Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Structure

Deepening the Critique of Marxism

I found myself in another lecture on Marxism yesterday. Why do I say “another”? I did a cursory search of my own website and found that just shy of a year ago, I was responding to a lecture about Marxism on this blog. In that piece, my focus was primarily a criticism of the solutions Marx and the Marxists offer. Specifically, I was objecting to the Marxist belief that it is possible for people to be socially rewired so as to become more altruistic or otherwise capable of working hard without a scale of variant material incentives. Rereading that argument, I found myself agreeing, but I also found my critique had deepened, that there was somewhat more to it than I said last year. That’s what I’d like to develop today.

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A Morality for Sociopaths

Most moral theories attempt to determine how people ought to behave without considering whether or not people are capable of behaving in the ways they describe. Those that do consider whether or not their moral theories are too demanding do so only in minor ways. They consider perhaps whether or not the average person is capable of acting in the way they describe, or whether or not the average person could one day be capable, but they do not commit themselves to designing a moral theory that is universally feasible. What about morally abnormal individuals, who do not have the altruistic and social impulses many moral theories assume? Can they be incorporated into a moral theory? I not only think we can incorporate these individuals, but that we must do so, because if we do not, these individuals will act in harmful ways that our moral theories fail to anticipate. Our popular morality allows these individuals to gain by being immoral, to take advantage of those who do subscribe to the common morality. Only moral theories that expect the worst can be prepared to deal with the worst. Today I’d like to discuss how we ought to assimilate these people into a common moral theory, one that anticipates their inclinations and adjusts itself accordingly.

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How Will Young People Respond to Their Unhappiness?

I recently ran across a piece by one Ron Fournier. Fournier attempts to predict what the young generation might do politically in the face of shrinking economic opportunities. My thoughts on this have provided me with an opportunity to follow up on my unexpectedly popular piece, “Why are Young People Unhappy?”. In that piece, I argued that young people have diminished economic opportunities relative to past generations and as a result are less able to pursue their conceptions of happiness. In recent days, I have run across a variety of views about how young people might respond to this (including Fournier’s), and I’d like to discuss the question further.

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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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