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 Thursday 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, 25 May 2014: Q&A on Stylized Life, Legal Dueling, Asking Permission, and More
I'll answer these questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 25 May 2014.
- Question 1: Creating a Stylized Life: Should a person seek to create a stylized life? In "The Romantic Manifesto," Ayn Rand said that "An artist does not fake reality – he stylizes it. He selects those aspects of existence which he regards as metaphysically significant – and by isolating and stressing them, by omitting the insignificant and accidental, he presents his view of existence." Should a person try to stylize his own life, such as by deliberately cultivating a consistent personal aesthetic? Should he aim to make every aspect of his life reflect his values, eliminating the rest? Would that make for a more integrated and meaningful life or might that be dangerous or undesirable in some way?
- Question 2: Legal Dueling: Should dueling and other consensual fights be legal? In your September 5th, 2012 interview with Dr. Eric Daniels, you discussed some of America's violent past traditions, including the practice of dueling. While I have no intention of challenging my rivals to mortal combat, I cannot see why this practice should be illegal. The same might be said of less lethal modern variants such as bar fights, schoolyard fights, and other situations where violence is entered into with the mutual consent of both parties. Should such consensual violence be forbidden by law in a free society – not just for children but perhaps for adults too? If so, what justifies allowing more ritualized forms of combat, such as mixed-martial arts fighting, boxing, or even football?
- Question 3: Permission Versus Forgiveness: Should people ask for permission or ask for forgiveness when breaking the rules? People often say that "it's better to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission" when excusing their own rule-breaking. I hate the phrase, but I can't put my finger on what's so objectionable about it. So what does the phrase mean? Is it right or wrong? If it's true for some organizations, doesn't that indicate that the organization's rules or policies are somehow bass-ackwards?
Thursday evening, 29 May 2014: Q&A on Jury Nullification, the Morality of Homosexuality, Dishonesty, and More
I'll answer these questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Thursday evening, 29 May 2014.
- Question 1: Jury Nullification: Should juries nullify bad laws by refusing to convict? Imagine a criminal case of drug possession, tax evasion, or prostitution – meaning, where the law is wrong because the outlawed activity doesn't violate rights. Should (or might) a juror concerned with individual rights refuse to find the defendant guilty? Does a juror exercise a rightful check on government power by refusing to convict? Or would acquitting the defendant be contrary to the rule of law and even anarchistic? Basically, should the juror use his own mind not merely to judge the evidence, but also to judge the morality of the law?
- Question 2: The Morality of Homosexuality: Does the morality of homosexuality depend on it being unchosen? It seems that the advocates of gay rights and acceptance are obsessed with proving that homosexuality is never a choice. I find this confusing as it doesn't seem to be the best argument. Even if sexual orientation were chosen, I don't see why there would be anything better or worse about preferences for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. Rather, I think that if I were able to pick, I would choose to be bisexual, as being straight limits my expression of admiration towards men who may represent the "highest values one can find in a human being" simply due to their genitals. Is that right? Or does the case for rights for and acceptance of gays depend in some way on sexual orientation being unchosen?
- Question 3: Dishonesty in a Manager: What should I do about the dishonesty of my new project manager? One of the project managers at my job recently lied when evaluating my co-worker. We are evaluated yearly, but aren't supposed to share the results of the reviews with others. However, my co-worker shared her review with me. It painted her in an extremely negative light via false accusations, and her yearly raise was affected by it. She wasn't given any warning about the accusations either. I've taken over her duties, which include working under the accuser. I'm afraid my review next year will be unjustly and perhaps even dishonestly negative, but I wasn't supposed to see her review in the first place. What should I do? Is there something I should do about my co-worker's false negative review? How can I protect myself from this dishonest project manager?
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.
22 May 2014: Chat about "Responsibility & Luck, Chapter One"
I discussed "Responsibility & Luck, Chapter One" with listeners on Thursday's Philosophy in Action Radio:
"What is the "problem of moral luck"? Why does it matter to ethics, law, and politics? What is its connection to John Rawls' egalitarianism? Why did I choose to write my doctoral dissertation on the topic? I answered these questions and more in this live discussion of Chapter One of my book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame."
You can listen to or download the podcast below, and visit the episode's page for more.
- Duration: 59:08
- Download: Standard MP3 File (20.3 MB)
- Tags: Academia, Crime, Egalitarianism, Ethics, John Rawls, Justice, Law, Luck, Moral Judgment, Moral Luck, Philosophy, Politics, Responsibility
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.
- May 16: NoodleCast #282: Egoism, Juries, Philosophy in Romance, and More
- May 16: Link-O-Rama
- May 19: Activism Recap
- May 19: A Controversial Thought on Divorce
- May 19: Finishing My Podcast Series on Philosophy of Religion
- May 20: Preview: Thursday Radio: Chat on Responsibility & Luck, Chapter One
- May 22: Preview: Sunday Radio: Stylized Life, Legal Dueling, Asking Permission, and More
- May 23: NoodleCast #283: Chat on Responsibility & Luck, Chapter One
- May 23: Link-O-Rama