Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Nihilism

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

“Why do bad things happen to good people?” This is one of those questions that is often asked but rarely comprehensively answered or seriously thought about. I’d like to take a stab at it.

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Gaslighting Philosophers

Perhaps you remember last year when American football player Manti Te’o was catfished. An acquaintance of Te’o pretended to be a girl named Lennay Kekua, and Te’o became convinced that he was in an online long-distance relationship with this individual. When Kekua “died of cancer”, Te’o was devastated, and his devastation grew larger still when he discovered that the entire relationship was a lie, that Kekua was not a real person at all. Catfishing happens when the perpetrator manipulates over the course of an extended period of time a victim’s sense of reality to make the victim believe he is in a relationship with a non-existent person. It is a form of gaslighting, a devious strategy by which perpetrators systematically undermine victims’ notions of reality by systematically manipulating them into mistrusting their own senses and experience. My claim today is that there are philosophers who are engaged in gaslighting on a grand scale–those who believe that truth is a social construct.


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A Critique of Buddhism

Today I’d like to criticize an element of Buddhism that rubs me the wrong way.  I wish to make the critique both because I think it is a good criticism and because I think that Buddhism is generally given a bit of a pass by Americans and Europeans–it is not subjected to the same level of scrutiny that the Abrahamic religions routinely face.

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The Moral Irrelevance of the God Question

A while back, I wrote about the separation of moral philosophy and metaphysics. I argued in agreement with Dworkin that whether or not a moral claim is true does not rely on objective metaphysical blunt facts about the nature of the universe. It occurred to me today that this makes the entire debate between the new atheism of Dawkins, Hitchens, and the like and traditional religion irrelevant to questions of moral philosophy–the metaphysical debate about whether or not there is a deity and what that deity’s nature might be can have no bearing whatsoever on our moral theory.

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Leftism and Determinism Part II

Yesterday I made the argument that core of the modern left’s political philosophy, that all people are worthy of equal concern, is reliant on determinism. I pointed out that this means that determinism is not merely an innocuous plaything for armchair philosophers, but a substantive moral position in its own right. This obliges us to take it out of its philosophical box and bring our worldview into consistency with it. I then posed two questions, which I intend to attempt to answer today:

  1. What other elements of our philosophy do we have to bring into consistency with determinism?
  2. Does determinism necessarily leave us with a bleak or depressing account of life?

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