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Philosophy for Living On Earth
93 minutes | Mar 27, 2020
The Role of Government During a Health Crisis with Onkar Ghate and Greg Salmieri
Governments are taking unprecedented measures to restrict travel and shut down businesses in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Politicians are justifying these measures by invoking emergency, even wartime, powers. What is the proper role of government during a health crisis like this one? What values should guide us in thinking about proper policy in regard to life and death issues, especially in an individualistic society? Join us for another special episode of Philosophy for Living on Earth to get clarity on these questions. Onkar Ghate and Gregory Salmieri will join us and add their perspective.
77 minutes | Mar 25, 2020
The Pandemic and the Economy with Yaron Brook and Rob Tarr
With the stock market now crashing and many people facing unemployment in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, governments are reacting with a variety allegedly aimed at stabilizing the markets and promoting economic security. What effects will these measures have on the economy? Will they address the root causes of the crash or might they aggravate the situation further? In this special episode of Philosophy for Living on Earth, finance and economics specialists Yaron Brook and Rob Tarr join us to answer these questions from a rational perspective.
61 minutes | Mar 19, 2020
Is There a Rational Morality? by Ben Bayer
Most people think about morality as a set of commandments handed down by a god. Others believe we can get moral guidance by consulting our own feelings of sympathy for the needs and desires of other people. Are these the only two options? Does morality have to be based on faith in a higher dimension or on feelings for others on Earth? Those who believe morality is based on either faith or feelings assume there can be no rational basis for morality. Is that true? Are there no observable facts by which we can decide what’s the right and wrong way to live? Join Ben Bayer and explore the question: Is there a rational morality?
91 minutes | Mar 18, 2020
Thinking Philosophically About the Pandemic with Onkar Ghate and Gregory Salmieri
The COVID-19 pandemic and the responses to it from both business and government are now dominating the headlines and overwhelming our lives. As we all begin to grapple with the wide-ranging effects of both the disease and the steps being taken to fight it, there’s a need to take a step back and survey the situation with a philosophic eye. This week is a special episode of Philosophy for Living on Earth. Onkar Ghate and Greg Salmieri discuss how philosophy can help guide our thinking about the impact of the pandemic on our lives, our economy, and about our government’s response to it.
63 minutes | Mar 11, 2020
What Drives History? by Keith Lockitch
What explains the major developments and trends that have shaped our world through the ages? Human history is complex and, obviously, there are many factors involved. And some of the questions raised are these: Is there a fundamental cause that explains the big picture? Is there an ultimate cause that directs the overall sweep of history? Ayn Rand, the iconic American novelist and philosopher, argues that there is. In her view, the primary force that drives history is philosophy—the basic philosophic ideas that shape people’s beliefs and values and, therefore, their choices and actions. Join Keith Lockitch and explore the question: What drives history?
61 minutes | Mar 4, 2020
What Should Society Do About The Poor? by Aaron Smith
Most people believe that society has a moral obligation toward its poor and its needy—and that something must be done, politically, to help them. Is this the right way to think about the poor and society? Are these issues for the whole of society to decide? Are they political problems that need to have imposed political solutions? How would one think about issues surrounding the poor, handicapped or needy from a more individualist perspective rather than a collectivist perspective? Join Aaron Smith in examining the question: What should society do about the poor?
66 minutes | Feb 26, 2020
Is Privilege Real? by Gregory Salmieri
Many people believe that privilege—the idea that special rights or advantages are available only to a particular person or group—is a problem. While there are advantages, such as the wealth and location of one’s parents, that are not a choice, there are reasons to be skeptical about whether or not privilege is a problem. For example, many United States immigrants start with nothing, but succeed through hard work. Does the concept of privilege only apply in a specific context? How does it apply to issues of race? Join David Birnbaum as he interviews philosopher Gregory Salmieri on the question: Is privilege real?
64 minutes | Feb 19, 2020
Is Abortion Immoral? by Ben Bayer
Abortion is an important issue consistently in the public discourse. What makes it so persistent? Should there be any legal limit on abortion? Much of the discussion about abortion revolves around differing views of when life begins. Is there something significantly different about an entity before and after it’s born? Join David Birnbaum as he interviews philosopher Ben Bayer on the question: Is abortion immoral?
62 minutes | Feb 12, 2020
Is Doing Drugs Wrong? by Onkar Ghate
On the issue of legal, non-medical drugs, there are at least two common perspectives at odds in our culture today: one camp contends that some drugs can beneficially “expand” one’s mind—increasing creativity, decreasing anxiety, and otherwise providing benefits that should be explored. Another side regards using mind-altering “recreational” drugs as immoral or at least morally suspicious. Join David Birnbaum as he interviews philosopher Onkar Ghate on the question: Is doing drugs wrong?
60 minutes | Feb 12, 2020
Why Should I care About Israel? with Elan Journo
Israel is talked about often in the media, but many Americans don’t understand why we are so preoccupied with this country. Often Israel is spoken of in a negative context: boycotts at universities, condemnations by the United Nations, and so on. What makes Israel worse than other countries? On the flip side, good defenses of Israel are scant. Is Israel important to U.S. foreign policy? If so, why? Join David Birnbaum as he interviews foreign policy expert Elan Journo on the question: Why should I care about Israel?
61 minutes | Jan 29, 2020
What’s Wrong with “Virtue Signaling”? by Ben Bayer
Think about celebrities who tweet about their politics all the time, or think about companies who want you to buy their products because they’re supposedly eco-friendly. Some say that these are symptoms of an epidemic that’s coursing it’s way through social media and through our political discourse generally, an epidemic they call “virtue signalling”. Ben Bayer, a fellow at The Ayn Rand Institute, has some questions about this. You’re said to be a virtue signaller when you promote some cause or criticize some figure people love to hate in a way that doesn’t involve much cost, but which draws attention to your own right way of thinking. What, if anything, is wrong with this kind of behavior? Is there a kind of behavior here at all or do the critics of virtue signalling lump together lots of different things? Is speaking out ineffective only because it’s speaking? Does profiting from the judgment of others make you insincere? Join Ben Bayer and explore the question: What’s wrong with “virtue signalling”?
56 minutes | Jan 22, 2020
Who Decides What’s Right or Wrong? by Elan Journo
In ethics, the question “Who ultimately decides what is morally right or wrong?” is commonly asked. Notice that in other areas of life there’s no issue of “who decides” what’s right or wrong. For example, if your car won’t start, you call a mechanic to inspect it. After he replaces the battery, the car works…
59 minutes | Jan 15, 2020
Why Are New Years Resolutions So Hard To Keep? by Keith Lockitch
Every year droves of people make New Year’s resolutions, but polls suggest that four out of five people fail to keep them. One report even found that most resolutions last less than two weeks. So why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to keep? Are they just a joke and a waste of time? Are…
63 minutes | Jan 8, 2020
Do People’s Interests Have to Conflict? by Gregory Salmieri
People are at odds with one another all the time (we have wars, personal animosities, etc.) and it is generally assumed that people’s interests conflict. We are often told that the only way to have any kind of peace is to compromise—to give up our interests in deference to other people. Ayn Rand rejects this…
61 minutes | Dec 18, 2019
Is Artistic Preference Subjective? by Harry Binswanger
At the turn of the millennium, two different polls were held. The question was: What’s the best English-language novel of the twentieth century? One poll questioned literary experts—they picked Ulysses by James Joyce. The second poll questioned internet users—their choice was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Is there any objective way to settle who is…
60 minutes | Dec 16, 2019
Should You Judge Other People? by Elan Journo
If you want to be considered a caring person, you are expected to offer a “no-judgement-zone.” And you are supposed to believe that it’s an insult to be called “judgmental.” It’s recommended that you live by the biblical advice “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” but can this actually guide us in our daily life and thinking? There are people who lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder and worse—and, clearly, they deserve to be morally condemned. On the other hand, there are honest, thoughtful, productive, and truly heroic people. To form a positive evaluation of them, some kind of moral judgement is needed. Join Elan Journo as he explores another one of life’s big questions: Should you judge other people?
61 minutes | Dec 4, 2019
Calls to “Abolish Billionaires” Are a Moral Travesty by Keith Lockitch
There’s a new campaign slogan among Democratic politicians: “Abolish Billionaires.” Nobody can honestly deserve a billion dollars, they claim, so they want to impose radical new taxes on the super-wealthy. Indeed, people are arguing that the very existence of billionaires is some kind of moral outrage. Wealthy people are being blamed today for all the…
61 minutes | Dec 4, 2019
Do I Need a Philosophy? by Aaron Smith
Many people have at least heard of a few of history’s great philosophers. Names like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle—they ring a bell and maybe some of us have even taken a philosophy course in college or perhaps encountered books or podcasts that are espousing or offering some kind of philosophy of life—a philosophy for living. But…
58 minutes | Nov 20, 2019
Why Be Honest? by Ben Bayer
We live in an age in which fabricated stories pulse through social media, fashionable startup companies are founded on swindles and, of course, politicians of all stripes routinely lie. Whatever happened to the idea that honesty is the best policy? Most people would recognize honesty as an obvious example of a moral virtue, but the…
61 minutes | Nov 13, 2019
How Can One Be Fully Independent in Today’s Society? by Harry Binswanger
Independence is the theme of Ayn Rand’s great novel The Fountainhead. Howard Roark, the novel’s hero, is the epitome of independence. He speaks of the need to have a self-sufficient ego and says nothing else is as important. What is a “self-sufficient ego”? What is independence and how does one preserve one’s independence in a…
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