On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on abortion and rights in pregnancy, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 26 October 2014. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.


Medicine

  • Q&A: Compulsory Vaccination: 3 Aug 2014, Question 1
  • Question: Should the government mandate vaccination? Advocates of free markets often disagree about whether vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary – and whether they could be justly mandated by law. One problem is that the refusal to vaccinate oneself might put others at risk. Not everyone can be vaccinated, and some people who are vaccinated don't develop immunity. However, when the vast majority of people are vaccinated, that provides "herd immunity" to people who don't have immunity. People who choose not to be vaccinated degrade that herd immunity and thereby put others at risk. Moreover, parents have to choose whether to vaccinate their children or not, and the failure to vaccinate is regarded as neglect by many people – on par with Christian Science parents refusing to give a sick child antibiotics. Given that, should vaccinations be mandated by the government? If so, under what circumstances? Or might people be held civilly liable for transmitting diseases? Or should vaccination be considered a purely private matter between individuals (and institutions)?

    Tags: Communication, Ethics, Free Society, Government, Health, Medicine, Negligence, Quarantine, Rights

  • Interview: Dr. Doug McGuff on Government Controls in Emergency Medicine: 31 Jul 2014
  • Summary: The practice of emergency medicine is heavily regulated by the government. What is EMTALA? What are its effects? What have the effects of ObamaCare been so far? How do these laws compromise patient care and make the practice of medicine more difficult? How could emergency medicine be made more free?

    Tags: Business, Free Society, Government, Health, Laws, Medicine, Politics

  • 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

  • Interview: Jenn Casey on Living Safely with Food Allergies (Part 2): 16 Oct 2013
  • Summary: Many Americans have food allergies to common foods such as peanuts, dairy, and eggs. Some of those allergies are so serious as to be life-threatening. Jenn Casey's son has a life-threatening peanut allergy, diagnosed when he was a toddler. What must people diagnosed with such allergies do to protect themselves from accidental ingestion? How can parents keep their children with such allergies safe? How should other people in their lives – such as family, friends, and teachers – do to protect them from harm? What should schools, clubs, and other organizations do? This episode is Part Two of Two. Be sure to listen to Part One.

    Tags: Allergies, Bullying, Children, Communication, Education, Food, Health, Medicine, Parenting, Respect, Schools

  • Interview: Jenn Casey on Living Safely with Food Allergies (Part 1): 25 Sep 2013
  • Summary: Many Americans have food allergies to common foods such as peanuts, dairy, and eggs. Some of those allergies are so serious as to be life-threatening. Jenn Casey's son has a life-threatening peanut allergy, diagnosed when he was a toddler. What must people diagnosed with such allergies do to protect themselves from accidental ingestion? How can parents keep their children with such allergies safe? How should other people in their lives – such as family, friends, and teachers – do to protect them from harm? What should schools, clubs, and other organizations do? This episode is Part One of Two. Be sure to listen to Part Two.

    Tags: Allergies, Children, Food, Health, Medicine, Parenting

  • Interview: Christian Wernstedt on Your Health Versus Stress: 4 Sep 2013
  • Summary: What are some of the common ways that stress impairs a person's health? What can a person do to resolve those problems? Personal health coach Christian Wernstedt helped me recover from adrenal insufficiency, leaky gut, and other problems stemming from my 2009 crash into hypothyroidism. In this interview, he shared his basic approach and insights with us.

    Tags: Diet, Fitness, Health, Medicine, Stress

  • Q&A: Doctors Refusing to Perform Abortions: 9 Jun 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Does a doctor violate a woman's rights by refusing to perform an abortion? Many people on the left claim that a doctor who refuses to perform an abortion – or a pharmacist who refuses to dispense Plan B – is thereby violating the rights of the woman. Those doctors and pharmacists, however, claim that they're exercising their own freedom of religion. Who is right?

    Tags: Abortion, Conservatism, Ethics, Medicine, Politics, Progressivism, Religion, Rights

  • Q&A: Conceiving Again to Save a Child: 26 May 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Is it wrong for parents to have another baby to save the life of their sick child? In 1990, Marissa Ayala was born in the hope that she might be able to save her 16-year-old sister Anissa from a rare form of leukemia. (The parents went to extraordinary lengths to conceive.) Happily, Marissa was a suitable bone marrow donor, and Anissa's life was saved. At the time, many people criticized the decision as "baby farming" and treating the new baby as a "biological resupply vehicle." Yet today, the Ayalas are a close family, Anissa is alive and well, and Marissa is happy to have been born. Were the Ayalas wrong to attempt to save the life of one child by having another? What moral premises would lead a person to condemn this act?

    Tags: Abortion, Children, Ethics, Health, Medicine, Parenting

  • Q&A: Emergency Medical Care: 12 May 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Do people have a right to emergency medical care? EMTALA (a.k.a. the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act) is a federal law that requires emergency rooms to stabilize any patient with an emergency medical condition, regardless of the patient's ability to pay. Is that proper? Is that the same as a right to medical care?

    Tags: Altruism, Charity, Egalitarianism, Emergencies, Ethics, Free Society, Justice, Law, Law, Medicine, Politics, Poverty

  • Interview: Dr. Doug McGuff on Avoiding the Emergency Room: 8 May 2013
  • Summary: People often think of major medical disasters as unpredictable "black swan" events. In fact, emergency physicians see the same injuries from the same causes time and again, and ordinary people can lessen those risks by their own choices. Dr. McGuff explained the risks, how to mitigate them, and how to best cope if you or a loved one lands in the emergency room.

    Tags: Crime, Ethics, Health, Medicine, Persistence, Relationships, Risk, Sports, Stress, Values

  • Q&A: Moral Judgments of Obese People: 14 Apr 2013, Question 1
  • Question: Is it right or wrong to condemn people for being obese? Obviously, obese and morbidly obese people have made mistakes in their lives. Are they morally culpable for those mistakes? How should other people judge their characters? If I see an obese person on the street, should I infer that he is lazy and unmotivated? Should I refuse to hire an obese person because I suspect he won't work as hard as a non-obese person? Is obesity a moral failing – or are there other considerations?

    Tags: Culture, Discrimination, Ethics, Food, Health, Judgment, Justice, Medicine, Nutrition, Obesity

  • Q&A: Antibiotic Resistance in a Free Society: 17 Feb 2013, Question 2
  • Question: How would antibiotic resistance be handled in a free society? Bacteria acquire resistance to antibiotics by exposure to low doses of antibiotics. Such low doses may come from misuse of antibiotics, for example when taken to combat a cold or flu (which are viral infection against which antibiotics do nothing) or by not completing the full course as prescribed by a doctor. Antibiotics are indeed awesome drugs which have saved millions of lives. But resistant bacteria pose a serious health problem, often causing serious and difficult-to-treat illness in third parties. What would be the proper way to address this problem in a free society?

    Tags: Business, Capitalism, Charity, Free Society, Government, Health, Law, Medicine, Negligence, Rights, Torts

  • Interview: Dr. William Dale on End-Of-Life Medical Choices: 28 Nov 2012
  • Summary: Many people struggle with difficult decisions about complex medical problems as they near the end of their lives. That time is wrenching for family too. How can people make good decisions about medical care? What mistakes should they try to avoid? How can people prepare for that future now?

    Tags: Adult Children, Communication, Conflict, Death, Emotions, Family, Health, Introspection, Law, Medicine, Rationality, Values

  • 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: Breast Implants: 4 Nov 2012, Question 2
  • Question: What advice should I give to a friend considering breast implants? A friend of mine is considering breast implants, purely for cosmetic reasons. In other words, she's not having reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy: she just wants larger breasts. Do you think that purely cosmetic breast implant surgery is moral? Is it wise? What advice should I give her, if any?

    Tags: Body Image, Ethics, Medicine, Personal Values, Self-Esteem, Vanity

  • Q&A: Circumcision Versus Female Genital Mutilation: 28 Oct 2012, Question 1
  • Question: Is circumcision on par with female genital mutilation? Many people decry female genital mutilation, but they regard circumcision as the right of parents. Is that wrong?

    Tags: Children, Circumcision, Ethics, Medicine, Parenting, Rights

  • Q&A: Food Safety in a Free Society: 30 Sep 2012, Question 4
  • Question: How would the government protect the safety of food and drugs in a free society? Would the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) exist in free society? If so, would food or drugs have to gain FDA approval to be sold? Would it have the power to remove food or drugs deemed unsafe from the market? If not, what would protect consumers from harm due to adulterated or otherwise unsafe food or drugs?

    Tags: Ethics, Food, Free Society, Health, Law, Medicine, Torts

  • Q&A: Passing Genetic Diseases to Kids: 23 Sep 2012, Question 2
  • Question: Should people with severe genetic diseases take active measures to prevent passing the disease to their children? Some people have severe hereditary diseases – such as Huntington's or Multiple Sclerosis – that might be passed on to their biological children. If that happens, the child will be burdened with the disease later in life, perhaps suffering for years and dying young. Is it wrong for such people to conceive and merely hope for the best – rather than screening for the disease (and aborting if necessary), using donor eggs or sperm, or adopting? Are the parents who just hope for the best harming their future child? Are they violating their child's rights by refusing to take advantage of available technology for preventing the disease?

    Tags: Adult Children, Character, Children, Ethics, Health, Law, Medicine, Negligence, Non-identity Problem, Parenting, Rights, Torts

  • Q&A: Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Sports: 2 Sep 2012, Question 1
  • Question: It is wrong for athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs? Lance Armstrong was recently stripped of his record seven Tour De France titles after allegations that he used performance enhancing drugs – particularly EPO, human growth hormone, and steroids. These drugs act to enhance vitality and endurance by increasing red blood cell count, stimulating new cell growth, and helping to regulate metabolism and immune function, respectively. Although I don't have a medical background, I can't find a moral difference between a competitive athlete taking such medications for peak performance and a regular person taking vitamins, herbs, and supplements for increased performance. Professional athletes are encouraged and expected to adopt other modern technologies such as lighter bicycle frames, carbon nanotube rackets, aerodynamic helmets, and expertly designed running shoes. So isn't it proper to embrace advances in medicine as well, so long as athletes are aware of the risks? Should we vilify such athletes on the grounds that they create an unfair advantage – or applaud them for maximizing performance via technology? Should sports leagues regulate or ban performance-enhancing drugs?

    Tags: Contracts, Ethics, Law, Medicine, Sports

  • Q&A: Sex-Selective Abortions: 19 Aug 2012, Question 2
  • Question: Are sex-selective abortions wrong? In Canada, some hospitals refuse to tell prospective parents the sex of their fetus when discovered in a second-trimester ultrasound, because the members of many immigrant groups will selectively abort girls. Apparently, such sex-selective abortions are common enough that the birth demographics in some areas are clearly skewed. Are such abortions wrong? Should doctors withhold information about the sex of a fetus in an effort to stop the practice? Could a doctor legitimately choose to perform abortions for any reason at 8 weeks, but refuse to do so at 21 weeks simply because the parents don't want a girl? If so, what's the moral difference between those two situations?

    Tags: Abortion, Children, Culture, Discrimination, Ethics, Medicine, Parenting, Pregnancy, Rights, Sexism

  • Q&A: Medicine in a Free Society: 12 Aug 2012, Question 4
  • Question: What would the practice of medicine look like in a free society? Today, the practice of medicine is highly regulated and controlled by the government, including in its business aspects. How would medicine change if the government fully respected rights? What would remain the same?

    Tags: Business, Free Society, Medicine, Rights

  • Interview: Dr. Paul Hsieh on Surviving Socialized Medicine: 25 Jul 2012
  • Summary: With ObamaCare confirmed by the Supreme Court, what can a person do to preserve his health under America's increasingly socialized system of medical care?

    Tags: Ethics, Health, Medicine, Politics, Responsibility

  • Q&A: What To Do If ObamaCare Is Upheld: 3 Jun 2012, Question 2
  • Question: What should we do if the Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare? The Supreme Court of the United States will be determining the constitutionality of ObamaCare in a matter of weeks. While it is likely that at least part of it will be struck down, the court might uphold some or all of it. If that happens, what should liberty-loving Americans do? Would we have any recourse? Would it be time to break out the pitchforks and torches?

    Tags: Elections, Health, Medicine, Politics

  • Q&A: Stockpiling Medication: 22 Apr 2012, Question 2
  • Question: Is it wrong to stockpile medication now in the event of an economic crash in the future? We are concerned that increasing economic troubles will raise the prices of some prescription and over-the-counter medications, and make them hard to find in the future. Is it okay to start a stockpile of some medications (most of which have a long shelf-life)? In the case of prescription medications, is it okay to exaggerate to our doctors or play "musical pharmacies" in order to obtain more medication?

    Tags: Ethics, Health, Honesty, Medicine

  • Q&A: Gary Johnson for US President: 11 Dec 2011, Question 5
  • Question: Should I support Gary Johnson for US President? What's the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Johnson deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election? Also, should supporters of Gary Johnson vote for him on a Libertarian Party ticket?

    Tags: Abortion, Drug War, Elections, Foreign Policy, Gay Marriage, Government, Immigration, Medicine, Politics, Republican Party, Rights

  • Q&A: Ron Paul for US President: 11 Dec 2011, Question 4
  • Question: Should I support Ron Paul for US President? What's the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Paul deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?

    Tags: Abortion, Drug War, Elections, Foreign Policy, Gay Marriage, Government, Immigration, Medicine, Politics, Republican Party, Rights

  • Q&A: Newt Gingrich for US President: 11 Dec 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Should I support Newt Gingrinch for US President? What's the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Gingrinch deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?

    Tags: Abortion, Drug War, Elections, Foreign Policy, Gay Marriage, Government, Immigration, Medicine, Politics, Republican Party, Rights

  • Q&A: Mitt Romney for US President: 11 Dec 2011, Question 2
  • Question: Should I support Mitt Romney for US President? What's the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Romney deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?

    Tags: Abortion, Drug War, Elections, Foreign Policy, Gay Marriage, Government, Immigration, Medicine, Politics, Republican Party, Rights

  • Q&A: Restrooms for the Transgendered in Transition: 30 Oct 2011, Question 2
  • Question: Which bathroom should a pre-operative transgendered person use? The brutal attack at McDonald's on a transgendered person in April 2011 was apparently started because that person used the ladies restroom, which was already occupied by a 14 year old. Was the transgendered person wrong to use that restroom?

    Tags: Ethics, Etiquette, GLBT, Medicine, Personal Identity, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Rights, Science

  • Q&A: The Morality of Selling Your Body: 2 Oct 2011, Question 4
  • Question: Is it moral to sell your body? Selling our bodies or certain parts of them are perfectly acceptable in our society, such as being an egg or sperm donor, being a pregnancy surrogate, or selling hair. But others are condemned, such as prostitution or selling organs. Where should the line be drawn? When is it moral to sell a part of oneself – and why?

    Tags: Business, Career, Ethics, Medicine, Sex

  • Q&A: Reasons to Donate Blood: 3 Jul 2011, Question 4
  • Question: What are the personal benefits of being a blood donor (or organ donor)? Is it worth doing under today's laws, where donors cannot get paid? Should people be able to trade blood and organs in a free market?

    Tags: Benevolence, Ethics, Medicine, Politics

  • Q&A: Doctors Prescribing Placebos: 5 Jun 2011, Question 6
  • Question: Is it ethical for a psychiatrist (or other doctor) to prescribe placebos? This question arose as a result of this article: The power of placebos. While the alleged benefits of placebos mentioned in the article can be argued, my question is: To the extent a placebo is beneficial to a patient, is the doctor justified in prescribing it to him? Of course, the doctor cannot reveal to the patient at the time of prescription since it nullifies the effect of the placebo.

    Tags: Ethics, Medicine, Psychology

  • Q&A: Pharmacies Selling Homeopathic Remedies: 5 Jun 2011, Question 4
  • Question: Should pharmacies sell homeopathic remedies next to real medicines? For example, Cobroxin with Asian Cobra Venom 4x HPUS is sometimes sold next to acetaminophen (or Tylenol). Calms Forte's non-drowsy sleeping pills are often displayed next to diphenhydramine (the generic for Benadryl or Tylenol p.m.). James Randi, a magician in his 80's, took 30 of these sleeping pills with no effect. Basically, these homeopathic alternatives are nothing more than expensive water. So is it wrong for pharmacies to sell them as if they were effective medicine?

    Tags: Business, Epistemology, Ethics, Medicine, Science

  • Podcast: Cookie Cutter Medicine: 11 May 2011
  • Summary: On May 8, 2011, I gave a short speech at Liberty Toastmasters on my experience with hypothyroidism – and why I don't want the "cookie cutter medicine" being pushed on us by ObamaCare and other government meddling in medicine. Shortly thereafter, I made some revisions, recorded a longer version, then posted that to YouTube.

    Tags: Health, Medicine, Politics

  • Q&A: Government Medical Insurance: 24 Apr 2011, Question 4
  • Question: Should a person with a pre-existing medical condition that disqualifies him from most major medical insurance plans sign up for a state-sponsored high-risk insurance pool? I'm a 1099 independent software contractor, and I'm responsible for my own health insurance. I have a pre-existing condition that disqualifies me from most of the major medical insurers. My current insurer offers few benefits, and the company is notorious for trying to deny claims. I was also diagnosed with a malignant tumor in my cheek. That's being treated, but I'll be all the more uninsurable in the future. However, the state where I live has a high-risk insurance pool available. Financially, this plan would be a much better deal than I have with my current insurance company. I would have to pay premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance, so this plan is not complete welfare. However, I'm obviously wary of becoming dependent on the government for such a plan, and I don't want to contribute to the continued socialization of the health-care system. I have some other options, like trying to find a job that offers benefits, but I love my current job. Am I trying to eat my cake and have it too by signing up for the state plan, which would allow me to stay in my current job without the worry of a major medical issue ruining me and my family financially?

    Tags: Ethics, Government, Medicine, Rights

  • Q&A: Right to Legal Counsel: 24 Apr 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Why is receiving the counsel of an attorney a right while receiving health care is not? In both cases, you would receive something that you need for free from the state. So what's the difference, if any? Why should a repeat offender have access to free legal counsel at taxpayer expense while an innocent, law-abiding sick person shouldn't receive life-saving medication or treatment at taxpayer expense? In the former case, the criminal might lose his liberty, but in the latter case the sick person might die. So what I am missing?

    Tags: Government, Justice, Law, Medicine, Rights

  • Q&A: Spousal Consent for Sterilization: 3 Apr 2011, Question 4
  • Question: Should spousal consent be required for sterilization procedures? A fairly well-known mommy blogger recently revealed that she was required to sign a consent form for her husband's vasectomy. Reading through some of the remarks on her blog, many of her commenters seem to support such a practice, believing that a person has a right to be involved in the reproductive decisions of his/her spouse. I think it's a violation of individual rights, and having had a sterilization procedure myself, I'd have been BEYOND upset if my spouse had been required to give his consent. He was in agreement with my decision, but I can't help but wonder what happens in situations where a person does not want his/her spouse to have a vasectomy, tubal ligation, etc. Any thoughts?

    Tags: Business, Ethics, Law, Medicine, Parenting, Sex


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