Saturday, July 26, 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, 27 July 2014: Q&A on Defamation Laws, Pursuing Justice, Conning Jerks, and More

I'll answer these questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 27 July 2014.
  • Question 1: The Justice of Defamation Laws: Do libel and slander laws violate or protect rights? Every few weeks, the media reports on some notable (or absurd) defamation case – meaning a claim of "false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel." While a person's reputation as a business or person is certainly important, do people really have a "right" to their reputation? Isn't reputation the reaction of others to your own actions and character? How can a person create or own their reputation? Do defamation laws violate the right to free speech by protecting a non-right?
  • Question 2: Pursuing Justice at Great Personal Cost: Should I pursue justice against a wrongdoer at great personal expense? I am trying to decide if I should file an ethics complaint against my former property manager for a rental property. Basically, she managed the property for me for several years until I visited the property and found it in a state of disrepair that annoyed and concerned me. So, I wanted to fire her. But before she would release me from our agreement, she charged me $1,200 for repairs and maintenance that she had done to the house between tenants. She never asked me if I wanted the work done and when pressed she told me it was a matter of routine and our contract granted her the power to make decisions like that. Upon inspection, I discovered that not only were some of the prices she paid were above market rate, it was her husband's company doing the work. (I found out the rates because in getting the repairs done, I got quotes from other companies in the area.) I've reviewed some of the past records and she did this about 50% of the time. The Association of Realtors' code of ethics in my state specifically notes that she has to disclose relationships like that, but she didn't. So, I think whether she was in violation is pretty clear cut; however, some have argued that our contract supersedes the code of ethics. (If the board agrees with that argument, then this becomes a contract dispute and not an ethics concern.) If I file the complaint and the board decides to hear the case, I will have to hire a lawyer, make trips to the area, and basically shovel out even more money. The board could take her license or fine her, but in talking to a lawyer, and a couple of officers on the board it's more likely that they will push for some sort of education rather than taking her license. And none of that would do anything to get my money back. To get my money back, I'd probably have to go through an even more costly process of mediation, then arbitration, then suing her in small claims court where I would never recoup all of my costs. I think it's pretty obvious she's in the wrong and I think I can make the case strong enough to bring some measure of justice on her, but it would be expensive and stressful. On the other hand, she was very unpleasant to me and I hate to see her get away with being a horrible person and a corrupt professional. What should I do? How do I decide whether pursuing justice is worth my time and effort?
  • Question 3: The Cultural Effects of Superhero Movies: Do good ideas in superhero movies and television change people's philosophy? I have really enjoyed the pro-freedom and pro-personal responsibility messages of some recent superhero movies. However, I wonder whether those messages do any good. Rationally, I believe that a person can enjoy these superhero characters and then relate their qualities to a normal human standard. However, for the average viewer, I wonder whether the gulf between their superpowers and ordinary human powers creates a moral gulf too, so that people see the moral ideals of the superheroes as beyond the reach of us mere mortals. Is that right? Can these movies really affect people's ideas?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 27 July 2014. The podcast will be posted later that day. For more details, check out the episode page.

Thursday evening, 31 July 2014: Dr. Doug McGuff on "Government Controls in Emergency Medicine"

I'll interview emergency medicine physician Dr. Doug McGuff about "Government Controls in Emergency Medicine" on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Thursday evening, 31 July 2014.

The practice of emergency medicine is heavily regulated by the government. What are some of those regulations? What are their effects? How do they make the practice of medicine more difficult? How would emergency medicine function in a truly free market?

Dr. Doug McGuff is an emergency medicine doctor practicing in South Carolina. He graduated from the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio in 1989, and then trained in Emergency Medicine at the University of Arkansas, where he served as Chief Resident. From there, Dr. McGuff served as Faculty in the Wright State University Emergency Medicine Residency and was a staff Emergency Physician at Wright-Patterson AFB Hospital. Today, Dr. McGuff is a partner with Blue Ridge Emergency Physicians. I interviewed Dr. Doug McGuff about fitness, weightlifting, and high-intensity exercise in December 2012 and about avoiding the emergency room in May 2013.

The live broadcast begins at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Thursday, 31 July 2014. 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 podcast archives, sorted by date or by topic. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast RSS feed too.

20 July 2014: Q&A on Conservative Allies, Grading Fairly, Unearned Guilt, and More

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

Aren't politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul allies in the struggle for liberty? Should a professor pass a student who deserved to flunk for fear of reprisals? How can I overcome feelings of unearned guilt about refusing other people's requests?

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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