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 Submit your questions here!
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Can the debates over gay marriage be solved by new terminology?

I'd like to propose that the acrimonious arguments over gay marriage be solved by the following compromise. In our laws, we could replace the term "marriage" with "uniage", such that we would have three subcategories of uniage: marriage between...
Glenn Shrom, 18.12.2012, 18:37
1 comment
0 votes Vote

Is the pleasure/pain mechanism the basis of ethical norms?

Libertarian commentator Stefan Molyneux recently criticized Ayn Rand's ethics, particularly her solution to the "is-ought gap." He claims that her ethics relies on the pleasure-pain mechanism as the basis of ethics. So irrationality is penalized...
AlfredStappenbeck, 27.09.2014, 07:08
1 comment
74 votes Vote

Is "addiction" a valid concept?

Is there truly such a thing as addiction to a drug or chemical? I understand that taking drugs like heroin can change the physiology such that it's unpleasant to quit. But if a narcotic addict (or alcoholic) really wants to quit, it seems that...
Anonymous, 05.11.2011, 22:54
69 votes Vote

How can I identify my central purpose?

I understand the importance of a central purpose to organize my values and pursuits. However, I'm not sure how to identify what my central purpose is. Is it just my career -- or something broader than that?
Anonymous, 24.04.2012, 19:18
66 votes Vote

What is the moral line between respecting copyrights and fair use?

From a moral rather than legal perspective, what are the requirements to respect someone's right to their own work? For example if you have a movie on DVD is it moral to switch it to electronic form for your own use or should you buy the other...
Rose, 16.02.2012, 10:55
65 votes Vote

Are "stand your ground" self-defense laws proper?

Should a potential crime victim in reasonable fear of of his life be required to attempt to withdraw from a confrontation when possible? Or is it proper to allow him to "stand his ground" and use a firearm to kill the assailant?
Anonymous, 25.03.2012, 10:50
63 votes Vote

What's so bad about the philosophy of Immanuel Kant?

In academic philosophy, Kant is often regarded as the culmination of the Enlightenment. According to this standard views, Kant sought to save reason from skeptics such as Hume, he aimed to ground ethics in reason, and he defended human autonomy...
Marie, 18.06.2013, 21:43
61 votes Vote

Is it moral to seek a "four hour work week"?

Is a four-hour (or otherwise very short) work week compatible with the idea that a person's productive work should be his central purpose? If a person is so productive that he is able to enjoy a great life by only working a few hours per week,...
Bryan, 09.09.2011, 12:03
60 votes Vote

Are the moral arguments for vegetarianism rational?

People often argue for vegetarianism on the grounds that a person can (and perhaps should) regard the lives of animals to be a higher value than the advantages to eating meat such as taste or nutrition. Is this a rational moral outlook,...
Arianna, 01.01.2013, 11:53
59 votes Vote

How are causality and free will compatible?

If my mind is an effect of my brain, and my brain is a complex physical system which operates in a deterministic way, doesn't that mean that my thoughts and actions are ultimately determined, too? What is wrong with the popular notions of...
Matt S, 10.12.2010, 12:26
58 votes Vote

Is running prisons a legitimate function of government or should they be privatized?

Private prisons are a billion dollar industry here in the United States, but is that really something that should be left to private companies or should the government handle it? I heard a report on NPR on this topic and there are arguments about...
Trey, 05.11.2011, 16:09
57 votes Vote

Is sex without love or romance irrational?

Is it wrong to have sex with someone that you don't love -- or don't love yet? (Here, assume that the person isn't unworthy, but just that you're not in love.) Couldn't that be the start of romance? What if you don't have any intentions of...
Yernaz, 28.09.2011, 18:50
53 votes Vote

Isn't 'moral luck' a self-contradictory term?

Paul Lin, 22.11.2010, 18:13
1 comment
52 votes Vote

Why did you get a PhD?

Given your recent comment about the pointlessness of much of modern college education, why did you get a PhD in philosophy? I ask because I have a PhD in a somewhat useless subject, but I am glad I got it, and it has proven useful in my...
Ed Powell , 24.12.2010, 21:19
51 votes Vote

What's the problem with and solution to "perfectionism"?

Lately, I've realized that I might have a problem with "perfectionism" -- meaning that I hold myself to unrealistically high standards in some areas of my life. For example, I feel like I should be much more productive, to the point of being...
Anonymous, 13.06.2011, 10:14
51 votes Vote

Can open relationships be moral?

Can it ever be moral to have sex with someone else while in a relationship, assuming that you're honest with everyone involved? If not, why not? If so, what might be some of the pitfalls to be aware of? For example, should the criteria for...
shlevy, 02.06.2012, 13:26
1 comment
48 votes Vote

What should the State's role be in dealing with abused children?

The State needs to remove children from homes where they're being abused--where their rights are being violated. But what does it then do with them? Does the State care for them until it can find a new home for them? How should it provide that...
Tom G Varik, 19.02.2012, 09:55
1 comment
47 votes Vote

Is it immoral to pursue another individual's "significant other"?

2 parts: 1) Is it immoral to try to pursue or court another individual's romantic partner? 2) Would a rational person want to be with the individual who left their "other half" for the so-called "home-wrecker"?
David, 17.01.2011, 18:00
47 votes Vote

Is consensual incest between adults morally wrong?

Should it be outlawed? Also, what's the root problem -- genetics, family relationships, or something else?
Hanah, 08.04.2012, 13:55
46 votes Vote

Once some children are genetically engineered, wouldn't discrimination against natural children be inevitable?

Assume that humanity has advanced to the technological capacities of the movie "Gattaca," where the best possible genes for each child could be (and mostly would be) chosen before implantation of the embryo. In that case, how could society...
Anonymous, 23.07.2013, 11:24
45 votes Vote

What works of Aristotle do you recommend reading?

As a layperson interested in philosophy, I'd like to educate myself on the philosophy of Aristotle. I'm particularly interested in developing a better understanding of epistemology and metaphysics. What works should I read, and where should I...
Selfmadesoul, 30.01.2012, 07:24
44 votes Vote

What rights do severely mentally disabled people have?

If someone is mentally disabled to the extent that he or she will never be able to be rational and/or live independently, does that person have rights? Who should be financially responsible for the care of such people?
Hanah, 03.04.2011, 10:23
44 votes Vote

Is it morally wrong to 'root' or 'jailbreak' your own electronic devices ?

Maybe I'm just too stupid or lazy to read through all the legal-ese that comes with these devices, so I don't know whether technically a customer is contractually obligated not to do it. But I know that companies try to design their products so...
tomhall, 25.01.2012, 13:51
1 comment
44 votes Vote

What is the relationship between philosophy and science?

People commonly assert that science proves that the traditional claims of philosophy are wrong. For example, they'll say that quantum mechanics proves that objective reality and causality are just myths and that psychology experiments disprove...
Anonymous, 08.12.2012, 18:18
1 comment
44 votes Vote

Should dueling and other consensual fights be legal?

In your September 5th, 2012 interview with Dr. Eric Daniels, you discussed some of America's violent past traditions, including the practice of dueling. While I have no intention of challenging my rivals to mortal combat, I cannot see why this...
Bill Callahan, 28.01.2013, 20:42
1 comment
43 votes Vote

What is your opinion of evolutionary psychology?

Evolutionary psychology is an increasingly popular topic yet it seems loaded with determinism. Evolutionary psychologists will conduct studies, collect data and then assert a theory that almost always ignores volition and asserts subconscious...
Joseph DeSilva, 11.01.2011, 21:07
43 votes Vote

Is it moral to have a sugarmomma or sugardaddy?

My fiancee and I both have demanding careers, but she earns several times more than I. How should a married couple with very different incomes share income and/or expenses? If we agree to split household expenses evenly, my lower income is a...
bscholl, 24.01.2011, 16:07
43 votes Vote

Does evolutionary theory contradict the principles of Objectivism?

I am new to atheism and Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, and I embrace both wholeheartedly. However, I take issue with the theory of evolution. Atheism seems to imply evolution, but evolution seems to clash with Objectivism. Evolution...
i_amjohngalt, 18.08.2012, 14:45
1 comment
42 votes Vote

Is it wrong to cheat a partly government funded institution?

There are a couple of classes I would enjoy sitting in on at my university. They are large, and I would not be noticed. Would it be wrong to go without paying for them? I wouldn't do this with a private college, nor would I have qualms about a...
Kelly Elmore, 18.12.2010, 13:45
42 votes Vote

What do people mean when they say "I liked Ayn Rand's ideas, but then I grew up"?

On several occasions, I have discussed Rand's ideas with others. They have admitted to reading Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead when a teenager. They claim that they liked or even agreed with her ideas back then. "But, now I've grown up." I...
SHathway, 01.04.2011, 11:20
1 comment

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