Saturday, November 02, 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, 3 November 2013: Q&A on Free Market Reforms, Empathy, Accepting Welfare, and More

I'll answer these four questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 3 November 2013.
  • Question 1: The Speed of Free Market Reforms: Should free-market reforms be gradual or instantaneous? Many advocates of free markets concede that reforms toward capitalism should be gradual. For example, Yaron Brook said recently about abolishing Social Security, "There is no way to eliminate it tomorrow. There is no way to eliminate it... cold turkey." (See: ) But why not? What's wrong with the "cold turkey" approach? Is the concern simply that the only way to get people to accept reforms is to make them slowly? Or would it be somehow unjust to cut off people's entitlements suddenly, given that they've come to depend on them?
  • Question 2: The Role of Empathy in Morality: What is the relationship between empathy and morality? Must a person possess a strong sense of empathy to be moral? Is empathy an important quality of character or moral emotion – or the most important? What's the role of empathy in a rational person's life?
  • Question 3: Accepting Government Welfare: Should a person without other options accept welfare from the government? I've had generalized anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember. I live in Sweden, and my government has so many labor regulations that no business can hire me, and charities don't exist to help me. Is it wrong, in such a case, to accept government assistance? I don't have any savings, and it seems like my only other options are criminal activity and suicide.
  • Question 4: Mercenary Essay Contest Writing: Is it wrong to write essays I don't believe to win contest money? I am a current university student with severe financial limitations. I've found that one of my best assets is my knack for writing a solid, persuasive essay. Recently, I've come across a trove of very generous scholarship essay contests. I feel confident that I could write a solid essay for most of them. The problem is that the majority are funded by organizations whose values I don't support. Specifically, I'd have to write essays in favor of social and political policies with which I disagree. Would it be moral for me to enter these writing competitions? If I did, would I just be demonstrating my writing ability - or misleading the sponsor into thinking that I agree with what I've written?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 3 November 2013. The podcast will be posted later that day. 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.

27 October 2013: Q&A on Checkered Pasts, Racist Names, Gun Rights, and More

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

How forthcoming should I be with new people I meet about my checkered past? Should sports teams with racist names change them? Should a person respect signs prohibiting guns in certain areas? Does a person owe others an explanation for unfriending them on Facebook?

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

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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