Jul 302012

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the morality of cloning, hypocritical allies, standards of beauty, capitalism versus altruism, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 29 July 2012

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Podcast Segments: 29 July 2012

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


My News of the Week: I’ve been programming, training my horses, and enjoying life!

Question 1: The Morality of Cloning

Question: If cloning humans were possible, would it be wrong? Most people think that cloning humans, if possible, would be terribly immoral and creepy. What are their arguments? Are those arguments right or wrong? Also, would cloning a person without his or her consent be some kind of rights violation?

My Answer, In Brief: Although many people respond to the thought of cloning humans with repugnance, the major arguments against cloning are not persuasive. A cloned child is just a child with an older identical twin, and its parents would have all the usual challenges of good parenting.

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

Question 2: Hypocritical Allies

Question: What should you do when your allies are exposed as hypocrites? Just because a person advocates good ideas doesn’t mean that he practices them. For example, a defender of free markets might use zoning laws to prevent the construction of a new building on land adjacent to his home to preserve his view. Or an advocate of justice and independence as virtues might condemn and ostracize people who disagree with him on trivial matters. Or an advocate of productive work might sponge off friends and relatives. When you discover such behavior in your allies, what should you do? Should you attempt to defend them? Should you try to keep the hypocrisy quiet? Should you condemn them? Should you say that “nobody’s perfect”? What’s fair – and what’s best for your cause?

My Answer, In Brief: When an ally is revealed as a hypocrite, you need to distance yourself from the person – but how far and how publicly depends on the particulars of the case.

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

Question 3: Standards of Beauty

Question: Isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? In your November 13th, 2011 webcast discussion of aesthetic body modification, you rejected the idea that beauty is just a matter of personal taste or cultural norms. What’s your view – and why?

My Answer, In Brief: Standards of beauty for people and other creatures are properly based on the fundamental normative standard: the life of the organism, including its health. Nonetheless, within that range, people can have different personal preferences.

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

Question 4: Capitalism Versus Altruism

Question: Is capitalism altruistic? Some people attempt to defend capitalism and free markets on altruistic grounds. Under capitalism, they say, a successful businesses must serve the needs of its customers. Hence, capitalism promotes altruism. Is that true? Is it an effective way to defend capitalism?

My Answer, In Brief: Capitalism is not altruistic. Altruism is when a person seeks a net loss, whereas egoism is when a person seeks a net profit. Capitalism enables trade to mutual benefit, meaning net profits for everyone.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Is rooting your country in the Olympics collectivistic or nationalistic?
  • Do you consider yourself a Objectivist philosopher or a philosopher who is an Objectivist?

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  • Start Time: 1:02:50
  • Duration: 6:08
  • 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: 1:08:58

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.

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  • William H Stoddard

    When I click the triangle icon, I get a message that says “Error opening file.” I presume that’s not meant to happen. . . .

    • https://philosophyinaction.com/ Diana Hsieh

      Sorry! I just fixed it.

      • William H Stoddard

        Thanks! It’s working fine now.

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