Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Anarchism

The Inevitability of Cooperation

I’ve been thinking lately about why we cooperate with each other–why we form communities and states. The typical Hobbesian answer to this question is that we cooperate in order to protect ourselves from violence. There is truth in that answer, but security concerns, while a primary motivator for cooperation, are not the only motivator. This is important, because there are those who oppose cooperative institutions on the grounds that a world without cooperative institutions isn’t as dangerous as Hobbesians commonly believe, suggesting we should become total individualists (e.g. anarchists, transcendentalists, etc.).

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A Critique of Autonomy

If this appears to be “moral philosophy week”, bear with me–I just keep having interesting conversations on the subject. On a couple occasions this week, the topic of autonomy has come up, usually as a principle to contrast with my favoured principle, utility. It is said that when we prioritise what is useful, we invariably use other people as means to ends, and in so doing violate their autonomy, which deontologically held to be sacrosanct and inviolate. While I have made arguments concerning “using people” in the past, I find myself ultimately dissatisfied with the contractualist appeal I have often resorted to (i.e. that rational people in a Rawlsian original position would agree to be used from time to time for the benefit of others on condition that everyone else agreed to be used from time to time as well). What I would like to do is refute the value of autonomy more totally, and, thanks to an idea I had late last night, I think I am in a position to do it.

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Intellectual Hipsters: Libertarians

There’s another upstart group of intellectual hipsters in addition to the sceptics and the lovers of Nietzsche–the libertarians. You’ve definitely met these hipsters before. They wax romantically about Ron Paul, some of them voted for Gary Johnson, they tend to like theorists like Nozick and Locke, and some of them are Ayn Rand-embracing objectivists. You know the type. Like all hipsters, their ideas are much less sophisticated and clever than they imagine, and their position is neither novel nor socially helpful. Of course, I cannot merely assert these things, I have to prove them. Let’s go.

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Oversimplifications: “Obama is a Socialist”

How many times have we heard this one? “Obama is a socialist”, they say, “he’s just like [insert Communist boogie man here]”. There’s an obvious thing being missed by the right when they call Obama a socialist, and that’s that there are endless variations on socialism. So that brings us to our question for today–if Obama is a socialist, what kind of socialist would he be, and who should the right be comparing him to?

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