On Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on the social effects of inequality, favoritism for the genetically engineered, the value of the Ten Commandments, property owners prohibiting firearms, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 20 October 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 Social Effects of Inequality: Is an egalitarian society a better society? The 2009 book “The Spirit Level” argues that income inequality has a broad range of negative effects on society. According to the summary on Wikipedia, “It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal rich countries.”Are these egalitarian arguments wrong? If so, what’s the best approach to refuting them?
- Question 2: Favoritism for the Genetically Engineered: Once some children are genetically engineered, wouldn’t discrimination against natural children be inevitable? Assume that humanity has advanced to the technological capacities of the movie “Gattaca,” where the best possible genes for each child could be (and mostly would be) chosen before implantation of the embryo. In that case, how could society prevent discrimination against people who were conceived naturally? Those chosen genes would include genes for determination, the desire to learn, motivation, and more, such that engineered people would always win out based on merit. The movie “Gattaca” shows a natural child rising above his engineered counterparts because of his great determination and spirit. The movie’s tagline is even “there is no gene for the human spirit.” But if there is such a thing as a human spirit, then there surely must be a gene for it. So would discrimination against natural children be inevitable? If so, would it be unjust?
- Question 3: The Value of the Ten Commandments: Are the Ten Commandments of value to an atheist? Are the Ten Commandments a useful guide to living a good life, even for people who are not Jewish or Christian? Should a rational person look to religious scriptures for ethical guidance?
- Question 4: Property Owners Prohibiting Firearms: Should a person respect signs prohibiting guns in certain areas? Some businesses and government offices announce that firearms are prohibited in the building, yet no screening is conducted to ensure that firearms are excluded. In such “pretend gun-free zones,” law-abiding people will disarm, while criminals and other dangerous or careless people will not. Is this a violation of a person’s right to self-defense? Should people refuse disarm in face of such signs?
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: Inequality, Genetic Engineering, Ten Commandments, 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:
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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 Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.