Saturday, July 27, 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, 28 July 2013: Q&A on Social Contract, Excusing Wrongs, President Obama, and More

I'll answer these four questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 28 July 2013.
  • Question 1: Social Contract Theory: Is a "social contract" the proper basis for government? The idea of a "social contract" is often used to justify all kinds of government interventions for the so-called "greater good." What does it mean to say that society is founded on a social contract? What are the practical implications of that approach to politics? Was John Locke a proponent of this view?
  • Question 2: 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 him? Would it be wrong to ignore some unpleasant facts in order to present a fictionalized heroic character?
  • Question 3: Mental Illness as an Excuse for Wrongdoing: Does mental illness excuse wrong behavior? Recently, a friend of mine apologized for making hurtful and unfair comments to me. (It's not the first time she's done that.) She said that she's been struggling with depression, and she's now on anti-depressants and in therapy. I'm not sure how to take that. I feel for her, yet I also feel like I'm being manipulated into overlooking her bad behavior because she's "sick." How should struggles with mental illness figure into explanations and apologies for wrong behavior – if at all?
  • Question 4: Fervent Hatred for President Obama: How should I respond to friends who fanatically hate President Obama? As a free-market advocate, I'm distressed about President Obama's policies. However, I'm increasingly worried about some of my friends in the free-market movement exhibiting an alarming level of hatred for President Obama. I have seen my friends latch on to every "juicy"-sounding accusation against the President, which they spread all over Facebook, such as spurious claims that the administration violently threatened Bob Woodward, or that the President conspires to grant himself a third term. I think a reasonable discourse on Obama's faults is necessary, but the conspiracy theories and outright hatred cloud people's judgments. I want to ask my pro-free-market, Obama-hating friends that they not bring up their dubious accusations in conversation, but I don't know how to do that without offending them. Is there a solution to this dilemma?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 28 July 2013. The podcast will be posted later that day. For more details, check out the episode page.

Wednesday Evening, 31 July 2013: Eric Daniels on "Why Big Government Isn't the Problem"

I'll interview historian Eric Daniels about "Why Big Government Isn't the Problem" on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Wednesday evening, 31 July 2013.

Is "big government" the fundamental problem of American politics? Historian Eric Daniels will explain why this common formulation is misleading, wrong, and even dangerous to liberty.

Dr. Eric Daniels is a research assistant professor at Clemson University's Institute for the Study of Capitalism. He has a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Wisconsin.

The live broadcast begins at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Wednesday, 31 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.

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

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

What's wrong with the 'marginal humans' argument against uniquely human rights? Is it wrong to have sex when you're not in the mood? How should I respond to people who think that homosexuality is an immoral or neurotic choice?

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

24 July 2013: Jonathan Hoenig on "The Workings of Financial Markets"

I interviewed hedge fund trader Jonathan Hoenig about "The Workings of Financial Markets" on Wednesday's Philosophy in Action Radio:

"Financial markets are often vilified – and misunderstood. How do financial markets work? What impact do they have on the economy? Are they dangerous – or beneficial? What is the government's current versus proper role in financial markets?" Jonathan Hoenig is portfolio manager at Capitalistpig Hedge Fund LLC. He appears regularly on Fox News.

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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