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)

Resisting Arrest, Enjoying Atlas Shrugged, Stigmatized Property, and More

Q&A Radio: 19 July 2015

I answered questions on resisting arrest, enjoying Atlas Shrugged, stigmatized property, and more on 19 July 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 occupied with personal matters, apart from the show.


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Segments: 19 July 2015


Question 1: Resisting Arrest

Question: How should the police respond to people resisting arrest? Recently, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City have made headlines because they were killed by police officers who, many feel, used excessive force during their respective encounters. While the two cases were quite different, they did have one thing in common. In both cases, the officers were compelled to use force which resulted in lethal injury when the men, Brown and Garner respectively, resisted arrest. Brown attacked officer Wilson and then ran away, refusing to stop until Wilson chased him down. Garner refused to be arrested. Is there a more objective way to deal with an arrest in a free society? Since, in a free society, the government has a monopoly over the use of force, does that mean that the police are allowed to use brutal force when a suspect refuses to comply with the officer's demands, regardless of the charges against the person in question?

Answer, In Brief: The culture of policing in America is fraught with serious (but not universal) problems of police misconduct and brutality. In a free and civilized society, the police need to be restrained in their use of force, so that they protect rather than violate rights.

Tags: Crime, Culture, Government, Law, Politics, Rights, Self-Defense

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Question 2: Enjoying Atlas Shrugged

Question: How can I be less annoyed with Atlas Shrugged? I love Ayn Rand's ideas, and I thoroughly enjoy her non-fiction. I want to enjoy Atlas Shrugged and her other fiction more, but I'm often annoyed with the aesthetics of her work. I acknowledge the fact that the novels are great, but every time I see mention of Francisco's mocking smile or John Galt's mocking eyes or Hank Rearden's mocking laugh or John Galt's implacable voice or New York City's implacable skyline or Dagny Taggart's silent terror, I just want to pull my hair out. I find myself wanting to throw the book at the wall every time she uses those words! I understand that loving her novels is not a prerequisite for applying her philosophy, but I really desire to experience the joy that many other people feel while reading her work. How can I get more enjoyment out of it?

Answer, In Brief: Atlas Shrugged is an amazing novel, but it has some aesthetic flaws that can impede a person’s enjoyment of it. Try to overlook those, focus on what you love, and if all else fails, it's okay... give up!

Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Literature, Objectivism, Philosophy, Style, Values

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Question 3: Stigmatized Property

Question: Should sellers of homes be obliged to report the spiritual or criminal history of the property? Many state laws require that "stigmatized" properties, such as those with a history of paranormal activity or a past owner such as Jeffrey Dahmer, be reported by real estate agents. That leads to the home being devalued in price. Should such a law exist? Moreover, should potential buyers take advantage of any "stigmatized" property, thereby offering and paying less, even though belief in paranormal activity is irrational?

Answer, In Brief: The law should forbid fraud in real estate transactions, and that likely does not require any mandatory disclosures. Instead, buyers should ask about what they’re interested in with open-ended questions, including perhaps about the spiritual and criminal history of a house.

Tags: Communication, Contracts, Epistemology, Ethics, Honesty, Law, Metaphysics, Property Rights, Rationality, Supernatural, Tact

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Rapid Fire Questions (41:39)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Does the counterintuitiveness of the Monty Hall problem demonstrate an inherent flaw in the human capability to reason?
  • Is rape about sex or power?
  • How do we know that the mind is tabula rasa?

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Conclusion (49:18)

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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