On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, living joyfully, defending abortion rights, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 20 April 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.


Altruism

  • Q&A: Evolution's Ethical Implications: 30 Mar 2014, Question 1
  • Question: Should ethics begin with facts about evolution, including altruism? The ethical egoism advocated by Ayn Rand doesn't seem to incorporate genetics or evolution. Having evolved in tribal and family groups, we are creatures tuned to group behavior more than to individual behavior. Altruism wasn't invented by religion. In a tribe, helping those around you helps you survive too. Helping your kin helps your genes survive. The fact is that feeling good when you help others is built into the core of being human. The fact is that much status seeking and other seemingly irrational actions are techniques to ensure the propagation of our genes. Objectivism starts with "A is A." But, if reality is most important, shouldn't people base their ethics on the facts about humans as they actually are – altruism and all?

    Tags: Altruism, Animals, Benevolence, Biology, Egoism, Ethics, Groups, Meta-Ethics, Relationships, Sacrifice, Science

  • Q&A: Moral Saints: 13 Feb 2014, Question 1
  • Question: Should a person want to be a "moral saint"? In her classic article "Moral Saints," Susan Wolf argues that a person should not wish to be morally perfect, i.e. a moral saint. What is her basic argument? What's right or wrong about it? Does it apply to rational egoism?

    Tags: Altruism, Christianity, Duty Ethics, Egoism, Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Perfection, Philosophy, Pride, Sacrifice, Utilitarianism

  • Q&A: Explaining Egoistic Benevolence: 22 Dec 2013, Question 1
  • Question: How can we better explain how helping others can be egoistic? In your October 7, 2013 radio show, you observed that people often don't understand how acting kindly and generously towards friends is self-interested. Instead, they think that being benevolent toward anyone is "other-regarding" and hence, altruistic. How can we egoists untangle this seeming conflict for people?

    Tags: Altruism, Benevolence, Communication, Egoism, Ethics, Manipulation, Meta-Ethics, Predation, Relationships, Sacrifice, Self-Interest, Self-Sacrifice

  • Q&A: Responsibility for Another's Medical Emergencies: 1 Dec 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Is it wrong to walk away from a person who suffers from repeated medical emergencies due to their own irresponsibility? Over a year ago, I was the tenant of a type-1 diabetic who refused to eat properly. As a result, I regularly had to call the ambulance for her, as she would allow her blood-sugar to drop to dangerous levels, such that she couldn't think or move for herself. She never learned anything from these experiences. She never put emergency food within reach, for example. So a few days or weeks later, I would have to call the ambulance again. I believe that I was being forced – literally – to take care of her. I feared that I'd face manslaughter or other criminal charges if I left her alone in that state. Would it have been morally proper for me to leave her in that state without any advance warning? Should that be legally permissible?

    Tags: Altruism, Character, Egoism, Ethics, Health, Independence, Justice, Responsibility

  • Q&A: Emergency Medical Care: 12 May 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Do people have a right to emergency medical care? EMTALA (a.k.a. the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act) is a federal law that requires emergency rooms to stabilize any patient with an emergency medical condition, regardless of the patient's ability to pay. Is that proper? Is that the same as a right to medical care?

    Tags: Altruism, Charity, Egalitarianism, Emergencies, Ethics, Free Society, Justice, Law, Law, Medicine, Politics, Poverty

  • Q&A: Capitalism Versus Altruism: 29 Jul 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Is capitalism altruistic? Some people attempt to defend capitalism and free markets on altruistic grounds. Under capitalism, they say, a successful businesses must serve the needs of its customers. Hence, capitalism promotes altruism. Is that true? Is it an effective way to defend capitalism?

    Tags: Altruism, Business, Capitalism, Conservatism, Egoism, Politics, Sacrifice, Self-Interest, Self-Sacrifice

  • Q&A: Refuting Marxist Arguments: 10 Jun 2012, Question 4
  • Question: How can I effectively counter Marxist economic arguments? My family and friends often advocate Marxist economic ideas – for example, that wealth should be redistributed according to need, that corporations and corporate profits are evil, and that rich people have too much money. How can I best respond to these arguments?

    Tags: Altruism, Collectivism, Communication, Economics, Ethics, Politics

  • Q&A: Giving Back to Your Communities: 8 Jan 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Is a person ever obliged to "give back to the community"? Businesses often speak about their charitable work as "giving back to the community." I know that's wrong, because they didn't take anything from it in the first place. But when a person benefits from a certain group or organization, should he "give back" to it by volunteering his time or donating his money? Why or why not?

    Tags: Altruism, Benevolence, Charity, Ethics, Trader Principle

  • Q&A: Obligations to Help Others in Need: 27 Nov 2011, Question 2
  • Question: Do we have an obligation to help others in need? Many people think that the need of others creates an obligation to help. Is that right or wrong? Why? When should a person help others?

    Tags: Altruism, Benevolence, Charity, Egoism, Emergencies, Ethics, Integrity, Self-Interest

  • Q&A: Wealth and Social Responsibility: 22 May 2011, Question 6
  • Question: Doesn't greater wealth entail greater responsibility? If you have amassed a great fortune, don't you also have to shoulder a greater responsibility to society and your fellow man than others? After all, success in business doesn't occur in a vacuum: it always depends on the community to some extent. People like Michael Bloomberg or George Lucas know that they would not be where they are today without some pretty significant assistance from others. So shouldn't they assume more responsibility for their fellow man than others?

    Tags: Altruism, Business, Politics, Responsibility, Wealth

  • Q&A: Helping a Stranger in an Emergency: 27 Feb 2011, Question 6
  • Question: Should you help a man who's dying in front of you? Suppose it will cost you two hours and 200 dollars to save the life of a man you do not know. Should you do it?

    Tags: Altruism, Benevolence, Emergencies, Ethics, Sacrifice, Self-Sacrifice

  • Q&A: Christianity Versus Capitalism: 27 Feb 2011, Question 2
  • Question: How can a conservative Christian also be a supporter of capitalism? Isn't the Christian philosophy diametrically opposed to the basic principles of egoism and reason necessary to fully support laissez-faire capitalism?

    Tags: Altruism, Atheism, Capitalism, Christianity, Conservatism, Egoism, Ethics, Faith, Politics, Property, Religion, Self-Interest, Wealth

  • Q&A: Altruism and Sacrifice: 26 Dec 2010, Question 1
  • Question: Why does altruism measure virtue by the depth of a person's self-sacrifice, rather than the amount of good actually done for others? Altruism demands every person promote the welfare of others as his ultimate value. Despite that, however, altruistic virtue is not measured by the actual good done for others, but rather by the depth of the person's self-sacrifice. Why is that?

    Tags: Altruism, Christianity, Christianity, Ethics, Sacrifice, Self-Sacrifice

  • Q&A: Responding to Beggars: 12 Dec 2010, Question 1
  • Question: What is the proper way to respond to a beggar? How should one respond when approached on the street by strangers asking for money? Do you have any suggestions for dealing with aggressive beggars?

    Tags: Altruism, Benevolence, Ethics

  • Q&A: Objectivism Versus Theism: 5 Dec 2010, Question 5
  • Question: Can an Objectivist believe in God? Can a person be a theist and an Objectivist? Or is that too fundamental a conflict? If so, why?

    Tags: Altruism, Atheism, Capitalism, Christianity, Epistemology, Ethics, Faith, Metaphysics, Politics, Religion, Wealth

  • Interview: Craig Biddle on Egoism and Altruism in American Culture: 23 Sep 2009
  • Summary: I interview Craig Biddle about egoism and altruism in American culture and politics, based on his new article "The Creed of Sacrifice vs. The Land of Liberty."

    Tags: Altruism, Charity, Christianity, Conservatism, Culture, Egoism, Ethics, Government, Politics, Rights, Self-Interest


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