On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I will answer questions on the importance of credibility, third party payments in medicine, insulting with racial epithets, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 11 January 2015, in our live studio. If you can’t listen live, you’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page.

This week’s questions are:

  • Question 1: The Importance of Credibility: Should a person’s credibility matter in judging his empirical claims? Is it rational to use a person’s track record – meaning the frequency or consistency of truth in his past statements – in judging the likely truth of his current statements? In “Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics,” Tara Smith explains that to believe something just because someone said it is a violation of the virtue of independence. Also, to judge an argument by the speaker is known as the fallacy of “ad hominem.” However, doesn’t the character of the speaker matter when considering whether to believe his claims? For example, when Thomas Sowell makes an empirical claim, my knowledge that he vigorously tests his hypotheses against the facts makes me more likely to judge his claim as true, even before I’ve confirmed his statement. Likewise, if a person is frequently wrong in his factual claims, I’d be sure to require lots of evidence before believing him. Is that rational? Or should all factual claims be treated equally regardless of who makes them?
  • Question 2: Third Party Payments in Medicine: What should be done about third party payments in medicine? I was fascinated by your statement in your November 7th, 2012 discussion of the election that the real need in medicine was to do away with third party payments. It’s quite a radical proposal, one of the most radical I’ve heard from you. How would you think such a think might be implemented through ethically proper means – as opposed to measures such as legally prohibiting third party payments? Are there types of medical care – perhaps catastrophe illness or injury – where third party payment would need to be kept in place, or where people in a free economy would likely still choose to keep them in place?
  • Question 3: Insulting with Racial Epithets: Is it wrong to use racist epithets to insult the truly evil? A now-former Facebook friend used a racist epithet in reference to Islamic terrorists. I asked him if he understood that it was a racist term and he said he did and said that he used it on purpose to insult those evil-doers because they are so evilly evil that they deserve not even a little respect. I told him he was wrong because race is not the same as ideology and that I can’t find any justification for racism, so I un-friended him. I agree that Islamic terrorists are evil, but is it morally okay to be a racist toward evil people?

After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.

The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Credibility, Third Party Payments, Racial Insults, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics!

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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