Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Altruism

Better Never to Have Been?

I have recently finished reading a fascinating and thought-provoking book by political theorist David Benatar, entitled Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence. In this book, Benatar makes a rather unconventional argument–that to bring someone into existence is to harm that person, and that it is consequently generally wrong to have children, because to have children is to harm them. While I found Benatar’s argument most interesting, I ultimately found it unpersuasive. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Good Guys Shouldn’t Finish Last

Today I’d like to raise an objection to a broad spectrum of moral theories of whom we ought to deem morally significant. I call this objection “good guys shouldn’t finish last”. There is a tendency in our moral theory to argue that doing the right thing often entails indiscriminate niceness. Moral theories frequently demand that we be universally benevolent to all beings with certain biological characteristics such as being human, feeling pain, having complex thought, or some such thing. The trouble with all moral theories of this kind is that they result in the moral practitioner, the being trying to do good, being harmed. I argue not only that this harm occurs, but that it is a knockdown objection to any moral theory if the beings it deems morally good have worse lives than the beings it deems morally bad–i.e., if the good guys finish last. I will illustrate each point in sequence.

Read the rest of this entry »

My Tesco Trolley Adventure

Today was a beautiful spring day, so I went out for a walk around Warwick. The university has some great scenic paths, and I like going for walks in nice weather. I was in such a splendid mood, I found myself humming Frank Sinatra. I’m not an ear buds guy, I like to listen to the world around me and hum my tunes.  As I was wandering about, enjoying myself, I stumbled upon a Tesco trolley. “Trolley” is the British word for “cart”. Tesco is a British supermarket chain. I’ve been at Warwick for three years, and in that time I have seen many Tesco trolleys in places they do not belong. People go to Tesco, they buy things, they take the trolleys back to the residence halls to carry the things home with them. But then, they do a curious thing. Instead of taking the time to bring the trolleys back to Tesco, they dump them in the wilderness. In the three years I’ve been at Warwick, I have many times noticed this, but I have never once done anything about it. Today was different.

Read the rest of this entry »