Saturday, August 31, 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, 1 September 2013: Q&A on Competition, Risking Welfare, Trolley Problem, Infatuation, and More

I'll answer these four questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 1 September 2013.
  • Question 1: The Value of Competition: What is the value of competition? You recently competed in your first three-phase event on your horse. Why did you bother to do that? How did that affect your mindset and training? What did you learn from the experience? More broadly, what is the value of such competition? Shouldn't people always do their best, even when not being tested against other people?
  • Question 2: Risking Welfare by Having Children: Should a person forgo having children to avoid the risk of needing welfare? I know that accepting government welfare is wrong: it's a kind of loot stolen from taxpayers. For a person to accept welfare is damaging to his life and happiness. However, I would like children, but in today's economy, particularly with my spouse's frequent job turnover, I'm not sure that's possible without ever relying on welfare. If I had children, I don't know if I would be able to resist becoming a looter to care for them. What if the only alternative is for the state to take charge of them? I couldn't allow that. Wouldn't accepting welfare be better than that?
  • Question 3: The Trolley Problem: Does the "trolley problem" have any validity or use? I often come across people who think ethical philosophy consists of asking others what they would do in hypothetical situations in which they are allowed only two options, both terrible. One I keep coming across is that of the Trolley Problem proposed by Philippa Foot and modified by Judith Thomson, in which one must choose whether to kill one person or let five others die. Psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Joshua Greene even take fMRIs of people when they answer this question. Greene says that when someone chooses to sacrifice one individual, the prefrontal cortex – which regulates impersonal, long-term decisions – lights up. By contrast, when one refuses to sacrifice the individual, blood rushes to the amygdala – the part of the brain regulating empathy and visceral emotional responses. Is it valid for moral philosophers to pose the Trolley Problem to people and to insist that people's answers show that one can only either be a deontologist or a utilitarian?
  • Question 4: Romantic Infatuation: Is it wrong to indulge romantic infatuation? I am infatuated with a young woman for whom I am not a suitable match, including because I am 30 and she is 16. It is strictly a fantasy; I make no effort to pursue or to make my feelings known to her and have no intention to ever do so. However, in private, I am deeply in love with her and practically worship her like a celebrity and collect all her pictures. (I refrain from masturbating to her because doing so makes me feel guilty.) Due to deficiencies in my life that I consider unfixable, I have low self-esteem and have given up on dating for the foreseeable future, if not indefinitely. Do you think my behavior is creepy, immoral, or bad for my own well being?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 1 September 2013. The podcast will be posted later that day. For more details, check out the episode page.

Wednesday Evening, 4 September 2013: Christian Wernstedt on "Stress and Your Health"

I'll interview personal health coach Christian Wernstedt about "Stress and Your Health" on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Wednesday evening, 4 September 2013.

What are some of the common ways that stress impairs a person's health? What can a person do to resolve those problems? Personal health coach Christian Wernstedt helped me recover from adrenal insufficiency, leaky gut, and other problems stemming from my 2009 crash into hypothyroidism. In this interview, he'll share his basic approach and insights with us.

Christian Wernstedt, born and raised in Sweden but now living in New York City, is a personal health coach, educator, and entrepreneur specializing in applying science and time proven empirical methodology to one's everyday practices such as diet, exercise, and supplementation. In 2008, while working as a freelance IT consultant, he became Interested in evolutionary concepts in nutrition and has since then studied and practiced these and other health related ideas and methodologies. In 2010 he founded the company VitalObjectives, which has since then become a successful coaching and educational practice with a track record of putting individuals on a path towards improved health and resolution of health issues.

The live broadcast begins at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Wednesday, 4 September 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.

28 August 2013: Cheryl Hein on "Parenting a Child with Disabilities"

I interviewed mom-of-twins Cheryl Hein about "Parenting a Child with Disabilities" on Wednesday's Philosophy in Action Radio:

"What are some of the rewards and challenges of parenting a child with disabilities? How should parents navigate family dynamics, education, and social interactions? How can parents do right by their disabled child, as well as themselves and other family members?" Cheryl Hein is the mother of nineteen year old boy-girl twins, one of whom, her daughter, was born with developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism. In choosing the approaches for educating their twins, Ms. Hein and her husband considered a number of key values, such as effective education, opportunities for intellectual and social enrichment, family dynamics, and, as they got older, their kids' preferences; practical considerations such as cost and logistics were also weighed. Ms. Hein became heavily involved in understanding and navigating public school special education services and other available private and government programs for educating her children, and in advocating for the choices she believed were right for them. As she has lived with the daily and long range parenting challenges, she has also thought deeply about matters of family, private and government support for the education, care and keeping of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Ms. Hein received a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and an M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA. She has managed multi-million dollar R&D programs for private industry, state and federal governments for more than 30 years, in settings as broad as manufacturing, product development, private research laboratories and university research organizations. Most recently, as managing director of the UCLA Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT) and in private entrepreneurial efforts, she has focused on fostering advances in technologies for education and training based on combining findings from the science of learning with interactive computer technologies such as simulation and games to create learning systems that align effectively with how our brains work.

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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