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I was recently listening to the Rationally Speaking podcast, a show that discusses philosophy, science and the relationship between the two. While the co-host, Massimo Pigliucci (a philosophy professor at CUNY-City College) was running through what various philosophers thought about suicide (that episode’s topic), he got off on a tangent about hermits. (You can listen to it here, with the hermit section arriving at about the ten minute mark.)
Specifically, the discussion turned to the morality of being a hermit, which Pigliucci has a problem with because
I do think that if you choose to be a hermit, you are essentially abandoning the rest of society, therefore whatever moral duties you have to society, and therefore you cannot have a eudaemonic life.
Only occasionally do I think of becoming a hermit. But I had never before considered the morality of the thing. Pigliucci is a progressive and, obviously, a communitarian, so while his co-host expresses shock that Massimo has a problem with hermits, it’s not outlandish from his point of view.
I, being an individualist and an Randian, reject the notion of duty if is defined as unchosen obligation. As far as a duty to “society” goes, I’m not bound by any obligation not of my own choosing.
But we have a diverse crowd of people here at Ricochet and I’m wondering what other people’s views are on the morality of hermits.