Saturday, August 02, 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, 3 August 2014: Q&A on Compulsory Vaccination, Voluntary Sacrifices, Requiting Evil, and More

I'll answer these questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 3 August 2014.
  • Question 1: Compulsory Vaccination: Should the government mandate vaccination? Advocates of free markets often disagree about whether vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary – and whether they could be justly mandated by law. One problem is that the refusal to vaccinate oneself might put others at risk. Not everyone can be vaccinated, and some people who are vaccinated don't develop immunity. However, when the vast majority of people are vaccinated, that provides "herd immunity" to people who don't have immunity. People who choose not to be vaccinated degrade that herd immunity and thereby put others at risk. Moreover, parents have to choose whether to vaccinate their children or not, and the failure to vaccinate is regarded as neglect by many people – on par with Christian Science parents refusing to give a sick child antibiotics. Given that, should vaccinations be mandated by the government? If so, under what circumstances? Or might people be held civilly liable for transmitting diseases? Or should vaccination be considered a purely private matter between individuals (and institutions)?
  • Question 2: Accepting Voluntary Sacrifices: Is accepting voluntary sacrifices from others moral? Imagine that someone offers you a way to increase your wealth, lengthen your lifespan, or achieve your goals at great personal cost to and even sacrifice of himself. Is it wrong to accept that? What if you've tried setting them straight and telling them to act in their self-interest, but they still insist on trying to be altruistic? Would accepting such a sacrifice be a breach of integrity for an egoist, or would rational egoism urge you to enjoy the proffered benefits, so long as voluntarily bestowed? In other words, is accepting voluntary sacrifices from others different from forcing others to sacrifice to you?
  • Question 3: Requiting Evil with Good: Can evil be requited with good? Christians claim that evil can and ought to be requited with good. So in "Les Miserables", the Bishop inspired Jean Valjean to reform by telling the police that he willingly gave Jean the silver plate (and added the candlesticks) even though Jean stole the silver. Does this strategy ever work to reform an evildoer? Or is it merely a license to further evil? In some cases, might it be useful to "heap burning coals on [an evildoer's] head"? If so, when and why?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 3 August 2014. The podcast will be posted later that day. For more details, check out the episode page.

Thursday evening, 7 August 2014: Robert Garmong on "Love and Sex in China"

I'll interview Professor Robert Garmong about "Love and Sex in China" on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Thursday evening, 7 August 2014.

What are the traditional ideas about love and sex in Chinese culture? How did those ideas change in Mao? How do Chinese men and women approach romantic and sexual relationships today? Is homosexuality accepted? What is the place of mistresses and prostitutes? Moreover, Robert Garmong will tell us of the pitfalls of marrying a Chinese woman – and explain why he did exactly that anyway.

Dr. Robert Garmong studied economics and political science at the University of Chicago, and has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas (Austin). He currently teaches English language and Western culture at Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, in Dalian, China. His blog is "Professor in Dalian."

The live broadcast begins at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Thursday, 7 August 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.

27 July 2014: Q&A on Defamation Laws, Pursuing Justice, Superhero Movies, and More

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

Do libel and slander laws violate or protect rights? Should I pursue justice against a wrongdoer at great personal expense? Do good ideas in superhero movies and television change people's philosophy?

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

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

I interviewed emergency medicine physician Dr. Doug McGuff about "Government Controls in Emergency Medicine" on Thursday's Philosophy in Action Radio:

"The practice of emergency medicine is heavily regulated by the government. What is EMTALA? What are its effects? What have the effects of ObamaCare been so far? How do these laws compromise patient care and make the practice of medicine more difficult? How could emergency medicine be made more free?" 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.

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.
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