New Questions in the Queue

 Posted by on 29 August 2012 at 12:00 pm  Question Queue
Aug 292012

As you know, on Sunday morning’s Philosophy in Action Radio, I answer four questions chosen in advance from the Question Queue. Here are the most recent additions to that queue. Please vote for the ones that you’re most interested in hearing me answer! You can also review and vote on all pending questions sorted by date or sorted by popularity.

Also, I’m perfectly willing to be bribed to answer a question of particular interest to you pronto. So if you’re a regular contributor to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar, I can answer your desired question as soon as possible. (The question must already be in the queue, so if you’ve not done so already, submit it. Just e-mail me at [email protected] to make arrangements.

Now, without further ado, the most recent questions added to The Queue:

How can I make my boss more communicative?

My boss hardly ever communicates with me. As a result, I’ve wasted days and weeks on useless work, and I’ve gotten into needless conflicts with co-workers. I’m always guessing at what I should be doing, and I just hate that. What can I do to encourage my boss to be more communicative with me?

How can I politely tell my co-workers that I’m not interested in socializing?

I have always struggled with the pressure to form friendships at work. Personally, I don’t want to hang out with my coworkers after work. I don’t want to chit chat during work. I won’t want to celebrate birthdays or other personal events. This is always interpreted as me being snobbish, aloof, and worst of all “not a team player.” It’s so annoying. I just want to do a good job and then leave, not join a social club. How can I communicate that without being offensive?

What is the value of understanding personality differences?

You’ve become increasingly interested in personality theory lately. What are the major practical benefits of better understanding personality? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various personality theories? Is understanding personality differences as important – or perhaps more important – than knowing philosophy?

Does a doctor violate a woman’s rights by refusing to perform an abortion?

Many people on the left claim that a doctor who refuses to perform an abortion – or a pharmacist who refuses to dispense Plan B – is thereby violating the rights of the woman. Those doctors and pharmacists, however, claim that they’re exercising their own freedom of religion. Who is right?

How can I make up for my being accidentally rude for years to a friend?

I recently discovered that my friend hates the nickname that I’ve used for him for years. I feel really bad about that, but I also wish he’d spoken up sooner. What should I do now? Should I apologize – or just stop using the nickname?

Does government welfare protect people against theft and violence by the poor?

If government welfare were abolished, the poor would have to fend for themselves. Granted, some would finally start working, but others would likely resort to theft and violence. So isn’t welfare in the interests of the middle and upper classes, despite the cost in tax dollars? Isn’t welfare a way to buy safety and security?

Does everything happen for a reason?

When confronted with some unwelcome turn of events, many people tell themselves that “everything happens for a reason.” What does that mean – and is it true? Is it harmless – or does believing that have negative effects on a person’s life?

Should it be considered child abuse to feed a child a vegan diet?

Most experts agree that children need some of the nutrients found in meat and dairy products to develop properly. I’ve read lots of stories about children whose development is impaired or stunted due to being fed a vegan diet. Should it be considered child abuse to feed a child a strict vegan diet? If so, at which point should the state intervene and take legal recourse against the parents?

Is is second-handed to work hard to clean and repair your house before company arrives?

I’m constantly fighting a battle to get my house looking reasonable. Then, right before company arrives from out-of-town, I make an extra big push to get it as clean and tidy as possible. I’d like it to always be that way, but I’ll work a lot harder when I know that someone else will be in the space. So is it second-handed to want to present a better home then I normally maintain? Or is putting in that effort that a matter of respecting and providing for people that I value?

When should nuclear weapons be used, if ever?

Under what circumstances would a free society use nuclear weapons? Are they so destructive that their use would never be acceptable? Or might they be used in self-defense to win a war or win a war more quickly?

Should I keep contact with my morally questionable and mystical father?

Recently, I initiated contact with my father. I’ve not seen or spoken to for most of my life. He left behind him a lot of damage, and I was very hurt by that. I made amends with him, thinking that he was in recovery. However, I recently discovered his eastern mystic philosophy. Also, although he is fully recovered, he still has moral problems. Now I’m second guessing my decision. Would it be immoral for me to break off the contact with him after I’ve made peace with him? Should I preserve the relationship to keep my character intact? Or should I cut ties with him, on the principle that I should only maintain relationships of value to me?

Does evolutionary theory contradict the principles of Objectivism?

I am new to atheism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, and I embrace both wholeheartedly. However, I take issue with the theory of evolution. Atheism seems to imply evolution, but evolution seems to clash with Objectivism. Evolution holds that man is an insignificant piece of the larger, grander picture of the randomness that is life, that man is just one small insignificant step in the collective evolution of the earth, and that man is one with Mother Earth, not superior to it. In contrast, Objectivism holds that man has a purpose and that man is the most significant being, supreme over all other life. Also, Objectivism holds that “A is A” and that “Existence exists.” Evolution, in contrast, claims that life came from non-life, fish came from non-fish, and man came from non-man – meaning that A came from non-A. Am I correct in my criticisms? Might some theory other than evolution be more compatible with Objectivism?

It is wrong to judge others when I’m still flawed?

Given that I have various inconsistencies and unresolved contradictions, for me to morally judge others seems like self-righteousness. Does a person need to be morally good (or even perfect) to justly judge others?

What is mysticism?

Is mysticism distinct from religion, faith, and belief in the supernatural? Can a person be non-religious but mystical?

How important are a person’s particular sexual values in a romantic relationship?

The problems in many relationships seem to be due to conflicting sexual values, such as one partner wanting variety while the other opposes an open relationship. So why aren’t such sexual values considered at least on par with other important values in a relationship? When faced with sexual problems, why is the assumption that a couple needs to “work on them” – as opposed to thinking that such problems should be sought out before any commitment? In other words, before accepting and establishing a relationship, shouldn’t people seek sexual compatibility in the same way they seek emotional compatibility?

To submit a question, use this form. I prefer questions focused on some concrete real-life problem, as opposed to merely theoretical or political questions. I review and edit all questions before they’re posted. (Alas, IdeaInformer doesn’t display any kind of confirmation page when you submit a question.)

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  • Brandon Mark Paumen

    I’m the one who asked about nuclear weapons, but I’m wondering if the question could be expanded to cover other forms of WMD such as chemical or biological weapons. Would the morality of those weapons be different than nuclear?

    • Diana Hsieh

      Brandon — I just edited the question to include chemical and biological weapons. It’s a good question … meaning, I don’t have any easy answer off-hand. Thanks for that!

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