#021: The Good Place and Philosophy (feat. Aaron Rabi & Bethany Futrell)

August 8, 2018

Welcome to this week’s episode. Everything is fine. In this episode, I am joined by my good friends Aaron Rabi and Bethany Futrell to discuss NBC’s The Good Place, a show which is a testament to the fact that sitcoms can actually be philosophically robust and make people think deeply about morality and ethics. Who knew? Created by Michael Schur, The Good Place is a fantasy-comedy that explicitly incorporates ideas and concepts from moral and ethical philosophy via the narrative vehicle of a story about a group of people who die and find themselves in an afterlife.

In our conversation, Aaron, Bethany and I discuss moral contractualism, utilitarianism, the famous trolley problem, the moral and ethical implications and consequences of existential crises, the role of moral luck in the lives and actions of the show’s characters, whether or not eternal beings are capable of human morality as we know it, whether it’s morally justifiable to kill sentient A.I in order to upgrade their capabilities, and finally, the question of moral valence and why Aaron is ready and willing to pass moral judgment on Bethany for eating a banana for lunch. We also speculate on possible future directions for the show. Will we get our wish and get to see Jason Mendoza throw a Molotov cocktail at God? 

Links:

Aaron Rabi’s podcast “Embrace the Void”: https://voidpod.com/

“Embrace the Void” on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ETVPod

Aaron Rabi’s other podcast “Philosophers in Space”: https://0gphilosophy.libsyn.com/

Bethany Futrell’s “She Talks Atheism” podcast: https://www.patreon.com/SheTalksAtheism and https://twitter.com/shetalksatheism

Thomas Scanlon 2013 lecture on morality and contractualism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXrVyVqqzJ0

The Trolley Problem Experiment in Real Life by Vsauce: http://thenerdweb.com/trolley-problem-experiment-in-real-life-by-vsauce/ 

 

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Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, Chris Watson, and Kim Bojkovsky for being my patrons!

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The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

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