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)


John Rawls

  • Chat: Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Three: 19 Jun 2014
  • Summary: What does Thomas Nagel's control condition for moral responsibility really mean? Does it set an impossible standard? Have others noticed and capitalized on this problem? I answered these questions and more in this discussion of Chapter Three of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame.

    Tags: Academia, Aristotle, Common Sense, Crime, Egalitarianism, Epistemology, Ethics, Immanuel Kant, John Rawls, Justice, Law, Luck, Metaphysics, Moral Judgment, Moral Luck, Philosophy, Politics, Responsibility, Responsibility & Luck

  • Chat: Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Two: 5 Jun 2014
  • Summary: What are some of the common proposed solutions to the problem of moral luck? How and why do they fail? I answered these questions and more in this discussion of Chapter Two of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame.

    Tags: Academia, Compatibilism, Crime, Determinism, Egalitarianism, Ethics, Free Will, John Rawls, Justice, Law, Luck, Moral Judgment, Moral Luck, Philosophy, Politics, Responsibility, Responsibility & Luck

  • Chat: Responsibility & Luck, Chapter One: 22 May 2014
  • Summary: What is the "problem of moral luck"? Why does it matter to ethics, law, and politics? What is its connection to John Rawls' egalitarianism? Why did I choose to write my doctoral dissertation on the topic? I answered these questions and more in this live discussion of Chapter One of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame.

    Tags: Academia, Crime, Egalitarianism, Ethics, John Rawls, Justice, Law, Luck, Moral Judgment, Moral Luck, Philosophy, Politics, Responsibility, Responsibility & Luck

  • Podcast: Reading of Responsibility & Luck, Chapter One: 15 Nov 2013
  • Summary: In this podcast, I read Chapter One of my new book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame. Chapter One introduces Thomas Nagel's problem of moral luck, then surveys the three major types of moral luck – resultant moral luck, circumstantial moral luck, and constitutive moral luck. The problem of moral luck is not merely some small problem in ethics. It threatens to undermine any and all moral praise and blame of persons. It also provides the foundation for John Rawls' arguments for an egalitarian political order. This chapter concludes by surveying the book as a whole, chapter by chapter. Chapter One is also freely available as a PDF.

    Tags: Egalitarianism, Ethics, John Rawls, Luck, Moral Judgment, Moral Luck, Responsibility, Thomas Nagel

  • Q&A: The Social Effects of Economic Inequality: 20 Oct 2013, Question 1
  • Question: Is an egalitarian society a better society? In his 2009 book "The Spirit Level," Richard Wilkinson argues that income inequality has a broad range of negative effects on society. According to the summary on Wikipedia, "It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal rich countries." Are these egalitarian arguments wrong? If so, what's the best approach to refuting them?

    Tags: Causation, Collectivism, Culture, Egalitarianism, Equality, Ethics, John Rawls, Politics, Rights, Statistics

  • Q&A: Social Contract Theory: 28 Jul 2013, Question 1
  • Question: Is a "social contract" the proper basis for government? The idea of a "social contract" is often used to justify all kinds of government interventions for the so-called "greater good." What does it mean to say that society is founded on a social contract? What are the practical implications of that approach to politics? Was John Locke a proponent of this view?

    Tags: Government, John Rawls, Law, Meta-Politics, Politics, Social Contract Theory, Thomas Hobbes

  • Q&A: Obama's Cultural Impact: 2 Jun 2013, Question 2
  • Question: Will Obama's second term further damage American culture and values? I'm not as worried about the tax hikes, foreign policy, and other concrete policies of Obama's second term as I am about the cultural change that his administration will instill in society over the next four years, just as it did over the last four years. The next generation of liberals – college age kids, that is – are little socialists who repeat the phrases like "social justice" and "fair share." Is such cultural change a genuine problem? If so, what can be done to combat it?

    Tags: Activism, Barack Obama, Culture, Education, Egalitarianism, Elections, John Rawls, Objectivism

  • Interview: John P. McCaskey on Libertarianism's Moral Shift: 10 Apr 2013
  • Summary: As the libertarian movement has become more mainstream in recent decades, its justification for liberty has changed. How so – and is that change for the better? Is the libertarian movement today capable of offering a vigorous and compelling defense of liberty?

    Tags: America, Conflicts of Interest, Egalitarianism, Ethics, Friedrich Hayek, History, John Rawls, Libertarianism, Objectivism, Politics, Rights

  • Podcast: Two More Tidbits from Liberty on the Rocks: 20 Apr 2011
  • Summary: This podcasts consists of two impromptu tidbits from my April 6th, 2011 appearance at Liberty on the Rocks in Denver. The first is on the factual basis for rights, and the second concerns the Rawlsian argument from luck against capitalism.

    Tags: Capitalism, Desert, John Rawls, Justice, Luck, Moral Luck, Rights


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