Jul 122011

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on announcing life-changing new beliefs, the morality of strategic default, swearing before strangers, letting friends fail, 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: 10 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: 10 July 2011

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


My News of the Week: While in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, I’ve mostly been enjoying spending time with family and friends. I’ve also been working on programming for this webcast, as well as my updates to Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Question 1: Announcing Life-Changing New Beliefs

Question: When a person adopts a life-changing set of beliefs, how should he present that to family and friends? The point would not be to try to convince them to follow, but to say “look… this is what I believe, these are the principles by which I now live my life now, and please respect my choice to do so.”

My Answer, In Brief: You need to focus on what you can do – namely be clear, be firm, and be kind about your change in views and practices.

Listen or Download:

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

Question 2: The Morality of Strategic Default

Question: Is it moral to strategically default on your mortgage? Suppose that you could continue to pay your mortgage, but you’re underwater: you owe more than the house is worth. You realize that you’d save tens of thousands of dollars by defaulting. Would it be morally wrong to default, assuming that you don’t engage in any fraud or other dishonesty in doing so? Would it make a difference if you do that in today’s highly regulated market versus in a fully free market?

My Answer, In Brief: Strategic default is morally wrong: it’s dishonest and unjust. It’s your job in life to ensure that you borrow money sensibly and then repay those loans.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 3: Swearing Before Strangers

Question: Should you swear in front of strangers? Swearing is sometimes a great “exclamation point” when you’re telling a story or having an intense or extraordinary conversation. But, is it appropriate to swear in front of people who don’t know you very well? Is that poor manners? Would “being yourself” conflict with “putting your best foot forward” in this case?

My Answer, In Brief: Swearing is a minor point of style that a person should use or not depending on his circumstances.

Listen or Download:

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

Question 4: Letting Friends Fail

Question: Are there times when you shouldn’t help a friend? If you see a friend taking some action which may be ultimately self-defeating or self-destructive, but you are pretty sure they don’t have the knowledge or experience to understand the future consequences of their actions, should you allow them to learn on their own or stop them from making a mistake that you know will be disastrous?

My Answer, In Brief: When a friend seems to be making a mistake, don’t shoot first then ask questions later. Instead, ask questions first, then think about their answers, then give your advice if it’s wanted, and then see what happens.

Listen or Download:

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • What do you think of interventions?
  • What is bankruptcy? Should a person’s debt expire?
  • What if you approached the bank with a speculative loan and were upfront about it (accepting a higher interest rate, etc.)? Is it OK to default if the property value crashes?
  • Why are some words considered bad – and is that right?
  • Does the fact that Tourettes sufferers involuntarily spew “bad” words indicate a low level psychological acceptance of social language norms?
  • If a person just thinks destructive thoughts, does that make the person evil?
  • Where’s the line between sharing new ideas and information with friends and family – and proselytizing to them?
  • What is your opinion of the Suicide Girls?
  • Do adult children have an obligation to maintain a relationship with their parents?
  • Does the failure of an incorporated business – say an S corporation – impose moral obligations on the owners to pay those debts from other income?
  • Should pediatricians ask their patients about guns in the house?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 47:30
  • Duration: 16:28
  • 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: 1:03:58

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