By Diana Hsieh
On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on universalization as an ethical test, regretful parents, online privacy, disciplining unruly kids in public school, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 10 March 2013, in our live studio. If you miss that live broadcast, you can always listen to the podcast later.
This week's questions are:
- Question 1: Universalization as an Ethical Test: Are arguments of the form "what if everyone did that?" valid or not? Often, people will claim that some action is wrong on the grounds that not everyone could or should act that way. For example: it’s wrong for a couple not to have children because if no one had children, civilization would collapse. Or: it’s wrong for you not to donate to charity for the poor because if no one donated, lots of innocent unfortunates would die. Or: it’s wrong for any doctor to offer better concierge service to fewer patients because if every doctor did that, most people would not have access to medical care. What’s right or wrong with this kind of argument?
- Question 2: Regretful Parents: What should parents do if they regret ever having children? In 2008, Nebraska permitted parents to abandon children of any age without penalty. As a result, quite a few older children were abandoned before the state changed the law. That shows that some parents deeply regret ever having children, and surely many more parents have major regrets, even though they'd never abandon their children. What should prospective parents do to ensure that they'll not regret having kids? What should a parent do if he or she realizes that having kids was a mistake? Also, is it worse for a mother to abandon her children than for a father to do so, as people commonly assume?
- Question 3: Online Privacy: What kinds of privacy can people reasonably expect online? Online privacy is an increasing concern in the media and the culture. The FTC is working on redefining what companies are and are not allowed to do with data they collect online. But given that the internet functions by sending your data through lots and lots of different systems, what rights and/or reasonable expectations should people have concerning their privacy online?
- Question 4: Disciplining Unruly Kids in Public School: How should a public school teacher discipline unruly students? Since school attendance is mandatory, what is proper and moral way to handle discipline in class? I'm a Spanish teacher in public school, and I hate to threaten or punish the few unruly kids. But for the sake of students who are truly interested to learn Spanish, I have to resort to methods like assigning detention and taking away phones for students who are not interested in Spanish. They are in my class only because they are pressured by their counselors. How can I deal with disruptive students in a way that respects their rights?
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Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.