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)

Professional Confidentiality, Dating Strategies, Efficiency in Writing, and More

Q&A Radio: 26 July 2015

I answered questions on honesty under professional confidentiality standards, adopting hobbies just for dating, efficiency in writing, and more on 26 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 taking a much-needed rest with my friends in San Francisco.


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Segments: 26 July 2015


Question 1: Honesty under Professional Confidentiality Standards

Question: Do confidentiality standards justify privacy lies? Some professions, like those in clinical psychology, medicine, or law commonly utilize confidentiality standards that apply between professionals and clients due to the sensitive nature of the information shared between them. Generally, such professionals can (and do) have a policy of refusing to answer any questions about their clients and so avoid any supposed need for privacy lies to protect from nosy inquiries. However, these standards also often include the understanding (sometimes explicit) that, if professional and client should ever meet in a social situation, the professional would follow the client's lead about if and how they knew each other. This means that a client could push the professional into a lie. Yet even in the case where both people are basically honest, the mere act of showing recognition of each other could compromise the client's privacy if the professional's job is not a secret. And there are reasonable social situations in which you couldn't hide familiarity without deceit of some kind. So ethically, we seem to be stuck between (1) clients having their privacy perhaps violated if they are unlucky enough to encounter their professional outside the office or (2) professionals having to lie to protect the privacy of their clients. Is there another alternative here? If not, what's the best course?

Answer, In Brief: Professional standards to protect the privacy of a relationship between therapist and client are not dishonest and perfectly justified. They make the therapeutic relationship possible, and because everyone knows or should know the rules, failing to recognize a client is no more dishonest than bluffing in poker.

Tags: Business, Context, Ethics, Honesty, Law, Privacy, Privacy Lies, Psychology, Therapy

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Question 2: Adopting Hobbies Just for Dating

Question: Is it wrong to take up a hobby for the sake of dating? I'm single, and I want to meet more women. Is it wrong or unwise to take up hobbies like dancing, acting, painting, singing, or guitar just to have some skill to show and to meet women interested in those activities? I wouldn't take up these hobbies without the dating angle: I'm just not interested in them, at least not right now. Is that wrong?

Answer, In Brief: Don’t attempt to meet women by taking up hobbies that bore you. That’s a losing strategy. Instead, figure out hobbies that interest you, and pursue social goals in addition.

Tags: Authenticity, Dating, Hobbies, Honesty, Independence, Integrity, Relationships, Values

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Question 3: Efficiency in Writing

Question: How can a person improve his productive output in writing? How can he measure and increase his efficiency in writing – whether for blog posts, essays, papers, or anything else? Should a person set a goal of completing a given writing in a given time frame? Should he track time spent? Should he limit editing? Or something else?

Answer, In Brief: If you want to become more efficient in writing, then experiment with various techniques used to increase productivity in writing and similar kinds of work and see what works for you.

Tags: Business, Efficiency, Goals, Productivity, Writing

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:02:07)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Arthur Zey impromptu. The questions were:
  • Is there value in naturalistic literature? Can naturalistic literature still be heroic at its core?
  • Is microaggression a real concept?
  • Are there any normative propositions that are axiomatic?

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Conclusion (1:12:40)

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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