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 most 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, 4 May 2014: Q&A on Body Dysmorphia, Licensing Parents, Irresponsible Siblings, and More
I'll answer these questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 4 May 2014.
- Question 1: Public Displays of Body Dysmorphia: What should I do when a friend exhibits severe body dysmorphia on social media? At several points in my life, I had a valued friend who seemed otherwise rational and grounded, but who also exhibited dangerous body dysmorphia on social media. In these cases, the friend would first go through a several-month phase of confessing to several psychological problems, such as fantasizing about suicide and of cutting herself with a blade. This friend would then sternly add that she has since recovered, but would admit to still feeling that her natural physical features are ugly and deformed. Then, months later, the friend would go into another phase. On social media, in front of many other people, she would make brazen gestures indicating body dysmorphia, such as uploading photoshopped pictures of herself as a corpse ready for burial or saying that she planned to starve herself to achieve her ideal of being skeletally thin. A major problem was the reaction from our online mutual acquaintances. Some admitted that they saw these problems, yet they acted like the friend was behaving normally. Others outright complimented the dysmorphic imagery and statements. In these cases, I think that my friend knew that her body dysmorphia was dangerous. She put it on display so that others would normalize her pathology, because then she could more easily rationalize her behavior as harmless. That seems really dangerous, but what is the proper alternative? How should people respond when a person puts his pathological self-destruction on display?
- Question 2: Licensing Parents: Should parents be licensed? Given the cost to society of parents shirking their obligations to their children, to entrust children to just anyone able to bear that child seems negligent. The state does, after all, forbid chronic drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel again. On the other hand, to give discretionary power to the state over such a personal matter seems very dangerous. Is there any middle ground that would better protect kids from abusive or neglectful parents and protect society from the growing scourge of poor parenting?
- Question 3: Responsibility for a Sibling: Is a person responsible for his incapable sibling? Imagine that your brother (or sister) is not capable of taking care of himself: he makes poor choices, he has poor work habits, and he is emotionally immature. Are you thereby responsible for him? Should you try to help as much as possible, so long as you don't drag yourself down? Or should you refuse to help on the principle of "tough love," even though that won't help him take care of himself? If you take the latter approach, doesn't that mean that you're foisting the care for your sibling on society? Wouldn't that be shirking your responsibilities as a sibling? Also, does your responsibility depend on whether your brother is incapable due to his own choices, as opposed to merely bad luck?
- Question 4: The Presence of Juries at Trials: Should juries be present at trials? In fictional portrayals of trials, the jury is often told to disregard certain statements. Also, interruptions in the form of objections are common. Wouldn't it be easier for the jury to be absent from the trial itself, then presented with all and only the admissible evidence and testimony afterward? In fact, the jury need not see the parties in question, nor even know their names. Wouldn't that eliminate the possibility of racial discrimination and other irrelevant judgments?
The podcasts of last week's radio shows are now available. Check out the full collection of past radio shows in the podcast archives, sorted by date or by topic. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast RSS feed too.
27 April 2014: Q&A on Ambition, Lacking Friends, Absent Fathers, and More
I answered these questions on Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio:
Is ambition a virtue? How can I maintain my sense of self when surrounded by people I don't relate to deeply? It is wrong to refuse any involvement in my biological child's life?
You can listen to or download the podcast below, and visit the episode's page for more, including audio files for individual questions.
- Duration: 1:06:17
- Download: Enhanced M4A File (23.8 MB) or Standard MP3 File (22.8 MB)
- Tags: Abortion, Ambition, Character, Children, Child Support, Duty Ethics, Ethics, Fatherhood, Free Society, Friendship, Goals, Honesty, Integrity, Law, Moral Amplifiers, Obligation, Parenting, Personality, Productiveness, Psychology, Relationships, Responsibility, Rights, Romance, Values, Virtue
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.
- April 26: My First Normandy Bank
- April 28: Activism Recap
- April 28: NoodleCast #279: Ambition, Lacking Friends, Absent Fathers, and More
- April 30: Kind Words about Philosophy in Action Radio
- May 1: Preview: Sunday Radio: Body Dysmorphia, Licensing Parents, Irresponsible Siblings, and More