Podcast #270: Moral Saints, Inventing Stories, and More

 Posted by on 14 February 2014 at 10:00 am  Podcasts
Feb 142014

On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on moral saints, inventing stories about yourself, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 13 February 2014

Listen or Download:

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Podcast Segments: 13 February 2014

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


My News of the Week: We’ve been enduring a major ice storm and its aftermath in Aiken, South Carolina. We lost power on Wednesday morning, and so we have no water, no heat, and no electric. We’re camping out, relying on the generator periodically to heat the apartment and charge our devices. We’ve not ridden for three days, but our lessons resume tomorrow. Also, regular pricing ends for SnowCon 2014 on February 16th. Be sure to check out the six lectures just announced!

Question 1: Moral Saints

Question: Should a person want to be a “moral saint”? In her classic article “Moral Saints,” Susan Wolf argues that a person should not wish to be morally perfect, i.e. a moral saint. What is her basic argument? What’s right or wrong about it? Does it apply to rational egoism?

My Answer, In Brief: In Susan Wolf’s fascinating article “Moral Saints,” a moral saint is a model of perfect altruism. Wolf persuasively argues that the lives of such people are “too good for their own good” – and ultimately, literally selfless.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 2: Inventing Stories about Yourself

Question: Is it wrong to invent stories about yourself to tell to strangers? In the past, I’ve made up stories about myself (basically assuming a character) and told them to strangers on the bus or in an airport. When I mentioned this to my spouse, I hadn’t really thought of this as lying until I saw his horrified reaction. Do you think this is wrong? If so, why? Would it be acceptable in some contexts, such as for an acting class?

My Answer, In Brief: To entertain yourself by lying to strangers about yourself is not moral: you’re treating another person with contempt without any just cause. Moreover, you risk incurring the justified wrath and distrust of those people, as well as others.

Listen or Download:

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Do you know ways to measure and improve your “focus”?
  • Are tears of happiness really a sign of the malevolent universe premise? It seems to me that tears are just a way of releasing strong emotion, whether positive or negative.
  • What is the difference between truth and fact?
  • Who are your biggest heroes?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 43:56
  • Duration: 20:54
  • 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: 1:04:50

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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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