SOPA, Unprovable Accusations, Temperamental People, and More
Webcast Q&A: 15 January 2012
I answered questions on SOPA and online piracy, mutual unprovable accusations of wrongdoing, dealing with temperamental people, judging young adults fairly, and more on 15 January 2012. 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: 15 January 2012
Question: Should SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) be supported or opposed? SOPA was recently introduced to the US House of Representatives, then shelved temporarily, and many people are urging businesses and their representatives to oppose it. Would the bill promote prosperity and creativity by protecting copyright? Or does it justify internet censorship and cripple free access of information through online media?
Answer, In Brief: SOPA and PIPA claim to protect copyright, but in fact, they'd break the fundamental architecture of the internet, subject innocent people to major legal battles, destroy large internet sites, and establish government control over the internet. To top it off, these laws would not stop pirates. They should be opposed.
Question: How should a rational person evaluate unproven accusations of serious wrongdoing about people he deals with? I recently heard some information about a business associate's dealings with another of his associates that, if true, would make me reconsider doing business with him. However, his side of the story is that the other person is the one who acted wrongly. This is a serious matter, and it's clear that one or both of them acted very badly, but since I was not personally involved and the only information I have is of a "he said/she said" nature, I am not sure how to decide what I should do. Am I right to consider the information I heard at all, since I can't confirm it?
Answer, In Brief: Such dilemmas of moral judgment are difficult to navigate, and ideally, you either know enough about the characters of people in question or you can gather that information in order to come to an informed judgment. If you must choose between the two people now, then you should do so provisionally, as best as you can.
Question: Should people be willing to "walk on eggshells" around temperamental people? Some people – often very talented – are known to be highly temperamental. They'll explode in anger if others disagree with them, make innocent mistakes, or just act differently than they'd prefer. Is that a moral failing, and if so, what is its source? How should people around them act? When and how much should others try to placate them?
Answer, In Brief: Temperamental people indulge their emotions when they don't get their way because they don't respect and value other people as autonomous individuals. If that irrationality is entrenched, then the best course is likely to refuse to deal with the person.
Question: Is it fair to judge a person's intellect or other qualities of character purely based on his age? I am 16 and am facing problems with some people who seem to think that my views aren't clear even to me just because "I am a lazy teen with no experience in life." Is that unjust? Should I try to show them they are wrong about me or is it not worth it? If I should try, how might I be effective?
Answer, In Brief: It's wrong to make moral judgments based on statistics, and young adults deserve to be treated with respect, even if adults know that they have much to learn.
Rapid Fire Questions (54:46)
- Do you think that the patent lawsuits are getting a little out of hand?
- Could Obama be effectively neutralized by gridlock?
- What do you think of Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow's outspoken love for Jesus?
- Is it ever moral to wish that someone were dead (assuming you don't actually plan on acting on that wish or otherwise violating someone's rights)?
- Ayn Rand said she didn't have much of an opinion on certain topics such as evolution or gun control. Does that mean that there is no Objectivist position on theses issues?
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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].