Saturday, July 20, 2013

Philosophy Weekend: News from Philosophy in Action

By Diana Hsieh

Every Saturday, I post the news of the week from my primary work, Philosophy in Action, where I apply rational principles to the challenges of real life. Here's this week's update.

Upcoming Radio Shows


Philosophy in Action Radio broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Below are the episodes upcoming this week. I hope that you join us! More upcoming episodes can be found here: Episodes on Tap.

Sunday Morning, 21 July 2013: Q&A on Marginal Humans, Wanting Sex, Polite Homophobes, and More

I'll answer these four questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 21 July 2013.
  • Question 1: The "Marginal Humans" Argument: What's wrong with the "marginal humans" argument against uniquely human rights? Ayn Rand, following Aristotle, defined man as the rational animal – meaning that man's essential quality is that he possesses the faculty of reason, while other animals do not. Such is the basis for rights, in her view. Opponents of animal rights often appeal to this gap between humans and other animals to justify raising animals to be killed and eaten. They claim that animals can't have rights because they're not rational. Advocates of animal rights, however, often attempt to refute this claim via the "marginal humans" argument. They observe that human infants lack the faculty of reason, and hence, we should not use rationality as the moral criterion for rights. What is wrong with this argument? Do opponents of animal rights conflate potential with actual rationality, in that the infant seems potentially but not actually capable of reason?
  • Question 2: Sex When Not in the Mood: Is it wrong to have sex when you're not in the mood? Assume that you're in a long-term romantic relationship with another person. You will not always going to feel the desire to have sex. If your lover wants sex, is it wrong to do so? Might you have sex anyway, perhaps because you want to do something nice for your lover – perhaps in the hope that your lover might do the same for you later? Many people seem uncomfortable with sex under those circumstances, i.e. absent a strong physical desire. Some claim that if you're truly in love, then your physical desires will fall into line. Hence, if you don't want to have sex, you might not really be in love – or you might have other philosophical or psychological problems. Others think that having sex even if not in the mood isn't right: it's degrading and might lead to resentment. Which of these views is right?
  • Question 3: Responding to Polite Homophobes: How should I respond to people who think that homosexuality is an immoral or neurotic choice? I'm straight, but I have many gay friends. From years of experience, I know that they're virtuous and rational people. Moreover, their romantic relationships are not fundamentally different from mine. Also, I'm a strong believer in gay rights, including gay marriage. So what should I do when confronted with seemingly decent people who think that homosexuality is an immoral choice, based in neurosis, or otherwise unhealthy? These people often present their ideas in polite and seemingly respectable ways; they're not just flaming bigots. Yet still I find them appalling, particularly when used to justify denying rights to gays. Should I be more tolerant of such views? How should I express my disagreement?
  • Question 4: Romanticizing Historical Figures in Art: Are there moral limits to romanticizing historical figures in art? For example, a writer might romanticize Robin Hood as the Ragnar Danneskj√∂ld of the Middle Ages. If this is proper, is there an ethical limit as to what kinds of persons one may or may not romanticize, or as to how far one may stretch the historic truth? For example, does it matter if there are still contemporaries of that historic person alive who suffered unjustly because of them? Would it be wrong to ignore the unpleasant facts in order to present a fictionalized heroic character?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 21 July 2013. The podcast will be posted later that day. For more details, check out the episode page.

Wednesday Evening, 24 July 2013: Jonathan Hoenig on "Common Fallacies about Financial Markets"

I'll interview hedge fund trader Jonathan Hoenig about "Common Fallacies about Financial Markets" on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Wednesday evening, 24 July 2013.

Financial markets are often villified – and misunderstood. How do financial markets work? What impact do they have on the economy? Are they dangerous – or beneficial? Jonathan Hoenig will explain away common myths and fallacies about financial markets.

Jonathan Hoenig is portfolio manager at Capitalistpig Hedge Fund LLC. He appears regularly on Fox News.

The live broadcast begins at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Wednesday, 24 July 2013. The podcast will be posted later that evening. For more details, check out the episode page.


Recent Podcasts


The podcasts of last week's radio shows are now available. Check out the full collection of past radio shows in the archives, sorted by date or by topic. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast RSS feed too.

14 July 2013: Q&A on Feminism, Jailbreaking, Racism, Color, and More

I answered these questions on Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio:

How should the feminist movement be judged? Is it morally wrong to 'root' or 'jailbreak' your own electronic devices? Can a person be a racist yet still a morally decent person? Are concepts of color objective?

You can listen to or download the podcast below, and visit the episode's page for more, including audio files for individual questions.

17 July 2013: Scott Powell on "History is Dead, Long Live History"

I interviewed historian Scott Powell about "History is Dead, Long Live History" on Wednesday's Philosophy in Action Radio:

"Why is knowledge of history important? How have historians failed to teach it? What's the proper approach? How can adults educate themselves about history?" Scott Powell is the creator of Powell History and "A First History for Adults." He is a permanent traveler who teaches a distance learning homeschooling history program called "History At Our House" that provides an integrated curriculum for children from 2nd to 12th grade all over the world. He is currently writing his first book, History is Dead, Long Live History.

You can listen to or download the podcast below, and visit the episode's page for more.

Recent Blog Posts


Here are last week's posts to Philosophy in Action's blog NoodleFood, ordered from oldest to newest. Don't miss a post: subscribe to NoodleFood's RSS Feed.
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