Peikoff 17

I’m already a podcast behind, but here I briefly review Leonard Peikoff’s seventeenth podcast, which deals mostly with matters of politics.

1. What is treason? Peikoff distinguishes between “giving aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime” from criticizing a war.

2. Is torture of wartime enemies ever appropriate? Peikoff answers that it’s “moral when it’s necessary to advance the war for freedom.” The problem is that torture rarely yields useful information, he adds. It might be useful if, for example, the military has captured someone who knows about a bomb soon to detonate. It is a matter of tactics, but “not a primary or major issue of a war.” I am curious whether those who absolutely oppose the use of all torture would hold their ground if U.S. forces captured a terrorist who had planted a nuclear bomb in a major U.S. city.

3. Can Objectivists be soldiers, police officers, or others devoted to “public service?” Peikoff answers that this is no different for doctors or other professionals. A soldier properly fights to preserve liberty for himself, his family, and his country, and to offer an engaging career. (I skipped another minor question before this one.)

4. Did Ayn Rand regret her “provocative tone?” Peikoff’s answer here is too good for me to summarize; listen to the podcast.

5. Is reproduction a source of values from a biological perspective? “Of value to whom?” Peikoff asks. The notion of a sort of transcendent biological “value” is an instance of intrinsicism.

6. If you’re engaged with someone (for athletics, sex, etc.), do you have a legal as well as a moral responsibility to help the person if they have an emergency health problem? Peikoff answers yes, because you’ve entered an implicit contract with them. I think he’s right here, but the problem is that it would be rarely possible to legally enforce. But if you’re having sex with somebody who wouldn’t help you with a health emergency, you have bigger problems than your health.

It’s a particularly fun podcast.