Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: State of Nature

The Starks are Not the Good Guys: Morality and Game of Thrones

I’m a big Game of Thrones fan (both the books and the show), but there’s something that sets me apart from other fans–I hate the Starks. It’s my view that they are without question the most villainous family in Westeros, far worse than the Lannisters. This is a controversial view, but hear me out. I think I have a pretty strong case.

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The Inevitability of Cooperation

I’ve been thinking lately about why we cooperate with each other–why we form communities and states. The typical Hobbesian answer to this question is that we cooperate in order to protect ourselves from violence. There is truth in that answer, but security concerns, while a primary motivator for cooperation, are not the only motivator. This is important, because there are those who oppose cooperative institutions on the grounds that a world without cooperative institutions isn’t as dangerous as Hobbesians commonly believe, suggesting we should become total individualists (e.g. anarchists, transcendentalists, etc.).

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Am I an Egoist?

There was a very interesting tension pointed out to me yesterday in my moral philosophy. As regular readers know, I am broadly utilitarian–I think that we should try to promote the general welfare. I am concerned with the consequences of moral decisions rather than their motivation, and I do not think hard, fast rules forbidding given behaviours without regard to situational consequences are good ideas. I have, however, recently seemingly changed a position somewhere,  because I now find myself embracing, in some situations, what looks like an egoist view. The egoist position is that a person should do what is good for them, not what is good for society at large. So how do I square this circle? Let me see if it can be done.

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