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03 April 2015

Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?

By Diana Hsieh

Off-topic but perhaps of interest...

Back in March 2012, I gave a lecture titled "Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?" as part of the CU Boulder Philosophy Department's "Think!" series. In the lecture, I explored Ayn Rand's concept of moral perfection, arguing that it's necessary for a happy, fulfilled, and moral life.

Yesterday, I posted the podcast of that lecture... finally! It's "premium content" for Philosophy in Action, so it's available for $10. (If you're a regular contributor to Philosophy in Action's Tip Jar, it's free to you, so just email me for free access.) Anyone can preview the first 14 minutes of the lecture here before buying: http://www.philosophyinaction.com/perfection

Here's the abstract of the lecture:

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.

The lecture is a friendly introduction to some of the principles of Ayn Rand's egoistic ethics for people unfamiliar with that, and it's got plenty of fresh red meat for long-time Objectivists too.

Again, you can preview and purchase the podcast of that lecture here: Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?

Read more...

20 January 2015

The Right to Die: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on the right to die. The question was:

Should a person who does not wish to live be forcibly prevented from committing suicide? John doesn't like living. He finds no joy in life, and only lives because it would upset other people if he ended his life. He has tried counseling and medication, but he simply has no desire to continue to live. He makes no real contribution to society, nor does he wish to be a part of society. If John wants to die, he can, but the state will attempt to stop him at every turn, even to the point of incarceration. Is there a point when the law (and other people) should simply respect his wishes and allow him to end his life – or perhaps even assist him in doing so?

My Answer, In Brief: A person's right to his own life includes the right to commit suicide. The law's sole job is to ensure that a person's choice to die reflects his considered judgment, freely made, as well as to differentiate between helpers and murderers.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Assisted Suicide, Crime, Death, Government, Law, Rights, Suicide

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 right to die, marriage without love, creating art, and more – is available here: Episode of 18 January 2015.

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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06 January 2015

Participating in Superstitious Rituals: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on participating in superstitious rituals. The question was:

Is it wrong to participate in superstitious rituals without taking them seriously? If I make some perfunctory observance or participation in some superstitious ritual, and do not believe the superstitious ritual is of any literal importance, am I still promoting irrationality? If I regularly read the horoscope in the newspaper, but do not believe astrology has any real impact on my life, does reading the horoscope promote irrationality? Likewise, in Hawaii, almost all retail establishments possess what are called "good-luck cats." A good-luck cat is a relatively inexpensive Asian figurine depicting a cat with one paw raised. Having this figurine is supposed to bring good luck to your business. You can commonly see such good-luck cat figurines in doctor's offices in Honolulu, and for your retail establishment not to have such a figurine would easily strike people as strange. If I spent just a little money on such a good-luck cat to decorate my business, and I didn't literally believe the figurine itself affected my fortunes, would the purchase be a concession to irrational thinking? Would such a gesture be "social proof" that would help other people rationalize more obviously pathological forms of irrationality, such as wasting hundreds of dollars on fortune tellers and psychic hotlines?

My Answer, In Brief: Belief in horoscopes, superstitions, and the like is irrational and destructive. If you're tempted by that kind of thinking, perform some scientific experiments. If you live in a community where it's taken seriously, don't encourage it by seeming to endorse it.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Business, Communication, Ethics, Holidays, Humor, Rationality, Religion, Sanction, Science, Superstition

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

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on participating in superstitious rituals, punishing yourself, and more – is available here: Episode of 4 January 2015.

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.

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

Read more...

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