Philosophy In Action

Every Sunday morning, philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh answers your questions on the principles for living a happy, virtuous, and free life in her live Philosophy In Action Webcast. It's at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET at http://www.PhilosophyInAction.com. Submit your questions here!
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6 votes Vote

Should verbal or physical attacks on short people be tolerated?

Given your view that anti-gay bigots should be ostracized, what would you say about people who attack -- physically or verbally -- people who are shorter than most, say under five feet tall but otherwise perfectly normal and healthy? Many small...
Micheal Taylor, 25.07.2013, 18:34
0 comments
6 votes Vote

Why is realism incompatible with abstraction in epistemology?

Why does Objectivism assert that realism (or "intrinsicism") is incompatible with concept formation or abstraction? In "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology," Ayn Rand says that realism (whether moderate or extreme) regards "the referents of...
Jacob, 14.08.2013, 20:08
-1 comment
6 votes Vote

What is the role of free will in literature?

In your June 26, 2014 podcast, you raised the idea that what makes a story compelling is that it focuses on characters and the volitional choices they make. The idea was that if all the characters are assumed to be mere automatons with no free...
legendre007, 27.06.2014, 09:11
0 comments
6 votes Vote

What are the limits of religious freedom?

What is your opinion of the recent Supreme Court decision, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby? A friend and I were discussing the case, and we disagree on whether or not the decision is good or bad. He views it as good because Hobby Lobby regained some of...
Kevin K, 07.07.2014, 17:51
0 comments
6 votes Vote

Are the police obligated to protect citizens from harm?

On your Facebook page, you recently posted a story about a man who had to fight off a crazed knife-murderer in New York's subway, in full view of police officers, there specifically to capture this madman. Yet they did never interfered until after...
Fabian Bollinger, 21.10.2014, 13:52
1 comment
6 votes Vote

Should blackmail be illegal?

Recently, a UK man received seven years in prison after pleading guilty of blackmailing two men he had anonymous sex with at a park in Worcester, England. Is that just? In these cases, the blackmailed men were lying to their spouses, and laws...
Trey, 11.03.2015, 21:46
3 comments
5 votes Vote

What is the purpose of government?

What is the purpose of government? If the purpose of government is to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens, then should the government then remove all freedom of choice and expression in hopes of maintaining the safety and well-being...
Arthur Russell, 02.10.2012, 08:27
1 comment
5 votes Vote

Should I use a pen name for a novel to conceal my sex?

I'm an unrecognized author of a soon-to-be self-published young adult novella - my first. This novella will be published under my real name. In order to keep my interest in writing fresh, plus practice writing strong female characters, I've...
Geoff O'Brien, 07.04.2013, 23:19
0 comments
5 votes Vote

Should mothers who give birth in prison be allowed to keep their newborns with them?

A trial program in Vancouver that allowed incarcerated mothers of newborns to keep their babies with them during their prison terms was apparently a success in terms of outcomes for the children -- in that more of those children remained with...
Heather, 30.05.2013, 12:09
0 comments
5 votes Vote

How should crimes be defined?

Criminal law bans actions such as murder or theft completely. Does this imply that these actions are inherently or intrinsically wrong? Is that a problem? Should statues instead be guidelines, rather than absolutes prohibitions? Would that...
Adam, 14.06.2013, 05:40
0 comments
5 votes Vote

How can President Obama's apparent contradictions be understood?

From a naïve viewpoint, President Obama seems to be acting and thinking very erratically and self-contradictorily. For example, he praised whistle-blowers and promised the "most transparent administration in history" in the past. Now he...
Fabian Bollinger, 23.06.2013, 06:42
0 comments
5 votes Vote

Can ethics be a hard science?

In hard sciences, scientists in the discipline seem compare to control groups and experimental groups, making quantitative measurements of each. That does not seem possible with ethics. Moreover, ethical values are measured by ordinal ranking...
legendre007, 06.07.2013, 10:09
0 comments
5 votes Vote

If a person instigates a fight with another person, does he retain the right to self-defense?

Suppose that Bob bumps into Frank, and Frank takes offense. The argument escalates from harsh language to yelling to threats to pushing. Neither man makes any effort to placate the other or depart. Ultimately, a serious fistfight ensues. At...
Anonymous, 16.07.2013, 09:22
0 comments
5 votes Vote

Is it theft to read unauthorized translations of Japanese comics?

I'm in college, and many of my friends like to read Japanese comic books. English translations of these comics often take over a year to appear, so my friends instead read them on websites for free where fans download and translate them. I heard...
Jorge Contreras, 18.08.2013, 21:30
0 comments
5 votes Vote

Should I attend religious ceremonies in support of my friends?

I am an atheist, and I tend to stay away from any religious gatherings. I graduated high school 3 years ago, and one of my friends is graduating this year. He asked me if I would go to him to his baccalaureate ceremony, as his family and...
Zak Szalewski, 28.05.2014, 16:58
0 comments
5 votes Vote

It is wrong to refuse to return a dog to owners suspected of neglect?

According to a recent local news report, a family's dog escaped from their backyard. It was found by another party who paid a rather large sum of money to give it medical care and then placed it in foster care. The family searched for their dog,...
Trey Peden, 25.06.2014, 18:30
1 comment
5 votes Vote

Is voting for the welfare statist policies and politicians an initiation of force?

I come across right-wing people who proclaim to me that the State is justified to use physical force to deport undocumented Latino immigrants. They tell me this is justified because Latinos consistently vote in favor of politicians who expand the...
legendre007, 12.08.2014, 22:00
0 comments
5 votes Vote

Should spanking be banned as child abuse?

Studies have shown that spanking is harmful and ineffective, and yet spanking remains a common parenting discipline approach. (Some public schools use it, even against the express wishes of the parents.) Does spanking violate a child's rights? If...
Jenn Casey , 18.09.2014, 09:02
0 comments
5 votes Vote

How should deadly diseases be kept out of a free society?

A free society is supposed to have open borders, yet wouldn't that make preventing the entry of foreign diseases impossible? A society that opens it borders inevitably puts itself at risk for foreign diseases simply because people aren't being...
Drew, 20.10.2014, 18:35
0 comments
5 votes Vote

Does virtue require actually performing virtuous acts?

In his essay, "Existentialism and Humanism," Jean-Paul Sartre argues that who you are is defined by what you do. One consequence of this is that you cannot hide behind claims about your moral character e.g. you cannot say "I am a just person"...
Adam , 25.09.2014, 02:34
0 comments
5 votes Vote

Should it be illegal to smoke around children?

A recently introduced bill in New Mexico would forbid smoking with kids in the car. With all the research related to the dangers of second-hand smoke, does smoking with a child strapped in the back seat really amount to a form of child abuse or...
Gregory Mullen, 28.01.2015, 14:02
0 comments
4 votes Vote

Should high-capacity firearms magazines be banned?

Many advocates of gun control seek to limit the capacity of semi-automatic handgun clips to ten or even six rounds. Is that reasonable? Are such clips only useful for mass shootings -- or might they be necessary for self-defense, such as when...
Wayne, 16.01.2013, 19:17
0 comments
4 votes Vote

What are the proper bounds of reporting versus interpretation in writing history?

In a recent blog post, you criticized "interpretation-heavy" histories. (http://www.philosophyinaction.com/blog/?p=9611) What constitutes too much or otherwise inappropriate interpretation -- and why? Does interpretation by the author impair...
Thomas Fuller, 12.02.2013, 18:45
0 comments
4 votes Vote

What's the difference between the standard and the purpose in ethics?

In "The Objectivist Ethics," Ayn Rand claims that life is the proper standard of value, but each person's own life and happiness is his own proper purpose. I find this distinction baffling. Why isn't the standard the same as the purpose? Does...
Anonymous, 19.03.2013, 16:21
0 comments
4 votes Vote

Is it wrong to treat opposition to Israel's policy as antisemitic?

At times, I've noticed a seeming package-deal in the media, whereby any criticism of Israel's policies is dismissed as a form of antisemitism. Yet I've met people over the years who don't support Israel' s political positions, but they claim to...
Joel Schottenfeld, 31.03.2013, 11:01
0 comments
4 votes Vote

Is it wrong to hire others to spray hazardous chemicals?

I live in a country where I doubt the regulations pertaining to any household pesticides are more than a rubber stamp. At present, my kitchen is full of cockroaches, and labor is cheap. Would it be immoral for me to hire the old housekeeper who...
zach, 06.07.2013, 11:59
0 comments
4 votes Vote

Does the concept of the "gift economy" have any validity or value?

I recently read "Lynchpin," by Seth Godin, and much of the book is devoted to the "Gift Economy." One of his explicit messages is that you can make lots of money by sharing your skills and talents without charge, by making "gifts" of your time and...
Steve Byron, 30.08.2013, 06:01
0 comments
4 votes Vote

Do the arguments for abortion rights contradict claims about the rights of infants?

A fetus does not have rights because it is a "potential" person, not an "actual" person, and its existence is dependent upon the pregnant mother, whose right to her own body takes precedence. But what is the difference between a "potential" fetus...
Miller, 26.08.2013, 22:31
0 comments
4 votes Vote

Is forced abortion murder or some other crime?

If a man forces a woman to have an abortion against her will, is that murder? Or is it some other crime like destruction of property or assault? If a man tricks a woman into taking birth control pills, is that a crime? Given that men don't have...
David Okner, 11.09.2013, 13:42
3 comments
4 votes Vote

Would company scrip be a problem in a capitalist economy?

I've heard people object to capitalism on the grounds that companies would be able to issue scrip in place of legal tender, and that scrip would only be redeemable at company stores, which would be able to manipulate prices at their will. Is that...
James, 01.11.2013, 09:56
1 comment

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