Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Utilitarianism

Is It Morally Okay for My Little Brother to Work for a Defense Contractor?

As some of you might know, I have a little brother named Adam (he appears on the blog once in a while). Adam is one of my favorite people–he’s a remarkably kind, thoughtful, and gregarious person. If you met him, you’d like him. Just about everyone does.

Adam's on the left; I'm on the right

Adam’s on the left; I’m on the right

My little brother is studying at the University of Southampton in the UK, where he’s studying to become an aerospace engineer. Becoming an aerospace engineer literally is rocket science, and it’s not easy. Not only are Adam’s classes exceptionally grueling, but he needs to spend this coming summer doing an internship to get work experience and ensure that he’s competitive on the job market when he graduates. These internships are hard to get, especially if you want to be paid for your work. Recently, Adam was able to score a paid internship at a major American defense contractor. As a political theorist, this raises some interesting moral issues for me–no matter your position in international relations, it’s more or less inevitable that when you get involved in designing and manufacturing weapons, the weapons you make will be used in some conflicts you don’t agree with to kill people you don’t think deserve it. Is it okay with me that Adam wants to do this?

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A New Critique of Peter Singer

A while back, I wrote a piece called “A Critique of Peter Singer“, one of my more popular pieces on moral theory. Since I wrote that piece, I’ve spent more time reading and thinking about Singer, and I am now prepared to offer an additional critique that in some places supersedes and in other places adds to that one. Read the rest of this entry »

2 Questions about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge involves donating to the ALS Association and/or dumping a bucket of ice water over one’s head to raise awareness for ALS, a rare neurodegenerative disease. One can then challenge additional people to take the ice bucket challenge, raising donations and awareness for the disease:


It seems there are two kinds of people these days–people who are enthusiastically participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge and people who think it’s stupid and annoying.  To answer this question, we need to ask two more.

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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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Is Pluralism a Legitimate Defense of Arizona’s Anti-Gay Bill?

Recently, Arizona governor Jan Brewer (R) vetoed a controversial piece of legislation that would have allowed businesses in Arizona to refuse service to homosexuals on the grounds that to do otherwise would infringe upon their religious freedom. The bill was widely condemned, and I had no wish to pile on, but I’ve read a piece that offers an interesting defense of the bill. While I don’t think the argument ultimately holds up, it’s an argument that needs to be taken seriously and picked apart.

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