Saturday, June 21, 2014

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 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, 22 June 2014: Q&A on Egoism, Drunk Driving, Curbing Dogs, and More

I'll answer these questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 22 June 2014.
  • Question 1: Egoism and One Thought Too Many: Does egoism suffer from "one thought too many"? Bernard Williams argues that utilitarianism suffers from a problem of inappropriate motivation in which a person has "one thought too many" before acting morally. So, for example, a good utilitarian must calculate whether the general welfare is served by saving a drowning child before jumping into the water. A truly good person, in contrast, simply jumps into the water to save the child without that calculation. Wouldn't this same objection apply to even rational, benevolent egoism? Or are those extra thoughts between situation and action actually rational?
  • Question 2: Drunk Driving: Should driving drunk be illegal in a free society? Should the government of a free society forbid and punish people for activities potentially harmful to others when they've impaired their judgment via drugs or alcohol? Basically, should driving or shooting a firearm while drunk be illegal? Or should such decisions be left entirely to the discretion of private property owners? Also, given that the government owns the roads today, are laws against drunk driving unjust?
  • Question 3: Dogs Versus Private Property: Do dog owners violate rights by allowing their dogs to poop on others' lawns? I live in a residential urban area along with many dog owners. On a daily basis, I observe those dog owners allowing their dogs to defecate on other peoples' lawns. I view this action as a trespass and violation of property rights, whether or not they pick up afterward. (For those who believe that picking up after your dog mitigates the trespass, would you let your child play on that spot afterward?) I don't believe that property owners should have to create fences, hedges, or other structures to prevent this trespass. On several occasions, I have asked owners not to let their dogs poop on the front lawn of our apartment. I have received various responses from polite acquiescence to incredulousness. Many dog owners seem to feel a sense of entitlement about using others' property without permission. Isn't that wrong? Would you agree that it is the sole responsibility of the animal owners to care for their pets without violating the rights of the people around them? What, if any, recourse would property owners have in a free society against blatant repeat offenders of this principle?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 22 June 2014. The podcast will be posted later that day. For more details, check out the episode page.

Thursday morning, 26 June 2014: Q&A on Psychological Egoism, Atlas Shrugged, Enjoying the Moment, and More

I'll answer these questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Thursday morning, 26 June 2014.
  • Question 1: Psychological Egoism: Isn't everyone selfish? If you dig deep enough, everyone seems to be selfish. I work because that's easier than being a welfare queen. But a college student might cave to his parents about his choice of career because that's easier than standing up for himself. Even the nun who seems to sacrifice everything is doing what she enjoys most and thinks best by her own religious standards. So isn't true altruism impossible? Isn't everyone selfish?
  • Question 2: The Purpose of Atlas Shrugged: Was Atlas Shrugged written to save America? Recently, I ran across this comment on the internet: ""Saving America wasn't the point of Atlas Shrugged, that's not the happily ever after it proposes in the end. It chronicles the main characters getting over that misguided mission and why." Two questions come to mind: (1) What was Ayn Rand's purpose in writing Atlas Shrugged? And (2) Do you think that being inspired to "save America" after reading "Atlas Shrugged" is misguided?
  • Question 3: The Limits of Generosity: How much generosity is too much? Generosity seems like a trait that would fit well into your theory of moral amplifiers. But how does one best deal with someone who is being overly generous? I recently relocated to a new city and one of my coworkers with whom I am friendly has really gone above and beyond trying to help me get settled. She is constantly offering to help, lend me things, or even give me things to make life easier. I appreciate her offers and turn down many of them as politely as I can. But I struggle to find the right balance of accepting her generosity in due proportion to our friendship. She seems to be fairly wealthy, so I don't think her offers are sacrificial in any way, my issue is that we are friends, but not close enough friends to justify the incessant barrage of motherly offerings. Through consistent communication about what I am willing to accept and what I won't – and also owing to actually getting settled in the new city – she's backed off a bit. More broadly, how would you recommend dealing with this sort of problem? How can a person make sure not to make this mistake of being overly generous?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Thursday, 26 June 2014. 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 podcast archives, sorted by date or by topic. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast RSS feed too.

15 June 2014: Q&A on Stand Your Ground Laws, New Objectivists, and More

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

Are 'stand your ground' self-defense laws proper? What advice would you give to a new Objectivist?

You can listen to or download the podcast below, and visit the episode's page for more, including audio files for individual questions.
19 June 2014: Chat about "Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Three" I discussed "Responsibility & Luck, Chapter Three" with listeners on Thursday's Philosophy in Action Radio: "What does Thomas Nagel's control condition for moral responsibility really mean? Does it set an impossible standard? Have others noticed and capitalized on this problem? I answered these questions and more in this discussion of Chapter Three 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.

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. If you're interested in more from Philosophy in Action, be sure to like our Facebook Page and subscribe to our Newsletter!

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

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