Episode 41: 10:25 - 11:37
Q: Am I morally obligated to call for help if I see someone in a car accident or experiencing a heart attack?
Peikoff: This is obviously from someone who does not know what the Objectivist view of selfishness is. Absolutely yes, you are morally obligated. If you have chosen to live in a society of human beings and your mode of survival depends on your trade with them then you have to value human life so far as it's not guilty or criminal to your knowledge. In that case if you know no evil about a person and no sacrifice is involved then only a psychopath would turn away from such cases. And that would mean besides all the psychological things a direct contradiction of the value of human life. You can't value your life and decide to live with others of your species and say, "They're nothing to me, I don't care if they live or die." That's self-contradiction.
Actually, I think the closest Rand gets to "absolutely morally obligated" in these situations is a grudging "may be permissible" and no better in "The Ethics of Emergencies" (I don't have my copy handy), although it must be said this is a typically confused Randian essay. Can anyone supply a quote from anywhere in Rand which says helping a stranger in trouble is an "absolute moral obligation" or similar? If not, looks like the Doctor is freestyling, although I note that as usual Peikoff gives himself a have-it-both-ways-clause with the "no sacrifice involved" qualification whilst not providing us with any actual examples of what a "sacrifice" might be. At any rate, weasel-wording aside, the only thing that's clear about Rand's ethics is that little is clear about them.
(hat tip Objectiblog's Neil Parille)