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On Sunday, 15 April 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: 15 April 2012

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Duration: 1:09:00
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The Segments: Episode: 15 April 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)

I’ve been busy working on transferring NoodleFood over to WordPress on Philosophy in Action. It’s still a work in progress!

Question 1: The Morality of Breaking the Law (3:44)

When is it moral to break the law? Laws should be written to protect individual rights. Unfortunately, many laws today violate rights. When should I abide by a rights-violating law, and when is it proper to break it?

My Answer, In Brief: A person does not have any moral obligation to submit to violations of his rights. However, the proper course – whether complying with the law, breaking the law overtly, or breaking the law covertly – depends on the particulars of the situation. Mostly, get legal advice first!


Question 2: The Morality of Vigilantism (20:48)

Where is the line between justice and vigilantism? When is it moral to take the law into your own hands – meaning pursuing, detaining, and/or punishing criminals as a private citizen? Suppose that you know – without a shadow of a doubt – that some person committed a serious crime against you or a loved one. If the justice system cannot punish the person due to some technicality, is it wrong for you to do so? If you’re caught, should a judge or jury punish you, as if you’d committed a crime against an innocent person?

My Answer, In Brief: The vigilante is not an agent of justice, but a threat to innocents and to the foundations of civilized society.


Question 3: Stealing Valor (36:37)

Should “stealing valor” be a crime? Rencently, a man was arrested by the FBI in Houston and charged with “stolen valor.” This is the charge made against someone who falsely poses as a decorated soldier. Is it proper to make this a crime? Why or why not?

My Answer, In Brief: Undoubtedly, “stealing valor” is reprehensible, but not everything reprehensible should be a crime. The legal response to “stealing valor” ought to be the same as for other kinds of credentials fraud, whether protect speech, civil fraud, or criminal fraud.


Question 4: Selling Sub-Optimal Products (48:50)

What should a businessman do if he decides that his product or service is not really good? More specifically, what should a businessman do if he’s rises up in the business world on promoting a particular product or service, only to learn decades into the ventures that there are better alternatives? As a fictional example, let’s take a mattress manufacturer CEO. He has spent decades of his life trying to make the most comfortable mattresses possible, but then read scientific studies that concludes that there is no healthier sleeping surface than the solid floor, and in using his honest judgment he agrees. Being so high up and so long involved in the mattress world, what are the moral range of options for him?

My Answer, In Brief: Morality in business does not requires producing optimal products, but only good products for honest trade. In this case, the businessman has a range of options, including some moral pitfalls to avoid.


Rapid Fire Questions (58:52)

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

  • Why are vigilante movies so popular?

  • How is a citizen’s arrest different from vigilantism?

  • Is there a lower threshold for when it’s okay to break a regulation?

  • Given the lack of Antonin Scalia’s “New Professionalism” in police action, is the exclusionary rule is an important safeguard?

  • If a government actor has ruined your life unjustly is vengeance a moral option?

  • Is moral perfection a habit and if so is it one of yours?

  • Must a political candidate be chosen by conflating him/her with the party they happen to be running under, or is it reasonable to select a candidate but not agree with the party they run under?

  • Where does Ayn Rand talk about a “central purpose” – and what does she mean by it?
Conclusion (1:08:02)

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Objectivist Roundup

Dec 082011

The Objectivist Roundup is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

The Playful Spirit hosted this week’s Objectivist Roundup. Go take a look!

You can submit your blog article to the next edition of The Objectivist Roundup using this submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found here. If you’re an Objectivist blogger, you can get weekly reminders to submit to the carnival by subscribing to OBloggers @

Also, here are the ten most recent additions to the question queue for the Philosophy in Action Webcast. Please vote for the questions that you’re most interested in hearing me answer!

Join us for the live webcast at on Sundays at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET.

Never Forget

Sep 112011

Duke University professor John Lewis offers this perspective in the Fall 2011 issue of The Objective Standard: “9/11 Ten Years Later: The Fruits of the Philosophy of Self-Abnegation“.

In clinical medicine, too often patients will succumb to otherwise-survivable diseases because they lack sufficient will or desire to live.

The same is true of civilizations. If a civilization lacks the equivalent of a healthy “self-esteem” and instead internalizes the cultural equivalent of “self-contempt”, then it may not really think it deserves to survive when challenged. Whether 21st-century America falls in that category remains to be seen…

Like on Facebook

Jun 292011

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve created Facebook pages for my ongoing projects. So if you support them, please hit the “like” button to help spread the word about them on Facebook.



Rationally Selfish Webcast:


OList Webcasts:

Modern Paleo:

FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine:

Explore Atlas Shrugged:

Coalition for Secular Government:

Again, if you support any or all of these projects, please “like” them!


Sep 292008

Two carnivals have included NoodleFood posts lately, so I wanted to shout back to them: Carnival of the Godless and Weight Management and Fitness Forum.

Update to the Comments

Apr 052008

I’ve just updated the NoodleFood comment script in order to improve its handling of URLs in the following two ways:

(1) You no longer need to put URLs in pointy brackets to have them converted into links. All URLs should now be converted into links automatically.

(2) The displayed text of long URLs will be truncated, so that they don’t cause horizontal scrolling.

My programming skills are pretty rusty, so hopefully those changes will work as expected. If not, please send me an e-mail to [email protected]. You’ll need to send a brief description of what happened and, if possible, the text of your comment.

Yaron Brook Op-Ed in Forbes

Mar 212008

Yaron Brook has published an op-ed on campaign finance reform in Forbes. Here’s the opening paragraph:

This presidential campaign will be, by far, the most expensive in U.S. history. And it is ironic that John McCain, the co-author of McCain-Feingold, is one of the candidates hustling to raise tens of millions of dollars. One thing is for sure: No matter who wins, the call for more campaign finance legislation will intensify–all in the name of combating the allegedly corrupting influence of money on politics. This is ominous, because what campaign finance restrictions actually do is subject political speech to the corrupting influence of government control.

It’s an excellent column, particularly in its use of telling examples from the current presidential election. Sadly, one need not look far to see the absurdity of the McCain-Feingold law and other restrictions on political speech. His point about total government funding of elections as a sure means of creating a “political aristocracy” in America as particularly apt — and chilling. Based on the numbers he cites, it’s already happening in America, thanks to current regulations.

Also, if you like the article, please do post a supportive comment, rate it highly, e-mail it to friends, etc.

Update on the American Dream

Feb 162008

In response to my earlier post, “Testing the American Dream“, a lengthy comment thread has erupted here on, some supporting the overall conclusion and others attacking it for a variety of reasons.

Of the supportive comments, this one by “Minh-Duc” struck me the most:

Why bother with the experiment. Just go talk to immigrants. I arrived to the U.S. with a shirt on my back and spoke no English. I consider myself in the upper middle class now. This is the story that repeated itself a million time in the history of this great nation.

Speaking of family obligations; both of my parents were janitors, my uncle and aunts were (and still are) janitors. My uncle and aunt is even more successful. They put three kids through medical school.

“The American Dream” is a misnomer. It is not a dream. It is a reality.

Live from Berkeley

Feb 132008

Nick Provenzo presented his petition to the Berkeley City Council last night. He’s blogging on what he’s seeing — and it’s amazing. Check it out at Rule of Reason.

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