Saturday, April 04, 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 some Thursday evenings. More upcoming episodes can be found here: Episodes on Tap.

Sunday morning, 5 April 2015: Q&A on Personality and Ethics, Euthanizing a Pet, Repression, and More

I'll answer these questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 5 April 2015.
  • Question 1: Personality Theory and Ethics: How does personality theory affect ethics? In your December 21st, 2014 discussion of the relationship between philosophy and science, you stated that your grasp of personality theory has given you a fresh perspective on ethics and changed your understanding of the requirements of the virtues. How does personality theory inform the field of ethics, in general? How should personality theory inform our moral judgments? How does one avoid slipping into subjectivism when accounting for personality differences? (Presumably, it doesn't matter whether Hitler was a High-D or not before we judge him as evil.) How can we distinguish between making reasonable accommodations for personality differences and appeasing destructive behavior and people? Are virtues other than justice affected by an understanding of personality theory?
  • Question 2: Euthanizing a Pet: When should a person euthanize a pet? Over the years, I've had to decide whether to medically treat my cats or euthanize them when they're seriously ill, and it tends to be a hard choice to make. Concern for the cat's quality of life is a factor, but so is the monetary cost of veterinary procedures and medication, the time required, and the emotional pain of parting from an animal that has been part of my life for many years. In my own decisions, I've come down to, "Am I keeping this cat alive because his life has value to him, or because I don't want to face losing him?" Yet in online discussions, I see comments from other people who strike me as prolonging a pet's life even when the pet is miserable, which seems horrifying to me. What is your approach to these decisions? What do you think is the best way to approach them? Is this a question of ethical principle or purely one of optional values?
  • Question 3: Signs of Repression: What are the signs of emotional repression? It's very important not to repress your emotions, especially if you are a person with rationalistic tendencies. But how might a person identify when he's repressing some emotions? What are the signs? What can be done to avoid and overcome the tendency to repress, if such a tendency has become habitual?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 5 April 2015. The podcast will be posted later that day. For more details, check out the episode page.

Thursday evening, 9 April 2015: Chat about "Argument from Miracles, Part 1: The Arguments"

I'll chat about "Argument from Miracles, Part 1: The Arguments" with listeners on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Thursday evening, 9 April 2015.

Do reports of miracles prove the existence of God? Most people of faith appeal to the miracles of their faith as grounds for their belief. Here, I consider what miracles are, how they are supposed to prove God's existence, and raise some concerns about them.

This show is part of my ReligionCasts series of podcasts on philosophy of religion. The live show will be available for free, and the podcast will be available for free to regular contributors. Anyone else will be able to purchase the podcasts for the whole series for $10.


The live broadcast begins at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Thursday, 9 April 2015. The podcast will be posted later that evening. For more details, check out the episode page.


Recent Podcasts


Podcasts of radio shows are posted shortly after the live broadcast. Check out the full collection of past radio shows in the podcast archives, sorted by date or by topic. To ensure that you don't miss an episode, subscribe to the podcast RSS feed too.

29 March 2015: Q&A on Rights to Things, Extreme Cases, Being Helpful, and More

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

Do people have a right to food and shelter? Do moral principles break down in extreme cases? Should I do something nice for a coworker I dislike?

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

2 April 2015: Podcast on "Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?"

I podcast on "Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?" on Thursday's Philosophy in Action Radio:

"Most people dismiss any ideal of moral perfection as beyond their reach. "I'm only human," they say. That view is a legacy of Christianity, which teaches that moral perfection is possible to God alone and that any attempt at moral perfection is the sin of pride. In sharp contrast, Ayn Rand argues that moral perfection is not only possible to ordinary people, but also necessary for anyone who wants to live a virtuous and happy life. Hence, pride, understood as moral ambitiousness, is one of her seven major virtues – as seen in the heroes of her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

This talk explores Ayn Rand's views of moral perfection, ambition, and pride. What does she think that morality demands? How can people achieve that? How should people respond to their own moral wrongs and errors? We will compare Rand's answers to these questions to those of Aristotle. We will find that, despite some differences in each philosopher's conception of virtue, they share the compelling view that seeking moral perfection is crucially important to a person's life and happiness.

This lecture was given on 6 March 2012 at the University of Colorado at Boulder as part of the Philosophy Department's "Think!" series.

Below, you can preview 14 minutes of this lecture. Then, purchase access to the full 90-minute lecture for just $10. (Regular contributors to Philosophy in Action's Tip Jar should email me for free access.)"

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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