In Sunday morning’s episode of Philosophy in Action Q&A Radio, I’ll answer questions on voting for third-party candidates, self-interest in parenting, bigotry against religion, intellectually inferior professors, and more with Greg Perkins.

This week’s questions are:

  • Question 1: Voting for Third-Party Candidates: Is it moral or practical to vote for third-party candidates? The Founders created a two-party political system. With features like geographic representation, first-past-the-post voting for Congress, and the Electoral College for voting for President, the Founders clearly wanted parties consisting of large umbrella groups of wide geographic and ideological interests. As a result, the United States has always had two and only two dominant political parties. Corrupt election laws, passed by these parties, now guarantee that except in rare instances (such as Jesse Ventura, of all peoplr) only members of these two parties can be elected to office. Given these facts, what is the purpose of voting for a third party candidates? Unlike the two major umbrella parties, all third parties are composed of ideological kooks of many persuasions. Isn’t a vote for a third party candidate thus immoral (for supporting kookdom) and impractical (since they can’t win)? Wouldn’t it be better to try to improve the two existing parties, or not vote at all?
  • Question 2: Self-Interest in Parenting: Are my interests as a parent always aligned with the interests of my child? I have a two-month-old daughter. She is of great value to me, so to protect and provide for her is in my self-interest. However, might our interests sometimes diverge? If so, should I give priority to her interests or mine?
  • Question 3: Bigotry Against Religion: Is criticism of and opposition to religion a form of bigotry? In its entry on bigotry, Wikipedia claims that a “bigot” is “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one who exhibits intolerance and animosity toward members of a group,” and that “bigotry may be directed towards those of a differing sex or sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, region, language, religious or spiritual belief, political alignment, age, economic status or medical disability.” I hear the charge of bigotry bandied about, often reflexively, particularly by theists when atheists criticize their faith-based beliefs as irrational. Is open criticism of and disrespect for religion a form of bigotry? Or is “bigotry” a loaded concept to be used by anyone whose belief system is critically challenged?
  • Question 4: Intellectually Inferior Professors: What should a student do when he thinks his professors intellectually inferior? The idea is i’m aiming at is how to learn from a teacher whom shows no genuine interest in the fundamental aspects of knowledge in terms of it’s fundamentals. For instance, I had a teacher whom never asked us to question the merit of given theories to mass media ethics, the ideas were presented as ready-made packaged deals of how censorship was ideal in the communication model presented to us via textbook. Considering also when asked the verity of such concepts, the teacher will hide by claiming since the textbook says so, it is truth, and if that is not satisfactory then look it up online. [Note from DH: I did not edit this question.]

After that, we’ll tackle some impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action’s Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. If you attend the live show, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask me follow-up questions in the text chat.

If you miss the live broadcast, you’ll find the audio from the episode posted here: Q&A Radio: 26 August 2012.

Philosophy in Action Radio broadcasts every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. For information on upcoming shows and more, visit the Episodes on Tap.

I hope that you join us on Sunday morning!

  • James

    I had a professor similar to the one illustrated in Question 4. Well, two, actually–one in an Environmental Studies class and one in an Ethnic Studies class (I couldn’t get out of them, though I gout out of the rest of those requirements by taking classes that actually were of value). In both cases I did the same thing: I asked good, solid questions, such as I had been taught to do in my science classes. For example, in the Environmental Studies class I asked a question about the carbon footprint of wind turbines. Not that I accept carbon footprints as a mark of sin, I just was curious. I had to explain to the class that they had SOME footprint, since they were made of manufactured items, but no one, not even the professor, had ever thought to ask that question before. Turned it into a class project, in fact.

    I wasn’t so lucky with my Ethnic Studies professor. After I questioned the validity of a study that included only lower-class members of one urban area, tossed out over half the data with no reason given (I wish I were joking), and tried to extend the conclusions to the entire United States, I was told that my criticisms were good, but “…we’re going to assume that the studies are valid for the rest of the semester.” It was one of the most embarising moments of my accademic career.

    • Andrew Dalton

      Why embarrassing?

      • John P

        I think he was embarrassed for both his professor and for his fellow students. I would have been.

  • John P

    But Diana, you really didn’t edit question 4? The grammar was so bad I would presume at the outset that the questioner is mistaken about being intellectually superior to his professors.

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