New Questions in the Queue

 Posted by on 30 January 2013 at 8:00 am  Question Queue
Jan 302013

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, please submit it. Then just e-mail me at [email protected] to make your request.

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

What are “spiritual” values?

In your 27 January 2013 discussion of “Materialism in Marriage,” you talked about the importance of “spiritual values.” However, I found that confusing, since I’ve always associated “spirituality” with religion (often of the woozy variety). So what are spiritual values? How are they different from material values? Why are they important?

Should spouses always share activities?

A friend of mine is loathe to pursue any hobbies or interests that her husband doesn’t share. He’s not controlling: he’s the same way. Although I know that they want to spend time together, that seems really limiting to me. Is that a reasonable policy in a marriage – or does it lead to self-sacrifice and mutual resentment?

Does the idea of innate personality violate the principle of “tabula rasa”?

In past shows, you’ve indicated that you think that some aspects of personality are innate, rather than acquired by experience. If that’s right, isn’t that a form of determinism? Moreover, wouldn’t it violate the principle that every person is born a “blank slate”?

Should dueling and other consensual fights be legal?

In your September 5th, 2012 interview with Dr. Eric Daniels, you discussed some of America’s violent past traditions, including the practice of dueling. While I have no intention of challenging my rivals to mortal combat, I cannot see why this practice should be illegal. The same might be said of less lethal modern variants such as bar fights, schoolyard fights, and other situations where violence is entered into with the mutual consent of both parties. Should such consensual violence be forbidden by law in a free society, not just for children but perhaps for adults too? If so, what justifies allowing more ritualized forms of combat, such as mixed-martial arts fighting, boxing, or even football?

What is the solution to the is-ought problem?

David Hume famously claimed that statements about what ought to be cannot be derived from statements about what is the case. Does that mean that ethics is impossible? Can the gap be bridged, and if so, how?

How can an atheist teenager maintain his integrity in a religious school?

A few years ago, I read Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” for the first time. After a year of struggling between faith and reason, I chose reason. Unfortunately, I am a teenager, and I am forced to attend church and a religious school. For a time, I was fine coexisting with religious people. However, in the next academic year, I will have to take a class entitled “Christian Apologetics” in which I will have to pretend to be a Christian theologian. Now my integrity is at stake. How should I confront my religious family about my atheism? How can I persuade them to enroll me a different school?

Are reparations for once-oppressed ethnic groups ever proper?

Periodically, we hear calls for reparations by the government to be paid to certain ethnic groups due to past racism, oppression, or slavery. Are such reparations ever ethical or necessary? If so, who should receive them and who should pay for them? When has too much time passed for such reparations? Are reparations based purely on group membership racist? Do they risk promoting racism in the broader culture, particularly among members of ethnic groups not party to the oppression?

Should parents be licensed?

Given the cost to society of parents shirking their obligations to their children, to entrust children to just anyone able to bear that child seems negligent. The state does, after all, forbid chronic drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel again. On the other hand, to give discretionary power to the state over such a personal matter seems very dangerous. Is there any middle ground that would better protect kids from abusive or neglectful parents and protect society from the growing scourge of poor parenting?

Should high-capacity firearms clips be banned?

Many advocates of gun control seek to limit the capacity of semi-automatic handgun clips to ten or even six rounds. Is that reasonable? Are such clips only useful for mass shootings – or might they be necessary for self-defense, such as when faced with home invasion?

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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