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)


Holidays

  • Q&A: Participating in Superstitious Rituals: 4 Jan 2015, Question 1
  • Question: Is it wrong to participate in superstitious rituals without taking them seriously? If I make some perfunctory observance or participation in some superstitious ritual, and do not believe the superstitious ritual is of any literal importance, am I still promoting irrationality? If I regularly read the horoscope in the newspaper, but do not believe astrology has any real impact on my life, does reading the horoscope promote irrationality? Likewise, in Hawaii, almost all retail establishments possess what are called "good-luck cats." A good-luck cat is a relatively inexpensive Asian figurine depicting a cat with one paw raised. Having this figurine is supposed to bring good luck to your business. You can commonly see such good-luck cat figurines in doctor's offices in Honolulu, and for your retail establishment not to have such a figurine would easily strike people as strange. If I spent just a little money on such a good-luck cat to decorate my business, and I didn't literally believe the figurine itself affected my fortunes, would the purchase be a concession to irrational thinking? Would such a gesture be "social proof" that would help other people rationalize more obviously pathological forms of irrationality, such as wasting hundreds of dollars on fortune tellers and psychic hotlines?

    Tags: Business, Communication, Ethics, Holidays, Humor, Rationality, Religion, Sanction, Science, Superstition

  • Q&A: Meaningless Gift Exchanges: 7 Dec 2014, Question 3
  • Question: How can I stop exchanging meaningless holiday presents with my siblings? My siblings and I are friendly but not close, but we still exchange Christmas presents. Mostly, that means that we buy each other stuff that we really don't want. That seems like a waste of time and money. I'd like to stop exchanging gifts with them, but how can I do so without hurting their feelings?

    Tags: Benevolence, Communication, Family, Family, Holidays, Relationships, Siblings

  • Q&A: The Value of Gift Exchanges: 16 Dec 2012, Question 4
  • Question: What is the purpose of exchanging gifts during the holidays? To me, gift exchanges seem meaningless: they're a waste of time and money. What am I missing?

    Tags: Communication, Family, Gifts, Holidays, Honesty, Psychological Visibility, Relationships

  • Q&A: Celebrating Holidays: 6 Nov 2011, Question 4
  • Question: What is the value of celebrating holidays? How do you think holidays should or should not be celebrated? Also, what is your favorite holiday and how do you like to celebrate it?

    Tags: Holidays, Personal Values, Tradition

  • Q&A: Visiting Home for the Holidays: 5 Jun 2011, Question 2
  • Question: Am I obliged to visit my family for the holidays? I'm in my mid-20s. My family expects me to return home for the holidays, i.e. for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I dislike the trouble of traveling during that hectic time. (I live across the country.) Also, I dislike the chaotic bustle at my parents' home during the holidays. I feel like I never get to spend meaningful time with anyone, and I'm stuck with people I can barely tolerate. I'd prefer to visit family I like at other times in the year. However, my parents would be extremely angry with me if I refused to come home during the holidays. They'd probably attempt to make me feel guilty for ruining their holidays. Should I just give in to their wishes? If not, how can I make them accept that I'd rather visit at some other time?

    Tags: Adult Children, Communication, Ethics, Family, Holidays, Parenting

  • Q&A: Celebrating Birthdays: 15 May 2011, Question 2
  • Question: How should a person celebrate his birthday, if at all? And if so, why? Would a rational egoist throw a party and invite people that he doesn't value much, like estranged family members?

    Tags: Egoism, Family, Fun, Holidays, Relationships, Self-Interest

  • Q&A: Santa Claus and Kids: 2 Jan 2011, Question 5
  • Question: Is it moral to introduce the idea of Santa Claus to children – and why or why not? Some Objectivists say that introducing Santa or staying silent on the issue to let the child figure it out for himself constitutes deception and lying. Others say it's a playful and fun game with Santa as a hero standing for justice in a way kiddies can understand.

    Tags: Children, Holidays, Honesty, Parenting

  • Q&A: Celebrating Festivus: 26 Dec 2010, Question 2
  • Question: Would you recommend your fellow Objectivists to celebrate Festivus? If so, how should we celebrate it?

    Tags: Culture, Holidays, Weddings


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