Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: John Stuart Mill

Reject the Fat Acceptance Movement

As waistlines have expanded in the western world, we’re seeing a push for “fat acceptance”. This movement takes the view that society unfairly discriminates against fat people on arbitrary grounds, that being fat is a legitimate way of being that should be no more open to criticism than being gay or being black. As the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) puts it, “we come in all sizes”. While the Fat Acceptance Movement identifies some genuine problems in our society, its answers to these problems are wholly inadequate.

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Donald Sterling Should Keep the Clippers

Donald Sterling, landlord and owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, holds exceptionally repugnant moral views. In a recorded conversation with one of his girlfriends, Sterling allegedly said:

It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?

You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on [Instagram] and not to bring them to my games.

There’s nine minutes of it, if you’re bored. While at the time of writing, the recording has not yet been authenticated, it’s quite likely it will be, because Donald Sterling has a history of saying racist and sexist things. Many people are disgusted with the guy, as well they should be. Some are however calling for the NBA to force Sterling to sell the Clippers. This is a mistake. Here’s why.

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A Critique of Habermas

Today I’d like to put on my democratic theory hat and offer a critique of Jürgen Habermas‘ theory of deliberative democracy. Habermas gives his answer to the question of what kind of government we ought to have by appealing not to any specific goal or end that he thinks government ought to have, but by instead offering standards by which we can judge a procedure through which one would determine one’s society’s ends. I argue that Habermas relies too much on moral intuitionism to substantiate these standards and consequently provides insufficient reason why we should choose to determine our form of government by appeal to procedure rather than by appeal to result.

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I’ve Still Got Dennis Rodman’s Back

Over the last several days, an old piece of mine from March 2013 has spontaneously, seemingly out of nowhere, popped back up in my daily blog statistics–Leave Dennis Rodman Alone. Some formulation of the question “is Dennis Rodman retarded?” has led more internet wanderers here over the last couple of days than any other query. The cause? Hall of fame 5-time NBA champion Dennis Rodman has returned to North Korea, this time with a team of retired NBA players to play a game in honor of Kim Jong-un’s birthday. Rodman once again has been put on the defensive by many in the American media for fraternizing with a terrible dictator and for refusing to advocate for the release of Kenneth Bae, an American who is currently held prisoner in the country. Nonetheless, I’m still backing Dennis Rodman. Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry »

Defining Happiness

Utilitarians believe that we should maximize happiness and minimize unhappiness. Sometimes “happiness” is replaced with some other word or phrase, like “pleasure”, “utility”, “living standards”, and so on, but the claim is generally the same. Critics of utilitarianism often accuse utilitarians of being imprecise in their conception of happiness. If happiness is what matters, what makes people happy in the first place? Some utilitarians seem to smuggle in very peculiar conceptions of happiness without justifying or substantiating them. As someone with utilitarian leanings, I think the critics are owed a more comprehensive response than they’ve received, so that’s what I set out to do today.

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