Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: John Stuart Mill

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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Stephen Davies’ Libertarianism

I went to an interesting talk today given by Stephen Davies of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a British free market think tank, in favour of the libertarian position. In the past, I have not been particularly kind to the libertarian position, both in its theory and in the practical policies that result from it. Davies did, however, present the libertarian position in an interesting fashion. Whereas usually libertarianism is derived from some foundational larger philosophical theory (some libertarians are right utilitarians, natural rights theorists, egoists, and so on), Davies wishes to divorce libertarianism from its wider philosophical context and consider it on its own, irrespective of which foundational theory it sits upon. In the past, some of my criticisms of libertarianism have been themselves criticised for over-relying on problems with foundational theories rather than considering the planks of libertarianism in isolation. Today, I shall look at libertarianism as presented by Davies and see where it leads me.

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