In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris and Paul Bloom discuss topics in the news including the tragic death of Kobe Bryant. They also explore the paradoxes of moral responsibility.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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I am here with Paul bloom Paul thanks we're going make haste thanks for having so I
a little preamble to and set up his comrade
nation. I have been thinking of late that I've been kind of getting back
Stan in my normal podcast format. I may I'm hey often having conversations with people,
They know they ve written a book very likely
and I know I've taken rather often taken the time to read it, and this may be the one
I'm I ever have with them and really
has to be focused on
are topic and fairly buttoned up an exhaustive and doesn't
really allow me in most cases
just kind of wander around and hit topics of interest, and-
a little more free form and com.
Rotational, and so I was thinking of starting a new track in the podcast
where I can be more topical and above the moment and experts
mental and talk about work in progress and all the rest, and I was thinking out.
About who I could do that with, and you were the first person to come to mind as I and I, as you know I reached out,
and here you are so thank you for agreeing to do this. While I was, I was really thrilled to be invited to do this. I have always felt that our conversations go very well, and I think it's because you and I had a certain sweet spot where we agree and disagree and in the right measures, making your conversation sort of productive, but not ass, quasi saying to one another
you're right in a higher. Exactly right, road should be fun here and say. I must apologise in advance. I have a cold for our inaugural conversation and dumb, if you can
over there at Yale? I think it will be due to an excess of empathy. On your part, my biggest weakness.
Ok, what we have to begin on an unhappy note, because we are speaking today in the aftermath of copy Brian,
dying in a helicopter crash, along with his thirteen,
a daughter and I believe it seven other people were speaking
on the Monday. After and in others, the outpouring of grief
and I'm just out of the way the world seemed to stop around this.
In my memory. The only thing I remember like it was Princess Diana dine. I don't know that sir. What else compares to that? But damn how do you perceive moments
like this, I believe, is one is complicated by several other factors which will go into, but it's pretty breathtaking the way the death of a celebrity like this cuts through death denial in a way that few other events do it's really affecting. I was in them in London on sabbatical when Princess Diana was killed in this car crash, and the old pouring of grief was extraordinary, the streets emptied out, while people wanted a funeral are washed it on tv. People talk about nothing else, and people were viscerally affected. You'd, stewed, you'd, walk past people on the streets who were weeping and an extraordinary. I think when it comes to certain sources, celebrities them out a personal contact. People have
It's it's. A lot of people are more said who they were more affected by her death and the death of their brother or their their mother. It's it's this powerful feeling that an end is not knowing that she was beloved is that she was some sort of, I don't know fairytale character for them, and I think great athletes often feel as a similar niece for us near
and also his thirteen year old daughter who looked like she was going to be aim superstar back
about player in her own right. That was really devastating effect.
It wasn't clear that she was on the helicopter. First
his death was announced, and then he saw me
images of him with his daughters, circulate
and then to find out that she was
kill that was really brutal
there's a familiarity component. The fact that you ve seen this person so much, but this is an additional factor.
It's just it pings thee enough. It can happen to
am. I can happen to any one part of the brain in some way so that it makes life seem especially precarious and get especially with a child.
Involve envy and dine and accident in this way is yea wherever you can have a taxonomy of of deaths of people. You don't know, I know one extreme is older people in the seventies and eighties, where you know it could be sad, could be really affecting, but in the end is not a shock, it doesn't seem practically unjust. Then you get young people, and this is a case for dealing with now and that could be far more moving. It seems so are
literary and frightening, and then you get children and children. Children are the worst. You know it is the worst when it was only that happens to a kid
You can look at any adult and say good things and bad things about them and how to our friends in her enemies. But you know: if there's one thing: how would he Greece on is that is our kids shouldn't die an end if
it is if you, if you ever, want an argument for that for the cruelty. If there is a god of got me to death of children yeah, it really is
the argument for which there is no rebuttal,
the normal argument about free will and any kind of justice for a purse
behavior. While alive is obviously in it doesn't apply to kids. So really it has become the perfect storm on so
media because immediately upon the announcement of his death might have been before,
Anyone realized his daughter was involved. There was this Washington, post writer, Felicia Son mess, I'm not quite sure how to pronounce at last name
who tweeted a link to a twenty sixteen daily beast article written by somebody else.
Detailing the there never quite settled to everyone.
At his faction. Rape allegations against Brian and the response to that was absolutely infernal. She's actually has been put on administrative leave from them.
And down. This is one of those moments where the land
with me. How awesome
representative of most people,
hear me I'm I'm, not a basketball fan, I call be really hasn't, had much of a state
my brain and I was aware of obviously these allegations.
Salmon and was still not.
We have what I think about them, and this is obviously precede the me to moment
had they come about now, there's no way he would have not been cancelled, but you know they predate everyone's heightened awareness of these issues and so
she was a promoting the scandal in the immediate meant to say
immediate aftermath of his death, and it was like a literally within ten minutes or something. It seemed an example of enormous bad taste. Given
his family is now dealing with, but it's
It is an interesting question is what is appropriate to acknowledge about a person when
it's too soon and was the right way to play.
And like that, it's just get. It struck
almost everyone as fairly tat lesson masochistic on her
fart, but I don't know where the line is, and it's just interesting to see what social media has done to us here. Cuz, it's tempting to feel like you need to express an opinion at moments like this. If you have any public profile- and you know she has- is certainly reaping the results
Having expressed hers, I don't know the rules are here. I don't think she knew either in his conservative figure, Roger scrutiny he died recently and, for the most part, a lot of his friends and families fans posted. You know gentle stories about stories about and respect for him and express Express sadness, but
people who said this guy said awful things and, and maybe was an awful die and so much you know so much the better the world without him and
I have my own biases that we should always error in favour of being kind hinted, at least in the short term. But you know there are different views and ass. I know Christopher Higgins, him his lay your your your friend hitch argue that that we should not be kind to the recently dead if we think they were terrible. We
should be up front and save us here that just remind people that he was on the news. Savaging
Jerry far at that point and then, given that I share
his views are far well? I really didn't feel much critical distance from that savaging by them
I saw the other side of that very
equation when Glenn Green Walled wasted no time dancing
on Hitler's grave when he died and it and it struck me as in a fairly craven, given that you know this the kind of thing he would have fared well saying to hit you
this meant that in this case, it just seemed like the grief of copies family needed to be so parent
the just imagining a his wife and
her remaining daughters deal
with the death of her.
Husband, father and daughter as well and is
that moment to press the unresolved
me too case against Bryant, which was again. It
not so clear and the infidelity part is clear and you get his judgmental about that as you want. But it's just not really your place to judge if the marriage survive
that's right and who knows what the understanding is or was between his wife and himself. At that point, it's like, given that its unsettle that just I don't know
it was kind of a self emulation of a journalist, a measure that was the hill. She was right to want to die on. So that's one way of looking at, which is the accusation was uncertain, and given that you shouldn't brought it
but how do we be other things going on if an inaccurate principles MIKE Tyson, who had? Actually, you have done time for rape bringing saying well, it was a dead rapists. Now I e people might have a different feeling
that will there that opens the other issue of just the kind, the moral significance of having done ones time and this
accident. I want to talk to you about and we can get there when we get there. But what are the physics of redemption and we
have someone do something awful, let's say: there's no one.
India about it. We think it's awful. They admit it was awful. What constitutes an appropriate
readmission to our good graces powder. Somebody get their reputation back,
They ve done something terrible and we- and we have examples of this in there
others who get out of prison? Who would then become they Paradise
stories of moral rehabilitation and then
on the other end of the continuing we have people wanting to cancel someone for all time for a few errant tweets that they unleashed as teenagers. Who do you think about
even in the case where the previous moral and
action. It is quite clear: it's it's a good question, as I just two things. One thing as I think that one force in all of this that that we should acknowledges, I think we put-
part but ITALY famous people do either good or evil there either Princess Diana Jeffrey Epstein and if you know
forces that pull you the one end or another. The idea saying: ok, this guy die and it was goodness knows badness and has critics as France is uncomfortable critically over social media. You have to take one side or
another as for redemption, you know you're right there. All of these famous cases of these these NEO Nazis, who became you know, crusaders flat to help minorities are people who murders who have achieved in the eyes of others. What you see is redemption, but I'm trying to think of it, and I can't can you tell me one famous celebrity figure
was really use. Today's word cancelled and now is in everybody's good graces. I dunno pee Wee Herman
here and there I don't another. Anyone is penitentiary.
Now, but I think he did sort of combat.
Can get redeem, but you didn't call me, might have been an the Thyssen. Is all
an example of this, but both coolby
and Tyson are examples of people who really.
More or less made it all the way back for most people, I'm at call me to an enormous degree,
and he just career most of his triumph, was still ahead of him. You know, as an athlete could
that slightly wrong again and on follow basketball by me was like twenty five or twenty six. When that scandal broken, you know he died at forty one. So may I guess once you're
tarnish you're always can be tarnished in somebody's eyes. But that was pretty solid example of here, having put it behind him. So so what did? He do right case,
practical advice for anybody listening tests are for you and me if we ever really get into trouble, what's the technique for for achieving public redemption? Well it s. Her depends on what, for, I think, there's some
unhappy data on the efficacy of aid, the rather Trump in tactic
never apologizing right and MR some social science they suggesting apologies, backfire
and in any political scheme, apologies stages. I've seen apologies by people who have done an appropriate things and their enemies just mock them and say we want
more yeah yeah. I say it is interesting to consider what constitutes it and what should constitute a acceptable apology and whether it has strategic,
how are you in general? I think in the case of something like the accusations of rape or there or their own thing, but it may just take the infidelity part of it. The crucial
sculpture, Tory thing and in the case of somebody, like Kobe Bryant or like Tiger Woods,
is whether or not the wife we stands by your side right and then yes, gas, different outcome or the husband ass occasion.
But here again I didn't follow it so closely, but I need you seem to have come
all the way. Back and again, it was pre me
Two is hard to imagine. It would have survived the glare of the present moment. I guess Bill Clinton is a sort of parallel case, although
yeah, because his infidelities and and and accusations of rape happened when he was when he was present and a lot of people supported him at the time he was never. You never really fell that much from grace, but but I think the fact he was supported by his family and I think that sort of at least he tried to tell the redemption
story, probably reasonably successful. When here when it went when he dies, we will be saying wonderful things about it.
There's another example where hitch was on the case of every,
in his book tat, no one left to lie to the triangulation of William Jefferson Clinton, but damn
it, went all in on the accusations of rape there and I must say it, and it's been a long time since I've looked at that book, but I found it fairly persuasive and it reset my view of Clinton and whatever is true about the extreme accusations there, that the other
dysfunction of his marriage with Hilary or what our or the political liability of whatever deal they had
cut in their marriage came back in the twenty six,
election. When you she's onstage, debating an opponent who was eminent,
or based on his own sexual transgressions and the other. The
The Legion accusations, yeah
is trailing end and yet to that debate he brought in a bill Clinton accuser.
Into the audience? And here the Hilary could
say a word about any of this because of how she had conducted herself during
the time of her husbands presence in one. Those accusations were surfacing. How she just exe
created these women as liars and gold diggers, and they just
she saw on the wrong side of history there, and so we apparently dishonest in
she took his side and you know,
gaming in a lady, Macbeth, sort of way, mistress
everything lined up to just completely
neutralize her at a moment where she would have had an overwhelming political advantage. Yeah yeah it. If it is one of a set of ways in which it is better to have somebody rang against trumpet the time
but this is also an example of something you and I have talked about before, which is how our more
code now causes.
To re- evaluate things in the past- sometimes rightly sometimes wrongly, in if, if, if these things about,
Bill Clinton came out and he was a president any it was now. The ramifications would be far far worse because we see it as as is behaviour is as as inexcusable in a way that many people didn't back. Then
I think that is true on the left me, every place left of centre is a spot on the map that is truly hostile to
even a rumour of a rumour of an accusation of that kind. But what do you make of the fact that Trump really suffers no such penalty, and it seems like there's nothing
No accusation of that sort or any other sort that matters in his world I make of it. Extreme despair
it is now. I think it is apparent that there is no such thing as dirt. On from there is nothing he could say or do that would cause his fans and a large majority republican base to give up support for him. I think this is one case in which tribal loyalty dominates individual character and and in some way it it's it's entirely rational for people like you and me, and in roughly half of it,
a traitor to attack trump and despised from, but by doing so it sets up a dynamic where anything new reported against Trump tribal loyalties kick in and use
your attacking our guy and from fees offer them. So I looked. I am
I dont want to come off like oh, I would have predicted this all along honestly. I had thought that, naively that american conservatives were actually conservative in manners of propriety and sexuality and conduct, in which case they would find.
Trump honestly repellent, and this has been a rude awakening from me- how they manage to put up with that guy you're, not
we put- I was celebrated near. It is an endless source of surprise
there's. Any remaining capacity for surprise on this score is just I'm in just one. I think he's crossed a line that is not a force people to the fact that never happen so I may need these did
that the partner that that legendary presume tapes of him, you know having bizarre sex acts with russian prostitutes where he peace on our has them beyond hammer sounding these could come out
be on Youtube in the front page New York Times, I don't know what I would do with his support. I don't know whether or wether would cause it to fit to drop it all. This reminds me of other tapes that I occasionally mentioned on the spot
The alleged apprentice then there,
where death or use the inward with abandoned and, as I have said several times
I know to a moral certainty that those tapes exist. I know people who have it
directly from the mouth of Mark Burnett that they exist and multiple people that wanting
way out about that, is that mark. But
is living with the other
In that, by now
releasing those tapes. He has done nothing
Presumably, in his mind, releasing those tapes would be an x,
ordinary act in other. You would go off like a nuclear bomb and to withhold those tapes is to take no
action. But I would I would say that the opposite is the case. He took an enormous action, an act of responsibility to decide for a nation of three hundred and
forty million people that no one could know about what this man is like behind closed doors when he had the evidence of it, and I remained somewhat hopeful. This will never be confirm or disconfirm, but I do think that you know hearing
tat, would probably make a different image. One thing in the abstract to know this is the kind of guy who probably uses the end
Word without any
Lena irony or were met a context. Here's how he talks in private at is to know that in the abstract, but then they actually
here it done over and over again with all the context, and I think it would be kind of like I remember this
a firm and tapes played during the OJ trial. That was the end of
the end of the trial when we heard just what this guy's mind was like
What do you think of me would matter if we had hours of him speak
abandoned like up member the cooks clan. Now, if I, if I had to guess, I would say no, I was a kid
over and over again from says things and those things you know that the whole her doll access Hollywood tape. I would have guests in that simpler time. That would be the death of any politician, but it wasn't endless
You know you now there must be hours and hours of him saying things that are grotesque and if a tweeting them, in fact, I actually think it if he ever if he got caught with those take
in some way be his brand here
be. It may be more embarrassing for him if he spent in out two hours ago, rhapsodize thing about how he likes. You know, japanese poetry and really an israeli cosmopolitan
heart, then, incidentally, what they want to how her rosy glow was but aims in anybody. Just he's a straight talking.
I don't know it must something, there's something so toxic about the world.
Heard that it has a a magical power that I think
whether word does in English
similarly in America and having famously doesn't have the same kind of power in places like Australia and you get the occasional aussi who used the word thinking well yet, surely this is fair game to talk about? These
The word in this context, but I don't know. Unfortunately, we will never hear those tapes. So let's go back to this, the top,
of moral redemption and eggs. We can broaden it tomorrow.
Responsibility and forgiveness and there's also
this concept of moral lacking, at which I have always found fast
I think this phrase originates with
Bernard Williams, YAP Buddy, Thomas Nagel, also wrote an essay. I think Nagel discussion of it, these rules
the one that I have in my head, but there's this.
Each of moral trend.
Crash in and culpability and good and bad
outcomes. We haven't it.
Wishing that four person to be truly responsible for their actions to deserve the
punishment or the reward that comes to them. It shouldn't be mostly,
much less entirely a matter of luck that their actions occur in the first place remains shouldn't just be this span of roulette wheel,
it gets you put in prison with everyone thinking you deserve it or gets you celebrated as a
kind of moral hero, but we,
actually look at how events unfold. There's a component of luck that you just can't ever purred
from the system is only the example that comes to mind
and for me, is a that of a drunk driver who at killing somebody's kid or otherwise, causing tremendous, so
for it and then you think of all the people who drive drunk who have no bad outcome. They just get home safely to their beds and sleep it off, and the difference between those groups
seems purely a matter of luck and I, and if that
apple, doesn't really land with people because
most people are now they're scrupulous enough. Not
Dr Drunk, and they feel like love. You kill someone driving
drunk you deserve it. Well, then think about texting
virtually everyone. Listening to us now, we'll have at some point behaving irresponsibly
phone in their cars and some people
we are more or less still committed to doing that on a daily basis, despite whatever
punishments come their way and their texting one
driving is an unambiguously Danes,
thing to do which most people,
get away with, and yet some people wonder killing people and go to prison for it. So then the question is
if the only difference between you and the person who
now in prison for less safe ten years for killing a child while glancing at their at their phone and driving.
The only difference is a matter of work, walk and how we feel about the punishment.
On some level, already punished, anatomy thinking how ruin like you'd like to continue with neither the twentieth you'll need to subscribe it, SAM Aristotle, you get access to all full length, episodes of making as pancakes into other subscriber only content, including bonus episodes in animals. In the conversations I've been having an awakening that make us his pipe has freed and rely entirely on with your support, and you can subscribe now sand Aristotle.
Transcript generated on 2020-01-30.