On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the morality of elective abortion, liability for injuries on the job, guilt over self-sacrifice, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 5 January 2014

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Podcast Segments: 5 January 2014

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


My News of the Week: I’m on my way to visit Paul’s family, and I’ve started eating Whole30 for January!

Question 1: The Morality of Elective Abortion

Question: Is elective abortion morally wrong? Some people support abortion in the cases of rape or incest, as well as in cases of serious medical problems with the fetus or the pregnancy. However, they regard the termination of a normal, healthy pregnancy as morally wrong, particularly as irresponsible. Are such abortions wrong? Does the judgment change if the couple used birth control or not?

My Answer, In Brief: Abortion is a moral choice for a woman whenever a pregnancy – let alone raising a child – would be a sacrifice of herself, her goals, and her happiness. For many unwanted pregnancies, an early-term abortion is a far, far better option than adoption or becoming a parent.

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

Question 2: Liability for Injuries on the Job

Question: Should employers be required to warn employees of possible harms on the job? Discovery Channel’s TV show Gold Rush depicted a South American gold miner using mercury in the mining process because mercury binds to gold and makes extraction from a “sluice.” Mercury, being heavier, falls below the surface and is collected at the bottom of a “sluice box.” The episode (titled “The Jungle”) depicts workers using their bare hands in the sluice where I’m assuming they are in direct physical contact with the toxic mercury. In a free society, should employers be allowed to expose their employees to such dangers? Should employers be obliged to warn employees of those dangers or to take precautions? Or are workers responsible for the risks of their job?

My Answer, In Brief: In a free society, people would be entitled to take whatever risks they deem fit. However, when those risks are taken on behalf of another, such as for a job, they must be disclosed, understood, and consented to.

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

Question 3: Guilt over Self-Sacrifice

Question: Should a person feel guilty for not acting selfishly enough? According to rational egoism, a person ought to act selfishly – not in the sense of hurting others, but in the sense of pursuing his own good. If a person fails to do that, should he feel guilty for failing to act morally?

My Answer, In Brief: An egoist can and should feel guilty when he harms himself – if that harm is serious and the product of a willful failure of morality, as opposed to a mere mistake.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • What place does Ayn Rand deserve in the history of philosophy? Is she one of the “big ones,” like Kant and Descartes, or is her philosophy just a minor variation on Aristotle’s?
  • How do I keep myself from just coming off as a contrarian when I disagree with something that’s more ingrained than just mainstream?

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  • Start Time: 1:00:52
  • Duration: 7:43
  • 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: 1:08:35

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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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