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)


Perfectionism

  • Podcast: Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?: 2 Apr 2015
  • Summary: Most people dismiss any ideal of moral perfection as beyond their reach. "I'm only human," they say. That view is a legacy of Christianity, which teaches that moral perfection is possible to God alone and that any attempt at moral perfection is the sin of pride. In sharp contrast, Ayn Rand argues that moral perfection is not only possible to ordinary people, but also necessary for anyone who wants to live a virtuous and happy life. Hence, pride, understood as moral ambitiousness, is one of her seven major virtues – as seen in the heroes of her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

    This talk explores Ayn Rand's views of moral perfection, ambition, and pride. What does she think that morality demands? How can people achieve that? How should people respond to their own moral wrongs and errors? Comparing Rand's answers to these questions to those of Aristotle, I show that despite some differences in each philosopher's conception of virtue, they share the compelling view that seeking moral perfection is crucially important to a person's life and happiness.

    This lecture was given on 6 March 2012 at the University of Colorado at Boulder as part of the Philosophy Department's "Think!" series.

    Tags: Ambition, Aristotle, Ayn Rand, Character, Ethics, Evasion, Expertise, Free Will, Moral Perfection, Moral Responsibility, Moral Saints, Moral Wrongs, Objectivism, Perfection, Perfectionism, Pride, Rationality, Skills, Susan Wolf, Virtue

  • Q&A: The Value of Competition: 1 Sep 2013, Question 1
  • Question: What is the value of competition? You recently competed in your first three-phase event on your horse. Why did you bother to do that? How did that affect your mindset and training? What did you learn from the experience? More broadly, what is the value of such competition? Shouldn't people always do their best, even when not being tested against other people?

    Tags: Competition, Ethics, Evasion, Habits, Hobbies, Independence, Mistakes, Perfectionism, Pride, Skills, Sports

  • Q&A: Selling Sub-Optimal Products: 15 Apr 2012, Question 4
  • Question: What should a businessman do if he decides that his product or service is not really good? More specifically, what should a businessman do if he's rises up in the business world on promoting a particular product or service, only to learn decades into the ventures that there are better alternatives? As a fictional example, let's take a mattress manufacturer CEO. He has spent decades of his life trying to make the most comfortable mattresses possible, but then read scientific studies that concludes that there is no healthier sleeping surface than the solid floor, and in using his honest judgment he agrees. Being so high up and so long involved in the mattress world, what are the moral range of options for him?

    Tags: Business, Ethics, Perfectionism

  • Q&A: Completing Creative Work: 21 Nov 2010, Question 2
  • Question: A piece of creative work can be polished forever yet still be far from perfect. Besides, there comes a point where it needs to be brought to completion and made available to its recipients, if there are any, to use and enjoy. How does one make the judgment call as to when that point is reached? I hope to go beyond the ranking of values ("How important is this to me, and have I devoted enough time and effort to it already?") and discuss considerations such as: telling whether I'm still adding to the value of the piece, maintaining a clear view of which details are important, keeping the scope of the piece within reasonable bounds without oversimplifying it, and not letting my feelings about the piece interfere with my judgment of its quality.

    Tags: Perfectionism, Productivity, Work


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