New Questions in the Queue

 Posted by on 8 May 2013 at 8:00 am  Question Queue
May 082013

As you know, on Sunday morning’s Philosophy in Action Radio, I answer four questions chosen in advance from the Question Queue. Here are the most recent additions to that queue. Please vote for the ones that you’re most interested in hearing me answer! You can also review and vote on all pending questions sorted by date or sorted by popularity.

Also, I’m perfectly willing to be bribed to answer a question of particular interest to you pronto. So if you’re a regular contributor to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar, I can answer your desired question as soon as possible. The question must already be in the queue, so if you’ve not done so already, please submit it. Then just e-mail me at [email protected] to make your request.

Now, without further ado, the most recent questions added to The Queue:

How should a young adult manage persistent differences with his family?

As I grew up, I turned out radically different than my family expected. They think college is necessary for success in life. I didn’t, and I dropped out. They eat the Standard American Diet and hate fat. I eat Paleo, and I glorify fat. And so on. Basically, we diverge on many points. I’ve never committed the mistake of attempting to preach to my family in order to persuade them, but many of them grew unduly concerned with these differences between us. They would argue with me on the subject for months, if not years, no matter what good results I had to show them. Assuming that the relationship is otherwise worth maintaining, how should an older child or young adult handle such contentious differences with his family? How can he best communicate his point of view to them — for example, on the question of college, after they’ve saved for two decades for his college education?

What is the proper relationship between ownership and control over property?

Today, politicians seem to want to reduce a person’s control over his property, such that it’s ever-closer to ownership in name only – such as by limiting the capacity of landowners to develop property. Also, selling plots of land on Mars would seem to be silly, given that no one controls that land. So what is the proper connection between a person’s ownership over his property and his control over that property? How does that principle affect proper principles for dealing with temporarily or permanently abandoned property?

Should individuals try to avoid online surveillance by the government?

In a recent comment thread on NoodleFood, there was a debate over the extent to which a person’s use of Internet tools such as cloud storage, password managers, wifi, smartphones, etc. exposes him to surveillance by the federal government. It seems to me that any serious effort to avoid using these tools would require forgoing many of the conveniences that make the Internet such a value – and there is still no guarantee that such avoidance would stop the government from spying on you. Since our government does have many improper powers, but it is nowhere close to being a dictatorship, is there any value in curtailing one’s everyday Internet activities to avoid surveillance?

Should DDoS attacks be illegal?

Should distributed denial of service computer attacks be illegal, like they are in the United Kingdom? Are they analogous to convincing people to send many letters to an organization or to calling on the phone repeatedly, thereby crippling its infrastructure? Or are they more like trespassing on property?

Should marital infidelity be illegal?

Many states, including Colorado, have laws against marital infidelity on the books. These laws are rarely if ever enforced. Politicians often attempt to repeal them, but those attempts are often unsuccessful. Many people think that the government ought to “take a moral stand” even if the law isn’t enforced. Does that view have any merit? Should these laws be repealed? Why or why not?

Do unfit parents have a right to procreate?

Courts today seem to hold the view that people have a right to procreate. As a result, wholly unfit parents can produce child after child. Even if the court removes the latest child from the home when very young, some abuse or neglect must have already occurred. In fact, the child might have health problems at birth due to drug abuse, alcohol consumption, or lack of proper medical care by the mother during pregnancy. Does the current system respect the rights of unfit parents at the expense of their kids? Instead, should unfit parents be required to adopt out any new children they bear? Should serial abusers be forced to take birth control or even sterilized?

Can the consistent practice of wrong ideas lead to mental illness?

Often, the most consistent practitioners of an ideology – such as Naziism or Islam – seem to become increasingly unhinged over time. Does being fully consistent in a completely fantasy-based ideology require a person to become loony? Are such people then not responsible for what they say or do?

Is a moral career in law enforcement possible today?

Today, anyone involved in law enforcement would likely be required to enforce immoral laws, such as those against drug use, prostitution, and failure to pay taxes. Given that, can a career in law enforcement be moral?

When should a person declare his love for another?

What is an appropriate amount of time to wait before saying “I love you” in a new relationship? New relationships often start out strong, but then the feelings of eros dissipate after a few months. When you meet someone who you share the same values and ideals (and you are super-attracted to him or her) when should you say those three little words?

When should exceptions to established rules be granted?

People often oppose some proposed exception to the rules on the grounds that doing so would set a dangerous precedent and engender abuse. For example, suppose that an honest and diligent student is in the hospital, and he wants to keep up with his school work as much as possible. His parents propose that he take his math exam from the hospital, and they’ll monitor him during the exam. The school refuses on the grounds that if all students were allowed to do that, then cheating would be rampant because not all parents would be honest or diligent monitors. Is that a valid reason for refusing this proposed exception to the rules? When should exceptions be granted to established rules?

Is it wrong to invest in crony businesses?

Crony companies – similar to Orren Boyle’s Associated Steel in “Atlas Shrugged” – seek government favors, such as subsidies for themselves and controls on competitors. Yet their stock may perform well in the short to medium term. Is it immoral to invest in such companies?

How should I respond to friends who fanatically hate President Obama?

As a free-market advocate, I’m distressed about President Obama’s policies. However, I’m increasingly worried about some of my friends in the free-market movement exhibiting an alarming level of hatred for President Obama. I have seen my friends latch on to every “juicy”-sounding accusation against the President, which they spread all over Facebook, such as spurious claims that the administration violently threatened Bob Woodward, or that the President conspires to grant himself a third term. I think a reasonable discourse on Obama’s faults is necessary, but the conspiracy theories and outright hatred cloud people’s judgments. I want to ask my pro-free-market, Obama-hating friends that they not bring up their dubious accusations in conversation, but I don’t know how to do that without offending them. Is there a solution to this dilemma?

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?

To submit a question, use this form. I prefer questions focused on some concrete real-life problem, as opposed to merely theoretical or political questions. I review and edit all questions before they’re posted. (Alas, IdeaInformer doesn’t display any kind of confirmation page when you submit a question.)

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