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:

Is happiness overrated?

Recently, I had a conversation in which the other person told me that “happiness is overrated.” Basically, the person claimed that people should spend less time thinking about their own personal happiness. Instead, people should focus on acting rightly, and then take pleasure in that. Is that view right or wrong?

Is atheism just another form of religion?

I often hear that religious people that atheism is just another form of religion – and just as much based on faith as Christianity and the like. Is that right or wrong?

Should government employees be permitted to unionize?

In your 12/16/12 discussion of “right to work” laws, you said that business owners should have the right to refuse to hire union members (or to fire them). How would that work for government employees? In a free society, could legislators (or departments) forbid government workers from being union members? Could they require union membership? Might unions serve some functions – like providing insurance and other benefits to members – but not engage in collective bargaining over wages or benefits?

Do I have to spend money to use the potty?

I recently blogged about an incident at a gas station: a basic rule of courtesy, I spend money in places when I stop to use the bathroom on road trips. I don’t believe there’s any moral demand for this nor do I think there there is any proper legal requirement here. I just think it’s good manners. They provide good, clean facilities that happen to be convenient for me, so I spent a little money to repay them.What do you think about this?

What should a person do to bear psychological needs he temporarily can’t satisfy?

For right now, the context of my life makes it so that it’s hard to satisfy the needs for companionship. Most of the people around me don’t offer deep and intense enough values to satisfy it, even as I do have friends. The majority of the people who could fulfill my needs live out of state. Furthermore, the industry I work in, by and large, prohibits me from being able to attend clubs and whatnot, as I usually work when they run.As such, I’ve got to grin and bear my loneliness for the meanwhile, temporarily. How can I make myself feel better in doing so?

Should it be legal for individuals to own automatic weapons?

I unequivocally think that people have a right to own handguns. Tentatively, though, I have difficulty in arguing that it should be legal for private households to own sniper rifles or automatic weapons. I’m definitely far from an expert on guns, but I don’t think you need a sniper rifle or an automatic weapon to protect yourself from burglars or muggers. I’m under the impression that an automatic weapon inflicts mass destruction, like a tank or a hand grenade. Are there good philosophic arguments for it being legal for individuals to own sniper rifles and/or automatic weapons?

How is American culture better today better than people think?

I’ve heard lots of depressing claims about the abysmal state of American culture lately, particularly since Obama won the election. You’ve disputed that, arguing that America is better in its fundamentals that many people think. What are some of those overlooked but positive American values? How can they be leveraged for cultural and political change?

What should a person do about a neighbor’s aggressive dog?

My husband was attacked (but barely injured) by a neighbor’s dog. No one else was in the room at the time. Our children often play at this person’s house, and the dog has always been friendly in the past. How do you suggest handling the situation? Should we allow our children to play with the dog, as we always have in the past? What should the owner do about the dog?

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.)

  • Jim

    In regard to your question about the types of weapons one should be able to own: I suggest you concentrate on defining what properties of weapons that should be banned and not to use a generic name such as “sniper rifle”. Almost any hunting rifle can be used as a sniper rifle. You will take justified abuse if you use empty terms such as “assault rifle” or recommend that automatic weapons be banned (as have some in the media) since private ownership was banned by the National Firearms Act in 1934. This link will take to an opinion piece that has some good background facts: .

    An additional concern of mine is your mention of only using weapons as defense against muggers or burglars. The second amendment was written because the colonies had just finished fighting against the English army. Texans have had to defend themselves against the Mexican army several times. I think concerns about defense against a corrupt government makes the issue even more thorny, since I clearly don’t want my neighbors building bombs, practicing with mortars, or using idle land next to me as a bombing range.

    • Diana Hsieh

      Jim — Most people are ignorant of the kinds of considerations that you raise… but I didn’t write the question (as you seem to assume). I know enough about guns to object to junk categories like “assault rifle,” as you can see from my prior answers on gun issues:

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