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)


Free Speech

  • Q&A: Fighting Words: 30 Nov 2014, Question 2
  • Question: Do verbal insults sometimes justify a response of physical violence? In a recent discussion of bullying, most people agreed that the child in question should not have hit the kids bullying him, given that those bullies were merely making awful remarks, as opposed to being violent or threatening. However, one person suggested that a physically violent response might be justified if all other avenues were exhausted – meaning that the bully was told to stop, efforts to enlist the help of the authorities failed, and a warning was given. Is that right? Is it ever right to respond to purely verbal insults with physical violence?

    Tags: Bullying, Children, Communication, Crime, Crime, Education, Ethics, Free Speech, Law, Parenting, Rights, Violence

  • Q&A: The Justice of Defamation Laws: 27 Jul 2014, Question 1
  • Question: Do libel and slander laws violate or protect rights? Every few weeks, the media reports on some notable (or absurd) defamation case – meaning a claim of "false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel." While a person's reputation as a business or person is certainly important, do people really have a "right" to their reputation? Isn't reputation the reaction of others to your own actions and character? How can a person create or own their reputation? Do defamation laws violate the right to free speech by protecting a non-right?

    Tags: Defamation, Epistemology, Free Speech, Justice, Law, Reputation, Rights

  • Interview: Dr. Paul Hsieh on Understanding the Three Languages of Politics: 3 Jul 2014
  • Summary: How many times have you been in political discussions with friends where you find you're talking past one another? You'll make points they consider irrelevant, whereas they'll focus on issues you consider nonessential. Such problems can be overcome, at least in part, using Arnold Kling's concept of the "Three Languages of Politics." Paul Hsieh explained how freedom advocates (e.g., Objectivists and better libertarians), conservatives, and liberals tend to use three vastly different metaphors in political discussions, which can create unintentional misunderstandings and miscommunications. He discussed how to frame discussion points so they better resonate with those speaking the other "languages" without compromising on principles.

    Tags: Activism, Campaign Finance, Civilization, Communication, Compromise, Conservatism, Drug War, Firearms, Free Speech, GLBT, Government, Libertarianism, Medicine, Objectivism, Objectivism, Politics, Privacy, Progressivism, Property Rights, Rights, Three Languages of Politics, Values

  • Q&A: Buying Books with Military Secrets: 6 Apr 2014, Question 3
  • Question: Is it wrong to buy a book containing sensitive military information? The Pentagon claims that the new book No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Bin Laden reveals some potentially sensitive details about the operation. I'd really like to read about the mission, but I'm worried that the Pentagon's concerns are valid, and I'd rather not contribute to a work that that puts our soldiers at risk. However, given that the book has already been released, does it matter whether I buy it or not?

    Tags: Crime, Ethics, Free Speech, Law, Military, Secrets

  • Q&A: Free Speech of Government Officials: 19 Jan 2014, Question 2
  • Question: Does freedom of speech apply to government officials? In August 2013, Rolling Stone caused a furor by putting accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover. In response, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino wrote to the publisher of Rolling Stone, telling him that doing so "rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment" – treatment the magazine should have given to the survivors. Other government officials were similarly critical of Rolling Stone. My first reaction was that these government officials had no place saying anything about a publication. But then I wondered, doesn't the First Amendment still apply to them? In other words, do government officials have freedom of speech?

    Tags: Free Society, Free Speech, Government, Law, Politics, Rights

  • Interview: Robert Garmong on Censorship in China: 18 Sep 2013
  • Summary: How does censorship work in China? What can ordinary people access or not? What is the Chinese government most concerned to conceal? What are the consequences of speaking out? What do ordinary people think of the censorship? Robert Garmong, an American living and working in China, answered these questions and more.

    Tags: Academia, Censorship, China, Culture, Education, Free Speech, Government, History, Rights, Technology

  • Interview: Paul Sherman on Free Speech in Elections: 9 Jan 2013
  • Summary: Many people support restrictions on spending in elections, particularly by corporations, in the name of "transparency" and "accountability." Institute for Justice attorney Paul Sherman takes a very different view. He argues persuasively that any restrictions on campaign spending are violations of freedom of speech. He has successfully argued that view in courts across the country.

    Tags: Activism, Campaign Finance, Elections, Free Speech, Government, Law, Politics, Rights

  • Q&A: Advertising to Children: 12 Aug 2012, Question 3
  • Question: Should the government regulate advertising to children? Most people think that advertising products to children is morally wrong, if not coercive. They say that the government should regulate or even ban such advertising to protect children and parents from pushy advertisers. In the case of junk food, for example, people claim that children are not old enough to understand the damage that junk food does to their health. Therefore, they claim, children must be protected. While I can understand forbidding advertising drugs or liquor to children, to forbid food advertisements seems like a violation of individual rights. So should the government have any role in regulating advertisements directed at children?

    Tags: Children, Food, Free Speech, Government, Parenting, Rights

  • Q&A: Stealing Valor: 15 Apr 2012, Question 3
  • Question: Should "stealing valor" be a crime? Rencently, a man was arrested by the FBI in Houston and charged with "stolen valor." This is the charge made against someone who falsely poses as a decorated soldier. Is it proper to make this a crime? Why or why not?

    Tags: Constitution, Ethics, Fraud, Free Speech, Government, Law, Rights

  • Q&A: SOPA and Online Piracy: 15 Jan 2012, Question 1
  • Question: Should SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) be supported or opposed? SOPA was recently introduced to the US House of Representatives, then shelved temporarily, and many people are urging businesses and their representatives to oppose it. Would the bill promote prosperity and creativity by protecting copyright? Or does it justify internet censorship and cripple free access of information through online media?

    Tags: Ethics, Free Speech, Internet, Law, Politics, Technology

  • Podcast: December 2011 Testimony on Campaign Finance: 20 Dec 2011
  • Summary: On December 15th, 2011, Ari Armstrong, Paul Hsieh, and I testified at the Secretary of State's hearing on the proposed changes to Colorado's campaign finance rules. This podcast includes all our testimony.

    Tags: Activism, Campaign Finance, Coalition for Secular Government, Free Speech, Government, Politics, Rights

  • Q&A: Public Nudity and Rights: 25 Sep 2011, Question 2
  • Question: Do restrictions on nudity and sex visible to others violate rights? While having a zestful online debate, someone claimed that Ayn Rand contradicts herself in claiming that public nudity should be censored. (See "Thought Control" in The Ayn Rand Letter.) Since sex is a beautiful act, why should people be protected from it? Could a ban on visible pornography or sex be a slippery slope to other intrusions by government?

    Tags: Ethics, Etiquette, Free Speech, Law, Nudity, Nuisances, Pornography, Rights, Sex

  • Podcast: May 2011 Testimony on Campaign Finance: 9 May 2011
  • Summary: On May 3rd, 2011, I testified in a hearing before Colorado's Secretary of State about the burdens of Colorado's campaign finance regulations. This podcast contains the full audio from my testimony, plus my answers to questions from the panel.

    Tags: Activism, Campaign Finance, Coalition for Secular Government, Free Speech, Government, Politics, Rights

  • Podcast: Preview of Eric Daniels Webcast on Free Speech: 3 Jan 2011
  • Summary: This is the teaser for Eric Daniels' webcast on the foundations of free speech. (That webcast is no longer available for sale.)

    Tags: Free Speech, Politics, Rights


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