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)


Internet

  • Q&A: Net Neutrality: 7 Sep 2014, Question 1
  • Question: Should "net neutrality" be law? Lately, many people on the left have been advocating for "net neutrality." What is it? What would its effects be? What are the arguments for and against it? If it shouldn't be law, might private "net neutrality" be a good thing?

    Tags: Business, Egalitarianism, Fraud, Government, Internet, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Property Rights, Rights, Technology

  • Q&A: Explaining Facebook Unfriendings: 27 Oct 2013, Question 4
  • Question: Does a person owe others an explanation for unfriending them on Facebook? I'm "friends" with many people on Facebook who I can't stand and with whom I would never willingly spend time in real life. I've purged many Facebook friends I didn't really know and/or who've contributed nothing of value to my life, all for the better. Now I am considering whether to unfriend former lovers and one-time real life friends from my youth for a host of insurmountable reasons – for example, our politics don't jive, I'm annoyed by seeing endless photos of their pets, and so on. Odds are I will never have any dealings with these people again, mostly because I don't want to. Do I owe them an explanation for the unfriending?

    Tags: Ethics, Friendship, Internet, Relationships, Social Media

  • Q&A: Online Privacy: 10 Mar 2013, Question 3
  • Question: What kinds of privacy can people reasonably expect online? Online privacy is an increasing concern in the media and the culture. The FTC is working on redefining what companies are and are not allowed to do with data they collect online. But given that the internet functions by sending your data through lots and lots of different systems, what rights and/or reasonable expectations should people have concerning their privacy online?

    Tags: Ethics, Internet, Privacy, Responsibility, Rights, Social Media

  • Q&A: Preventing Information Overload: 30 Sep 2012, Question 3
  • Question: How can I prevent information overload? What are some good ways to limit the amount of information I process in the age of the internet? Besides Philosophy in Action, I follow several other podcasts, blogs, and news feeds. What's the best way to prioritize and limit my inputs without feeling like I'm missing something important? How can I retain the information I process and not feel like I'm jumping from one feed to the next without remembering anything?

    Tags: Communication, Epistemology, Internet, Media, Psychology, Social Media, Time Management, Value Hierarchy

  • Q&A: The Morality of Exposing Security Flaws: 22 Jul 2012, Question 2
  • Question: Is it moral to post information on security flaws that can help criminals better commit crimes? Some people publish information on how to pick locks or how to bypass computer password protection programs. Yes, sometimes this information might be used by good people to better protect themselves, but it's likely that criminals will use it to commit crimes, perhaps crimes that they'd not have attempted otherwise. Can the person posting the information rightly say, "This information can be used for both good or bad purposes, and I'm not morally responsible for what someone else chooses to do with it"?

    Tags: Business, Crime, Ethics, Internet, Technology

  • Q&A: Skipping Advertisements: 27 May 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Is it wrong to skip over advertisements? Many people use plug-ins that block advertisements on web sites, and many more people skip advertisements on television by recording shows with a DVR. Is this moral? Is it a failure to act as a trader?

    Tags: Business, Ethics, Internet, Justice

  • Q&A: Browsing Locally Then Buying Online: 13 May 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Is it wrong to browse in a local store but then buy online? Suppose that you shop for an item in a brick-and-mortar store, taking advantage of the opportunity to browse and get recommendations from staff, but then make your purchases at a discounted online retailer – for example, browsing through a local bookstore but then buying from Amazon at a lower price. Is that wrong or unfair?

    Tags: Business, Competition, Ethics, Honesty, Internet

  • Q&A: Respecting Intellectual Property Online: 6 May 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Is downloading music from YouTube a violation of intellectual property rights? Given that content creators can remove YouTube videos that violate their intellectual property rights, is it wrong to assume that they consent to the posting if they've not asked to remove it? It is wrong to watch or share clips that seem to be uploaded without permission? It is wrong to download music from YouTube for my own personal use, whether uploaded by the creator or someone else?

    Tags: Ethics, Intellectual Property, Internet, Law, Rights

  • Q&A: Poking Fun at Friends' Ideas Online: 22 Apr 2012, Question 3
  • Question: Is poking fun at people's ideas on social media rude, offensive, or otherwise wrong? For example, is it proper to make jokes about Jesus, Obama, or environmentalism on Facebook - knowing that some of your Facebook friends are Christians, Democrats, or environmentalists? Should those people be offended? Should a person limit himself to serious arguments?

    Tags: Communication, Conflict, Ethics, Internet, Relationships, Social Media

  • Q&A: Unfriendly Disputes in Online Communities: 25 Mar 2012, Question 1
  • Question: Why are disputes so belligerent in online communities? I've noticed that people get into very loud and heated disputes online, whereas that doesn't seem to happen in local communities. Disputes in local communities tend to be less frequent, less belligerent, and last for a shorter time - even when some people end up hating each other and refusing to have anything to do with each other in the end. Why is that? Also, why do people who are closest with each other (whether close friends, dating, or married) seem to agree more on hot-button issues? Are people more willing to reject a stranger's arguments than those of a friend? Is that an error?

    Tags: Communication, Conflict, Emotions, Etiquette, Friendship, Internet, Objectivity, Relationships, Social Media

  • Q&A: Terminating Online Versus In-Person Acquaintances: 26 Feb 2012, Question 2
  • Question: What's the proper threshold for cutting off a digital versus in-person acquaintance? Morally, when it is wrong to end your friendly interactions with an in-person acquaintance? And when is it wrong not to do so? Does the answer differ for a digital acquaintance – meaning, for example, someone that you know only via Facebook?

    Tags: Conflict, Friendship, Internet, Relationships, Social Media

  • 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

  • Q&A: Sexting as Cheating: 11 Sep 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Is sexting a form of cheating? If you are married or in a committed relationship and you send sexually explicit texts or emails to another person, is that cheating?

    Tags: Dating, Honesty, Infidelity, Integrity, Internet, Romance, Sex

  • Q&A: Family Members Spreading Urban Legends: 17 Jul 2011, Question 3
  • Question: How should I respond to the urban legends forwarded by a family member? I've repeatedly pointed this family member to Snopes.com, in response to his forwarding of yet another urban legend. I keep hoping that he'll get the hint – and check for himself before hitting the "forward" button. Yet he never does so, and he's sending false, defamatory, and/or possibly dangerous information to everyone in his address book. This person is pretty smart – and he's kind and friendly. I'd hate to do anything that would mar our relationship. What should I do?

    Tags: Epistemology, Family, Honesty, Internet, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Rationality

  • Q&A: Hiring People with an Internet Presence: 8 May 2011, Question 2
  • Question: What do you think about the dangers of hiring someone with an internet presence? Some people in business have concerns about hiring people active on blogs, social media, and other online forums. Often that's because of controversial positions advocated by the potential employee that they don't want to reflect on the company or cause drama internally. Also, they might have concerns that the person would share information about the company (including co-workers) that ought to be be kept private. So what are the principles involved in hiring someone who posts controversial material online? For example, should their potential position in the company matter, such as whether they'll be working in the back office or with the public? Or, should companies simply ignore what people say and do on their off-time, including on the internet?

    Tags: Business, Ethics, Internet, Social Media

  • Q&A: Browsing Without Buying: 17 Apr 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Is it immoral to browse a store with no intention of buying there? Is it immoral to take advantage of the freedom to look through books in a bookstore, or to try out a laptop in a shop, with no intention to actually buying it in that shop? For instance, you check out a book in the shop to decide whether you want to buy it, knowing that if you buy it, you'll do so from Amazon instead. Is that wrong?

    Tags: Business, Competition, Ethics, Fraud, Honesty, Internet

  • Q&A: Online Jerks: 16 Jan 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Why are some people such jerks on the internet? Some seemingly decent people become downright malicious bastards on the internet, particularly when posting anonymously. Why is that? What does such behavior say about a person's moral character? How can a person keep his manners, his benevolence, and his cool in full force when online?

    Tags: Character, Communication, Conflict, Ethics, Internet, Judgment, Justice, Relationships, Social Media

  • Q&A: Facebook Friending Policy: 28 Nov 2010, Question 4
  • Question: What's a reasonable friending policy for Facebook? I've been getting more Facebook friend requests from people I don't know lately. Should I accept or refuse them?

    Tags: Communication, Internet, Relationships, Social Media

  • Q&A: Maintaining Civility Online: 31 Oct 2010, Question 6
  • Question: Could you give or recommend a set of guidelines for blog/online discussion etiquette? How can someone maximize their benefit from online discussions and relationships?

    Tags: Conflict, Ethics, Etiquette, Internet, Relationships, Social Media


    Share This Page