Nice Men, Secret Infidelity, Privacy Lies, and More
Webcast Q&A: 9 January 2011
I answered questions on women versus nice men, the harm of undiscovered infidelity, lying to protect privacy, important ideological disagreements, misused words, returning lost property, and more on 9 January 2011. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.
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Segments: 9 January 2011
Question: Why do you think most women typically have disdain for men who are 'too nice'?
Answer, In Brief: The distinction between nice or not is not a fundamental character trait. It's largely a matter of style, and its value is wholly dependent on a person's moral character. If a person is a rational egoist, then he can be strong-willed in pursuit of his values, yet also respectful of the facts and of other people.
Question: If a husband cheated on his wife, and she never knew about it, he never got anyone pregnant, and he never got any STDs, would she be harmed? If so, how?
Answer, In Brief: The cheater is doing harm to himself and to the relationship, even if his partner unaware of that.
Question: Is lying to protect one's own privacy moral or not? Many people regard lies to protect their own privacy as justifiable, even necessary. For example, a woman might tell her co-workers that she's not seeing anyone, even though she's dating the boss. She might tell those co-workers that she didn't get a hefty end-of-year bonus, even though she did. She might tell a nosy acquaintance that she didn't want children, rather than reveal her struggles with infertility. Is that wrong – or unwise? How could the woman protect her privacy in those circumstances without lying?
Answer, In Brief: A person should protect his privacy by advance planning, including cultivating his personal boundaries and social skills, rather than by suffering all the risks and harms of lying.
Question: How can Diana and Greg 'co-exist' with their difference regarding the question of personhood at/before birth, as seen in the 19 December 2010 show? I ask this especially in light of the discussion in the 26 December 2010 discussion of reality being binary. One of you is wrong on the personhood issue and the issue is so fundamental, I could never tolerate a dispute at this level with a close friend.
Answer, In Brief: Not all disagreements need be divisive. Approach others – particularly friends – with respect, give them good arguments and time to think through them, if the matter is important enough to discuss.
Question: How should we act towards others with poor conceptual habits? How should one act towards others who consistently refuse to use some concepts properly? For example, those who call margarine "butter" despite the drastic difference in their chemical makeup.
Answer, In Brief: You should figure out why the person is misusing words – whether due to mistake, indifference, or malice, then act accordingly.
Question: Is there a proper policy on keeping lost property? If one were to find property that had been lost, is there a proper policy which would allow the finder to keep it? The most common example is finding an envelope full of money. Is one even morally obligated to report that he has found it? (Suppose that the owner cannot be immediately located, even with a decent amount of effort.)
Answer, In Brief: Because lost property belongs to someone else and because you want to live in a benevolent culture, you should make a reasonable effort to return that property to its rightful owner. Forgetful people like me really appreciate that!
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell. I'm a philosopher specializing in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on most Sunday mornings and some Thursday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or discuss a topic of interest.
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I can be reached via e-mail to [email protected].