Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
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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

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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.

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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

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