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)


Self-Control

  • Q&A: Accepting Risks in Relationships: 22 Sep 2013, Question 3
  • Question: How can I help my partner accept my doing risky activities? I would describe my partner as modestly adventurous. He's willing to try things now and then, but there are lots of things that I'd like to do that he not only refuses to do but forbids me to do as well. For example, I saw a deal to take a beginner pilot lesson on LivingSocial. I have no interest in getting my pilot's license, but I think it would be fun to sit in the seat with a teacher and learn a little something about how it's done. To my mind, this is perfectly safe. My partner, however, says, "No way." Also, I want to go swimming with sharks (with supervision, inside a cage). Yes, there's some risk, but I think that sounds like a lot of fun. My boyfriend disagrees. I did talk him into going skydiving with me once, but he refuses to go again. He bought me a gift certificate so I could do another tandem dive. But I loved it enough that I would consider getting certified to jump on my own. Yet he forbids it. People do these kinds of activities all the time without injury or any other harm. Plus, I want to do them with all proper supervision and safety precautions. I'm certain that my boyfriend understands these mandates of his carry little to no weight with me, but I wish he would be a little more reasonable about the way he assesses these risks. I definitely wish he'd find a better way of expressing his concern for my safety than just issuing commands about what I will and will not do. What should I do?

    Tags: Boundaries, Communication, Hobbies, Relationships, Risk, Romance, Self-Control, Sports

  • Q&A: Cultivating Powers of Self-Control: 23 Jun 2013, Question 1
  • Question: Should a person cultivate his powers of self-control? What is self-control? Is strong capacity for self-control of value? Does self-control have a downside or limits? How can a person develop more self-control?

    Tags: Aristotle, Ethics, Moral Amplifiers, Psychology, Rationality, Responsibility, Self-Control, Temptation, Virtue, Willpower

  • Q&A: The Nature of Addiction: 27 Jan 2013, Question 1
  • Question: Is addiction a genuine phenomena? Can a person become dependent on alcohol or drugs to the point that he cannot prevent himself from consuming it, except perhaps by a supreme effort of will? Is such addiction physiological – or just a matter of bad habits of thought and action? Similarly, can a person be addicted to certain foods (such as sugar or wheat) or certain activities (like gambling or pornography)? If so, what does that mean? If a person is addicted to something, is the cure to abstain from it forever?

    Tags: Addiction, Alcohol/Drugs, Character, Ethics, Food, Habits, Psychology, Self-Control, Values, Willpower

  • Q&A: Judging People Struggling with Temptations: 16 Sep 2012, Question 1
  • Question: Does a person deserve extra moral praise for acting rightly despite strong contrary emotions? How does overcoming strong emotions in order to do the right thing (or refrain from doing the wrong thing) factor into morally judging a person? If person A has no emotional conflict and thus does the right thing more or less "effortlessly," while person B takes the same correct action despite strong emotional motivation to act otherwise, does person B deserve any extra moral credit for the amount of emotional or mental effort he made? Or is moral judgment to be made solely on the basis of actions, with internal mental effort being irrelevant?

    Tags: Character, Christianity, Emotions, Ethics, Judgment, Justice, Moral Wrongs, Pleasure, Pride, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology, Self-Control, Temptation, Willpower

  • Q&A: Overcoming Weakness of Will: 12 Aug 2012, Question 1
  • Question: What are the best strategies for dealing with weakness of will? I want to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier, and I know it would be a good thing to do, for reasons both of health and productivity. Yet I often have a problem with actually going to sleep before midnight. Things tempt me to stay awake, like the internet, video games, or just having a bit of "me time" after a day at the university. Occasionally, I have similar problems in regard to work. Are there general strategies to deal with temptation and overcoming weakness of will?

    Tags: Ethics, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology, Self-Control, Temptation, Willpower

  • Chat: Guilty Pleasures: 16 May 2012
  • Summary: Do you struggle with the temptation of "guilty pleasures"? How can you overcome them – or should you indulge them?

    Tags: Christianity, Diet, Egoism, Emotions, Ethics, Food, Guilt, Mind-Body Connection, Nutrition, Paleo, Parenting, Pleasure, Religion, Self-Control, Self-Interest, Temptation, Willpower

  • Chat: Getting More Done: 25 Apr 2012
  • Summary: Do you want to accomplish more? Do you find yourself spinning your wheels or procrastinating on your projects?

    Tags: Career, GTD, Motivation, Productiveness, Productivity, Purpose, Self-Control, Willpower, Work

  • Q&A: Rationality in Face of Overwhelming Emotions: 18 Dec 2011, Question 1
  • Question: How can a person regain his rationality in the face of overwhelming emotions? On occasion, I find my rational judgment swamped by strong emotions like anger and anxiety. In such cases, my thinking seems distorted by my emotions. While in the grip of such emotions, what can I do to re-establish my powers of rational thought? Also, how can I prevent myself from saying or doing things that I'll later regret?

    Tags: Character, Emotions, Introspection, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology, Rationality, Self-Control, Willpower

  • Q&A: Irresponsible Adult Children: 31 Oct 2010, Question 5
  • Question: How would you treat an adult child who wishes to move back home after a history of poor self-control and irresponsible choices?

    Tags: Adult Children, Ethics, Family, Family, Judgment, Justice, Parenting, Rationality, Responsibility, Self-Control


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