On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on rational suicide, deep-down atheism, responsibility for another’s medical emergencies, education in a free society, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

Whole Podcast: 1 December 2013

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.

Podcast Segments: 1 December 2013

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


My News of the Week: Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve been busy updating the sessions of Explore Atlas Shrugged, fixing the authors on NoodleFood posts with regex magic, and adding Chase QuickPay and Square options for Tip Jar. I’ll make a special announcement later today or tomorrow about special signed copies of my new book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, which will be available only in December.

Question 1: Rational Suicide

Question: When would suicide be rational? What conditions make suicide a proper choice? Are there situations other than a terminal illness or living in a dictatorship – such as the inability to achieve sufficient values to lead a happy life – that justify the act of suicide?

My Answer, In Brief: In some cases – when life has become intolerable suffering – suicide can be a rational choice. Evil and mistake is possible, however – and that’s tragic for everyone, although in different ways.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 2: Deep-Down Atheism

Question: How can I convince myself, deep-down, that God does not exist? I was raised Catholic, although I was never deeply religious. Now, many years later, a friend is showing me Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. I can see its benefits, but my religious upbringing still lingers in the back of my head. So part of me still thinks that God exists, even though I don’t really believe that any longer. It was just engrained in me from such a young age that I can’t seem to let it go. Can I change that? If so, how?

My Answer, In Brief: As with any other leftover emotional or cognitive habit, you need to resolve any lingering doubts, remind yourself of the relevant facts, and never act in ways that you know to be wrong. With time, you’ll find that your mind fully embraces your conscious convictions.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 3: Responsibility for Another’s Medical Emergencies

Question: Is it wrong to walk away from a person who suffers from repeated medical emergencies due to their own irresponsibility? Over a year ago, I was the tenant of a type-1 diabetic who refused to eat properly. As a result, I regularly had to call the ambulance for her, as she would allow her blood-sugar to drop to dangerous levels, such that she couldn’t think or move for herself. She never learned anything from these experiences. She never put emergency food within reach, for example. So a few days or weeks later, I would have to call the ambulance again. I believe that I was being forced – literally – to take care of her. I feared that I’d face manslaughter or other criminal charges if I left her alone in that state. Would it have been morally proper for me to leave her in that state without any advance warning? Should that be legally permissible?

My Answer, In Brief: Your roommate is absolutely wrong to be so irresponsible, yet while you are her roommate, you cannot simply ignore her medical emergencies. You might have a “duty to rescue” in criminal and/or tort law, and you do have a moral obligation to render basic assistance. You should do the minimum required – and find a new place to live, pronto!

Listen or Download:


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

Question 4: Education in a Free Society

Question: What would a rational educational system look like in a free society? Everyone knows that government education is flawed in many ways. Many private schools aren’t terribly different from public schools in their basic format and teachings. How might a school based on rational principles function? What would it teach – and by what style? Apart from questions of funding, how would it differ from current government schools?

My Answer, In Brief: Free-market education would result in far more options in format, curriculum, teaching methods, and price for education, far more concern for offering value to parents and students, and hopefully, more respect for the individuality of children.

Listen or Download:


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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Do you think it’s very backward that the Religious Right admires it when someone suffering who wants to die but instead struggles to live, whereas people who are happy and healthy are expected to sacrifice?
  • Is it wrong to give copies of Ayn Rand’s novels as gifts to my nephews and nieces, when their parents haven’t read her books and would likely object to her anti-religious views?
  • If you were in the Matrix, would you have taken the blue pill or the red pill?
  • Are there any ethical problems with the Hippocratic Oath? Did Paul have any worries taking it?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 1:04:27
  • Duration: 6:40
  • 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: 1:11:07

About Philosophy in Action Radio

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.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha