Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

19 August 2014

Last Chance to Pledge to Fund a New Paper on Abortion Rights!

By Diana Hsieh

I'm delighted to report that the pledge drive to fund Ari Armstrong's and my new policy paper in defense of abortion rights is rolling along on schedule. So far, we've received 28 pledges for $1,560. That's over the threshold -- HOORAY! So thank you, thank you to everyone who has pledged so far!

However, I'd love to collect a bit more in funds before tomorrow's deadline, if possible. Why? First, some people don't pay their pledges, so I'd like a bit of wiggle room for that. Second, I'd love to use any extra funds to promote the paper after it's completed. Third, a bit more money raised would be good for CSG's court challenge to Colorado's campaign finance laws.

You have until tomorrow at midnight to pledge. Please do pledge, if you want to support this project! Any amount is welcome, and your pledge is not due until the paper is published on September 17th.



You can find out more about Colorado's 2014 "personhood" ballot measure here. If you have any questions about the project or pledging, please email me.

Here are some of the comments that people have made while pledging... which I'm sharing because I appreciate them so much:

While we need staunch defense of abortion rights everywhere, this project is of personal interest to me because my daughters live in Colorado, and I want them to have the fullest protection of their rights possible there.

Thank you for using sane reasoning to argue for positions that I care about. I support your cause, and wish that as a student I could contribute more. Hopefully soon as a professional I can help more.

It's very important that you write this. Personhood laws destroy reproductive rights, and destroys Republicans' commitment to and reputation for supporting freedom and individual rights.

I am looking forward to the updated paper. I found the original very interesting and informative.

Keep up the good work! Look forward to the update and to the defeat of Amendment 67.

Me too!! Again, please pledge before tomorrow at midnight if you want to support the writing and promotion of a new paper in defense of abortion rights!

Read more...

01 August 2014

Pledge to Fund a New Paper on Abortion Rights!

By Diana Hsieh

After a hiatus in 2012, I'm sorry to report that "Personhood for Zygotes" is on the ballot again in Colorado in 2014. However, I'm pleased to announce that Ari Armstrong and I will update 2010 policy paper in defense of abortion rights in light of the very much changed political landscape. Once again, we need your support to make that happen!


Colorado's New "Personhood for Zygotes" Amendment

Despite the defeats of "personhood" measures in 2008 and 2010, the crusaders against abortion rights have returned with yet another attempt to grant the full legal rights of personhood to fertilized eggs.

The ballot question reads:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution protecting pregnant women and unborn children by defining "person" and "child" in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act to include unborn human beings? (Full Text)

If successful, this measure would outlaw therapeutic and elective abortions, common fertility treatments, and popular forms of birth control. It would subject women and their doctors to intrusive police controls and unjust criminal prosecutions. It would force Coloradoans to abide by the deeply religious and sectarian view that the fertilized egg is imbued with rights from God.

Due to its misleading wording -- particularly its talk of "protecting pregnant women" -- 2014's Amendment 67 will likely fare significantly better in the polls than the "personhood" amendments proposed in 2008 and 2010. It's unlikely to pass, but that doesn't mean that abortion rights are secure. The dangerous ideology of "personhood" has spread like wildfire in the past four years among religious conservatives. In the 2012 presidential election, every Republican candidate except Mitt Romney endorsed "personhood for zygotes."

The ideology of "personhood for zygotes" must be steadfastly opposed -- based on a firm understanding of rights in pregnancy -- not merely because "it goes too far."


Support a 2014 Paper in Defense of Abortion Rights

To combat the dangerous ideology of "personhood" and defend abortion rights on principle, Ari Armstrong and I will publish a new version of their policy paper on the "personhood" movement. The updates to the paper will focus on the new language in 2014's Amendment 67, the widespread embrace of "personhood" by the Republican Party in the 2012 election, the synergy between "incremental" and "personhood" approaches to abortion bans, the defeat of a "personhood" amendment in Mississippi, and more.

However, that work depends on your support! The update to the paper will only go forward if at least $1500 is pledged by August 20th. That will help pay for the many hours of work this update will require. If sufficient funds are pledged, the 2014 paper will be published by September 17th.

So, if you want to help defend abortion rights in this 2014 election, please pledge! Any amount is welcome, and your pledge is not due until the paper is published.



Note: Due to efforts of the Center for Competitive Politics on CSG's behalf, Diana hopes that she will not have to report on funds collected for this project, as she's been obliged to do in prior elections. Time -- or rather the judge -- will tell. In any case, pledges for this paper are helping us have a viable case with which to challenge Colorado's onerous campaign finance laws.

If you have any questions about the project or pledging, please email me.

Read more...

21 July 2014

Conservative Allies in Politics: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on conservative allies in politics. The question was:

Aren't politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul allies in the struggle for liberty? Although I'm an atheist and a novice Objectivist, I've always wondered why so many advocates of individual rights oppose candidates and movements that seem to agree with us on a great many issues. Despite their other warts, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are the most likely men to promote our causes. The notion that they evangelize is dubious. And even if true, are there better alternatives today? I've also seen this attitude towards Libertarian candidates and their party. Ronald Reagan was the only President who advanced the ball towards free markets in the last fifty years, and yet people condemn him because of his position on abortion and because of his religious/political partnerships. I've never understood this. Shouldn't we embrace the advocates of free markets out there today, even if not perfect?

My Answer, In Brief: The Republicans – including "better" Republicans like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul – are a dangerous mixture of some economic liberty, nationalism, and theocracy. Instead of discrediting liberty by supporting them, focus on the issues.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Abortion, Activism, Conservatism, Elections, Free Society, GLBT, Immigration, Politics, Progressivism, Voting

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on conservative allies in politics, flunking a student, guilt about refusing requests, and more – is available here: Episode of 20 July 2014.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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10 June 2014

Proposals to Ban Muslim Immigration: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on proposals to ban Muslim immigration. The question was:

Does the lack of respect for rights among some Muslim immigrants justify banning all Muslim immigrants? Sometimes, I hear people say that immigrants from Muslim countries are so illiberal (in the classical sense) that they ought to banned from entering the United States and Western Europe. The anti-immigrationists say that when people from Muslim countries are allowed to reside in the West, such immigrants remain committed to political Islam, honor-kill their own daughters, rape native-born women, and plot to impose sharia law on the West through "stealth jihad." Is the illiberalism of some (or even many) Muslim immigrants grounds for limiting immigration from Muslim countries? What is the proper response to this problem?

My Answer, In Brief: Muslims are a diverse group of people, just like every other immigrant group. They are not a unique or special threat to the rights of Americans. Terrorists and criminals should be excluded when possible – and prosecuted if they commit crimes in the United States.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Conservatism, Crime, Discrimination, Ethics, Foreign Policy, Immigration, Islam, Justice, Law, Politics, Religion, Security, Terrorism

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on overcoming an abusive childhood, proposals to ban Muslim immigration, correcting a cashier's mistake, and more – is available here: Episode of 8 June 2014.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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22 April 2014

Defending Abortion Rights: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on defending abortion rights. The question was:

How can abortion rights be more effectively defended? Although the biblical case against abortion is weak, the religious right has gained much traction against abortion rights in the last decade or two. The "personhood" movement is growing every year, and incremental restrictions on abortion have mushroomed. Even more alarming, the demographics seem to be against abortion rights: young people are increasingly opposed to abortion. What can be done to more effectively defend abortion rights? Can any lessons be drawn from the success of the campaign for gay marriage?

My Answer, In Brief: The advocates of abortion bans are largely motivated by the divine command, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," which is then often cast in the language of the "right to life." To combat that, those people need to be confronted with the reality of what abortion bans mean to women and couples.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Abortion, Communication, Conservatism, Ethics, Politics, Pregnancy, Rights

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, being virtuous but not happy, defending abortion rights, and more – is available here: Episode of 20 April 2014.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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08 April 2014

The Value of Studying Theology: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On last Sunday's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on the value of studying theology. The question was:

Can a rational atheist extract any value from studying theology? Theology includes a mix of arguments for the existence of God, plus views on ethics, and more. It's the earliest form of philosophy. Can a person benefit by cherry picking ideas from theological teachings or does the mysticism and other faults outweigh any benefits?

My Answer, In Brief: A rational atheist can extract quite a bit of value from studying the arguments for the existence of God, religious scriptures, and contemporary religious beliefs and practices. He can better his understanding of the culture, become more culturally literate, understand people better, and develop well-justified views on religion.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Activism, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Relationships, Religion, Society, Theology

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on evolution's ethical implications, cultivating a healthy body image, the value of studying theology, and more – is available here: Episode of 30 March 2014.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

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21 January 2014

Asking for Rape?

By Diana Hsieh



I found that photo on Facebook a while back, with the following caption:

This photo was posted on STFU, Conservatives Tumblr page last night [here]. The reason why I'm sharing it is not because of the photo itself (which is epic in it's own right), but for the comments it generated.

One person wrote, "but then again, its kind like putting a meat suit on and telling a shark not to eat you".

STFU responded (with bolded text):

We (men) are not fucking sharks!

We are not rabid animals living off of pure instinct

We are capable of rational thinking and understanding.

Just because someone is cooking food doesn't mean you're entitled to eat it.

Just because a banker is counting money doesn't mean you're being given free money.

Just because a person is naked doesn't mean you're entitled to fuck them.

You are not entitled to someone else's body just because it's exposed.

What is so fucking difficult about this concept?

Bravo.

Indeed. Also, Laura Jedeed has some really excellent comments on rape and this image too.

Happily, the rights of women in western countries are more widely recognized and better protected today than at any other time in human history. That's a huge achievement, and part of why I'm grateful to live in modern America.

However, more progress awaits us. One example was in the news last year:

A recent court case just exposed a barbarity in California law, namely that it's not rape to trick an unmarried woman into sleeping with you by pretending to be her boyfriend.

Julio Morales was convicted and sentenced to three years in state prison for entering an 18-year-old woman's bedroom and instigating sex with her while she was asleep after a night of drinking at a house party in 2009. According to prosecutors, it wasn't until "light coming through a crack in the bedroom door illuminated the face of the person having sex with her" that she realized Morales wasn't her boyfriend. Holy shit.

But a panel of judges overturned the conviction this week because of a law from 1872 that doesn't give women the same protections as married women because, as we all know, single women are always down for nonconsensual sex, even when they're asleep and/or purposefully tricked into the act.

The court admitted that "If the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband" it would be rape. But since there was no ring on her finger, it's not!

Eugene Volokh had some comments here. I agree that rape by fraud shouldn't be a punishable offense, except in cases of impersonation of a lover or spouse. (I'm not sure of the case of mere friends.) As Eugene says of such impersonation:

It is, thankfully, apparently a rare sort of lie; it is very far outside the normal level of dishonesty that people expect might happen in their relationships; it is one for which there is no plausible justification or mitigation; and criminalizing it is unlikely to sweep in the garden variety lies that, unfortunately, often appear in people's sexual and romantic lives.

California law obviously needs to be updated.

Here's another example. The 2012 election was replete with politicians making ridiculous and offensive comments about rape in order to rationalize their across-the-board opposition to abortion. Most notable was Todd Akin's justification for denying abortions to women pregnant due to rape:

... from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

Conservatives need to recognize that forced pregnancy -- not just pregnancy due to rape but any unwanted pregnancy -- is a morally abhorrent violation of rights, not a gift from God.

Alas, the third example hits closer to home for me. In a February 2012 podcast, Leonard Peikoff said that a man is entitled to force himself on a woman if she has a few drinks with him and then goes up to his hotel room. Thankfully, he corrected that a few weeks later, but only in part. By a rather strange analysis, Peikoff concluded that a woman cannot withdraw consent after penetration. In reality, that means that the man can do whatever he pleases to the woman after penetration, even as she kicks and screams and yells and cries in protest. That's seriously, seriously wrong -- and dangerous too.

On a more positive note, you'll find my own views on the nature and limits of consent in sex in this podcast. (It's a pretty lengthy discussion... about over 40 minutes.)

Ultimately, my point here is that the rights of women matter -- and they're not yet fully protected. The image at the top of this post reminds us of that. The fact that she's half-naked doesn't make her any less of a person with the absolute right to forbid another person access to her body.

That's a lesson that some people still need to learn, unfortunately.

Read more...

07 January 2014

The Morality of Elective Abortion: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on the morality of elective abortion. The question was:

Is elective abortion morally wrong? Some people support abortion in the cases of rape or incest, as well as in cases of serious medical problems with the fetus or the pregnancy. However, they regard the termination of a normal, healthy pregnancy as morally wrong, particularly as irresponsible. Are such abortions wrong? Does the judgment change if the couple used birth control or not?

My Answer, In Brief: Abortion is a moral choice whenever a pregnancy – let alone raising a child – would be a sacrifice of herself, her goals, and her happiness. For many unwanted pregnancies, an early-term abortion is a far better option than adoption or becoming a parent.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Abortion, Adoption, Children, Duty, Ethics, Obligation, Parenting, Responsibility, Sacrifice, Self-Sacrifice, Sex

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on the morality of elective abortion, liability for injuries on the job, guilt over self-sacrifice, and more – is available here: Episode of 5 January 2014.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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12 December 2013

Objectivism Versus Secular Humanism: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on Objectivism versus secular humanism. The question was:

What are the similarities and differences between Objectivism and secular humanism? Objectivism and secular humanism are two secular worldviews. What are their basic points? Are they hopelessly at odds? Or do they share some or even many attributes?

My Answer, In Brief: Secular humanism is an attempt to meld secularism with altruistic and collectivist ethics, plus leftist politics. It's not a coherent philosophy – or well-grounded in facts. I urge secular humanists to honestly consider at Ayn Rand's philosophy as an alternative.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics, Secular Humanism

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on Objectivism versus secular humanism, moral judgment of European colonizers, the right time to declare love, and more – is available here: Episode of 8 December 2013.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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27 November 2013

Positive Change in Islam: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on positive change in Islam. The question was:

Can Islam change for the better? Many critics of Islam claim that the religion is inherently totalitarian, violent, and repressive – and hence, that change for the better is utterly impossible. An Islamic reformation or enlightenment will never happen, they say. Is that true? More generally, what are the limits of a religion's ties to its own scriptures?

My Answer, In Brief: As in every other religion, Muslims are not bound to the barbaric elements of Islamic texts. Islam can change – and hopefully will, for the better.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Christianity, Foreign Policy, Islam, Judaism, Philosophy, Religion

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on positive change in Islam, self-esteem and appearance, and more – is available here: Episode of 24 November 2013.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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24 October 2013

Responsibility & Luck: Now Available

By Diana Hsieh

I'm delighted to announce that my first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is now available for purchase in paperback, as well as for Kindle and Nook.

The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." It's an academic work but accessible to anyone with an interest in philosophy.

About Responsibility & Luck

Does the pervasive influence of luck in life mean that people cannot be held responsible for their choices? Do people lack the control required to justify moral praise and blame?

In his famous article "Moral Luck," philosopher Thomas Nagel casts doubt on our ordinary moral judgments of persons. He claims that we intuitively accept that moral responsibility requires control, yet we praise and blame people for their actions, the outcomes of those actions, and their characters -- even though shaped by forces beyond their control, i.e., by luck. This is the "problem of moral luck."

Philosopher Diana Hsieh argues that this attack on moral judgment rests on a faulty view of control, as well as other errors. By developing Aristotle's theory of moral responsibility, Hsieh explains the sources and limits of a person's responsibility for what he does, what he produces, and who he is. Ultimately, she shows that moral judgments are not undermined by luck.

In addition, this book explores the nature of moral agency and free will, the purpose of moral judgment, causation in tort and criminal law, the process of character development, and more.
For more information, including two sample chapters and the detailed table of contents, visit the book's web page.

Again, you can purchase Responsibility & Luck in paperback, as well as for Kindle and Nook.

Paperback Kindle Nook
Like every author, I depend on good reviews of the book on Amazon, social media, and elsewhere. So once you've read Responsibility & Luck, please review it!

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18 September 2013

Atheists Patronizing Religious Businesses: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on atheists patronizing religious businesses. The question was:

Is it wrong for an atheist to patronize religious businesses? Is it an endorsement of religion or failure of integrity for an atheist to buy goods or services from a religious business, such as hiring an explicitly religious (and advertised as such) plumber or joining the local YMCA?

My Answer, In Brief: Most people are religious, and they're good trading partners. However, when a person injects his religion into his business, that's increasing the likelihood of unwanted proselytizing, as well as seeming to endorse his religiosity. In that case, find another person to do business with, if possible.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Atheism, Boundaries, Business, Integrity, Justice, Religion, Respect, Sanction
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on identifying a central purpose, Immanuel Kant on sex, becoming an educated voter, atheists patronizing religious businesses, and more – is available here: Episode of 15 September 2013.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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16 September 2013

Becoming an Educated Voter: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on becoming an educated voter that might be of interest. The question was:

How should I educate myself so that I can cast informed votes in elections? I'm 25, and I've never voted in any local, state, or national election. I have good reason for that, I think: I've never been able to educate myself sufficiently on the candidates to be certain of who to vote for. Also, as a marketing student with a passion for advertising and public relations, I don't think I could vote until I'd seen the inside of a campaign team as a member of it, so that I have a personal understanding of how much the candidate presented is real or idealized. I know that that is unrealistic, because I wouldn't know which candidate to work for. Instead of that, what steps could I take to inform myself, without consuming too much time, so that I could vote in the next presidential election?

My Answer, In Brief: A person ought to educate himself before voting, and that's relatively easy to do with a bit of research into the candidate's positions and record.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Elections, Politics, Voting

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on identifying a central purpose, Immanuel Kant on sex, becoming an educated voter, atheists patronizing religious businesses, and more – is available here: Episode of 15 September 2013.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

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