Saturday, February 14, 2015

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, 15 February 2015: Q&A on Resilience, Nuisances, Sharing Activities, and More

I'll answer these questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 15 February 2015.
  • Question 1: Developing Resilience: Does developing resilience require enduring hardship? Many people assume that having faced great hardship is a necessary part of having resiliency – meaning: the ability to withstand great challenges in the future. These people think that if you have faced less-than-average hardship in your youth, that makes you soft, spoiled, pampered, and weak, and therefore ill-equipped to face challenges throughout your adulthood. As an extreme (but, sadly, real) example, I have a relative who insists to me, "All of the men I have met who attended private school are weak and naive. In their private schools, they were able to leave their belongings unattended without fear of their belongings being stolen. That's not the real world! By contrast, the public school we attended is the school of hard knocks that shows you the Real World. We remember, all too well, that when anyone left possessions unattended, the norm was for the possession to be stolen. That's Real Life. That builds character and gave me a thicker skin. That's why, when I have children, I will send them to public school to toughen them up. I refuse to raise privileged weaklings." I seethe and feel tempted to respond, "What if you got really drunk and beat up your children? Following the logic of your assumptions, wouldn't that toughen them up even further?" Why are these assumptions about hardship so prevalent? How can a person develop great discipline, stamina, and fortitude absent hardship and cruelty? What can be done to combat the idea that hardship in youth is necessary for strength and resilience as an adult?
  • Question 2: Nuisance Limits for New Technology: How should nuisance limits be set for new technology? Often new technologies initially involve negative side effects, and sometimes those side effects impact even those who didn't choose to use the new technology. Here's an example: supersonic flight. Supersonic aircraft are generally noisier than slower aircraft – they lay down a sonic boom when they fly over. In the US, supersonic travel has been banned outright since the 1960s due to concerns about boom noise. There's technology to help quiet the aircraft, but no one knows how much "quiet" (and political muscle) it will take to reverse this ban – and as a result we're still trundling around at 1960s speeds. But this is only one example. Many other technologies (such as fossil fuels) initially have some physical impact even on those who choose not to adopt, until they advance sufficiently that the impact is immaterial. In a free society, how should these technologies be allowed to develop? What restrictions should be placed, and how? How does one objectively determine, for instance, how much noise pollution from aircraft or smoke from a train constitutes a rights violation?
  • Question 3: Spouses Sharing Activities: Should spouses always share activities? A friend of mine is loathe to pursue any hobbies or interests that her husband doesn't share. He's not controlling: he's the same way. Although I know that they want to spend time together, that seems really limiting to me. Is that a reasonable policy in a marriage – or does it lead to self-sacrifice and mutual resentment?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 15 February 2015. 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.

8 February 2015: Q&A on Egoism and Altruism, Changing Jobs, Boycotts, and More

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

Are egoism and altruism mutually exclusive? Is it immoral or unwise to accept a better job soon after starting a different one? It is moral to advocate for the boycott of a business?

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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