Satisfying Social Needs

Question: What should a person do about social and psychological needs he temporarily can't satisfy? For right now, the context of my life makes it so that it's hard to satisfy the needs for companionship. Most of the people around me don't offer deep and intense enough values to satisfy it, even as I do have friends. The majority of the people who could fulfill my needs live out of state. Furthermore, the industry I work in, by and large, prohibits me from being able to attend clubs and whatnot, as I usually work when they run. As such, I've got to grin and bear my loneliness for the meanwhile, temporarily. How can I make myself feel better in doing so?

Answer, In Brief: The most important and difficult aspect of managing unmet social and psychological needs is to simply accept them. After that, you can try to find partial satisfaction in one-way interactions and people that you have less in common with.

Tags: Communication, Family, Friendship, Loneliness, Psychology, Relationships, Values

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Question 2: Executing Insane Murderers

Question: Should hopelessly insane murderers be put to death? Imagine a totally psychotic and extremely mentally disturbed person who has a propensity to violently kill innocent people. I am talking about a really stark raving bonkers individual. This person has no capability to think and act rationally. How can this person have any rights whatsoever? Why should it be the job of the state to provide for this person when they are locked up in an asylum? Would it be moral and practical to simply execute this person, thus removing the burden of having to keep an eye on him in case he escapes and kills someone?

Answer, In Brief: Given that criminally insane murderers are not responsible for their actions, and given that they might be cured at some point, executing them would be terribly unjust and inhumane.

Tags: Crime, Death Penalty, Ethics, Evil, Insanity, Law, Psychology, Psychology

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Question 3: Ideological Consistency

Question: Does ideological consistency lead to absurdities and wrongs? Under "zero tolerance" policies, children have been suspended or expelled from schools for innocuous actions like drawing a picture of a gun. Advocates of free markets claim that a business owner has the right to discriminate against customers for any trivial or irrational reason, including skin color or hair color. In both the cases, the problem seems to be taking some idea to its utmost extreme, to the point of absurdity. Shouldn't we be more moderate and flexible in our views?

Answer, In Brief: Ideological consistency per se does not lead to absurdities and wrongs. Good ideas don't go bad when taken to their logical conclusion. However, the absurdities and wrongs and evils of bad ideas often becomes apparent when they're put into practice. Also, people can seriously misapply good ideas. When judging ideas, focus on the substance of policies and principles (whether they correspond to reality or not) not on the form (whether they are consistent or not).

Tags: Business, Capitalism, Consistency, Epistemology, Ethics, Logic, Principles, Rights

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Rapid Fire Questions (47:52)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Arthur Zey impromptu. The questions were:
  • My son turns 12 in a week and wants a Facebook account. But Facebook policy is no younger than 13. Considering last week's discussion on rule breaking, should I let him given that he'll be responsible?
  • Should people get tested for diseases they have predispositions for, if there are no preventive measures/corrective actions that can be taken?
  • What is hope? Could it ever be rational to give up hope?

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Conclusion (1:03:23)

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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