Functional Philosophy #83

(1) The Nonexistence of Nothing (2) The Rights of Children (3) The Death Penalty

In this episode of Functional Philosophy, I answer the following questions:

00:38 - "In episode 32, talking about how to think about the universe, you suggested the existence of an ether filling otherwise empty space. You glossed over this as a given without much explanation. Since the existence of an ether is not common knowledge, I assume that you believe there is some metaphysical necessity for it. Could you please clarify this?

FWIW, I understand that "nothing" does not exist. "Nothing" is only the absence of something. It is only in reference to something that "nothing" has any meaning. The same can be said about empty space. Empty space does not exist -- it is only the space between existents. It is only in reference to other objects in space that one can refer to empty space. But I don't see this as necessitating a plenum. It seems to me to be a false dichotomy to claim that, because empty space does not exist, then there is no empty space between anything.

I’d like to hear your arguments for the existence of an ether or the universe as a plenum."

08:07 - "I'm just wondering what the nature of the rights of children is from the perspective of objectivism, and what the moral relationship between a parent and a child is like. I haven't seen this issue properly addressed - that's not to say it hasn't been, certainly I could have missed it - but I am curious about when rights and responsibility begin. It seems Rand herself concluded children do not have full rights, but in any case I'm curious about the obligation to care for your child, if any exists."

13:55 - "My question relates to the death penalty, and whether or not it should exist in a free society. I recently read an article in the New York Times which reported that the Pope had declared the death penalty to be inadmissible in all cases. This got me to thinking, is it moral for the State to execute a violent criminal? I am currently reading OPAR for the first time and have just completed Chapter 8 – Virtue in which Leonard Peikoff, among other things, describes the Objectivist position on the concept of ‘Justice’. Although the Objectivist position on the death penalty is not stated explicitly, it is my moral estimate that Ayn Rand’s vigorous advocacy of the good and condemnation of the evil implies a need for having the death penalty available for the most egregious instances of rights violations; mass murderers/serial killers etc. Is this your understanding of the Objectivist position? And if so, what are the Objective facts which give rise to this idea? And finally, what do you think are the ideas underlying those people who say “we can’t resort to the level of the murderers or terrorists, we must be better than them and lead by example”? Surely this just sanctions evil?"

Functional Philosophy is the weekly Q&A podcast that helps you gain and strengthen the philosophical foundations required to achieve certainty, success, and happiness.

Subscribe to hear philosopher Charles Tew, an expert on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, answer your questions on philosophy, politics, career, and more. New episodes on Mondays.