Benjamin Studebaker

The Home of an Aspirant Political Philosopher and his Early Period Works

Inequality: Better to be Greek or Roman?

Oftentimes when we discuss whether or not economic inequality is justifiable, we have the tendency to consider only the most extreme form of the left wing position. The right often defends its model of the  market economy by comparing it to the old communist states, to the Soviet Union–countries in which everyone, at least in theory, had the same income. In places like the Soviet Union, incentives fell apart. If you will be paid the same amount no matter how much work you do, there is little reason to do additional work. The trouble is that this argument straw mans all left wing positions as strictly egalitarian. The left wing position need not be that societies should be perfectly economically equal, it need merely be that much of the economic inequality we see is superfluous and unnecessary. That is the argument I intend to make today.

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Blog News

When my run of posting starts to become rather thin, I think I owe readers an explanation as to what is going on and when they can expect things to return to normal. In this case, I am presently working on a draft of the MA thesis I am writing at University of Chicago, provisionally titled The Return of Depression Politics and the Coming Cataclysm for Democracy. This draft needs to be completed by Friday, April 18,  and so I have had to give it precedence over my other projects. Sometime during this week the draft will be finished, at which point the blogging pace should begin to pick up. However, a full return to the very-nearly-daily pace I maintained for much of 2013 is not in the cards, at least not until I finish my MA, which I expect will happen de jure in June, de facto in late May. I thank you, the reader, for your patience as I complete these urgent projects.

Minimum Wage: Rational Employers are Not Job Creators

There is a huge, gaping hole in the response right-wing politicians are giving to demands that the minimum wage be raised in the United States–they are assuming that employers generally behave in an irrational, inefficient way. Here’s how.

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The Supreme Court Should Rule Against Hobby Lobby

I’ve briefly touched on the Hobby Lobby case before, but given its recent prominence, I’d like to devote a full piece to it. The case is fairly straightforward–under Obamacare, large corporations are required either to provide health insurance or pay a fine. Obamacare mandates that health insurance packages include coverage of some minimal set of treatments and services, including access to many kinds of birth control. Hobby Lobby objects to a couple of these kinds of birth control–its owners believe that they amount to abortion, and they morally object to abortion on religious grounds. However, Hobby Lobby does not want to pay the fine. It wants to provide health insurance to its employees but receive a religious exemption from the requirement that it cover these specific kinds of birth control. The court should rule against Hobby Lobby–here’s why.

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Gaslighting Philosophers

Perhaps you remember last year when American football player Manti Te’o was catfished. An acquaintance of Te’o pretended to be a girl named Lennay Kekua, and Te’o became convinced that he was in an online long-distance relationship with this individual. When Kekua “died of cancer”, Te’o was devastated, and his devastation grew larger still when he discovered that the entire relationship was a lie, that Kekua was not a real person at all. Catfishing happens when the perpetrator manipulates over the course of an extended period of time a victim’s sense of reality to make the victim believe he is in a relationship with a non-existent person. It is a form of gaslighting, a devious strategy by which perpetrators systematically undermine victims’ notions of reality by systematically manipulating them into mistrusting their own senses and experience. My claim today is that there are philosophers who are engaged in gaslighting on a grand scale–those who believe that truth is a social construct.


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