A Philosopher's Blog

Tower of Zakelana 5E

Posted in D&D 5E by Michael LaBossiere on February 21, 2018

Roughly three hundred years ago the young Zakelana was refused admission to an academy of wizards because “girls are witches and not wizards.” Undaunted, she sought impromptu lessons from adventurers while serving drinks at the local tavern. From this humble start, she became one of the world’s greatest wizards.  In addition to being famous for her mastery of extra-dimensional magic, she was well known for her gift for turning foes to allies and for having a very broad definition of what counted as a legitimate target for adventuring. This approach earned her the anger of many powerful people who sent assassins or monsters to exact their vengeance. Whenever possible, Zakelana attempted to persuade any would-be killer to switch sides. The best-known example occurred when a rival mage sent a creature to torment Zakelana in her dreams. According to the tale, Zakelana was able to win over the creature with the gift of a pony named “Giggles.”

In her later years, she retired from adventuring and one day simply vanished. Some speculate a final experiment failed and banished her eternally to some other dimension. Another tale relates how one of her many enemies finally killed her. In any case, she vanished but left behind a tower and a magical gateway to the space containing the tower. Some tales claim that the guards of the tower are monsters Zakelana won over but could not allow to roam freely. The tales also speak of the great wealth and magical secrets within the tower.

Tower of Zakelana is intended for a party of 10th-12th   level characters.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • Detailed color maps for the adventure.
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters.
  • New Spells.
  • New Magic Items
  • Hero Lab support.

Available Now

 

Advertisements

Getting it Wrong

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on February 16, 2018

Embed from Getty Images

On February 14th, 2018 seventeen people were murdered during a school shooting. As per the well-established script: the media focused on the weapon used, the right offered “thoughts and prayers” while insisting that this was not the time to talk about gun violence, and the left called for more gun control. As other have pointed out many times, this script will also play out in the usual way—the attention of the nation will drift away, children will be buried by their parents and nothing will really be done. This cycle will repeat with the next school shooting. And the next. As a country, we are getting it wrong in many ways.

One way we get it wrong, which is a fault of the media and the left, is to obsess on the specific weapon used in the latest school shooting. In this case, like many other cases, the weapon was an AR-15. The media always seems to ask why the weapon is used in shootings; the easy and obvious answer is that it shows up at mass shootings for the same reason that McDonald wrappers and bags end up alongside the roads I run. That is, both the AR-15 and McDonalds

are very popular. There is also the fact that the AR-15 is an ideal weapon for engaging a crowd—it has a large magazine capacity, it is lethal and is easy to shoot. But, the AR-15 is not unique in those traits. There are many other assault rifles (as they are called) that are similar. For example, the AK-47 and its clones are also effective weapons of this type; but they are the Arby’s of assault weapons. That is, less popular. There is also the fact that non-assault weapons are just as lethal (or more so) than the assault rifles. They just tend to have smaller magazines. This shows one of the problems with the obsession with the AR-15—there are other weapons that would do the same.

Another problem with obsessing about the specific weapon is that it allows an easy red herring counter. A red herring is when one diverts attention from the original issue to another issue. When, for example, a reporter starts pressing a congressman about the AR-15, they can easily switch the discussion from gun violence to a discussion about the AR-15, thus getting away from the real issue. The solution is, obviously enough, is to get over the obsession with the specific weapon and focus instead on the issue of gun violence in general. Which leads to another way we get it wrong.

School shootings are horrific, but they are not the way most victims of gun violence die. In general, homicides are at record low levels (although we are still a world leader in homicides). Most gun-related deaths are suicides and the assault rifle is not the most commonly used weapon in most gun deaths. School shootings and mass shootings do get the attention of the media and the nation, but this seems to enable us to ignore the steady flow of gun-related deaths that do not grab the headlines. This is not to say that mass shootings are not a serious problem, nor that we should not act in response to them. But, the gun violence problem in America goes far beyond mass shootings. It is, ironically, a quiet problem that does not get the spotlight of the media. As such, even less is done about the broader problem than is done about mass shootings. And, to be honest, little or nothing is done about mass shootings.

While there are proposals from the left for gun control, the right usually advocates having a “good guy with a gun”, addressing mental illness, and fortifying places such as schools. There seems to be little evidence that the “good guy with a gun” will solve the problem of mass shootings; but this is largely due to the fact that there is so little good data about gun violence. While mental illness is clearly a problem and seriously addressing mental illness would be a broad social good, it seems unlikely that the vague proposals being offered would really do anything. America essentially abandoned the mentally ill during the Reagan era, an approach that has persisted to this day. The right does not seem to be serious about putting in the social services needed to address mental illness; they merely bring it up in response to mass shootings to distract people from gun control. The left, while expressing concern, also has done little—we have massive problems in this country that are simply festering away. Also, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims than perpetrators, so addressing mental health in a way that focuses on mass shooters would not address the much broader problem.

The proposals to create “Fortress Academia” might seem appealing, but there is the obvious problem with cost: public schools tend to be chronically underfunded and it is not clear where the money needed for such fortification would come from. There is also the fact that turning schools intro fortresses seems fundamentally wrong and is, perhaps, a red herring to distract people from the actual causes of the problem. To use an analogy, it is like addressing the opioid epidemic by telling people to get better home security to prevent addicts from breaking in to steal things to sell to buy drugs. This is not to say that school safety is a bad idea, just that turning our schools into forts does not seem to be the best approach.

I know that it will not be that long before I am writing about another mass shooting; people will move on to other things, as they always do, and the malign neglect of the problem will persist.

 

My Amazon Author Page

My Paizo Page

My DriveThru RPG Page

My Dungeon Masters Guild Page

Follow Me on Twitter

Kant and Tasering Dead Rats

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on February 14, 2018

Embed from Getty Images

While Logan Paul has posted YouTube videos of rather awful behavior, his channel is still operating as of this writing. Paul’s latest video adventure involved tasering a dead rat, leading Penny Arcade to raise the moral question of the ethics of dead rat tasering as well as the morality of YouTube continuing to tolerate the presence of Paul’s videos.

Since YouTube is in the business of making money, it makes sense for it to monetize whatever legal product will make money, regardless of how awful it is. Since our civilization tolerates the sale of tobacco and opioids (with a prescription), it is rather hard to condemn the “selling” of what Paul creates. After all, there are clear doubts about the harms of viewing a video of a dead rat riding the lightning. While much could be said about the ethics of allowing these videos to remain up (since YouTube is a private company, it has no requirement to honor the 1st Amendment), I will turn to Penny Arcade’s inquiry into the tasering of a dead rat. Obviously, this discussion will take place within the context of Kant’s ethical theory.

Kant makes it clear that animals are means rather than ends—they have no moral status of their own. Rational beings, in contrast, are ends. For Kant, this distinction rests on the fact that rational beings can chose to follow the moral law. Animals, lacking reason, cannot do this. Since animals are means and not ends, Kant claims that we have no direct duties to animals. They are classified in with the other “objects of our inclinations” that derive value from the value we give them. While one might dispute Kant’s view about the ability of living animals to follow the moral law, one can see clearly and distinctly that a dead rat cannot do this. It is, after all, dead. An ex-rat.

Despite this view, Kant argues that we should treat animals well. However, he does so while also trying to avoid ascribing animals themselves any moral status. While Kant is not willing to accept that we have any direct duties to animals, he “smuggles” in duties to them indirectly. As he puts it, our duties towards animals are indirect duties towards humans. To make his case for this, he employs an argument from analogy: if a human doing X would obligate us to that human, then an animal doing X would also create an analogous moral obligation. For example, a human who has long and faithfully served another person should not simply be abandoned or put to death when he has grown old. Likewise, a dog who has served faithfully and well should not be cast aside in his old age.

While this would seem to create an obligation to the dog, Kant uses philosophical sleight of hand: the dog cannot judge (that is, the dog is not rational) so, as Kant sees it, the dog cannot be wronged. So, then, why would it be wrong to shoot the dog?

Kant’s answer seems to be rather consequentialist in character: he argues that if a person acts in inhumane ways towards animals (shooting the dog, for example) then his humanity will likely be damaged. Since, as Kant sees it, humans do have a duty to show humanity to other humans, shooting the dog would be wrong. This would not be because the dog was wronged but because humanity would be wronged by the shooter damaging his humanity through such a cruel act. In support of this, Kant discusses how people develop cruelty: they often begin with animals and then work up to harming human beings.

Kant goes beyond merely enjoining us to not be cruel to animals and encourages kindness. He even praises Leibniz’ gentleness towards a mere worm. Of course, he encourages this because those who are kind to animals will develop more humane feelings towards humans. So, roughly put, animals are essentially practice for us: how we treat them is training for how we will treat human beings. But what about dead animals, like the rat Paul tasered?

A dead animal clearly and obviously lacks any meaningful moral status of their own. While animal right advocates tend to argue that living animals think and feel, even they would agree that a dead animal does not feel or think. As such, a dead animal lacks all the qualities that might give them a moral status of their own. Oddly enough, given Kant’s view of living animals, a dead animal would seem to be on par with a living one. After all, living animals are also mere objects and have no moral status of their own.

Of course, the same is also true of rocks and dirt. Yet Kant would never argue that we should treat rocks well. Perhaps this would also apply to dead animals, such as the rat Paul tasered. That is, perhaps it makes no sense to talk about good or bad relative to dead animals. Thus, the issue is whether dead animals are more like live animals or rocks.

A case can be made for not abusing dead animals. If Kant’s argument has some merit, then the key concern about how non-rational beings are treated is how such treatment affects the behavior of the person engaging in said behavior. So, for example, if being cruel to a living rat could damage a person’s humanity, then he should (as Kant sees it) not be cruel to the living rat.  This should also extend to dead animals. For example, if being cruel to a dead rat would damage a person’s humanity, then he should not act in that way. If being kind to the dead rat, such as giving it a burial, would make a person more inclined to be kind to other rational beings, then the person should be kind to the corpse.

While some might think to mock the idea of treating dead animals well, it is well worth noting that Kant’s reasoning would also apply to dead humans. A dead human is no longer a rational being—the corpse is but a thing. However, abusing the corpse of a human could damage a person’s humanity and make them more inclined to harm living humans. As such, while human corpses have no moral status of their own, it would be wrong to abuse them.

While the impact of abusing a human corpse would probably be greater than abusing the corpse of an animal, it would be odd to think that most decent people would be able to abuse animal corpses and suffer no ill consequences to their character. As such, the question raised by Penny Arcade can be answered: tasering a dead rat is morally wrong.

My Amazon Author Page

My Paizo Page

My DriveThru RPG Page

My Dungeon Masters Guild Page

Follow Me on Twitter

Dragon Hunt 5E

Posted in D&D 5E by Michael LaBossiere on February 12, 2018

The once peaceful town of Gremsel is no longer peaceful. Several months ago a ferocious red dragon landed in the center of the town and gave the people an ultimatum: either they would pay  tribute or he would consume every creature in the town, from the smallest cat to the largest cow. Unable to stand against such a beast, the people agreed to his demand.

Hope arrived in town with a new magistrate possessing funds to hire bold adventurers. Sadly for the good folks of Gremsel, hope quickly departed down the dragon’s belly as he boldly killed and consumed the adventurers, returning only their charred skulls to the center of town.

Desperate and short on funds, the magistrate of Gremsel has put out a call for heroes bold (and generous) enough to face the dragon. Will the new heroes slay the dragon or shall their charred skulls join the tastefully arranged pile in the center of the town?

Dragon Hunt is intended for a party of 8th-11th level characters.

Available now for 99 cents on Dungeon Masters Guild.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • A dragon. In a dungeon.
  • Detailed maps for the area and dungeons.
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters.
  • A robust narrative with opportunities for both role-play and combat.
  • Hero Lab support.
  • For D&D 5th Edition

 

 

Trump, Treason and Joking

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Reasoning/Logic by Michael LaBossiere on February 9, 2018

During President Trump’s first state of the union address, the Democrats were clearly not interested in praising him. Trump took this slight very seriously and rushed to hold a rally to sooth his wounded pride. At the event, he accused the Democrats in Congress of committing treason: “They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, ‘Treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not.” Since treason is one of the worst crimes and not applauding a president is not treason Democrats and many Republicans condemned Trump’s remarks. The response from the Whitehouse was that people, especially in  the liberal media, need to get a sense of humor because “the President was obviously joking…”

As should be expected, the view people hold on this depends on their feelings about the president. His detractors believe that he was serious or at least did something very wrong. His proponents think he was joking and that the snowflakes in the liberal media and Democratic party need to man up. His most devoted fans might believe that he was serious and see this as a good thing.

Since Trump seems to have no respect for truth and faces clear challenges with grasping reality, it is difficult to tell what he means when he says words. If he was serious, then he is clearly wrong and is wandering deeper into the territory in which dwell would-be authoritarians. If he was not serious, then he was also wrong—accusing people of treason is nothing to joke about. As many have said on many other occasions, Trump is able to grossly violate norms of behavior and simply keep on going through what would be career enders for almost all other human beings. Imagine, if you will, what the response would have been on Fox News and elsewhere if Obama had “jokingly” said Republican Representative Wilson was committing treason when he yelled “you lie” at the president. I am certain they would not have chortled in appreciation at his little bon mot. They would have been, rightly enough, outraged at such behavior.

While President Trump’s behavior is morally problematic, it does provide an excellent example of a rhetorical device that could be called an “appeal to joking.” Rhetorical devices are intended to sway people’s feelings and thus influence their beliefs. Being rhetorical in nature, they lack logical force—they do not actually prove or disprove anything. The gist of the method, as noted above, is to defuse criticism by insisting that the awful thing a person said was but a joke. The method can also be developed into a fallacy by making it into a full, but bad, argument. The appeal to joking has the following form:

  1. Person A says B, which is something horrible.

  2. There is criticism of or backlash against B.

  3. A (or A’s spokespeople) insist that A was joking.

  4.  Conclusion: Therefore, A should not be criticized or held accountable for saying B.

The reason that the conclusion does not follow from the premises is that merely claiming that the horrible thing was a joke does not entail that the person should not be criticized or held accountable for saying it. One reason for this is that merely making the claim does not prove the person was, in fact, joking. A second reason is that even if the person was joking, this does not entail that they are thus free from criticism or accountability. After all, a person is still accountable for their jokes.

Like many fallacies, there are good arguments that resemble it. If a person can show that they were, in fact, not serious in their remark and intended it to be a joke, then they can advance a good argument that they should not be criticized or held accountable as if they were serious. The challenge is, of course, making a convincing case that it really was a joke rather than an attempt to walk back something awful by pretending it was a joke. This form of reasoning, which is good, would be as follows:

 

  1. Person A says B, which is something horrible.

  2. There is criticism of or backlash against B.

  3. A (or A’s spokespeople) provides credible evidence that A was really joking.

  4. Conclusion:  Therefore, A should not be as strongly criticized or held as accountable for saying B as A would be if they were serious.

From a moral standpoint, it is sensible to accept such reasoning since saying something awful as a joke is not as bad as actually meaning it. This is not to say that jokes are not without moral consequences of their own. For example, while joking about assassinating the president is not as bad as seriously planning to assassinate the president, it is still morally wrong.

Not surprisingly, defenders of a person who uses the appeal to joking will tend to think that credible evidence has been provided that the person is “just joking.” In some cases, the alleged evidence might be that the claim is so absurd or horrible that no one could be serious about it. For example, Trump’s claim that the Democrats were treasonous for not applauding for him is so absurdly over the top that one would have to either believe that Trump is joking or that he is some sort of deranged authoritarian who believes that his whims should be law and that a failure to praise him is the act of traitors.

 

My Amazon Author Page

My Paizo Page

My DriveThru RPG Page

My Dungeon Masters Guild Page

Follow Me on Twitter

Tagged with: , ,

Arrogo’s Tomb

Posted in D&D 5E, Uncategorized by Michael LaBossiere on February 5, 2018

Arrogo's-Tomb-Cover-5EThe wizard Arrogo, a student of the infamous mage Kelok, achieved minor fame developing original spells, some of which were extremely dangerous to the caster. While his supporters claim he developed spells still used today, unbiased experts claim his original spells have been lost. His detractors claim that this is a good thing, at least for wizards who prefer not to be imploded by their own magic.

Because of his love of magical research and dangerous machines, it is perhaps fitting that the legends claim that he met his end whilst researching a new spell. Those friendly to his memory claim that he perished while nobly expanding the boundaries of magical knowledge. His detractors insist he perished while making his last and greatest mistake.

Little is known of his tomb. According to legend, the tomb was hidden in the wilderness to keep grave robbers and pilfering adventures away from his treasures. There are, of course, the usual tales about the tomb of any wizard, namely that it is packed with great wealth and fantastic items. Naturally, there are also the usual tales of the elaborate precautions, terrible traps, and vicious monsters that protect the tomb.

  • Here are some of the features of the adventure:
  • Interesting encounters on the journey the tomb.
  • Detailed color maps for encounter areas and the tomb.
  • New monster (Iron Guardian).
  • New spells (Arrogo’s Agony, Arrogo’s Angry Shards, Arrogo’s Flame of Essence, Arrogo’s and Leap of Faith)
  • New Traps
  • New Weapon (Kelok Crossbow)
  • New Magic Items (Leaping Boots, Missile Brooch, Shard Shell, and Stone of Essence)
  • Statistics are included for all encounters.
  • Hero Lab support.
  • Robust opportunities for role-play and combat.
  • For character levels 2-4.

Available at Dungeon Masters Guild

Capitalism & Racing

Posted in Business, Ethics, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on January 31, 2018

While analogies, like cars, always break down in the end, they can be useful discussion devices. While on a run, I was thinking about my recent injury-induced lack of racing trophies and this topic kept blending in with that of the division of goods in a competitive capitalist society. This lead to an obvious analogy between road races and capitalism.

Both racing and capitalism involve competition and this generates winners and losers. Winners are, of course, supposed to be rewarded for the victories while losers are expected to reflect on their defeat and try harder next time. When planning a road race or managing capitalism, those in charge must address the nature and division of the rewards for the competition. In the case of a road race, this requires the race director to work out the prizes and decide such things as whether there will be age group awards and, if so, how deep the awards will go. In the case of capitalism, those in charge decide how the laws and polices will divide up the rewards.

While there are many ways to approach the division of the rewards, there are two broad approaches. One is to have a top-heavy reward system that yields the rewards to a few winners. In the case of a road race, this will typically involve all the prizes going to the top three runners or even just the first-place finisher. In the case of capitalism, this will typically involve most of the rewards going to the very top winners with the leftovers divided up among the many losers.

Another approach, broadly speaking, is to spread the rewards more broadly among a larger base of winners. For example, many races have age group awards in addition to the overall awards. Most races also have male and female groups as well, which further divides the prizes of victory. In the case of capitalism, this approach would give less to the top winners and divide more among the lesser winners. For example, under such an approach successful small businesses and successful middle and lower class individuals would get more of the rewards. This would, of course, mean less for those at the top of the pyramid, such as the biggest corporations and the individual billionaires.

One argument often advanced in favor of the top-heavy systems of capitalism is to contend that a broader division of the rewards would be some sort of socialism that would destroy competition. But, this is not the case. A broader reward system would still be competitive capitalism, it would just have a broader division of the rewards. Returning to the race analogy, a race that has a broader division of prizes is no less a race than one that offers prizes only to the first-place finishers. Competition remains, the difference is that there will be more winners and fewer losers.

It could, of course, still be argued that having a broader division of rewards would reduce competition and make things worse. In the case of a race, the idea is that runners would think “why should I train or race as hard as before to try to win the whole race when I can now get a prize for being third in my age group?” In the case of capitalism, people would presumably say “why should I work as hard as before to try to be the biggest winner when I can now get decent rewards for just being moderately successful?”

While I will not claim that no one thinks that way, most runners still train hard and race hard regardless of what sort of division of prizes the race offers. The same would seem to hold true of capitalism—people would still work hard and compete even when there was no massive prize for a few and little for everyone else. In fact, people who know they have little or no chance at the biggest prize would presumably compete somewhat harder if they knew that there was a broader division of the rewards and their efforts could pay off with prizes. Also, in the case of capitalism, people already work hard for small prizes when they know they have no chance of ever getting the biggest prize. As such, unless they are delusional or irrational they are not motivated by having a top-heavy reward system. Survival provides an adequate motivation.

At this point, one might want to bring up the example of races that have participation awards—that everyone gets a medal just for showing up. The economic analog would be a form of socialism or communism in which everyone gets the same reward regardless of effort. This, many would argue, would be terrible and unfair.

In the case of races, runners still compete even if everyone gets the same prize (be it the same medal or nothing at all). Because, of course, many people just love to compete for the sake of competition or for reasons that have nothing to do with prizes. It would hardly be a stretch to think that this view also extends into the economic realm—especially since there are people, such as open source developers and community volunteers, who work hard for no prizes. But, there is certainly a reasonable case to be made that people need to win prizes to be really motivated to do anything.

I must admit that while I will still run hard in such a race, I still have a love for competing for prizes. As such, I prefer races that offer competition-based rewards. I am, however, grudgingly tolerant of participation medals—after all, someone who shows up and does the whole race has accomplished something meaningful even if they did not win. Naturally enough, a race can have both participation medals and prizes for winning. In the case of an economy, this would be a competitive system that offered better rewards to the winners, but also provided those who are actively participating in the economy with at least minimal reward. One area in which this analogy breaks down is that the economy has people who cannot participate (the very old, the very young, the ill and so on) and it would be a far more serious matter for these people to get nothing than it is for people who do not finish the race to not get their participation medals.

Tagged with: , ,

Evil & Institutions II: Lawful Evil Reconsidered

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on January 26, 2018

Embed from Getty Images

In an earlier essay, I considered the various evil Dungeons & Dragons alignments in the context of institutions. In that essay, I took the view that lawful evil people are the most dangerous of all because they aim to institutionalize evil. However, a case can be made that the lawful evil approach is better than that of the other evil alignments. Making a case for this involves appealing to the work of Thomas Hobbes.

In the Leviathan, Hobbes argues that the state of nature would be a war of all against all, a state perhaps best described as chaotic evil at worst and chaotic neutral at best. However, his description of people makes most of them seem to be neutral evil (utterly selfish, with no concern for others). He regarded the chaos of the state of nature as the worst and his solution was, roughly put, for people to accept a sovereign to rule over them and impose order. This would transform the chaotic evil of the state of nature into the lawful evil of the state of civilization. In D&D, lawful evil is defined in this way:

A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises.

This reluctance comes partly from his nature and partly because he depends on order to protect himself from those who oppose him on moral grounds. Some lawful evil villains have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They imagine that these compunctions put them above unprincipled villains.

This description shows that lawful evil types have the qualities needed to maintain civilization and hold off the state of nature. The lawful evil persons respect for tradition, loyalty and order lead them to value the institutions of the state and they will seek to protect and preserve them. They might even be willing to tolerate some goodness in these institutions, provided that the goodness contributes to order.

Interestingly, a principled lawful evil person would be loath to harm or attack an institution even if doing so was personally advantageous. For example, a lawful evil ruler being investigated for a crime would do much to avoid being punished but would be very reluctant to harm or weaken the institutions of law enforcement. This is because a lawful evil person lacks the shallow selflessness of the neutral evil person and cares, in their own evil way, about the preservation of society and its institutions. As such, the lawful evil person can act in a principled way and could even sacrifice themselves for others, and thus they could be mistaken for being good people.

While a lawful evil person would not be good, they could be rightly said to have virtues.  Kant, in his Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, makes this point:

Moderation in the affections and passions, self-control, and calm deliberation are not only good in many respects, but even seem to constitute part of the intrinsic worth of the person; but they, are far from deserving to be called good without qualification, although they have been so unconditionally praised by the ancients. For without the principles of a good will, they may become extremely bad; and the coolness of a villain not only makes him far more dangerous, but also directly makes him more abominable in our eyes than he would have been without it.

While Kant regards evil combined with virtue to be perhaps the very worst, the lawful evil villain, as noted above, operates within limits that puts them above the worst villains—the chaotic evil and neutral evil types. While lawful evil types lack, in Kantian terms, the good will, they could be said to have the lawful will. That is, while they do not will the good, they do will the law. While this would certainly not satisfy Kant, it would be quite enough for Hobbes. For him, what gets humans out of the chaos of the state of nature is not goodness or love or others, but self-interest and an acceptance of order. Roughly put, enough people are willing to shift their alignments from chaotic or neutral evil to lawful evil to allow society to form. Maintaining that society requires that enough people remain lawful, even if they are lawful evil. As such, good people who value society and order can find allies in their lawful evil fellows, although this alliance can presumably never be more than one of convenience. This is because while good and lawful evil people share a common desire to oppose chaotic evil and neutral evil types, they still have an irreconcilable moral difference regarding good and evil.

 

My Amazon Author Page

My Paizo Page

My DriveThru RPG Page

Follow Me on Twitter

Tagged with: , , ,

Mike’s Free Maps Collection #1

Posted in D&D 5E, Pathfinder, Uncategorized by Michael LaBossiere on January 26, 2018

 

Mike's-Free-Maps-Collection-1-Cover

Now available.

Description

This royalty free map collection contains 23 free color maps:

Crypt

Glyarnd Farmhouse

Graveyard

Inn Second Floor

Inn

Leldel Farmhouse

Mini-Maze

Orc Village Small Bridge

Outpost 1

Outpost Level 2

River Encounter

Road Encounter

Skeleton Tower

Small Village

Swamp Encounter 1

Swamp Encounter 2

Swamp Guard Post

The Beach

Town

Village

Woods Encounter 1

Woods Encounter 2

Woods Encounter

Legal Information

You may reduce, enlarge, re-label, crop or color the maps. The creator’s name (“Michael LaBossiere”) must be included in the final published maps if it appears in the original maps. You may not resell these maps. If you use this image in a publication (digital, print or otherwise) you must include this statement:

“Some maps copyright Michael C. LaBossiere, used with permission.”

Health Care Workers and Moral Objections II: Patients/Clients

Posted in Ethics, Law, Medicine/Health, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on January 24, 2018

As noted in an earlier essay, the Trump administration plans to modify the Health and Human Services (HHS) civil rights office to protect health care workers who have moral or religious objections to performing certain medical procedures or treating certain patients.  In that essay I addressed the general moral issue of  whether health workers have the moral right to refuse certain services. I now turn to the general issue of whether they have the moral right to refuse to treat certain patients (or clients) based on the identity of the patients (or clients). The legal matter, of course, is something for the courts to settle.

As noted in the earlier essay, a person does not surrender their moral rights or conscience when they enter a profession. As such, it should not simply be assumed that a health care worker cannot refuse to treat a person because of the worker’s values. But, of course, it should also not be assumed that the moral or religious values of a health care worker grant them the right to refuse treatment based on the identity of the patient.

One moral argument for the right to refuse treatment because of the patient’s identity is based on the general right to refuse to provide a good or service. A key freedom, one might argue, is this freedom from compulsion. For example, an author has every right to determine who they will and will not write for.

Another moral argument for the right to refuse is a general one about the right to not be forced to interact with people whom one regards as evil or at least immoral. This can also be augmented by contending that serving the needs of an immoral person is to engage in an immoral action, if only by association. For example, a Jewish painter has every right to refuse to paint a mural for Nazis.

While these arguments have considerable appeal, especially in cases in which the refusal is directed at the sorts of people one dislikes, it is important to consider the implications of a right of refusal based on values. One obvious implication is that such a right could warrant a health care worker to refuse to treat you if they regarded you as immoral. In general terms, moral rights need to be assessed by applying a moral method I call reversing the situation. Parents and others often employ this method informally by asking questions such as “how would you feel if someone did that to you?”

Somewhat more formally, this method is based on the Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Assuming this rule is correct, if a person is unwilling to abide by his own principles when the situation is reversed, then it is reasonable to question those principles. In the case at hand, while a person might be fine with the right to refuse services to those they dislike because of their values, they would presumably not be fine with it if the situation were reversed.

An obvious objection is that reversing the situation would, strictly speaking, only apply to health workers themselves. Fortunately, there is a modified version of this method that would apply to everyone. In this method one test of a moral right, principle or rule is for a person to replace the proposed target of the right, principle or rule with themselves or a group (or groups) they belong to. For example, a Christian who thinks it is morally fine to refuse services to transgender people based on religious freedom should consider their thoughts on atheists refusing services to Christians based on religious freedom. Naturally, a person could insist that the right, rule or principle should only be applied to those they do not like—but if anyone can take this out, then it would seem everyone could as well, thus the objection would fail.

One reasonable reply to this method is to point out that there are clear exceptions to its application. For example, while most Christians are fine with convicted murders being locked up, it does that follow that they are wrong about this because they would not want to be locked up for being Christians. In such cases, which also applies to reversing the situation, it can be argued that there is a morally relevant difference between the two people or groups that justifies the difference in treatment. For example, convicted murders generally deserve to be punished for being murders while Christians obviously do not merit punishment just for being Christians. As such, when considering the moral right of health care workers to refuse services based on the identity of the patient (or client) the possibility of relevant differences must be given due consideration.

The obvious problem with relevant difference considerations is that people will tend to think there is a relevant difference between themselves and those they want to apply the right of refusal. For example, a person who is a social justice warrior might regard a member of the alt-right as an evil racist and see this as a relevant difference that warrants refusing service to such a person. One solution is to appeal to an objective moral judge—but this creates the obvious problem of finding such a person. Another solution is for the person to take special pains to be objective—but this is rather difficult and especially so in cases in which objectivity is often most needed.

A final relevant consideration is the fact that while entering a profession does not strip a person of their conscience or moral agency, it often imposes professional ethics on the person that supersede their own values within the professional context. For example, lawyers must accept a professional ethics that requires them to keep certain secrets their client might have (the most obvious being when they did the crime) even when doing so might violate their personal ethics. As another example, lawyers (especially public defenders) are expected to defend their clients even if they find their clients morally awful. As a third example, as a professor I (in general) cannot insist that a student be removed from my class by appealing to my religious or moral values regarding the identity of the student. As a professor, I am obligated to teach anyone enrolled in my class, if they do not engage in behavior that would warrant their removal (such as assaulting other students). Health care workers generally fall under professional ethics as well and these typically include requirements to render care to people regardless of what the worker things of the morality of the person. For example, a doctor does not have the right to refuse to perform surgery on someone just because they committed adultery, are a compulsive liar, have engaged in shady and even illegal business practices or expressed their proclivity to grab people by a certain part of their anatomy. This is not to say that there cannot be exceptions, but professional medical ethics would seem to forbid refusing service just because of the moral judgment by the service provider of the patient (or client). This, obviously enough, is distinct from refusing services because a patient or client has engaged in behavior that warrants refusal, such as attacking the service provider.

 

My Amazon Author Page

My Paizo Page

My DriveThru RPG Page

Follow Me on Twitter

Embed from Getty Images