NoodleCast #114: Live Philosophy in Action Webcast

 Posted by on 23 January 2012 at 8:00 am  NoodleCast
Jan 232012

On Sunday, 22 January 2012, I broadcast a new episode of my live Philosophy in Action Webcast, where I answer questions on the application of rational principles to the challenges of living a virtuous, happy, and free life in a live, hour-long webcast. The webcast is broadcast live every Sunday morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. In the webcast, I broadcast on video, Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers is on audio, and the audience is in a text chat.

As usual, if you can’t attend the live webcast, you can listen to it later as audio-only podcast by subscribing to the NoodleCast RSS Feed:

You can also peruse the archives, listening to whole episodes or just individual questions. The archives are sorted by date and by topic.

We hope that you’ll join the live webcast, because that’s more lively and engaging than the podcast. People talk merrily in the text chat while watching the webcast. Greg and I enjoy the immediate feedback of a live audience – the funny quips, serious comments, and follow-up questions. So please join the live webcast when you can!

The Podcast: Episode: 22 January 2012

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    Duration: 1:11:37

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The Segments: Episode: 22 January 2012

The following segments are marked as chapters in the M4A version of the podcast. Thanks to Tammy Perkins for helping compile the show notes!

Introduction (0:00)

Lately, I’ve been working on the Philosophy in Action Website. Also… Save the dates! SnowCon 2012 will be held from March 15 to 18th, likely based in Frisco, Colorado. We’ll play in the snow during the day, then enjoy informal lectures and discussions in the evening.

Question 1: Acquittals of the Guilty Versus Convictions of the Innocent (3:15)

Why is punishing an innocent man worse than failing to punish a guilty man? English jurist William Blackstone said that “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” What does this mean, and is it true? Is some higher ratio of wrongly-punished to wrongly-released acceptable?

My Answer, In Brief: Tto convict an innocent person involves the same wrongs as acquitting guilty person, plus more. That’s why proper justice system presumes innocence, as well as limits and corrects errors of by scrupulous objectivity.


Question 2: The Morality of the Death Penalty (15:37)

Is the death penalty moral? I understand why people are opposed to the death penalty when there might be genuine doubt as to whether the accused person really committed the crime. Certainly, we’ve seen cases where DNA evidence has exonerated someone who was convicted several years ago for a crime they didn’t actually commit. But if someone confesses to first degree murder and if there’s incontrovertible physical evidence to confirm their guilt, is the death penalty then appropriate?

My Answer, In Brief: To impose the death penalty for murder (and perhaps other heinous crimes) is morally proper, if the possibility of error in the criminal conviction can be eliminated. To eliminate not just “reasonable doubt” but also any “residual doubt” can be used to distinguish cases in which such errors have been excluded.


Question 3: Alternatives to America (45:33)

What other countries besides America have a relatively healthy sense of life? Suppose America takes a bad turn politically and I need to relocate to another country. What other countries still have a relatively healthy “sense of life” and decent culture – in that they respect reason, accomplishment, and productiveness – even if their politics are left-leaning? Over the past few months, I’ve heard various people discuss Canada, New Zealand, Costa Rica, China, and India as possible places to relocate to. What do you think of the cultures of those countries?

My Answer, In Brief: I’m not the right person to answer that question. However, I’m committed to staying in the United States, absent some disaster, because I regard America as the best hope for reason and freedom. Fight for it!


Question 4: Choosing a Place to Live (54:05)

Is it rational to value good weather over good politics when choosing a place to live? I currently live in a state with fairly good politics, with respect to taxes, gun rights, and so on. However, I have friends who live in California who say that the weather there is so good, that it’s worth it to them even if the taxes are high, the gun laws are terrible, and the overall political climate is abysmal. Is it rational to value something like good weather over good politics in choosing a place to live?

My Answer, In Brief: A person should judge where to live in the United States based on his whole range of values, not solely on the differences of degree between state governments.


Rapid Fire Questions (58:32)

In this segment, I answered a variety of questions off-the-cuff. The questions were:

  • What is the mistaken assumption in the question, “What is the purpose of life?” Is, “Does life have a purpose?” or “Can life have a purpose?” better?
  • Where should a person interested in learning about Objectivism start?
  • What do you think of what happened when the Costa Concordia ran aground?
  • What do you think of Chris Christie?
  • What does it mean to “assume positive intent”?

Conclusion (1:10:28)

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