On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on ambition as a virtue, happiness without close friends, refusing involvement in a biological child's life, responsibility for a sibling, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 27 April 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.


Animals

  • Q&A: Animals as Property: 13 Apr 2014, Question 2
  • Question: Are animals a special kind of property? On your blog NoodleFood, you claimed that "the law should recognize that beloved pets are not mere property, but rather a special kind of property. To wrongfully cause the death of a pet should carry a significantly higher penalty than merely compensating the owner for the replacement cost of that pet. Moreover, police officers and government officials who indulge in this kind of reckless killing without good cause should be disciplined severely, preferably fired." Can you explain this view – the theory and the practice – further? Would this standard be akin to that of hate crimes, on the theory that crime is wrong but a crime motivated by hate is more wrong? Would it apply to other property – like my car (because it adds so much value to my life) or family photographs (which have lots of sentimental values but not monetary value)?

    Tags: Animals, Crime, Empathy, Ethics, Law, Police, Property, Torts, Values

  • 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: The "Marginal Humans" Argument: 21 Jul 2013, Question 1
  • Question: What's wrong with the "marginal humans" argument against uniquely human rights? Ayn Rand, following Aristotle, defined man as the rational animal – meaning that man's essential quality is that he possesses the faculty of reason, while other animals do not. Such is the basis for rights, in her view. Opponents of animal rights often appeal to this gap between humans and other animals to justify raising animals to be killed and eaten. They claim that animals can't have rights because they're not rational. Advocates of animal rights, however, often attempt to refute this claim via the "marginal humans" argument. They observe that human infants lack the faculty of reason, and hence, we should not use rationality as the moral criterion for rights. What is wrong with this argument? Do opponents of animal rights conflate potential with actual rationality, in that the infant seems potentially but not actually capable of reason?

    Tags: Animal Rights, Animals, Children, Disability, Human Nature, Politics, Rights

  • Interview: Robb Wolf on The Paleo Solution: 14 Nov 2012
  • Summary: What is the paleo diet? How can it help you improve your health and look better? Why does it work?

    Tags: Animals, Diet, Ethics, Health, Medicine, Nutrition, Paleo, Politics

  • Q&A: Contributing to Animal Welfare Groups: 5 Aug 2012, Question 1
  • Question: Should a person contribute to animal welfare organizations? Animal shelters find good homes for abandoned and abused pets. They also offer assistance to pet owners during emergencies, such as the recent wildfires in Colorado. That work seems laudable to me – and something that a rational person might support and even contribute to. Yet such groups often advocate wrong views (such as veganism) and support rights-violations (such as animal welfare laws). So are such groups worthy of support or not?

    Tags: Activism, Animal Rights, Animals, Charity, Ethics, Politics, Rights

  • Q&A: Treating Animals Humanely: 3 Apr 2011, Question 2
  • Question: What does it mean to treat an animal humanely? The term "humanely" when applied to animals is confusing to me. More generally, what is the proper moral treatment of animals?

    Tags: Animals, Ethics, Law

  • Q&A: Animal Rights: 3 Apr 2011, Question 1
  • Question: Do animals have rights? If not, why not? Given that we don't need to eat animals to survive, shouldn't we be vegetarians or vegans? Also, if animals don't have rights, are people then entitled to do whatever they please with animals that they own?

    Tags: Animal Rights, Animals, Ethics, Law, Rights

  • Q&A: Eating Pets: 26 Dec 2010, Question 4
  • Question: Would you kill your pets for food? Why and why not?

    Tags: Animal Rights, Animals, Ethics, Pets, Rights

  • Q&A: The Redemption of Michael Vick: 28 Nov 2010, Question 3
  • Question: How should we judge NFL quarterback Michael Vick? As an animal lover, I was appalled when the NFL allowed Michael Vick to play pro football again after his dog-fighting episodes. But now that he's doing well, part of me wants to cheer for him, telling myself that he's a "reformed man who deserves a second chance". Is that rational of me? How do we know if someone has truly turned over a new leaf morally after prior bad acts?

    Tags: Animals, Character, Ethics, Football, Judgment, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Redemption, Sports

  • Q&A: Abuse of Animals: 28 Nov 2010, Question 2
  • Question: Are people who abuse their pets immoral? Or: Should we think ill of someone for neglecting or abusing their pets? If so, why?

    Tags: Animals, Ethics, Justice, Pets


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