On Sunday, 2 September 2012, I broadcast a new episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, answering questions on performance-enhancing drugs in sports, sexual values in romance, manipulating people for good ends, intellectually inferior professors, and more. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was the episode’s co-host.

If you missed the live broadcast, you can listen to audio podcasts of selected questions or the whole episode. You’ll find those posted below, as well as on this episode’s archive page: Q&A Radio: 2 September 2012.

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Q&A Radio: Episode: 2 September 2012

The Whole Episode

My News of the Week: I’ve been writing a blog post on John Allison’s troubling letter to Cato employees, as well as dealing with more problems with my beasts.

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You can also download or listen to particular questions from this episode.

Question 1: Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Sports (4:38)

In this segment, I answered a question on performance-enhancing drugs in sports.

It is wrong for athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs? Lance Armstrong was recently stripped of his record seven Tour De France titles after allegations that he used performance enhancing drugs – particularly EPO, human growth hormone, and steroids. These drugs act to enhance vitality and endurance by increasing red blood cell count, stimulating new cell growth, and helping to regulate metabolism and immune function, respectively. Although I don’t have a medical background, I can’t find a moral difference between a competitive athlete taking such medications for peak performance and a regular person taking vitamins, herbs, and supplements for increased performance. Professional athletes are encouraged and expected to adopt other modern technologies such as lighter bicycle frames, carbon nanotube rackets, aerodynamic helmets, and expertly designed running shoes. So isn’t it proper to embrace advances in medicine as well, so long as athletes are aware of the risks? Should we vilify such athletes on the grounds that they create an unfair advantage – or applaud them for maximizing performance via technology? Should sports leagues regulate or ban performance-enhancing drugs?

My Answer, In Brief: The government should not ban performance enhancing drugs, and the arguments for doing so within private sports leagues are weak.

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Tags: Contracts, Ethics, Law, Medicine, Sports

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

Question 2: Sexual Values in Romance (32:06)

In this segment, I answered a question on sexual values in romance.

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 resolved 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?

My Answer, In Brief: If a person has unusual or strong sexual preferences, then he or she should discuss that with any potential romantic partner. But conflicts based on minor preferences can – and often must – be resolved in the context of the relationship.

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Tags: Communication, Ethics, Relationships, Romance, Sex

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

Question 3: Manipulating People for Good Ends (38:58)

In this segment, I answered a question on manipulating people for good ends.

Is it wrong to manipulate a dishonest business into honoring its promises? A friend of mine bought tires from ACME Tire Company (that’s not their real name) and purchased the additional road hazard coverage. Road hazard coverage says that Acme will repair the tire if it loses pressure due to driving over some hazard. If the tire is too damaged to repair, they will sell you a pro-rated replacement tire. My friend’s tire started losing air and he took it to Acme, but they couldn’t find anything wrong, so they put more air in it and let him go. Three weeks later, it lost air again and he went back. He did this five times. One time they told him they found a bit of metal in his tire, but when he asked to see it they said they already threw it away. Another time they said the tire didn’t have a good seal, so they re-sealed it. Another time they said they found a little hole and that they fixed it. Each time, he explains his history each time and says he wants to purchase a pro-rated tire according to the terms of the agreement. But they won’t do that because each time they claim to have found and fixed the problem. But after five times, he simply does not believe them. If the tire were actually fixed, he wouldn’t mind. But since it’s never fixed he’s thinking that the only solution is to get a new tire. He’s contemplating doing something to damage the tire to a point where they can’t repair it. Would this be an ethical thing to do? Why or why not? What other options would you suggest?

My Answer, In Brief: In this situation, resorting to dishonesty is neither moral nor practical. Instead, exert pressure via company channels, then the media, and finally small claims court.

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Tags: Business, Contracts, Ethics, Honesty, Manipulation

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

Question 4: Intellectually Inferior Professors (47:06)

In this segment, I answered a question on intellectually inferior professors.

What should a student do when he thinks his professors are 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.]

My Answer, In Brief: If you’re going to criticize academia, you need to be credible: basic writing skills are a major part of that. When faced with problematic professor, see if you can avoid him or work with him. If not, keep your head down – or rethink your degree.

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Tags: College, Education, Ethics, Honesty

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

Rapid Fire Questions (59:56)

In this segment, Dr. Diana Hsieh answered questions impromptu. The questions were:

  • Is a sex offender registry just and proper?
  • Are service professions second-handed since they aim to satisfy the desires of others?
  • Can it be moral for an Objectivist to be a pornstar? And would it there be a difference between writing erotica and acting in it?
  • Is it wrong for people in a relationship to still enjoy erotica that involves people besides their partner?
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To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion (1:07:09)

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