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)


Skills

  • Q&A: Delegation in Marriage: 16 Aug 2015, Question 2
  • Question: When is delegation in a marriage irresponsible or unwise? There are some parts of normal adult life that I'm really bad at, in part due to social anxiety. Examples include calling or meeting with companies (airlines, banks, etc) to make changes, writing emails that involve stress or conflict, scheduling events that we'll both attend, budgeting and finance, driving and navigating, and dealing with mechanical stuff. Should I ask my husband to do those chores? If I ask for help, I worry that I'm being weak, lazy, and avoiding my responsibilities. On the other hand, if I try to do the hard things on my own, I often mess up. Where's the line between delegating and shirking?

    Tags: Delegation, Marriage, Psychology, Relationships, Skills

  • Q&A: Career without Aptitude: 14 Jun 2015, Question 2
  • Question: Should I pursue a career that interests me even if I don't have much aptitude for it? I have a strong interest in the field of bioengineering for what it can potentially accomplish. However, in my own estimation, I have little aptitude for hard science and seriously doubt whether I can succeed academically in the areas necessary to enter the field. This self-assessment is based on my academic history, life accomplishments, and aptitude test results. Should I try to pursue this career against the odds anyway, or should I accept that I don't have the intellectual capability to do so?

    Tags: Career, Causality, Education, Hobbies, Motivation, Science, Skills, Talent, Technology, Values

  • 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

  • Interview: Kelly Elmore on Why Growth Mindsets Matter: 28 Aug 2014
  • Summary: Carol Dweck's book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success offers a new perspective on learning. People with a "fixed mindsets" believe that traits like intelligence or social skills are fixed and cannot be changed much. People with "growth mindsets" believe that humans have the potential to change the traits they possess and constantly learn and improve. As a part of the research for her dissertation, Kelly Elmore has explored the psychological research conducted by Dweck and other cognitive psychologists that led to Dweck's development of the concept of "mindsets." In this interview, Kelly explained what mindsets are, how they impact our lives, and how we can develop growth mindsets in ourselves and encourage them in others.

    Tags: Academia, Education, Ethics, Hobbies, Mindsets, Moral Character, Moral Judgment, Parenting, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology, Skills, Values

  • Q&A: Enjoying the Moment: 10 Jul 2014, Question 2
  • Question: How can I convince myself that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence? Whatever subject I study, I think about all the other subjects I'm not studying. Whatever work I'm doing, I think about all the other work I'm not getting done. Whatever book I'm reading, I think about all the other books I could be reading. I want to do everything, and I want to do all of it right now. How can I convince myself to be happy with what I'm actually doing and able to do? How can I stop this perpetual cycle of boredom and longing for change?

    Tags: Boredom, Career, Concentration, Emotions, Ethics, GTD, Habits, Happiness, Happiness, Hobbies, Introspection, Personality, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology, Skills, Values

  • Q&A: Progress on Long-Term Goals: 29 Dec 2013, Question 1
  • Question: How can I make better progress on my long-term goals? I have the curious affliction of stagnating, often for very long periods of time, on long term goals. That happens even when those goals pertain to pursuits I enjoy. This pattern has me confused and somewhat alarmed, because I know that these long term goals I have set for myself will be the most meaningful for me to accomplish. Although I see the great value in skill-building for a new career, learning to play the piano, learning a new language, and so on, I cannot seem to get myself to take the daily, repeated action required for more than a week or two. That happens, despite my applying GTD and breaking down the larger task into manageable pieces. My neophile personality simply takes interest in something else, and I miss a day (then two, then three) of taking action, preventing me from ever establishing an activity as a habit. How can I break this cycle of mediocrity, so that I can really start making progress on long term goals?

    Tags: Concentration, Goals, Life, Mental Inertia, Productivity, Purpose, Self-Improvement, Skills

  • Q&A: Mercenary Essay Contest Writing: 10 Nov 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Is it wrong to write essays I don't believe to win contest money? I am a current university student with severe financial limitations. I've found that one of my best assets is my knack for writing a solid, persuasive essay. Recently, I've come across a trove of very generous scholarship essay contests. I feel confident that I could write a solid essay for most of them. The problem is that the majority are funded by organizations whose values I don't support. Specifically, I'd have to write essays in favor of social and political policies with which I disagree. Would it be moral for me to enter these writing competitions? If I did, would I just be demonstrating my writing ability - or misleading the sponsor into thinking that I agree with what I've written?

    Tags: Ethics, Honesty, Integrity, Moral Amplifiers, Skills

  • 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

  • Podcast: How to Stack the Deck in Your Favor: 12 Oct 2010
  • Summary: This short talk was given to Liberty Toastmasters on May 15th, 2010. It offers some practical advice for dealing with luck in life.

    Tags: Activism, Choice, Control, Luck, Opportunities, Skills

  • Podcast: Preview of Finding Good Prospects for Romance and Friendship: 10 Jun 2010
  • Summary: Many people lament the difficulty of finding good prospects for a lasting, deep, and happy romance. Others have trouble finding worthwhile friends. Yet most people who bemoan the lack of prospects could be doing much more than they are to increase their odds of success. Too many people don't adopt a purposeful approach but instead wait passively... and complain.

    This 90-minute podcast discusses how to make yourself a good prospect – and how to find good prospects – for romance and friendship.

    Tags: Character, Communication, Ethics, Friendship, Lifestyle, Luck, Marriage, Mental Illness, Opportunities, Personality, Psychological Visibility, Psychology, Romance, Skills, Values

  • Podcast: Choosing a Career: 22 Sep 2009
  • Summary: I answer two similar questions from college students on how to choose a career from amongst their wide variety of interests.

    Tags: Career, Introspection, Productiveness, Skills, Values


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