Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Free Will

What Kind of God Do Monotheists Believe In?

Yesterday, I did some writing about the conflict between secular moral theory and theistic religious moral theory. Today, this has me thinking in greater theoretical detail about the monotheistic position specifically and what it might entail. In the course of this thinking, I have run into something of a dilemma.

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A Critique of Aaron James’ “Asshole” Theory

I’ve recently been reading Aaron James’ Assholes: A Theory, in which James attempts to sort out what it means to be an “asshole”, how people get to be “assholes” and what methods people and societies should use to contain and contend with them. It is an interesting book, but I have a quibble over James’ claim that assholes are to blame for their asshole status.

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Why Developed Countries Deny God

I ran across a fascinating Pew survey today about the extent to which people in different parts of the world believe that belief in god is necessary to justify moral views. It is a rare thing to get such a comprehensive look at the philosophical and theological views of people all around the world. Even more interestingly, the Pew survey reveals important relationships between the kind of society we have and the way we think about moral philosophy.

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Sex, Adolescence, and the Power of Desire

One of the most common arguments used to advance the cause of gay rights is the thought that individuals do not choose their own sexualities. Some people are naturally disposed to be gay, some to be straight, some somewhere in between. The argument goes that we ought not to blame individuals for behaviors that arise from desires they do not choose, at least insofar as those desires do not result in harm being done to others (the desire in pedophiles to have sex with children also arises naturally, but pedophilia harms children, while homosexuality is not in and of itself harmful). I’m not here today to contest this argument–I broadly agree with it–I’m here to explore the possibility that it might have significant moral, legal, and philosophical implications outside the LGBT issue. What other desires arise in the same way the sexual desire does?

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Expensive Tastes and Utility Monsters

Recently I’ve been going back over some Rawls, and in the course of doing so I came upon Rawls’ views on people with expensive tastes–those whose happiness requires unusually expensive goods. Rawls thinks that people are ultimately responsible for their tastes, having at some point in their lives freely chosen to cultivate them. I don’t think this is true. Here’s why.

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