Jan 292014

On Tuesday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on thinking of virtues as duties, overcoming paralyzing indecision, sharia finance, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 28 January 2014

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Podcast Segments: 28 January 2014

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


My News of the Week: I enjoyed a great time skiing with friends in bad conditions in Tahoe last week, and now I’m frantically making last-minute preparations for Aiken. Remember, the live broadcasts will be on Thursday evenings for the whole of February.

Question 1: Thinking of Virtues as Duties

Question: What’s wrong with thinking about the virtues as duties? My parents taught me ethics in terms of “duties.” So being honest and just was a duty, along with “sharing” and “selflessness.” They were simply “the right way to be,” period. Now, I tend to think of the Objectivist virtues – rationality, productiveness, honesty, justice, independence, integrity, and pride – as duties. I have a duty to myself to act in these ways. Is that right or is that a mistake?

My Answer, In Brief: A person who thinks of virtue as duties – as obligations, come what may, disconnected from his life and values – invites serious emotional and cognitive problems.

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

Question 2: Overcoming Paralyzing Indecision

Question: How can I overcome my paralyzing indecision? I am caught amid some difficult circumstances at present. To make matters worse, I suffer from almost paralyzing indecision about major life decisions, especially with respect to my career. As a result of my failure to act decisively, I have stagnated painfully for years, missing many opportunities. How can I break out of this horrible pattern?

My Answer, In Brief: Paralyzing indecision is a serious problem. You can do various things to help yourself overcome that – such as setting deadlines, practicing being decisive, and considering the consequences of failing to make decisions. But if your problem is interfering with your life, you should see a therapist.

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

Question 3: Sharia Finance

Question: Should financial companies be permitted to offer financial products consistent with sharia law? Sharia Finance – meaning, investments that specifically conform with Islamic law – are growing in popularity and have been adopted by major financial companies like Citi. Should these private businesses be legally permitted to offer whatever their clients want to buy? Or should these investments be banned due to their connection with funding terror, oppressing women, and violating rights in other ways? Morally, should companies offer these investments? Should people protest or boycott companies offering them?

My Answer, In Brief: Sharia finance is economically backwards, but not a violation of rights. Companies should be allowed to offer it – and it’s moral for them to do so or refuse, as they see fit.

Listen or Download:

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • What bedtime stories would you recommend for children?
  • What explains the early Church Fathers’ denunciations of human sexuality? Is it altruism, misogyny, or something else?
  • After recently experiencing a loss, I feel as though grief is the most selfish of all emotions. Is this true? Are some emotions more selfish than others?
  • Is it moral to avoid marriage simply to gain financial aid while in college?
  • Would you recommend Stephen Molyneux’s videos?
  • If morality is not primarily social, and flourishing can be achieved on one’s own, could a flourishing person be morally condemned if they are also a hermit?
  • Would it be wrong for a person to murder a serial killer who framed him for his own murders, and thereby ruined his life completely?
  • What are the ground rules for getting intimate with pets around? How close can they be before it’s creepy?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 47:01
  • Duration: 14:37
  • 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: 1:01:38

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.

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