On Sunday, Greg Perkins and I hosted another live Rationally Selfish Webcast where I answered people’s questions on practical ethics and the principles of living well.
The live webcasts are held every Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. They consist of me broadcasting on video, Greg on audio, and the audience in a text chat. They’re quite a bit of fun, so please join us when your schedule permits!
As usual, an audio recording of Sunday’s live webcast is now available as a NoodleCast podcast. To get these podcasts automatically, you can subscribe to the feed in iTunes — just choose either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format. They’re the same content, but the M4A format breaks each question into its own “chapter.”
Whether you watch the live webcast or listen to the recorded podcast, you can submit and vote on questions on the widget on the page for the Rationally Selfish Webcast — or via Idea Informer. Questions and votes are much appreciated!
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These segments are marked as chapters in the M4A version of this podcast. Any included links are those referenced in the podcast. (Many thanks to Tammy Perkins for helping me compile these notes!)
Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for upcoming webcasts!
Question 1: Unequal Incomes in Marriage (5:35)
Is it moral to have a sugarmomma or sugardaddy? My fiancee and I both have demanding careers, but she earns several times more than I. How should a married couple with very different incomes share income and/or expenses? If we agree to split household expenses evenly, my lower income is a significant constraint on her enjoyment, e.g., she can’t buy an expensive house because I can’t afford half of it. On the other hand, if we split expenses unevenly or if we treat all income as pooled, it seems that I’m benefiting lavishly from things I didn’t produce. Is it moral for me to enjoy an expensive hobby which I couldn’t have afforded on my own? I’d love to hear more about how you and Paul manage income and expenses, and especially what ethical principles apply.
Money Point: Money shared by two productive people in marriage is not unearned, but part of integration of two lives into single whole. Whatever their incomes and expenses, spouses need openly settle on ways to fairly structure their finances.
Question 2: Men and Women as Friends (23:46)
Can men and women be “just friends”? (This is a follow-up to the discussion on infidelity from January 23rd.) Where is the line crossed from friendship to something more intimate that would be a threat to a committed relationship? Is it fair for me to expect a romantic partner to keep his female friends at a distance?
Money Point: Yes, men and women can be just friends. However, a person must adopt certain policies of thought and action to prevent some friendships from developing an undercurrent of sexual interest.
Question 3: Unpaid-For College Classes (31:13)
Is it wrong to cheat a partly government funded institution? There are a couple of classes I would enjoy sitting in on at my university. They are large, and I would not be noticed. Would it be wrong to go without paying for them? I wouldn’t do this with a private college, nor would I have qualms about a completely government funded school. But colleges are partly privately paid for. Would it be immoral for me to get some of that value without paying?
Summary: Regardless of whether the university is government-funded or not, a person should not sneak around but rather openly ask to join (or audit) classes.
Question 4: Stealing from a Thief (38:12)
Would it be wrong to steal from a thief? If an individual were placed in a position where they could steal from a con-man or a common burglar, and they did, would their decision to steal from a thief be moral or immoral and why?
Money Point: To steal from a thief is to reject the value of objective law, not to mention court a world of trouble.
Question 5: The Value of a PhD (45:27)
How are causality and free will compatible? If my mind is an effect of my brain, and my brain is a complex physical system which operates in a deterministic way, doesn’t that mean that my thoughts and actions are ultimately determined, too? What is wrong with the popular notions of causality and free will that make them appear incompatible?
- Nathaniel Branden’s articles on free will, causality, and determinism in The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist
- Dr. Harry Binswanger’s paper Volition as Cognitive Self-Regulation
- Diana Hsieh’s 2003 paper Analytics on the Mind
- John Searle’s Rediscovery of the Mind
Money Point: Objectivism rejects the clearly deterministic premises underlying this question. If understood properly, causality and free will need not conflict.
Question 6: OA: Discrimination and Rights (55:33)
From Objectivist Answers: Is it wrong to be proud of or obtain your pride from your culture, family and ancestors? Is it correct to have pride in one’s culture, family and ancestors? For example in Samoan society a Pe’a is a traditional male Samoan tattoo. According to my friend the pe’a tells him that the wearer has pride in their culture, their family and their ancestors. It is not just a physical marking but an indicator of his/her soul according to him.
Money Point: Pride, whether as virtue or feeling, must be selective and based on your own choices and achievements. To speak of “pride in one’s culture” is to distort the term beyond all sensible meaning.
The video for the webcast is only available for those attending live. After the webcast is completed, you can listen, download, or subscribe to the audio podcast.
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