Ask an Applied Philosopher

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Have a burning question about bioethics, philosophy of sex and love, sports ethics, environmental ethics, the ethics of voting, or animal rights? About consciousness and AI – or consciousness and higher primates? About who gets counted as an expert and why?  If you have a question in applied philosophy, email ask.an.applied.philosopher@asu.edu and each month we will feature an answer written by a philosophy professor or graduate student. 

Sample Questions

  1. I can’t decide what to do over the upcoming summer break. A friend suggested that we could take a road trip to Seattle and see some of the sights along the West Coast on the way. Another friend of mine suggested that I volunteer with him to help build houses with Habitat for Humanity. While the road trip sounds like more fun the volunteer work will definitely look good on a resume, so I think that I should do that. When I told my roommate about this, they said I wasn’t really being charitable in donating my time if I was only doing it to add to my resume. Are they right? What do you think I should do next summer?

  2. I wouldn’t normally think to ask a philosopher for relationship advice, but I am hoping you can help. While back home over the winter-break I ran into an old girlfriend from high school. We were at the same holiday party and since neither of us knew many of the other guests we spent most of the night talking with one another, catching up, and reminiscing. At the end of the evening she asked me if I’d like to have dinner with her sometime and we ended up seeing each other, just as friends, twice more before I had to return to ASU. The problem is that I have a girlfriend here at ASU for whom I care very much. I can’t decide if I should tell her about my ex or not. On the one hand it seems that if I don’t tell her then I am somehow lying to her but on the other I don’t want to hurt her, especially since nothing happened with my ex. What do you think I should do?

  3. My best friend (who is also my roommate) is pushing me to pledge a sorority with her next fall (I’d rather not name the sorority). I really like the thought of joining the sorority with her, but I promised my mom that I would pledge a rival sorority which she attended while at college (a chapter at a different school). I know that whatever I decide I will be disappointing one of them, either my best friend or my mom, and I don’t want to choose. What do you think I should do?

  4. I am half way through my Junior year here at ASU as an engineering major. My grandmother (my Dad’s mom) is in her late 70’s and has had Alzheimer’s for a couple of years now. She doesn’t have insurance and my parents can’t afford to pay for a nursing home, so my mom takes care of her while my dad helps out as much as he can when he’s not working. My grandmother has recently taken a turn for the worse and my Dad has had to cut back his hours at work to help care for her. I feel like I should take some time off of school to go home and help out my family. I figure that if I move back home, I can work part-time to help with the bills and help my mom care for my grandmother, so my dad can go back to working full-time. I know that neither my parents nor my grandmother would want me to leave school and I don’t want to disappoint them by doing so but I really feel like it’s the right thing to do. On the other hand, I am concerned that if I leave school now, I won’t return to finish my degree and that will disappoint them even more. Any advice?