Sep 122011

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on activism as a moral imperative, the morality of extreme couponing, sexting as cheating, gifting valuable memorabilia to the team, 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: 11 September 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: 11 September 2011

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


My News of the Week: Mostly, I’ve been tending to Dr. Gimpy! Also, on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I recommend John Lewis’ new essay: 9/11 Ten Years Later: The Fruits of the Philosophy of Self-Abnegation.

Question 1: Activism as a Moral Imperative

Question: Should every person engage in some kind of political or cultural activism? Given the current abysmal state of the culture, might a moral person choose to live his own life based on rational principles, without advocating those principles? Is it moral to overlook the ever-increasing rights-violations by our government, rather than speaking out? Is it enough to offer moral support and/or financial support to other activists?

My Answer, In Brief: A person should not engage in activism as a grim moral duty, but rather as an expression and defense of his own values.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 2: The Morality of Extreme Couponing

Question: Is “extreme couponing” moral? Earlier this year, the Boston Globe wrote about people who engage in “extreme couponing.” Basically, they find ways to redeem store coupons in a fashion that still abides by the rules, but they get free stuff out of the deal. Are these people moral, or are they parasites because they don’t actually live by trading value for value? Are they violating rights?

My Answer, In Brief: There’s nothing immoral about seeking out great savings as a consumer, provided that you’re honest and the sale is voluntary.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 3: Sexting as Cheating

Question: Is sexting a form of cheating? If you are married or in a committed relationship and you send sexually explicit texts or emails to another person, is that cheating?

My Answer, In Brief: Sexting is cheating – and it ought to be regarded as a major warning and offense in a relationship.

Listen or Download:

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

Question 4: Gifting Valuable Memorabilia to the Team

Question: Is it dumb to return a valuable home run baseball to the team? When NY Yankees star Derek Jeter hit a home run for his 3000th hit, the fan in the stands Christian Lopez who caught the ball returned it to the Yankees, even though he was legally entitled to keep it. Some experts estimate it could have been sold on eBay for up to $250,000. The Yankees did give him some season tickets and team memorabilia but nowhere near as valuable. (In fact, he may have to pay thousands of dollars of taxes for those gifts he received from the Yankees.) Some people praised Mr. Lopez for doing the “right thing.” Other said he was foolish for giving up something valuable that could have, say, paid for his kids’ college or been used for other important life goals. Was he moral or immoral for returning the baseball with no expectation of reward.

My Answer, In Brief: A person in possession of such a windfall should think carefully about how to use it to serve his best interests. For this person to give the ball to the Yankees was probably a major sacrifice.

Listen or Download:


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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Should a person give back money found in a newly-purchased house if the heirs sold the house because the owner was senile, but he’s still living?
  • Should organ donation be opt-in or opt-out?
  • What does it mean to say that the interests of rational people don’t conflict?
  • When and why would an egoist help the poor?
  • If everyone was an egoist, would anyone be a soldier, policeman, or firefighter?
  • Doesn’t parenting require self-sacrifice for the sake of the children?
  • Don’t most seemingly altruistic acts have some core of self-interest, even if only the pleasure of doing the act itself?
  • Didn’t selfishness and greed cause the financial crisis?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 47:33
  • Duration: 12:54
  • 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: 1:00:27

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

    Podcast #97: Torture, Emotions, Second-Handedness, and More
Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha