On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on moral obligations of children to parents, the boundaries of proper self-defense, real life evil, reasons to donate blood, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

Whole Podcast: 3 July 2011

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.

Podcast Segments: 3 July 2011

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


My News of the Week: I’ve been working on programming for this webcast, as well as my updates to Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Question 1: Moral Obligations of Children to Parents

Question: Do kids have moral obligations to their parents? If so, what obligations and why?

My Answer, In Brief: Morality is self-motivating: a person should act virtuously in order to live and be happy. Hence, there are no unchosen, unconditional moral obligations (i.e. duties) to other people. Instead, moral obligations to others arise from our own choices, particularly from promises and agreements that we make with others – and that applies to children as well as adults.

Listen or Download:

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

Question 2: The Boundaries of Proper Self-Defense

Question: Is it moral to not defend yourself if you will get into legal trouble for doing so? As I understand laws on self-defense, you must be “in immediate danger of death or grievously bodily harm” in order to use lethal force. How is this reconciled with the morality of “shooting before he shoots you” or “hitting before you get hit”? In other words, preemptive attack may be seen as assault, but there might also be a threat of force. Is it moral to not defend yourself to avoid assault charges? In the case of using a gun to defend yourself, this could mean the difference between you dying at the hands of your attacker or living, but going to jail for murder. What should you do?

My Answer, In Brief: It is morally and legally proper to defend yourself, under certain conditions. As Boston T. Party explains, “Lethal force is valid only against a reasonably perceived immanent and grievous threat. The jury must agree that your assailant had the capability, opportunity, and obvious intent to immanently cause you at least grievous bodily harm.”

Listen or Download:


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

Question 3: Real Life Evil

Question: Are people in real life as evil as in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged? In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand presents almost every bad person as very evil. I understand the purpose of that in the novel, but are their equivalents in real life (meaning the legislators passing similar laws nowadays) as evil as that – or are some of them just misguided or even stupid? In other words, do real-life people act on the death premise and hate the good for being the good? I just can’t imagine that. Am I being too optimistic?

My Answer, In Brief: Evil is real — and not on sidelines today. But you can fight it and protect yourself from it.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 4: Reasons to Donate Blood

Question: What are the personal benefits of being a blood donor (or organ donor)? Is it worth doing under today’s laws, where donors cannot get paid? Should people be able to trade blood and organs in a free market?

My Answer, In Brief: The primary reason to donate blood and organs is the value of other people to you and a desire for a well-stocked supply in case you or your loved ones are ever in need.

Listen or Download:


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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • If there was free trade in organs, do you think medical science have even more of an incentive to be creating artificial organs?
  • What if your blood donation goes to support the life of an evil dictator?
  • Should a person be more cautious about organ donation given the increasing government controls in medicine?
  • Should gays be forbidden from donating blood?
  • Why do you think that tattoos should be easily concealed?
  • In the wake of the financial crisis, is more financial reform required?
  • Why should women exit elevators before men?
  • Should we be able to ask the “unaskable” questions on job interviews (such as on religion)?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 52:46
  • Duration: 15:27
  • 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: 1:08:13

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.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha