Saturday, August 17, 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, 18 August 2013: Q&A on Certainty, Limits of Sympathy, Scolding Children, Panhandlers, and More

I'll answer these four questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 18 August 2013.
  • Question 1: Achieving Practical Certainty: What must I do to reach certainty about a course of action? Suppose that I'm being careful in my thinking about a practical matter – perhaps about how to solve a problem at work, whether to move to a new city, whether to marry my girlfriend, whether to cut contact with a problem friend. When can I say that I'm certain – or at least justified in acting on my conclusions? Given my personality type (INTP), I tend to leave questions open for far too long, when really, at some point, I need to close them. Are there any general guidelines or principles around figuring out what that point of closure should be? Even then, when should I revisit my conclusions, if ever?
  • Question 2: The Limits of Sympathy for Failures: How much sympathy should I have for people failing in their obligations due to personal struggles? In the past two years, I've witnessed two businesses (both one-person operations) crash and burn due to the owners' inability to continue to operate while suffering from severe depression. I don't know the trigger in the first case, but in the second case, the depression was precipitated by a divorce, then the murder of a toddler in the family. The business is online, and unhappy customers have been airing their frustration with the fact that they never received goods already paid-for. Some friends are stepping in to help, but the owner's reputation has been ruined. How much slack should I – or others aware of the situation – cut the owner? How far should my sympathy go?
  • Question 3: Scolding Other People's Children: Is it wrong to discipline other people's children when they refuse to do so? I was eating lunch at an outdoor market. A woman and her son stopped near me, and the boy (who was probably around 8 years old) leaned over my table and stuck his finger in my food. Then he started laughing and ran around in circles. The mom looked at me and dismissively said, "He's autistic." Then she walked away. How should I have responded? Is there a respectful way to tell a stranger that her son's behavior is unacceptable in a public setting? Would it be wrong to speak to the boy directly?
  • Question 4: Responding to Panhandlers: How should I respond to panhandlers asking for money? I live and work in a downtown area, and am often asked by strangers on the street for money. These requests vary in form from the brief but honest ("Spare some change?") to the manipulative and dishonest. My stock response is to say that I have no cash, which is almost always true, but somewhat dishonest in that my lack of cash is not my main reason for refusing to give. Explaining my real reasons – I don't know who this person is, I don't know how he will spend the money, and I don't think giving people money helps reduce their reliance on handouts in the future – seems overly harsh on someone who is obviously having a rough time of it already, and takes a long time to boot. I feel like I should acknowledge the request somehow, but I want to effectively disengage from the situation as quickly and safely as possible. Is my stock response inappropriate because it is dishonest? Would it matter if I claimed to have no cash on those rare occasions when I am in fact carrying cash? If I shouldn't be using my stock response, what can I say to quickly and safely disengage? Also, I get a lot of dubious stories about being stranded downtown without bus fare. I've often thought about carrying a few valid, single-use transit tickets with which to respond to such stories. It's something I can afford, and it would in theory limit how my charity gets used. Would this be a wise or safe course of action?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 18 August 2013. The podcast will be posted later that day. For more details, check out the episode page.

Wednesday Evening, 21 August 2013: Kelly Elmore on "The Value of Rhetoric"

I'll interview English Ph.D student Kelly Elmore about "The Value of Rhetoric" on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Wednesday evening, 21 August 2013.

What is rhetoric? Why does it matter? How can the basic concepts of rhetoric help us understand advertising or prepare for an interview?

Kelly Elmore is an English graduate student in Rhetoric and Composition, an assistant director of the Georgia State University Writing Studio, a teacher of freshman composition, writing consultant for the geology department, homeschooling mom to Livy, partner to Aaron, and the instigator of family adventures for both, avid reader, lover of vampires and the Regency, separate or combined, Anglophile, extrovert, and proud possessor of a very tall soapbox.

The live broadcast begins at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Wednesday, 21 August 2013. The podcast will be posted later that evening. For more details, check out the episode page.

Recent Podcasts

I took last week off to compete in my first three-phase event on my horse Lila. 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.

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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