On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on anarchism’s case against government, the value of sportsmanship, sleeping around, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 9 November 2014

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Podcast Segments: 9 November 2014

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


My News of the Week: The “personhood” measures lost in North Dakota and Colorado!

Question 1: Anarchism’s Case Against Government

Question: Does the government monopoly on the use of force violate rights? Anarchist libertarians have long argued that a rights-respecting government is a contradiction in terms. A government, by its very nature, must have a monopoly on the use of force. That must be a coercive monopoly, since the government will not permit competition in the form of any competing defense agencies advocated by anarchists. Hence, government will always violate rights. What is wrong – if anything – with this argument? I’ve never gotten a good answer, despite often inquiring about it. Moreover, what assurances do we have that this government monopoly will not behave like other monopolies, such that it gets out of control, increases costs, and eventually fails?

My Answer, In Brief: The anarchist argument that government violates rights by outlawing competing defense agencies is deeply rationalistic, imagines an unrealistic market in force, and ignores the threat to rights posed by competing defense agencies.

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

Question 2: The Value of Sportsmanship

Question: What is the meaning and value of sportsmanship? Kids are often taught – or not taught – to be “good sports.” What does that mean? What’s the value in that? More broadly, what’s a healthy versus unhealthy attitude toward competition in life – not just in sports, but also work, hobbies, friendship, and so on?

My Answer, In Brief: The root of good sportsmanship is a growth mindset. That’s what parents and coaches should encourage above all else.

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

Question 3: Sleeping Around

Question: Why would anyone even want to sleep around? Ayn Rand used Francisco D’Anconia to describe her view of sexuality in Atlas Shrugged, but while her explanation was easy enough to understand, there were some things she left out. Namely: why would someone, anyone, sleep around? I’ve met, and read articles by, women who describe their experiences in the “hookup” culture, and across the board they agree that most of the men they slept with were poor lovers who cared little for them once the act was finished. I know men like this in real life who seem surprised at how unfulfilling their sex lives (admittedly much more active than mine) really are. So I have to ask: why would someone choose to have sex with someone when they know, or at least have good reason to believe, that the person has no actual interest in them personally?

My Answer, In Brief: Casual sex might not be the best sex out there, but it can be of value, and it can be moral.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Was Oskar Schindler an altruist?
  • Could you give a brief overview of Stoicism and its good versus bad points?

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  • Start Time: 57:09
  • Duration: 8:37
  • 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: 1:05:47

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  • http://becomingyourhero.blogspot.com Peter

    Woo! I can finally go hook up for the fun of it.

  • Tom Burroughes

    Interesting discussion on anarchism. When talking about international affairs, an anarcho-capitalist might claim – and I know they have (take Walter Block) that if national governments resemble competing private agencies in how they deal with one another, then does that mean the proper outcome, on the objectivist objection, is world government? I think the right answer to this is that in an ideal world, yes, there would be some overall structure, but a great deal of devolution of powers to local levels, along the lines of the US Republic as originally conceived, or perhaps along the lines of the Swiss government and its Cantons.

    This kind of happens anyway today. The more civilised nations enter into binding treaties, have reciprocal recognition of certain rules, etc. So get regional “governments” (the European Union, etc).

    In an anarchist world, this evolution into more monopolistic systems might eventually happen and it has. Another outcome that I think was once pointed out by the late Robert Nozick is that anarcho-capitalist agencies will tend, over time, to become monopolies – ie, states. This will happen if one agency becomes the dominant one and if smaller, less effective agencies lose market share, as they will if people feel they need to join the “big agency” to get justice, etc.

    It is also good to point out that anarcho-capitalism has a real problem with justice if one is faced by fanatics, such as religious fundamentalists. And what happens if an anarchist system has enclaves of oppression from which people cannot escape?

    Finally, it is true there are private providers of legal advice and arbitration (this is a huge and underappreciated legal sector) but ultimately, a private arbitrator relies on a system of law that is enforced by a monopoly – a state.


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