Jun 102013

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on Objectivism versus libertarianism, bad ideas as a cause of mental illness, doctors refusing to perform abortions, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 9 June 2013

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Podcast Segments: 9 June 2013

You can download or listen to my answers to individual questions from this episode below.


My News of the Week: I had a great time visiting my sister earlier this week! I resumed the tedious work of editing the galley proofs of my soon-forthcoming book, Responsibility and Luck (a.k.a. my dissertation). Last night, I gave my talk on “Moral Amplifiers” to the Great Lakes Objectivists. We did it remotely via Skype, and that worked remarkably well!

Question 1: Objectivism Versus Libertarianism

Question: Are Objectivism and libertarianism allies in the struggle for liberty? Libertarians have long claimed that Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism (or just its politics) is a form of libertarianism, but Objectivists rejected that. More recently, however, notable Objectivist John Allison assumed the presidency of the thoroughly libertarian Cato Institute with the support of the Ayn Rand Institute, and he claimed that “all objectivists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are objectivists.” Is that true? What is the essence of libertarianism? When, if ever, should Objectivists ally or collaborate with libertarians?

My Answer, In Brief: Objectivists are not libertarians: the libertarian movement is premised on philosophical relativism and merely wanting “smaller government.” Objectivists should work with libertarians just as they do with liberals and conservatives – meaning, on an ad hoc basis.

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

Question 2: Bad Ideas as a Cause of Mental Illness

Question: 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 fully embracing a fantasy-based ideology entail or encourage mental illness, such as paranoia and delusions? If so, are such people then not responsible for what they say or do?

My Answer, In Brief: A person can damage his mind severely by consistent practice of evasion and irrationality, and religion and other fantasy-based ideologies can help a person do that.

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

Question 3: Doctors Refusing to Perform Abortions

Question: Does a doctor violate a woman’s rights by refusing to perform an abortion? Many people on the left claim that a doctor who refuses to perform an abortion – or a pharmacist who refuses to dispense Plan B – is thereby violating the rights of the woman. Those doctors and pharmacists, however, claim that they’re exercising their own freedom of religion. Who is right?

My Answer, In Brief: A doctor does not violate a woman’s right to abortion by refusing to perform an abortion, and a doctor’s freedom of religion does not entitle him to renege on the terms of his employment.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Do you believe “inductive” and “inductively” have become generic positive modifiers (i.e., used merely to lend positive connotation without specific denotation) in Objectivist circles, when used outside the context of speaking of the process of induction proper – for example, when used in a statement such as: “X organization engages in inductive advocacy”?
  • Would you support the admission of Puerto Rico to the U.S. as a state given the results of the last year controversial referendum (54% against current status, 61% of valid votes for statehood)?

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  • Start Time: 1:01:42
  • Duration: 5:38
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.


Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!

  • Start Time: 1:07:21

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Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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