Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Liberalism

How to Deal with Hate Speech

Now that I’m once again at a university doing university work, I have the pleasure of having my mind pointed at different subjects and writings that I otherwise might not get around to investigating. I’ve been looking at a book by Corey Brettschneider entitled When the State Speaks, What Should It Say? In this book, Brettschneider seeks to resolve an interesting dilemma in liberal political theory–namely, how liberal states, which are committed to liberty and equality, should deal with citizens who have illiberal opinions. Here, Brettschneider calls these illiberal opinions “hateful views”, and argues that a view is hateful if it seeks to undermine the liberty or equality of groups of people on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and so on. I’d like to discuss Brettschneider’s view with you a bit today.

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Can We Be Moral Without the State?

I noticed an interesting consequence of the moral theory I outlined yesterday–if it’s true, it is not possible to be moral beyond a limited scope in the absence of a state. Let me explain what I mean. Read the rest of this entry »

What Motivates America?

Today in one of my seminars I heard it asserted that American foreign policy was motivated by Islamophobia, the fear of Islam and Islamic culture.  This claim struck me as quite slanderous, but it also drew something to my attention–many people in the world do not have an understanding of why my country of origin behaves as it does, and so the motivations are frequently filled in with cheap, easy explanations that mask the complexities of American foreign policy.  So today I shall endeavour to provide an answer that I hope will satisfy readers both foreign and domestic as to why the United States behaves as it does.

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Freedom versus Voting

Often times freedom is viewed as good in itself. Why is it good to allow freedom of speech, freedom of expression, assembly, religion, autonomous decision making, that whole boatload of fun stuff? Generally the liberal response is to just assert that freedom is itself good for no other reason than it just is. The argument for freedom is too often made on the basis of self-evidence than on any sort of consequentialist grounds. We all believe freedom to be a good thing because we have all been brought up socially to believe that this is the case from childhood. Don’t mistake my aim–I am not going to claim that freedom is not a good thing. I am, however, going to claim that there is an external source from which the goodness of freedom derives, and that this external source provides some separation between voting and freedom that begins to show how we might have the latter without the former.

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Who Deserves What?

One of the central questions of distributive justice is desert–what determines the size of one’s claim to the economic pie. The conservative right often maintains that certain inherent virtues or positive qualities justify desert. A hard working person is said to deserve more than a lazy person, a smart person is said to deserve more than a dumb person, and so on. This amounts to sort of a virtue ethic, a deontology–these things are inherently good, and consequently those who possess them deserve more. The liberal left has a different answer to this question, one grounded more in consequences and less in arbitrary virtues and vices, and I think there’s a strong case for saying that it more closely reflects reality.

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