Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Shaquille O’Neal

How Trump Could “Win” a Debate Without Knowing Any Policy

Donald Trump is taking a hit in the polls after his first debate performance, in which he spent a lot of time defending his character and offering long-winded answers in which he pretended he knew what he was talking about when he very clearly didn’t. Many people have rightly pointed out that Trump came across as under-prepared, but they’re not putting the emphasis in the right place. While it’s true that Trump doesn’t know anything about policy, it was not his lack of preparation on policy that got him in trouble. Instead he got hurt because he was inadequately prepared to do what he is generally pretty good at–avoiding uncomfortable questions and criticisms by constantly attacking whoever is available as a target. So today I’d like to give Trump a little back-handed advice–here’s how Trump can get the media to give him a win when he clearly doesn’t know anything.

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Don’t Hate the Player; Hate the Game

I’m an NBA fan–I love pro basketball. Like most NBA fans, I have a favorite team, my local Chicago Bulls. And like most talented teams, my favorite team has a nemesis, the Miami Heat. And while my Bulls have been knocked out of the playoffs, said Heat are still playing, and I watch every one of their playoff games so I can cheer for the opposing team. First it was Indiana in the conference finals, now it’s San Antonio in the NBA Finals. None of this sounds especially political, to this point, I expect, but I would like to explore a larger philosophical question stemming from this example–why do I dislike the Miami Heat so much, and is my dislike justifiable?

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A Critique of Ronald Dworkin

Lately I have often praised the work of Ronald Dworkin, writer of Justice for Hedgehogs, a book I have recently been reading. Indeed, Dworkin’s views on scepticism, interpretation, and the independence of value from metaphysics are all very persuasive, and I have adopted partially or completely several of his positions on those topics, as regular readers may have observed in recent posts. However, at around the halfway point in Hedgehogs, I have come upon a position of Dworkin’s I cannot accept which I believe undermines much of the rest of his philosophy.

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A Critique of Autonomy

If this appears to be “moral philosophy week”, bear with me–I just keep having interesting conversations on the subject. On a couple occasions this week, the topic of autonomy has come up, usually as a principle to contrast with my favoured principle, utility. It is said that when we prioritise what is useful, we invariably use other people as means to ends, and in so doing violate their autonomy, which deontologically held to be sacrosanct and inviolate. While I have made arguments concerning “using people” in the past, I find myself ultimately dissatisfied with the contractualist appeal I have often resorted to (i.e. that rational people in a Rawlsian original position would agree to be used from time to time for the benefit of others on condition that everyone else agreed to be used from time to time as well). What I would like to do is refute the value of autonomy more totally, and, thanks to an idea I had late last night, I think I am in a position to do it.

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