Saturday, April 23, 2011

Objectivist Roundup & Rationally Selfish Webcast

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I like to post some fresh links related to Objectivism from around the web for anyone interested in learning more about the philosophy.

The Objectivist Roundup is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome, including posts on food and health.

Reepicheep's Coracle hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in seeing the latest and best from Objectivist bloggers, go take a look!

My own Rationally Selfish Webcast -- where I answer questions on practical ethics and living well -- will be tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. You can submit and vote on questions, as well as watch the live webcast and join the chat, from this page: Rationally Selfish Webcast. Here are the questions that I'll answer this week:

  • Question 1: How do you objectively define manners? Is that even possible? What makes some action rude or polite? Is it purely subjective or based on personal values? For example, some people think that guests ought to take off their shoes in another person's house, while others don't care or even prefer shoes to remain on the feet. And some people think that putting elbows on the dinner table or feet on the coffee table is barbaric, while others regard that as fine. Since manners vary from person to person, how do you "mind your manners" when interacting with other people? Or should you not bother with that, and instead do what you please?
  • Question 2: Is it rationally selfish to be brutally honest in some contexts? Often, you need to tell a person some hard truth, and you can do so either tactfully or brutally. In many instances, you might want to be brutally honest because you fear that the person will not understand what you say if you're tactful. So which approach is better?
  • Question 3: 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?
  • Question 4: 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?
  • Question 5: How should one promote Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism? What are some right and wrong ways to do that? What are some good methods and target audiences?
  • Question 6: From Objectivist Answers: Objectivism regards harming yourself or allowing others to harm you is immoral, but how does that apply to sex, particularly sadism and masochism? Should S&M acts be illegal?
If you're unable to attend the live webcast, you can listen to these webcasts later as NoodleCast podcasts by subscribing in iTunes to either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format.

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