Nov 262012

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on sexual harassment laws, rooting for antiheroes, child beauty pageants, teaching children philosophy, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 25 November 2012

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Podcast Segments: 25 November 2012

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


My News of the Week: I’ve been preparing my book Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame (a.k.a. my dissertation) for publication!

Question 1: Sexual Harassment Laws

Question: Are laws against sexual harassment proper? We already have laws against sexual assault and sexual battery, so do sexual harassment laws protect or violate rights? Also, what kind of sexual harassment policies should private companies have, if any? Should people be more skeptical of sexual harassment claims of the kind levelled against Herman Cain during the Republican primary?

My Answer, In Brief: Certain kinds of sexual harassment, along with other shocking, appalling, and immoral demands in the workplace, might be grounds for damages in the form of a severance package due to wrongful termination.

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

Question 2: Rooting for Antiheroes

Question: Is it wrong to root for antiheroes in movies? I often root for characters like Daniel Ocean (of Ocean’s 11, 12, etc.), Erik Draven (of The Crow), Harry Callahan (a.k.a. Dirty Harry), and “Mad” Max. Should I instead seek out movies with more consistently good heroes?

My Answer, In Brief: Characters are more complex than just heroes and antiheroes. Judge the gray characters accurately, recognize that they’re just fiction, and know why you like or dislike them!

Listen or Download:


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

Question 3: Child Beauty Pageants

Question: Are child beauty pageants wrong? The TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras is a reality show that follows child beauty pageant contestants and their parents. Putting aside the often-questionable behavior of the people on this show who may not represent typical pageant contestants or parents, these events ask children to compete based on beauty and talent. So are child beauty pageants immoral?

My Answer, In Brief: Some, and perhaps many, child beauty pageants sexualize young children and teach them to focus on pleasing adults. Parents should avoid those kinds of pageants, instead seek out more appropriate activities to do with their kids!

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

Question 4: Teaching Children Philosophy

Question: Why isn’t philosophy taught to young children? It seems that teaching philosophy to young children – as young as kindergarten – might result in much better reasoning skills, as well as greater willingness to think independently and question what they’ve been taught. So is philosophy not taught to the young just because some parents and politicians might not like those good results?

My Answer, In Brief: Children can and must learn the abstract principles and skills of philosophy inductively – meaning, through subjects like history, literature, science, and mathematics. Only later can they learn philosophy explicitly.

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

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Do you consider it plausible that the most current escalation by Hamas in Gaza is covering for and diverting attention from Iran entering a critical phase in its nuclear program?
  • Was Obama’s defeat a referendum on free markets in general and Ayn Rand’s ideas in particular?
  • If someone requests that you remove your shoes in their house, but you have terribly stinky feet, what should you do?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 1:04:39
  • Duration: 6:09
  • 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: 1:10:49

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  • William H Stoddard

    Terry Pratchett has an interesting variation on the “rogue” archetype in his Going Postal: Its protagonist, Moist von Lipwig, is made aware of the real costs his previous career as a confidence man inflicted on other people by the events of the story . . . including the woman he’s falling in love with, which makes for a good romantic subplot.

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