Preview: Sunday Radio: Marginal Humans, Wanting Sex, Polite Homophobes, and More
On Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on the “marginal humans” argument, sex when not in the mood, responding to polite homophobes, romanticizing historical figures in art, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 21 July 2013, in our live studio. If you miss that live broadcast, you can always listen to the podcast later.
This week’s questions are:
- Question 1: The “Marginal Humans” Argument: What’s wrong with the “marginal humans” argument against uniquely human rights? Ayn Rand, following Aristotle, defined man as the rational animal – meaning that man’s essential quality is that he possesses the faculty of reason, while other animals do not. Such is the basis for rights, in her view. Opponents of animal rights often appeal to this gap between humans and other animals to justify raising animals to be killed and eaten. They claim that animals can’t have rights because they’re not rational. Advocates of animal rights, however, often attempt to refute this claim via the “marginal humans” argument. They observe that human infants lack the faculty of reason, and hence, we should not use rationality as the moral criterion for rights. What is wrong with this argument? Do opponents of animal rights conflate potential with actual rationality, in that the infant seems potentially but not actually capable of reason?
- Question 2: Sex When Not in the Mood: Is it wrong to have sex when you’re not in the mood? Assume that you’re in a long-term romantic relationship with another person. You will not always going to feel the desire to have sex. If your lover wants sex, is it wrong to do so? Might you have sex anyway, perhaps because you want to do something nice for your lover – perhaps in the hope that your lover might do the same for you later? Many people seem uncomfortable with sex under those circumstances, i.e. absent a strong physical desire. Some claim that if you’re truly in love, then your physical desires will fall into line. Hence, if you don’t want to have sex, you might not really be in love – or you might have other philosophical or psychological problems. Others think that having sex even if not in the mood isn’t right: it’s degrading and might lead to resentment. Which of these views is right?
- Question 3: Responding to Polite Homophobes: How should I respond to people who think that homosexuality is an immoral or neurotic choice? I’m straight, but I have many gay friends. From years of experience, I know that they’re virtuous and rational people. Moreover, their romantic relationships are not fundamentally different from mine. Also, I’m a strong believer in gay rights, including gay marriage. So what should I do when confronted with seemingly decent people who think that homosexuality is an immoral choice, based in neurosis, or otherwise unhealthy? These people often present their ideas in polite and seemingly respectable ways; they’re not just flaming bigots. Yet still I find them appalling, particularly when used to justify denying rights to gays. Should I be more tolerant of such views? How should I express my disagreement?
- Question 4: Romanticizing Historical Figures in Art: Are there moral limits to romanticizing historical figures in art? For example, a writer might romanticize Robin Hood as the Ragnar Danneskjöld of the Middle Ages. If this is proper, is there an ethical limit as to what kinds of persons one may or may not romanticize, or as to how far one may stretch the historic truth? For example, does it matter if there are still contemporaries of that historic person alive who suffered unjustly because of them? Would it be wrong to ignore the unpleasant facts in order to present a fictionalized heroic character?
After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”
To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.
If you miss the live broadcast, you’ll find the podcast from the episode posted in the archive: Radio Archive: Q&A: Marginal Humans, Wanting Sex, Polite Homophobes, and More. It will be posted on Monday morning, if not sooner. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:
- Enhanced M4A Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player
- Standard MP3 Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player
I hope you join us on Sunday morning… and please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics!
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.