Thinking ’bout Being Thankful (a philosopher’s Thanksgiving list)

IT’S THANKSGIVING DAY here in the States. It’s the day to gather with friends and family to give thanks for what we have — to remind ourselves that we are healthy, wealthy, and wise — despite our (my) repeated and humiliating failed attempts to keep up with the Kardashians.

That was my New Year’s resolution for this year — to keep up with the Kardashians.

I didn’t.

And for that, I am thankful.

That whole Kanye/Trump thing….

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YIKES.

Anyhoo.

As I said, Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks. I’m thankful for my friends and family. I’m thankful that I’m in relatively good health (as good as anyone eating the average American diet can be). I’m thankful, despite what seems to be a severe case of global stupidity, that I still got enough scruples to think.

And to think about thinking…

And to think about thinking about thinking…

And even though the world is seemingly infected with the dumb, there’s plenty of philosophical stuff I’m thankful for.

In fact, I’ve made a list.

  • I’m thankful that I decided to double major in college. I know it ain’t nothing but navelgazing, but I’m thankful I chose philosophy. My old professor was right. I don’t regret it.
  • Speaking of a philosophy major, I’m thankful I went to a college with a philosophy department.

If those Purge flicks were about getting rid of unwanted college majors, philosophy definitely would be the homeless guy left on the street after 7 p.m.

  • I’m thankful that my professors (and most of my classmates) were the kind of philosophy people that proved that most movies about philosophy and philosophy people are full of crap.
  • I’m thankful for Harry Stottlemeyer.
  • I’m thankful for blogging and self publishing.

Did I mention that I wrote a book?

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*The Mindless Philosopher — available at Amazon

  • I’m thankful that the internet gives any and every armchair, amateur, and occasional philosopher the chance to become the next Wittgenstein (or at least to pretend we’re that smart).
  • I’m thankful that philosophy is finally breaking away from the professional academic philosopher’s club.
  • I’m thankful that there’s such a thing as pop culture and philosophy.
  • I’m thankful that tv shows like The Good Place prove that philosophy not only isn’t just a bunch of old white dead guys, but can also be entertaining and relevant.
  • I’m thankful for Star Trek.
  • I’m thankful for The Walking Dead and Rick Grimes — and the opportunity to write year after year about the most philosophical inconsistent character on network television.

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Don’t let the Socrates beard fool you. Rick Grimes IS NOT the wisest man in Alexandria. Not even close.

  • I’m thankful I live in a world that needs welders and philosophers.
  • I’m thankful that a philosopher can challenge the gods and corrupt the young, and that “drinking the hemlock” is just a figure of speech.
  • I’m thankful there are still folks out there determined to bring philosophy to the masses.
  • I’m thankful for Zizek videos on YouTube.
  • I’m thankful for dank Hegel memes.
  • I’m thankful for my philosophical muse and bestest furkid (aka, the cat).

 

She thinks so I don’t have to.

Lastly, and most of all, I’m thankful for every one of you reading my blog. Whether you liked what you read or not, you clicked on and checked it out.

And for that, I truly am thankful.

 

 

 

 

 

I AM THE MINDLESS PHILOSOPHER

YEARS AGO, I WROTE a book.

It’s a philosophy book. Or rather, it’s a book about philosophy.

…kinda sorta about philosophy.

I mean, I use the word “philosophy”. And I quote Nietzsche.

That’s all you need for a philosophy book, right?

Now, when I was a philosophy student, I used to lament (sometimes – ok, a lot of times − out loud) the fact that most of the philosophy texts I was reading – the books every philosophy student is required to read – THE GREAT PHILOSOPHICAL TEXTS BY THE GREATEST PHILOSOPHICAL MINDS – were… well…boring.

Positively dull.

If earning a philosophy degree taught me anything, I learned that reading Immanuel Kant is the perfect cure for insomnia.

Reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason = snoozefest.

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KANT’S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON CAN ALSO BE USED AS A PILLOW OR AS A MAKESHIFT  BLUDGEONING DEVICE TO BE USED AGAINST WOULD-BE AXE MURDERERS

It’s not just mind-numbing boringness that philosophy has to overcome; people just don’t like philosophy or philosophers.

Americans are notoriously anti-intellectual. The average stereotypical American doesn’t trust a guy who’s a smarty pants. And really, who can blame them?

Smarty pants people invented the atomic bomb.

They also created reality tv.

If it wasn’t for that smart guy Dr. Phil, none of us would have any idea what “cash me ousside” means.

and if you don’t know, god bless you.

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THANKS, DR. PHIL

To be fair, Dr. Phil isn’t a philosopher. He’s a psychologist.

William James was a psychologist. And a philosopher.

William James was one of the fathers of Pragmatism.

Dr. Phil is pragmatic.

Therefore, I think, Dr. Phil IS a philosopher.

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CAN’T BE ANY WORSE THAN NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

Anyway… generally speaking, there’s always been a certain amount of negativity directed towards philosophers and philosophy.

Popular culture depicts philosophers as mopey navel gazers.

If society is correct, philosophers are only good at contemplating things that, in the long run, aren’t useful.

Schopenhauer was mopey.

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THE MAN EXUDES MISERY, DOESN’T HE?

Wittgenstein realized logical positivism was a dumb idea – even though he was the person who invented it.

Here’s the thing: even though people think philosophers are good only for thinking about things that no normal person cares about, there’s always been a place for the philosopher in society.

No one wants to admit it; the lovers of wisdom are an essential part of the way things are.

Just think about our popular culture for a minute.

You personally might not give two poops about philosophy, but if you exist right now, your “life” is the product of a long list of philosophers including (but definitely not limited to) Hegel, Nietzsche, Leo Strauss, John Stuart Mill, Plato, and Ayn Rand.

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LEO STRAUSS: THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PHILOSOPHER YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF, AND LIKELY WON’T GOOGLE, EVEN AFTER READING THIS BLOG POST

You won’t find a critically praised tv show or movie, a failed economic theory, a celebrity-slash-deep thinker, or a dumb politician who hasn’t quoted, misquoted, paraphrased, borrowed or stolen an idea from a philosopher.

Don’t believe me?

You’d think with all the philosophy everywhere, that we would, as a society, be a little more positive about philosophers and philosophy.

Nope.

and I’ll tell you why…

Are you listening? Here’s the reason why:

PHILOSOPHERS ARE NOT FUN.

Seriously, philosophy types are not a very fun lot to be around.

At the risk of being ad hominem-y, take a good look at the nearest philosopher. LOOK.

Look at him. Or her.

Now, ask yourself – am I looking at a person who looks like they’d be fun to be around for more than five minutes?

Sure, a professional philosopher will insist that they’re fun and funny and all-around interesting people, but do not be fooled. A fun philosopher is fun – for a philosopher.

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I’E USED MY POWERS OF PHILOSOPHICAL SPECULATION TO DETERMINE THAT MOST PHILOSOPHERS ARE UNFUN — EXCEPT FOR DIOGENES. DIOGENES SEEMS LIKE A FUN GUY

The reason why philosophers are un-fun has to do with the natural disposition of philosophers. Philosophers operate under the delusion that every conversation must adhere to a set of absolute bullshit rules on how conversations are supposed to go.

NO AD HOMINEMS ALLOWED.

Philosophers use fancy “philosophical” words like invalid, fallacy, and this is complete bullshit, why are you even in my class!?!?! to describe conversations that don’t adhere to The Rules.

Pffft!

As much as I love the love of wisdom, I got tired of not having fun.

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I mean, sometimes rules are great. Rules come in handy. Philosophy is a rigorous intellectual pursuit and strict rules are needed to produce coherent theories and arguments.

Makin’ rules is what made Immanuel Kant the greatest Kantian philosopher of all time.

But, every once in a while, even when doing philosophy, you gotta let one rip.
and not just figuratively.

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I had a philosophy professor who told a story about a conversation they had with another philosophy professor on a plane. My professor said that the conversation got so deep in arguing over theory that another passenger sitting nearby asked them to stop talking.

The professors weren’t using vulgar language. They weren’t looking at pornography. They weren’t defecating on the food cart or having an overly enthusiastic debate to settle whether Negan or The Governor was the baddest bad guy on The Walking Dead.

They were discussing philosophy.

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FOR THE RECORD, THE BADDEST BAD GUY WAS GARETH. GARETH ATE PEOPLE!!!

In the ears and minds of a pair of philosophy professors, a discussion about philosophy is something suitable to engage in around an airplane full of strangers. However, for the other passengers, being stuck in the fuselage of a jet aircraft (involuntarily) listening to a couple of philosophy enthusiasts talk about whatever it is that overthinkers talk about, had made an otherwise somewhat entertaining plane trip intolerable. UNFUN.

PHILOSOPHERS MAKE THINGS UNFUN.

Think about it: think of all the fun times you’ve ever had. Were there party hats? Yes. Mixed drinks? Probably. Strippers dressed as firemen? Undoubtedly. Was a philosopher involved? Absolutely not.

No fun time ever involves philosophers.

…except for maybe Diogenes.

In his 1748 treatise An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, the Scottish philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776), wrote, “Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.” Hume understood the necessity of philosophy, but he also knew that there’s more to life than philosophy. Namely, Hume knew that life is to be enjoyed – to have fun.

In his last days, Hume told jokes, played cards, hung out with his friends.

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ANY GUY WHO WEARS A JACKET THIS FLASHY PROBABLY KNOWS HOW TO HAVE A FUN TIME

And that’s what brings me to this. This blog.

Serious philosophers take philosophy things way too seriously.

There’s nothing worse than telling a good philosophy joke to a philosophy pro and getting nothing but a blank stare because the mofo takes philosophy too seriously to see the humor.

 

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IS THIS THING ON?????

 

Some people study philosophy for the sake of understanding the theory. Some people get their jollies discussing theories.

This is not that kind of blog.

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I think a part of enjoying anything you love is to be willing to take a bit of the piss out of it.

So, what would a philosophy blog written by someone who avoids deep theoretical philosophical discussions… someone who thinks skimming is sometimes just as good as actually reading an actual book… someone who thinks the answer for any philosophical question can be found in an episode of Star Trek look like?

You’re looking at it.

This blog is my philosophical mission. I call it mindless philosophy.

I AM THE MINDLESS PHILOSOPHER.

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I am a philosopher; but, amidst all my philosophy, I am still a man.

I’ve said, from the moment I decided to start a blog, the first aim of The Mindless Philosopher is to have fun. I love philosophical discussions, but, truth be told, The Mindless Philosopher is not above name calling, writing pedantic blog posts of somewhat-deep philosophical analysis based on a misinterpretation, emotion-based arguments or the tried and true ad hominem attack.

 

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IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, “YOU’RE A FUCKING MORON!” ALWAYS WORKS

 

Yeah, I know it’s not PHILOSOPHY, but PHILOSOPHY isn’t entirely the point of my blog. I’m not a professional philosopher, I don’t have tenure and I’m not getting paid to do this. I’m just a schmo who got an undergrad degree in philosophy and decided to use it as an excuse to watch way too much tv.

And write a blog about it.

Listen:

You know what’s got a lot of philosophy in it?

TV shows got philosophy. So do movies.
And music
And books

And former reality tv show hosts who become president of the United States.

 

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CAN’T BE ANY WORSE THAN PRINCIPIA ETHICA

Sure, taking philosophy out of academia and applying it to your favorite tv show can be a daunting task. It’s messy. Theories sometimes don’t work, and sometimes you have to stretch a theory to fit.

Sometimes you discover that your brilliant philosophical analysis of the brave protagonist has been an exercise in how to misapply a philosophical theory.

In the end, I guess if I had to explain why I do this – why an amateur deep thinker (like me) would dare to venture into the world of philosophy − I truly think that anybody can be a philosopher. You don’t need to attend university or have a PhD to ponder life’s big questions. If we’re talking about the human condition, it makes sense to bring philosophy out of the academy and into the real world.

Because that’s where the people are.

 

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LOOK AT ALL THESE NOT-PHILOSOPHER PEOPLE WAITING TO LEARN PHILOSOPHY!

 

Thinking philosophically doesn’t require that anyone read the complete works of Bertrand Russell or understand the Hegelian dialectic. You don’t need to know who Slavoj Žižek is or that he’s called the Elvis of philosophy to do philosophy.

Anybody can do philosophy. Anybody should do philosophy.

You see, we can use philosophy to understand things.

 

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AT LEAST TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE HELL THIS IS ALL ABOUT

 

If a philosophy degree is an interesting path to poverty, I might as well have some fun with it.

…and do a little bit of mindless philosophy along the way.

 

WHAT KIND OF PHILOSOPHER ARE YOU, ANYWAY???

I HEAR A LOT OF FOLKS say that there’s nothing good on t.v. They say the new era of good television is over.

Maybe that’s because Two and a Half Men is off the air.

Who knows?

As a philosopher, I’m willing to admit that I don’t know plenty of things, but, one thing I do know is that anyone who says today’s t.v. sucks are wrong. There’s a lot of good stuff to watch out there.
And not just Fuller House.

 

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ALRIGHT, FULLER HOUSE IS NOT GOOD TELEVISION. NOT GONNA DIS IT, THO. UNCLE JESSE IS BAE

 

You see, until recently, I, too believed that there was nothing good worth watching on television – especially network television. I had given up on network t.v. My weekly television viewing was limited to basic cable. I had found and fell in intellectual love with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Mr. Robot, Better Call Saul, The Americans, and American Gods.

Folks also seem to like The Good Place.

I haven’t seen The Good Place.

There’s my favorite love to hate, hate to love, The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead isn’t exactly good television,  at least not since they canned Frank Darabont but it is philosophical television.

 

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AFTER WATCHING THE WALKING DEAD FOR EIGHT SEASONS, I AM NOW ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED RCK GRIMES IS THE DAFTEST CHARACTER ON TELEVISION

 

That’s what really matters in the end, isn’t it?

One new network t.v. show has got my attention – my philosophical attention.

I think it’s pretty funny, too.

That t.v. show is A.P. Bio.

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For those of you who aren’t watching that show (I suspect that’s most of you), A.P. Bio follows the story of Jack Griffin, a self-described “award winning philosophy scholar” (played by Glenn Howerton of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), who, after a fall from grace, ends up living in his dead mother’s apartment, teaching a high school Advanced Placement biology (A.P. Bio) class in Toledo, Ohio.

Of course, true to cinematic form, Jack Griffin is a bad philosopher.

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Jack is arrogant. He waves his (former) Harvard philosophy gig around like a movie rent-a-cop waves around his not-real-law-enforcement badge.

…anything to reinforce Jack’s undeserved sense of intellectual superiority.

And because Jack is a philosopher, he’s also kinda pervy.

Jack isn’t interested in teaching a lowly high school class, particularly one in Toledo, Ohio.

Jack thinks his co-workers are idiots.
Jack thinks his students are idiots.

Jack is more interested in an attempted hook up with the mother of a student, belittling his co-workers and students, (another) attempted hook up with a former girlfriend, expressing his contempt for the city and people of Toledo, Ohio, bragging about his award-winning status, and plotting the ruin of his rival, Jack’s former Harvard colleague (and successful best-selling philosopher), Miles Leonard.

I hope that Jack Griffin wasn’t an ethics scholar.
…. which brings me to the point of this blog post.

 

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REALLY…

 

With the exception of biopics about philosophers, no one in movies or t.v. shows about philosophers ever says what kind of philosopher they are.

As much as I am enjoying A.P. Bio, I can’t get past the one thing about the show that bothers me: Jack describes himself as a “philosopher” − ok, but what kind of philosopher is he? What’s his field of study? Philosophy of language? Ethics? Metaphysics? Logic?

Good lord, is it epistemology???!

Jack wrote a book called The End: A Philosophy of Death. Does that mean his thing is metaphysics?
Is he an existentialist?

 

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THAT SWEATER HAS GOT ME THINKING JACK GRIFFIN (MIS)QUOTES SARTRE… A LOT

 

I mean, what kind of philosopher is this guy, anyway???!!!

Movie and t.v. philosophers are just “philosophers”. In film, “philosopher” is a generic term.

Movie and t.v. philosophers never have a specific field they study or teach.

I can say, for the record, that I’ve never had just a “philosophy” professor or taken a generic “philosophy” class. In real life, like many professions, philosophy is a diverse field of study with many (sometimes opposing) schools of thought. Philosophers in the real world specialize. There are philosophers of science and philosophers of mathematics.

There are philosophers of law and philosophers of humor. There are political philosophers and medical ethicists.
Philosophers who do linguistics..
Philosophers who are into aesthetics.

Some even specialize in the study and teaching about the works of a particular philosopher.

You get the idea.

 

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I TOOK A CLASS EXCLUSIVELY DEVOTED TO THIS GUY. I’M NEVER TAKING A CLASS EXCLUSIVELY DEVOTED TO A GERMAN PHILOSOPHER EVER AGAIN

 

Movie and t.v. philosophers pontificate in ways and about things that says, “whoever wrote this script has never stepped foot in an actual philosophy class”. Or worse yet, fictional philosophers immediately launch into the THERE IS NO GOD routine.

That’s philosophy of religion, folks. And nobody does that, not even actual philosophers.

In movies and tv., calling a character a “philosopher” isn’t about the character being anything like an actual philosopher as much as calling a character a philosopher is a shortcut to describe what kind of person the character is. In entertainment, philosophers are pompous, irresponsible, seemingly profound, but ultimately shallow, moral degenerates.

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They’re characters like Jack Griffin.

All you need to know about Jack is that he’s a philosopher.

You can correctly assume the rest.

 

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CAN’T ARGUE WITH MODUS PONENS

 

I guess what’s really grinding my gears about fictional philosophers is the lack of attention (or respect) paid to the profession. We all know that nobody likes philosophers, but if you’re going to depict a profession, even if the character you’re depicting is an absolute asshat, a realistic depiction can go a long way.

Walter White wasn’t just a teacher. He was a chemistry teacher.

The characters on Criminal Minds aren’t just FBI agents. They’re agents with the Bureau’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.

Hank Hill isn’t a mere salesman. He sells propane and propane accessories.

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In the real world, when you go to the doctor, you go to a specific kind of doctor. Sure, they all go to doctor school to learn doctoring, but would you want your psychiatrist to remove your gallstones? He could probably do it.

But would you want him to?

I mean, there isn’t a generic doctor, is there?

Wait a minute. There are general practitioners, aren’t there?

Ok. Bad analogy.

But, if I’m watching an episode of Law and Order, I’m going to see a t.v. show full of lawyers who specialize in criminal law. The episodes will involve cases and situations that pertain to criminal cases. There will be no riveting episode about a squabble in probate court. No chance of watching an episode of D.A. Jack McCoy taking on the case of a client challenging an unreasonable noise ordinance.

They’re all lawyers on Law and Order.

But they’re all a particular kind of lawyer.

On every t.v. show, they’re all a particular kind of something.

So, would it be too much to ask that Jack say at least once before the show is cancelled, seriously, look at the ratings what kind of philosophy he does?

My bet is it’s ethics.

Jack Griffin looks straight-up like a Nietzsche paraphrasing, social liberal/economic conservative, “I AM JOHN GALT” − declaring, Randian Objectivist f**k boi, who drops Hegel references like Hegel references.

 

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YOU JUST KNOW JACK HAS PLANNED A NIGHT OF “THE FOUNTAINHEAD AND CHILL” MORE THAN ONCE 

 

 

Pretty much your standard philosopher.

I AM VEGAN

 

THERE ARE ONLY TWO months of the year that mean anything to me: October and February.

Not because of Halloween and Valentine’s Day.

The reason why October and February hold such a dear place in my heart is because October and February are the months when The Walking Dead seasons begin.

First half of the season begins in October. Second half begins in February.

It’s March. Second half of season 8. They just killed Carl Grimes.

No old man Carl. No Lydia licking Carl’s empty eyehole. No Carl doing ANYTHING.

Dammit.

Oops. Spoiler alert.  

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Well, anyway….

 

While watching a tv show about flesh eating ambulatory revenants, my mind drifts, from time to time, to the subject of flesh – namely, the fact that zombies consume human flesh.
In the world of The Walking Dead, living humans are just meat to eat.

Even the vegetarian zombies chow down on the non-undead.

It must be quite odd for a person who has their entire life not eating animal flesh to die, knowing that their reanimated corpse will compelled to eat nothing other than the substance they’ve sworn off.    

I mean, is a vegan zombie morally offended every moment they’re devouring a person?

Can a zombie experience an ethical dilemma?

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A zombie probably can’t, but a living person certainly can experience the ethical conundrum – should I eat meat?    

Now, I’m not asking if a person can eat meat – most humans have canine teeth, meat is digestible, and we can derive nutrients from animal products.

Heads up: I’m not making my argument here.

Not doing a because-we-can-we-ought-to kind of argument kind of thing.

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But I will say this. I’m gonna say it right now:

I eat meat.

This is a fact about myself that I’m not exactly proud of.

As a person who is halfway aware of the way things are and remotely concerned about my health, I’m aware that the unnecessary suffering and abuse inflicted on animals on factory farms is not only cruel to my fellow living beings, but also the unsanitary conditions (and excessive use of antibiotics) makes for meat that is potentially harmful to human health as well.

And as a philosopher, the infliction of pain and suffering on sentient beings should bother me (at least a little bit) morally.

 

It does.

 

But still… despite what I know about harvesting and eating, I continue to consume meat. I feel like there’s something that is keeping me from joining the growing chorus of voices that have abandoned their meat-eating ways and declare I AM VEGAN.

 

…and not just because bacon tastes yummy.

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I think the reason why might have something to do with speciesism.

A lot of humans, whether they know it or not, practice speciesism.  

In his book Animal Liberation (1975), the Australian philosopher, Peter Singer (born: July 6, 1946), describes speciesism as a bias in favor of one’s own species and against a species because that particular species is that species. That is, people are biased in favor of people (and people-like animals like primates) at the expense of the interests of other non-human species.

We are less inclined to consider the interests of species that do not resemble humans or ones we cannot anthropomorphize. 

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THE ONLY REASON WHY YOUR FIRST THOUGHT ABOUT THIS MOUSE IS “AWW” INSTEAD OF “KILL IT BEFORE IT INFECTS THE SHIP”, IS BECAUSE FIVEL IS ADORABLE. HE’S ADORABLE BECAUSE OF A-N-T-H-R-O-P-O-M-O-R-P-H-I-S-M

The fact that non-human animals are not human or can’t be given human-like qualities shouldn’t exclude them from our moral considerations. Non-human animals feel, and that, Singer argues, is enough to consider the interests of non-human animals.

 

 

Preferably using utilitarian ethics.

 

According to Singer, speciesism is as morally wrong as racism or sexism.

We recognize that prejudice against humans based on religion, gender, or race, is arbitrary (therefore, unjustifiable). Most people would reject the argument that a particular race or religion is more valuable than another. The notion that men are more valuable than women is…well, we like to say that we’ve advanced beyond thinking about women like Aristotle. Or Nietzsche.

 

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YEP…HE WROTE THAT

 

Likewise, according to Singer, valuing human life over non-human life or treating a species better because it is cute and cuddly (and it does “human” things) is arbitrary and unjustifiable. To insist that a cat or a dog is more valuable than a cow or a chicken is, according to Singer, a double standard.

Historically speaking, philosophy hasn’t been kind to animals. Aristotle referred to non-human animals as “brute beasts”. Rene Descartes (1596 -1650) maintained that animals are incapable of reason and do not feel pain. Animals, Descartes stated, are mere organic machines.

Because animals cannot reason, Descartes argued, they don’t have souls. And because animals don’t have souls, we are not morally obligated to consider their interests.

Remember, folks… that howling you hear isn’t the sounds of an animal screaming in pain.

 

It’s the sounds of the clock’s springs breaking.

 

Although the German Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) believed that animals are mere beasts, Kant rejected the notion that we can do with non-human animals as we please. Kant argues that, although we are not directly morally obligated to animals, we have an indirect moral duty to care for their welfare. Kant argues that our treatment of animals is tied to our treatment of those we have a direct moral obligation to  people.

Kant argues that people who are cruel to animals are often also cruel to people.

In Lectures on Ethics, Kant states:

American philosopher Christine Korsgaard (born: April 9, 1952), not only argues that it is wrong to kill animals for consumption, but also argues that the factory farming, specifically the production of meat, is more damaging to the environment and human health than a plant-based diet. Korsgaard argues, like Singer, that our moral obligation to animals is not negated by the fact that animals are not human.  

Korsgaard states:

 

…the loss of life matters to a human being in certain ways that it wouldn’t matter to another sort of animal… I don’t think it follows that a non-human animal’s life is of no value to her: after all, the loss of her life is the loss of everything that is good for her.

On factory farms, Korsgaard states:

 

…the whole human enterprise will be supported by a bloodbath of cruelty, hidden away behind the closed walls of those farms.

 

Korsgaard also observes the irony of maintaining the belief in the higher rationality and morality of humans while simultaneously justifying the killing of other, supposedly less developed, species. 

Ok… Factory farms are bad. And maybe we shouldn’t eat animals. But that doesn’t mean that we should start treating non-human animals like people, right? Humans are just different from other animals… right? But what, if anything, makes people different from non-human animals? What makes people different from cats and dogs and cows and chickens has something to do with a little concept called personhood.

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Our friend, Wikipedia defines personhood as:

 

the status of being a person. Defining personhood is a controversial topic in philosophy and law and is closely tied with legal and political concepts of citizenship, equality, and liberty. According to law, only a natural person or legal personality has rights, protections, privileges, responsibilities, and legal liability.

 

If you are a person, you are worthy of moral consideration.

If you are worthy of moral consideration. your interests matter.

And exactly what makes you a person with interests that matter?

If you ask Immanuel Kant, you are a person with interests that matter if you are rational.

Kant writes:

 

…every rational being, exists as an end in himself and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will…Beings whose existence depends not on our will but on nature have, nevertheless, if they are not rational beings, only a relative value as means and are therefore called things. On the other hand, rational beings are called persons inasmuch as their nature already marks them out as ends in themselves.

 

Non-human animals can’t be “persons” because they are not rational.

Hold on a minute, you say. There are plenty of humans that aren’t rational.

 

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PICTURED: NOT RATIONAL PERSON

 

Small children are notoriously irrational. Mentally ill and developmentally disabled people may also lack the degree of rationality required for personhood. On the other hand, non-human animals such as crows, pigs, octopuses, certain breeds of dogs, and primates (like chimps and bonobos) often display a degree of cognitive ability (aka, rational thought) not seen in some humans. 

So, that means some animals are persons, right?

 

 Well….

 

In 2013, the Florida-based Nonhuman Rights Project filed a lawsuit in the state appeals court of Manhattan on behalf of a pair of chimpanzees named Kiko and Tommy, arguing that the pair should be released from captivity and placed in an outdoor habitat. The lawsuit claimed the chimpanzees’ captivity violated their rights. Wise argued that Kiko and Tommy are entitled to the same legal rights as persons.  Their lawyer, Steven Wise, argued that chimpanzees (like Kiko and Tommy) possess the mental capacity for complex thought and can perform tasks and make choices.

 

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KIKO AND TOMMY

 

Now, if philosophers (including Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant) hold that the capacity for cognitive thought and decision making are qualifications for personhood, it should follow that a non-human animal capable of complex thought and decision making – even to a minimal degree − is a person.

If not legally, then at least philosophically.

And if we hold moral objections to eating animals that are like us or are us, then we should not eat non-human animals.  

Unfortunately for Tommy and Kiko, the Appellate Court in Manhattan ruled that Kiko and Tommy are not persons under the law and therefore not entitled to human rights.  

The Court ruling stated:

 

The asserted cognitive and linguistic capabilities of chimpanzees do not translate to a chimpanzee’s capacity or ability, like humans, to bear legal duties, or to be held legally accountable for their actions

The Court added that non-human animals “lack sufficient responsibility to have any legal standing.”

 

So…. What are we to do?

 

As of now, non-human animals are not entitled to legal personhood. Legally speaking, speciesism remains the law of the land. Killing, eating, or experimenting on (most) non-human animals is legally permitted, if not, in large part, socially acceptable.

Unless the law changes (or a zombie apocalypse turns us all into meat eaters), the question of eating meat will remain a philosophical conundrum – a matter of personal taste between you and your ethical theory of choice.

Until then…. Subway® Chicken & Bacon Ranch sandwiches. Forever.

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SOURCES:

https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/peter-singer-on-speciesism-and-racism/

https://green.harvard.edu/news/ethics-eating-animals

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-animal/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personhood

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/captive-chimps-tommy-kiko-not-entitled-human-rights-court-article-1.3231598

 

MY PHILOSOPHICAL THANKFUL FOR LIST

Thanksgiving is this Thursday here in the States, and while I partake in the annual fest of overeating to the point of gluttony-induced sleepiness/self-loathing and pretending to like my relatives, I’ll remind myself that it’s also the time of the year when we look at our lives and think of the things we are grateful for.

Sometimes it’s difficult to make a grateful for list, particularly when there are so many things out there to complain about

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NOT GONNA SAY BERNIE WOULD HAVE WON…

…and especially when your fourth favorite philosopher is Schopenhauer.

 

The German philosophers are such a dour bunch, aren’t they?

As just an average Joe, I’m thankful for my health and my friends and family. I’m thankful that my brain is functioning properly (knock on wood) and that, at the present moment, I have little reason to believe that I am under the influence of an evil demon or a brain in a vat.

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I’m thankful that I added on a second major to study philosophy.
I give thanks that I was never assigned to read Heidegger.

Or Ayn Rand.

I’m thankful for Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and the Categorical Imperative.

Who knew that would come in handy?

I’m thankful that I don’t have to read another analytic philosopher…unless I want to.

I’m thankful that nearly every dumb decision Rick Grimes has ever made just goes to show how stupid utilitarianism really is.

 

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WATCH CLOSELY: RICK IS THINKING ABOUT DOING SOMETHING TOTALLY UTILITARIAN AND INCREDIBLY STUPID

I’m thankful for that stupid “you have to have a high IQ to understand Rick and Morty” meme.

 

 

IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MEME, NOW YOU HAVE. YOU’RE WELCOME.

 

I’m thankful for Rick and Morty. Monty Python, Star Trek, reality t.v., and The Walking Dead.
I’m thankful for Daryl Dixon.

Oh god, there I go. I admit it. I AM GRATEFUL FOR DARYL DIXON.
I’m thankful my professors made me read Leo Strauss and Plato.
I’m thankful for The Philosopher’s Toolkit.
I’m thankful for Wikipedia.

 

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EVERYONE MUST PURCHASE A COPY OF THE PHILOSOPHER’S TOOLKIT IMMEDIATELY

I give thanks for Rolling Rock Beer.
I’m thankful that Logical Positivism shows that even smart people can come up with bad ideas.
I’m thankful for self-publishing.
And blogs.

 

And Slavoj Žižek memes.

 

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PRETTY MUCH SPEAKS FOR ITSELF

 

As I shovel one last bite of turkey and stuffing into my Mr. Creosote-sized belly, I will give thanks for all the people who get Nietzsche so dreadfully wrong that their misadventures in nihilism will give me many years’ worth of material to write about.

I am grateful for all my cool philosophy classmates who became cool philosophical friends.

I’m grateful that people know we need philosophers, too.

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Lastly, I’m grateful for you. Yep. YOU. All of you folks out there reading this little, dumb blog of mine. I’m grateful for all of you who take time out of your day to read the musings of this self-proclaimed philosopher and pop culture enthusiast.

Thank you all from the bottom of my mindlessly philosophical heart.

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CHEERS!
TMP

THE REQUEST LINES ARE OPEN

WHEN YOU WRITE ABOUT something long enough you realize that there’s always something to write about, and that you will never have enough time to write about all the things that are rattling around inside your mind.

After a while you inevitably accumulate an “I was gonna write about that” list.

And that list turns in to things started and stopped, deleted and rewritten.

The next book you’re “working on”

That blog post you’ve been plugging away at for days…weeks… months….

years.

Another thing you realize when your write about stuff is that there’s a lot of stuff that other people want you to write about, too.

That becomes your “Things I might write about” list.

Might usually means never.

Unless, of course, you take requests.

Which is something I haven’t done.

I might.

You see, unlike other people who identify their vocation as “writer”; those people who deal in original thoughts, my writing necessarily depends on the work of others. I write about pop culture. Movies, t.v. shows, books, music, politics, current events – it’s all there for the writing.
All of it.

…and that’s part of the problem.

I don’t keep up with the Kardashians

I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones

Or Stranger Things

 

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I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THIS KID IS, SO DON’T EVEN ASK ME TO WRITE ABOUT IT

 

I hear The Good Place is good, but I still haven’t seen it

I haven’t seen the last Thor flick

Or listened to Taylor Swift’s latest album

I don’t regret that last one, though.

Hey, haters gonna hate.

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Although I think I’ve watched enough The Walking Dead to write a treatise on Rick Grimes thick enough to make Kant envious*.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, there are only so many hours that a person, even a pop culture junkie like myself, can devote to watching movies and t.v. shows, listening to music, and reading books.

Especially when you’re devoted to watching, reading, listening to, and thinking about things philosophically.

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I’m so busy over-analyzing episodes of Star Trek, Breaking Bad, Rick and Morty, watching Fight Club for the one-hundred seventh time, purposefully avoiding Star Trek: Discovery, and digging into the hidden meaning in Beatles songs to deep enough give Charles Manson a run for his money, that everything else gets placed on the perpetual backburner of things I might write about.

Might.

Then there’s that real-world stuff I’m supposed to be doing – school, work, having anything resembling an actual social life…

In the end, figuring out the philosophical subtext of things takes bit out of you.

Even if you’re two seasons behind on American Horror Story.

I’m two seasons behind…

 

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THIS MAY HAVE THE APPERANCE OF NOT HAVING AN ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE, BUT REST ASSURED, THERE IS SERIOUS, DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL RESEARCH GOING ON

 

Now, I guess if I was (or is it were? I dunno. I’m a philosopher, not a grammar person) inclined to be a butthole about things I’d say to every person who said, “you should write about this” should write about that themselves.

But that would be, as Birdperson said, “a dick move”.

Besides, as a watcher of popular media who has done enough complaining about things to have heard my fill of fandom’s variation of the No True Scotsman Fallacy, the No True Fan, I’m not that much of an asshole to off-handedly dismiss a request or suggestion by declaring that someone simply “write it yourself”.

An amazing feat, considering I’m also a fan of Schopenhauer.

All said and done, I appreciate requests. Namely, a request means that someone is reading my blog.

but also, a request means that there’s at least one someone else out there who likes thinking of things philosophically.

And that can’t be all that bad a thing.

So, I guess it’s not such an awful thing to be the Wolfman Jack of philosophy.

I guess the request lines are now open.

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So! Tell me what thing written about philosophically that you want to read about and I might write about it.

 

Might.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I’m trying like hell to do just that: I’ve written at least ten (I don’t know, maybe more, maybe less) posts about The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, specific characters from both series, and zombies in general. I don’t exactly know what all this writing about the show is going to do for me, other than to say that I have absolutely nothing going on in my life on Sunday nights.

DARYL KILLED GLENN, I THINK… MAYBE.

WELL FOLKS. IT’S OCTOBER and for those of us at The Mindless Philosopher being October means only one thing: the return of The Walking Dead.

In case it’s not (painfully) obvious from our previous posts, The Walking Dead is our favorite TV show.

Yep. TMP are philosophers. And our favorite television show isn’t Seinfeld.

Although you can argue that The Walking Dead isn’t really about anything, either.

Any fan of AMC’s highly-rated zombie somewhat soap opera knows that being a fan of The Walking Dead means that one’s favorite character can die at any moment. Season six saw the show kill off a few red shirts (Carter, David, Sturgess), say sayonara to a handful of characters we cared about (Denise, Deanna, Jessie, and Nicholas?), and pulled the fake-out with at least two characters. The season six finale “cliffhangered” the audience, teasing the death (via a barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat named Lucille) of a major character.

The season six finale pleased some and angered many.

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And for the last six months, The Walking Dead fans, angry or otherwise, have been concerned with just one thing: WHO DID NEGAN KILL?

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And at THIS point I guess I should say SPOILER ALERT.

AND SO, last Sunday, The Walking Dead aired its season seven premiere episode.

After six months of waiting, we finally got to see who Negan killed.

True to form, the season seven premier pleased some. Angered many.

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I think from now on, I’m going to tell anyone who pisses me off to suck my nuts.

Hopefully not after I’ve been stuck on the noggin by a barbed wire-covered bat.

Now, being a fan of both The Walking Dead and philosophy, I got feels, not only because of the brutality of the act, but also because I was watching the episode through philosophy-tinted glasses.

If I wasn’t in the habit of underestimating the philosophical acumen of the writers of the show, I would have guessed that I was watching a thought experiment being played out on my TV screen.
To wit: an ethical thought experiment.

Seriously, if you haven’t watched the episode yet, there are SPOILERS AHEAD.

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So… as we end season six, we see Rick Grimes and ten members of his group (whaddya know, almost all major characters!) on their knees and at the mercy of the new bad guy – the barbed wire-infused bat-wielding, leather jacket-wearing, an F-bomb every-other-word saying (but not on basic cable), Negan.

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OF COURSE IT HAD TO BE A GOOD-LOOKING PSYCHOPATH.

 

Rick and his crew have, to quote Rick from an alternate take from the season five finale, “fucked with the wrong people”, and Negan is aiming to exact some payback on the people responsible for the deaths of a number of his men.

Negan says he’s going to beat to death one of Rick’s crew with his bat, Lucille.

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NEGAN TELLS RICK, “YOU KILLED MY PEOPLE, A WHOLE DAMN LOT OF THEM. MORE THAN I’M COMFORTABLE WITH. AND FOR THAT, FOR THAT YOU’RE GONNA PAY. SO NOW… I’M GONNA BEAT THE HOLY HELL OUTTA ONE OF YOU.”

Any interference, Negan tells the group, will not be tolerated (he does, however allow them to breathe, blink, and cry). Negan tells Rick and his group, “I will shut that shit down, no exceptions.”

Long story short, Negan plays a game of “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe”, eventually landing on Abraham as “it” and proceeds to bludgeon Abe with Lucille, exclaiming how the ginger-haired former military man took the first blow “like a champ”.

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Reminder: tell anyone who pisses me off the suck my nuts.

Now, it’s right around this time when a simple cudgeling becomes an even more complicated moral dilemma.

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Fan favorite (and possibly un-killable) Daryl Dixon decides to ignore Negan’s non-interference admonition and attacks Negan.

Negan, having already been previously interrupted by Glenn (he allowed Glenn’s interference due to the emotional weight of the situation), makes good on his warning and shuts that shit down, killing another member of Rick’s group with the barbed wired-sleeved Lucille: Glenn.

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Ok, we all know Negan carried out the physical deed. And in any court of law Negan would undoubtedly be sent to prison for double murder.

But any philosopher would tell you that legal guilt and moral culpability aren’t always the same thing.

You see, there may be more than one person to blame in all of this.

I think we can agree that Abraham’s death is 100% morally on Negan.

Negan announced his intention to kill someone and he did it.

Well, unless you reason that it was done as some kind of an eye for an eye, retributive justice thing, which opens up a whole other can of what is justice worms.

But there was more than one person killed AFTER Negan had exacted his revenge.

So who is morally responsible for Glenn’s death?

It was Negan’s initial intention to do one and done. Getting even with Rick and his group required the death of just one person – after all, the point of killing one person (in a particularly gruesome manner) is meant to break the group, not necessarily to commit mass murder. Rick and his group had been previously informed about Negan’s one-kill tactic: introduce himself to a new group, kill one person in the group, and demand half of what the group produces. Assuming there’s no problem of induction, Rick and his group had no reason to assume that Negan would deviate from his established method of operation.

Negan killed Abraham and was done, but Daryl, driven by anger and stuff that only Daryl fully understands (probably something that also has to do with Daryl not bathing), sucker punches Negan and THAT act is in direct violation of Negan‘s rules of conduct for Rick and his group. As Negan specifically states that shit will be shut down, no exceptions.

And that is precisely what Daryl does. Shit.

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If you link the chain of events, it’s not so implausible to assume that Glenn’s death is a direct result of Daryl’s actions. Negan kills Glenn because Daryl violates the rules.

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TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, GLENN IS THE ONE GUY WHO, UNTIL A HANDFUL OF EPISODES AGO, HADN’T KILLED ANY LIVING PERSON. DARYL IS POSSIBLY PARTIALLY OR FULLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF THE LEAST MORALLY GUILTY CHARACTER IN THE SERIES… UNLESS YOU BELIEVE IN GUILT BY ASSOCIATION.

 

Negan’s moral culpability is undeniable. But can we say that Daryl bears some or all moral blame for Glenn‘s death?

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Well, it depends on who you ask.

If we assume that Daryl is motivated by a moral principle that says that one’s greatest moral obligation is to produce the greatest good for the greatest number, then we might say that Daryl is, at least in part, morally blameworthy for Glenn’s death.

How does that happen, you say?
Why , it’s just a matter of calculating the numbers.

Negan initially kills Abraham. It is obvious that Rick’s group (not to mention Abraham himself) is negatively affected by the brutal death. The group is collectively traumatized, in particular, Abraham’s ex-girlfriend Rosita and his almost-but-not-quite new girlfriend Sasha.

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Can we take a moment to talk about Sasha? This woman has nothing but bad luck in relationships on this show. First, Sasha begins a romantic relationship with Bob, but Bob is bitten by a zombie, kidnapped and has his leg eaten by a group of cannibals, and eventually dies from his wound (wounds?). Just when Sasha has recovered enough from PTSD to function somewhat normally in a romantic relationship, her blossoming relationship with Abraham is cut short by Negan and Lucille.

 

If killing one person inflicts a great amount of pain, then we can assume that killing two people inflicts more pain than killing just one. In this situation, we aren’t just calculating the pain felt by the group immediately following Glenn’s death, but also calculating the negative long-term consequences of Glenn’s death. Glenn’s wife, Maggie, is pregnant. We have to consider the fact that Glenn and Maggie’s child will be raised without a father.

That’s bad.

We should not forget that utilitarian-based ethics requites that Daryl also figure into our calculation.

We can assume the Daryl feels (at least somewhat) responsible for Glenn’s death. After all, Negan killed Glenn in response to Daryl’s actions.

And really, what was Daryl’s intended outcome, anyway? What did he hope to accomplish by attacking Negan? Negan had already killed Abraham. There was nothing Daryl could do to stop that. As Negan warned beforehand, the only outcome from a disruption would be the infliction of more pain on Rick’s group, which did, in fact, happen.

And if we’re assigning moral culpability based on consequences, according to this ethical position, Daryl Dixon is morally responsible for Glenn’s death.

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KIND OF MAKES YOU WISH DWIGHT KILLED DARYL, DOESN’T IT?

You see, when we assign moral blame according to consequences, it doesn’t matter what our intentions are. We can mean well, just like Daryl did when he lunged after Negan. But if our actions result in people getting hurt or killed, we’re morally culpable for what happens.

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We might consider the possibility that Daryl may have been motivated by the prisoner’s dilemma. Not knowing exactly Negan what intended to do, he has no reason to assume that Negan won’t kill others and therefore is motivated to attack Negan before Negan kills any more people.

Ok. Maybe Daryl isn’t thinking about consequences at all. Maybe he’s operating from a sense of duty to his group.

We know that Rick and his group think of each other as family. Families often have binding moral obligations to each other. Daryl sees that his the lives of his family have been threatened and he feels that it is his duty to protect them – as Negan says, no exceptions.

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We can assume that Daryl’s duty-bound obligation isn’t merely a suggestion or rule of thumb, but is a maxim that must be obeyed at all times by all members of the family. We can even put Daryl’s obligation in maxim form: In any situation wherein one’s family is in danger, one must act to protect them- no exceptions.

It is clear that Negan is a threat to the lives of Daryl’s family. Negan has already ruthlessly murdered one member of Rock’s group is still threatening to inflict harm on the remaining members. When one is morally obligated to protect others, one must fulfill one’s duty – even if others are hurt.

When one is bound by duty to others, consequences (even if someone is murdered by an axe-wielding maniac) do not matter.

If Daryl was motivated by a morally binding maxim, he was following a moral principle that he could not refuse to follow based on what might happen. In the end, Glenn’s death is an unfortunate consequence of Daryl’s actions.

So then, morally speaking, Daryl is in the moral clear.

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IT’S OK, FOLKS. WE DON’T HAVE TO HATE DARYL. WE CAN GO BACK TO OUR IRRATIONAL DARYL DIXON FANDOM.

So… to answer the question, who is morally responsible for Glenn’s death, the answer… well… we can clearly point to Negan. It is Negan who beats two men to death with Lucille. And it is Negan who decides to kill Glenn as a punishment for Daryl’s actions. However, we can’t neglect the role Daryl’s outburst plays in Glenn’s death. It’s not unreasonable to assume that Glenn may have lived if Daryl had just stayed on his ass like Negan has told him to.

Ultimately, the moral blame lies with someone I haven’t mentioned until now:

RICK GRIMES.

Dig this: Rick not only accepts the task of ridding the world of Negan and his men, he does so without any real reason for doing so.

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DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR THIS GUY. THIS IS ALL HIS FAULT.

Rick volunteers his people to fight someone else’s fight (Negan is initially the Hilltop’s problem) and arrogantly assumes that he and his group can quickly dispatch Negan and his crew without consequence.

Because they’ve done it before, Rick says.

Rick should have read up on Hume.

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Rick’s fatal flaw is that he is too arrogant to realize that his actions are not only morally suspect, but are bound to reap a bunch of bad consequences.

Rick, based on what he hears of Negan from the people at the Hilltop,  immediately concludes that violence is the only feasible solution to the (someone else’s) Negan problem and refuses to consider other alternatives including negotiation or less violent means of dealing with Negan.

… and not for lack of Morgan trying to persuade Rick over to his “all life is precious” philosophy.

 

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REMEMBER WHEN MORGAN WAS ALL ABOUT THIS STUFF?

Rick’s group, as Negan observes, killed more of Negan’s people than Negan’s people had killed Rick’s group (Carol and Maggie were taken hostage but not killed). Rick directs his group to commit mass murder on Negan’s group (while many of them were asleep).Negan’s people are shot, incinerated, and stabbed in the head by Rick’s group (ok, Carol setting those dudes on fire may have been justified). It wouldn’t be irrational to assume that Negan was protecting his people from Rick’s group.

As the primary authority figure in his group, Rick knew that his people would follow his lead – unfortunately without question.
Rick may believe his actions are correct. They’re not.

Rick Grimes is the embodiment of bad motivations with bad consequences.

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WHY BOTHER WITH THE EENY MEENY MINY MOE STUFF? JUST LUCILLE ALL OF ‘EM.

 

When you really get down to it, Rick killed Glenn and Abraham.

 

And I have one thing to say to Rick Grimes about this:
SUCK MY NUTS.

 

STRANDED

IT’S BEEN SOME time since the first half season of season two of Fear the Walking Dead ended.

I’ve had some time to sit back and think about what I saw.

For starters, I think the show is getting better.

It’s not great, but it’s better.

And secondly, I’ve noticed that some of the characters on the show are like walking philosophy.

The show should be called Fear the Philosophical Dead.

No. not really. It shouldn’t.

Although some characters are philosophically interesting,

Some, mind you, not all.

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NOPE. NOT INTERESTING ON ANY LEVEL

After watching Fear the Walking Dead for a season and a half, I think the most philosophically intriguing character on the show is the wealthy, debonair, and most importantly, mysterious captain of the Abigail, Victor Strand.

I gotta admit, when Strand was introduced, I was prepared to see the character die after a few episodes. You know, because, well, people like Strand have a habit of not fairing too well in the world of The Walking Dead.

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It seemed that Victor Strand was destined to become another victim of the being-a-black-guy-in-The-Walking-Dead thing, but he was an interesting character – by far more interesting than the characters we were supposed to be most concerned about.

The reason why I think Victor Strand is so interesting is because so many of the show’s philosophical dilemmas have to do with what Strand either does or says. Victor Strand is a one man philosophical conundrum generator.

I’ve spent a season and a half of Fear the Walking Dead trying to figure out exactly where Victor Strand stands philosophically. Is Strand a Randian ethical egoist? Is he a moral nihilist? An incredibly consistent utilitarian? An all of the above?

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More than a dozen episodes into the series and I still can’t figure it out.

When we’re introduced to Victor Strand in the season one episode “Cobalt”, we see Strand is one of many detainees imprisoned by the government.

We’re never told exactly why.

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We witness Strand goading a mentally fragile man to the point of a mental breakdown. And we learn that Strand is a man who is willing to exchange goods for favors from the National Guardsmen who are guarding the detainee camp.

Strand is introduced as a man who is cool, calculating, and not encumbered by empathy for others. Strand initially displays all the traits of a classic Ayn Rand protagonist. Strand is concerned with one thing: his own interests. Rand writes:

… he must work for his rational self interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.

We can imagine a dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged next to Machiavelli’s The Prince and Sun Tsu’s Art of War on Strand’s bookshelf.

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MY BOOKSHELF, AS SEEN ON BUZZFEED

However, Strand quickly realizes that fellow detainee (and main character) Nick Clark is useful -insofar as Nick can serve as a means to Strand’s ends -namely, escaping from the detainment camp.

Using others to further your ends is not a very Randian thing to do.

Ayn Rand also writes:

Man -every man- is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself…

Although Victor Strand isn’t a very good Randian, he still abides by Rand’s principle of pursuing one’s happiness as one’s supreme moral principle. Strand does not allow the misfortunes of others interfere with his main task: surviving.

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Here are a few things that Strand says concerning his interests versus the needs of others:

 

[To Madison after she informs Strand that she sees some people at sea who need to be rescued]: I filled my mercy quota. Seven people saved to date.

Rules for Strand’s yacht, the Abigail: Please, let me explain the rules of the boat. Rule number one, it’s my boat. Rule number two, it’s my boat. And if there remains any confusion about rules one and two, I offer rule number three, it’s my goddamn boat. If I weren’t for me, you’d all be burned. You’re welcome.

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THE RULES FOR THE ABIGAIL ARE LIKE THE RULES OF FIGHT CLUB. IN THE END NO ONE PAID ATTENTION TO THEM

[Strand’s response after fellow survivors insist that the Abigail take on more passengers]: If I stop the boat, it’ll be to drop folks off, not take them on.

 

[Strand’s response when Madison insists that the Abigail take on an orphaned child]:
Children are the definition of dead weight.

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PICTURED: DEAD WEIGHT

Strand on the real danger in an undead apocalypse: You know what the real danger is on the ocean? People.

When other survivors hitch a lifeboat containing a young woman and her mortally wounded companion to the Abigail, Strand cuts them loose, reasoning that the survivors can’t risk their lives to save people who may be dangerous -especially a dying boy (who will become a zombie when he dies).

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SERIOUSLY, I WOULD HAVE CUT THEM LOOSE, TOO

Everything Strand says strikes of Ayn Rand’s clearly  (at least Any Rand influenced) ethics. Strand clearly puts no man ahead of himself.

This is why Victor Strand is a fan favorite.

And yet, Strand has considered the interests of others, and even put his life on the line to save the lives of people in his group.

Strand not only helps Nick to escape the detainee camp, he also agrees to house Nick’s family and another family (the Salazar family) in his home and on the Abigail.

Although Strand lays down the rules for admission on the Abigail, we know he isn’t just looking after himself. Strand could easily pull up anchor and abandon the group when they leave the Abigail to explore dry land.

Yet he does not.

Strand risks his life to help Nick escape from the detainee camp and in the season two midseason finale, Strand, after he’s expelled from a temporary sanctuary, risks his life to save Nick’s mother Madison.

amcs-fear-the-walking-dead-season-2-episode-7-shiva-nick-and-madison-clark

ONE OF THOSE GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WANT FIRST KIND OF CONVERSATIONS

Wait a minute. Does this mean that Strand is a secret utilitarian? Is he masquerading as a Randian while clandestinely pursuing the greatest good for the greatest number?

Perhaps.

But could is it possible that Strand has given up on all ethics? Is it possible that Strand believes that in a world without civilization all things are permitted? Strand tells Nick that the only way to survive in a mad world is to embrace the madness. Is Strand preaching moral nihilism?

In Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche writes:

He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.

Is Strand telling Nick not just to stare into the abyss but to leap headlong into it? Is Strand telling Nick to become a monster? Is Stand saying that all of the characters should become monsters?

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NICK, STARING INTO THE ABYSS

 

It’s worth noting that the first episode of season two is titled “Monster”. In the season two midseason finale, Nick Clark covers himself in zombie guts (a means of camouflage) and refuses to join his mother and Strand to safety. Nick chooses to join the horde of zombies that has overrun their sanctuary. Nick is last seen walking among the dead, one of the monsters.

Fear the Walking Dead is not a great show. Sometimes it’s not even a good TV show. But what the show lacks in quality it more than makes up for in philosophical interestingness. Victor Strand is just one of the philosophically compelling characters on the series. In a TV world dominated by reality TV it’s refreshing to find a TV show with characters that have us thinking about them and discussing a series days (sometimes months) after an episode has aired.

One can only hope that Fear the Walking Dead continues to be one of the most philosophical TV shows on television.

I’ve got my fingers crossed.

That years from now, when we talk about Fear the Walking Dead, we think of the show as more like Better Call Saul than like Joanie Loves Chachi.

joanieloveschachi_complete_e

I’VE GOT MY FINGERS SO CROSSED

WHERE’S CARL? (On The Walking Dead and moral culpability)

THERE ARE ONLY A FEW things that really get me excited these days.

One thing that gets me going is a good deal on outdoor summer plants at Home Depot.

Another thing is watching The Walking Dead.
I’m not going to say it’s the best TV show ever (Lord knows that’s Firefly), but I will say that, as a philosopher, The Walking Dead is chock-full of philosophical whatnot!

Whatnot is a legitimate philosophical term, by the way.

One philosophical topic that is particularly whatnotty on The Walking Dead is ethics.

The show is a never-ending bounty of moral dilemmas.

Philosophers love moral dilemmas.

moral dilemmas

 

After six seasons and approximately one and a half years of TV show time,

 

Seriously, how does Carl Grimes do five years worth of aging in eight months?

carl

THIS KID IS GOING TO HAVE A FULL BEARD BY SEASON 7

After six seasons and approximately one and a half years of TV show time, the primary goal of former sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes and his bad of fellow survivors is to survive. Morally speaking, the fight for survival would make the show much like Hobbes’ Leviathan – a world where life is nasty, brutish and short. A war of all against all.

 

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But there’s something else going on in The Walking Dead besides mere survival. The characters don’t just want to survive, they want to live. They want to make a better world. To bring about a greater good.

Unfortunately for Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors, morally speaking, The Walking Dead plays out more like a series of unfortunate events.

How the best of intentions sometimes paves the road to hell.

 

mg7ts

 

The idea of pursuing the greater good is the focus of the ethical theory of Utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism, most associated with the English philosophers Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), is based on the Greatest Happiness Principle, which is, according to Mill in Utilitarianism (1861):

 

the creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.

 

That is to say, utilitarianism dictates that an act is morally permissible if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number (of people).

However, unlike Kant’s deontological ethics, which emphasizes the intrinsic goodness of an act, utilitarianism is teleological, that is, the ultimate rightness of an act depends on an act’s consequences.

This only highlights the main problem with utilitarianism.

The focus is on expected consequences.

 

consequences

IT’S ALL YOU, CONSEQUENCES

You see, when we use utilitarian ethics, we notice something almost immediately. Utilitarian ethics seems very easy to do. We simply do what we think will make the most people happy. Unfortunately, the seemingly ease of utilitarian ethics is often deceptive.

Figuring out what “happiness” is, is often more difficult than it appears to be.

 

mad-men-don-happiness

 

There’s one, BIG problem with evaluating moral goodness on consequences.

 

the big problem

 

As the saying goes, even your best laid plans don’t always get you laid like you planned. Shit happens, and sometimes things don’t turn out quite the way that we wanted it.

 

meat

 

The Walking Dead seems to be plagued by a nasty, little cause and effect scenario: Some character’s (often well-meaning) direct action constantly leads to something worse happening.

And when something worse happens; when outcomes don’t turn out as planned, we’re in a position to assign moral culpability.

 

blame it on

 

Ok, utilitarianism requires us to make decisions based on expected consequences (what we think will bring the greatest good for the greatest number), but we often lack full knowledge of a given situation.

 

god

UNLESS YOU’RE GOD. AND IF SO, YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW HOW THINGS ARE GOING TO TURN OUT

Because we do not possess full knowledge of a situation, our utilitarian moral judgments are always going to be based on our best estimates. There is always a chance that even our best estimates of what actions will bring about the greatest happiness will not result in the greatest good.

Even with the best of intentions bad things happen.

Remember: Mill tells us that the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.

 

  • So, when Carol tells Sam a story about zombies eating him so he won’t snitch about seeing Carol in Alexandria‘s food pantry/armory, Carol’s terrifying story eventually results in the deaths of Sam, his mother, Jessie, and his brother, Ron. Carol tells Sam the story with the intention of keeping Rick’s group’s plans to take over Alexandria (a move that Rick’s group thought would be for the greater good) secret. However, when Sam and his family are surrounded by a herd of the undead, Carol’s story repeats in his head, causing Sam to panic and draw attention to Sam and his family.

 

The show had already established that Sam was s bit unhinged and suggests that what Carol tells him is what sends poor Sam over the edge.

Because Carol failed to calculate the ultimate consequence of what she said, we feel that Carol bears (at least some of) the blame for Sam’s death.

  • Also in that scene, Michonne fatally stabs Ron with her Katana when Ron points his gun at Rick after Ron’s mother and brother are devoured by walkers. We (and Michonne, we assume) know that if Rick dies, the group will be leaderless.

 

And that would be bad.

Michonne, we presume, stabs Ron because keeping Rick alive would be good for the group (i.e. the greater good).

 

richonne

THIS MIGHT HAVE ALSO HAD SOMETHING TO SO WITH IT

 

However, what happens is Ron shoots Carl in the eye.

An unforeseen consequence.

Because Michonne didn’t calculate the possibility that Ron would flinch while being stabbed through the back with a katana, Carl lost an eye, it wouldn’t be too far fetched if we ascribed a little bit of moral blame to Michonne for what happened to Carl.

 

  • Then there’s Morgan, who lets a group of attackers (The Wolves) escape after they’ve viciously attacked and slaughtered people in Alexandria. Morgan allows The Wolves to escape because he believes that all life is precious and that not killing is the greater good. The bad guys, in turn, attempt to kill Rick. And – a lone Wolf that Morgan captures takes a hostage and nearly gets the woman killed while attempting to leave Alexandria. Morgan’s goal was to rehabilitate the Wolf – something he thought would be good for everyone.

 

It makes sense that people are pissed off at Morgan for thinking that “all life is precious”.

 

morgan jones

ALL LIFE IS PRECIOUS. EXCEPT FOR THIS GUY. F@#K THIS GUY

 

That’s because Morgan is morally culpable for The Wolves nearly killing Rick and the hostage.

 

  • Earlier in the series, Carl Grimes taunts a walker stuck in the mud and runs away when the re-animated corpse breaks free from the mud and grabs hold of Carl’s pants. The walker eventually makes its way to Hershel’s farm where it attacks Dale, who has to be put down. Carl wanted to prove that he was capable of handling himself and could contribute to the group and not just be a helpless kid, something that would benefit the group as a whole. However, Carl didn’t calculate that the walker he taunted would follow him to the Greene farm and kill Dale.

And viewers were right to be pissed at Carl for “killing” Dale.

 

Throws-rocks-at-zombie-stuck-in-the-ground-gets-Dale-killed-by-t-a77a78

 

We’re angry with Carl because Carl is (partly) morally responsible for Dale’s death.

 

  • In the series’ third episode, “Tell It to the Frogs”, Rick leads a small group back to zombie-infested Atlanta to rescue Merle who (whom?) Rick has left handcuffed to a pipe on a roof. Rick argues that rescuing Merle is the morally right thing to do. Despite the warning that the camp needs as many available men as possible to protect the camp from the undead, Rick insists that retrieving Merle and Rick’s dropped bag of guns will serve the greater good.

 

While Rick and the small group are away, the camp is attacked by a herd of walkers, resulting in the deaths of several no-named red shirts and a couple of relatively minor characters.

Rick failed to calculate the possibility that the camp would be attacked in his absence.

 

victim the-walking-dead-amy

SERIOUSLY, DOES ANYBODY REALLY MISS AMY?

 

Therefore, Shane isn’t all wrong when he says that by leaving the camp Rick bears some culpability for deaths in the group.

 

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BEING THE BAD GUY DOESN’T HELP EITHER, SHANE

 

That’s just a few examples of moral culpability in The Walking Dead.

You can write an entire book about philosophy and this show.

 

the walking dead and philosophy

WELL, WHADDYA KNOW?!?

 

Well – as season six of The Walking Dead draws to a close, there are sure to be more utilitarian miscalculations – as well as many other examples of philosophy gone wrong. And I’m sure I will be watching seasons to come, watching my weekly dose of philosophical whatnot.
That is, unless Daryl Dixon dies.

I’ll be too busy rioting.

 

 

 

if daryl dies we riot

 

 
SOURCES:
John Stuart Mill. Utilitarianism. 2005 [1861]. NY: Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc.. p.8.

The Warm Fuzzy Moral Center of the Post-Apocalypse (On Pacifism and The Walking Dead)

I’VE BEEN WATCHING AMC’s The Walking Dead for a little over five seasons now, and one thing I’ve noticed about the show is that you never want to become the moral center of the group. It’s almost a guarantee that by the end of the mid-season finale your character will be dead.

Dale
Hershel
Bob
Tyreese

Andrea, kinda towards the end.

 

55903-andrea-i-know-how-the-safety-w-cmtd

 

I’ve also learned that in the post-apocalypse to never be the peacemaker. The worst thing you can do in the post-apocalypse is to suggest that living beings should live together peacefully. Or that it’s wrong to kill people.

Don’t that it or your character will end up like this:

 

prison graves

 

You see, the world the characters of The Walking Dead inhabit is a zombie-infested Hobbesian dystopia – it is a war of all against all, a war with both the living and the dead.

 

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It is a world where Thrasymachean might-makes-right often determines who survives to live another day.

 

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There’s something else that even the casual The Walking Dead might notice – though the world of The Walking Dead is nasty, brutish, and short, somehow in the midst of all the violence, a pacifist *sometimes* emerges.
And as one may assume, in The Walking Dead, this is not a good thing.

So what, you say, does peacemaking get you in The Walking Dead?

 

t7r2kqb

 

Former farmer, veterinarian, and father to Beth and Maggie, Hershel Greene wanted to resolve the group’s conflict with The Governor with negotiation rather than with war.

And this was how Hershel was rewarded for his effort

 

hershel's death

 

Deceptively tough-looking Tyreese had no desire to kill the living or the dead.

This is what happened to Tyreese.

 

Tyreese_Dead

HE’S DEAD, IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED

 

Original moral center Dale argued against the group executing the prisoner Randall, even though Randall posed a significant threat to the safety of the group

And you know what happened to Dale, right?

You guessed it.

 

dale death

 

The Walking Dead is definitely a nice guys finish last sort of thing.

 

46db3a90-5302-11e4-b731-c7cb78bd5f65_you-re-gonna-die

 

Now, the formerly long-lost Morgan’s “all life is precious” ethic is quickly making him persona non grata in Alexandria.

 

mike2bnesmith2bnobody2blikes2byou

 

Although the real world often celebrates those who want peace for all at all times, in The Walking Dead those who refuse to kill can become a serious problem – even a threat to others.

 

rick and michonne on morgan

AN ACTUAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN RICK AND MICHONNE ABOUT MORGAN

 

You see, it’s all about consequences.

Tyreese’s anti-violence ethic not only endangered his own life, but also endangered the lives of others. When Tyreese also fails to kill Martin, who threatens the life of baby Judith, Martin later joins Gareth and the other Terminus survivors who capture Bob.

And eat his leg.

 

bob's leg

THIS MIGHT HAVE NOT HAPPENED IF TYREESE HAD KILLED MARTIN….ALTHOUGH BOB WOULD HAVE DIED ANYWAY

 

Eventually, Bob and Tyreese are done in by zombie bites.

 

twd-better

 

But now, a new problem pacifist has arrived to disrupt the violent world of The Walking Dead.

Morgan.

 

walking-dead-premiere-morgan

 

Morgan Jones, introduced along with his son, Duane, in the series’ opening episode “Days Gone Bye”, saves Rick Grimes after Rick awakes from a coma. Morgan teaches Rick the rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse (Rule #1: don’t get bit) and the two men part company, only to be reunited in the Season 3 episode “Clear”.

Needless to say, when the two men find each other again, Morgan is a bit different.

He’s batshit crazy.

 

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Morgan is possessed by the notion that he must “clear” – to kill every being he encounters – man, woman, or child, living or dead.

 

morgan is crazy

MORGAN TRIES TO KILL RICK, NOT ONLY DEMONSTRATING THAT HE’S INSANE, BUT ALSO SUICIDAL

 

After Morgan attempts to “clear” Rick, Carl, and Michonne –

Wait. Let me stop right here for a sec.

You may have noticed that I am referring to characters without describing them or to situations without context. If you, reading this, is unfamiliar with The Walking Dead, I suggest that you see the Wikipedia/Wiki article on the TV series The Walking Dead (See: http://walkingdead.wikia.com/wiki/The_Walking_Dead_(TV_Series).

If you are indeed familiar with the series, this brief recap should be old hat.

 

back to our programming

 

After Morgan attempts and fails to “clear” Rick, Michonne, and Carl, Rick and his companions leave Morgan (but not without stocking up on some guns and ammo) and head back to the prison, leaving Morgan to “clear” on his own.

The next time we see Morgan, it’s Rick who is doing the clearing

-specifically, clearing the abusive husband of Rick’s would-be love interest, Jessie.

 

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Viewers cheered at the reunification of Rick and Morgan, and eagerly awaited the badassery to come from two of the badassenest characters on The Walking Dead.

There was only one problem with this coming to fruition.

Morgan had gone pacifist.

 

weirdwednesday-italian-spiderman-357009

 

Although absolute pacifism may be an unheard of (or even unreasonable) idea in the zombie apocalypse, the practice of living a life according to the principle of non-violence is, in our zombie-free world, an age-old philosophical tradition.

Pacifism is the (sometimes absolutist) argument that

 

all forms of violence, war and/or killing is unconditionally wrong and conflicts which may arise should be dealt with through arbitration and compromise rather than with recourse to violent means. (IEP).

Pacifism is encouraged in the New Testament of the Bible. In Chapter five of Gospel of Matthew, Jesus announces “blessed are the peacemakers.” Jesus also instructs his followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

 

The Bible also instructs us to “turn the other cheek”.

 

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The list of notable pacifists is quite extensive, including: the Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw, John Lennon, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and Helen Keller.

john-lennon-photo

THE SAME MAN WHO WROTE “HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN” ALSO WROTE “IMAGINE”. WAIT A MINUTE — WAS HE TALKING ABOUT SHOOTING SOMETHING BESIDES BULLETS?

 

On the small screen, Morgan’s pacifism presents a problem for some viewers, namely because A) Morgan is a badass and we want to see him do some killing, and 2: As we’ve seen, characters who preach peace don’t live for very long.

Let’s not forget this is what happened to the last guy who tried to be the peaceful moral center of the zombie apocalypse:

 

zombie_hershel_head

 

It’s soon revealed that Morgan’s new pacifist philosophy isn’t something that Morgan cooked up on his own, but acquired from the teachings of forensic psychologist turned part-time goat cheese maker and Aikido master named Eastman.

 

eastman

 

Viewers don’t have to do much figuring out things to realize that the name “Eastman” seems to coincide with his Eastern philosophy.

Eastman’s name is also nearly as obvious a name as Porkins in Star Wars.

 

PorkinsHasAProblem(BesidesObesity)-ANH

SERIOUSLY, GEORGE LUCAS!? THE GUY’S NAME IS PORKINS?!?!?

 

Eastman practices the Japanese martial art Aikido, which focuses on defense rather than on an attack. Over time, Eastman rehabilitates Morgan, who he determines is suffering from PTSD and eventually cures Morgan of his urge to “clear”. As a part of Morgan’s treatment, Eastman shows Morgan a book on the philosophy of Aikido, “The Art of Peace”, in which contains the passage:

“Aikido means not to kill. Although nearly all creeds have a commandment against taking a life, most of them justify killing for one reason or another. In Aikido, however, we try to completely avoid killing even the most evil person.”

Most importantly, Eastman tells Morgan he’s found a way to inner peace. He tells Morgan:

 

eastman never kill again

 

So, when Morgan is unwilling to kill other living humans, even when a murderous group called the Wolves launch a deadly attack on Alexandria, he holds fast to his personal philosophy, which is, as Morgan explains to Daryl, the belief that

 

tumblr_nm3ef3nqcg1rkbi4ao2_250

 

In “Ethics of War”, Clifford Simmons says:

I could not stand aside from the experiences of others… I still believed that the position of the pacifist was ultimately right but I was beginning to realize that, at the same time, I could not stand aside from the struggle which was engulfing my contemporaries

 

It certainly seems that Morgan is willing to stand aside, even in the face of evil. Morgan definitely believes that his pacifist ethic of not killing is the only morally correct way to live. It isn’t just Aikido that tells us that killing is morally impermissible. The Ten Commandments explicitly dictates that “Thou shalt not kill”.

But is intentional killing always immoral?
Well, that depends on where your ethics are coming from.

 

wait the zombie

 

The nature of our (or Morgan’s) pacifist philosophy is rooted in what system of ethics we (or Morgan) adheres to: For instance, are we acting from Kantian or Biblical duty-based ethic or from utilitarian principles?
When considering the pacifist path, we must decide which moral rules outweigh others. We (or Morgan) must weigh our duty to others and our (or Morgan’s) duty to preserve life versus the consequences of either taking a life or allowing a potentially dangerous person to live. Morgan decides that the moral rule “all life is precious” not only outweighs the “necessity” to kill the Wolves to protect Alexandria, but that the consequences of letting some of the Wolves go (another potentially deadly attack) is worth holding to his ethical principle.

 

rick and morgan

I’M GETTING REAL TIRED OF YOUR SHIT, MORGAN

 

The philosopher Edmund Burke (1729-1797) states, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.

The thing is, Morgan is not totally against violence, just killing. He’ll still beat the holy hell out of people.

 

Morgan-Fights-a-Wolf-in-The-Walking-Dead-Season-6-Episode-2

MORGAN BEATING THE EVER-LOVING POOP OUT OF A GUY WHO IS PROBABLY WISHING THAT MORGAN HAD ACTUALLY KILLED HIM

 

That makes Morgan kind of not completely pacifist.

Not completely pacifist or not, Morgan is adheres so strongly to his not-quite-so pacifist ethic that he fails to see the dire consequences of his actions.

This is because Morgan is focused on duty rather than to consequences.
Ok. Sure, we can’t necessarily fault Morgan for having morals. Or that he’s acting from a sense of duty. Or even for being a pacifist. However, the problem with Morgan and his pacifist ideology boils down to this:

 

the-law

 

Before arriving at Alexandria, Morgan encounters a couple of Wolves, who he chooses to spare instead of kill. The Wolves clearly have intentions of killing Morgan. Their attempt at killing Morgan is foiled due only to Morgan’s excellent skills with a bow staff.

 

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Morgan’s failure to kill the Wolves he encountered sets off a chain of (unintended) consequences that ultimately result in the deaths of several Alexandrians, including Rick Grimes. This happens because, as we’ve been told, Morgan believes that

 

twd-finale-4-1427716209

 

  • Some fans of The Walking Dead may have observed that Morgan’s pacifist philosophical view is an odd choice for Morgan, considering that he had previously failed to put down his zombie wife, Jenny, who later attacked their son. Morgan stated that his mistake was that he had not put down his wife as if there wasn’t going to be “a reckoning”.

 

The chain of (unintended) consequences of Morgan’s (somewhat) pacifism goes a little like this:

  • Morgan encounters the Wolves. In particular, this guy:

 

this guy

 

And this guy:

 

injured wolf before

 

  • but because Morgan believes all life is precious he does not kill them, even after the Wolves attack him.
  • The Wolves, in turn, find Aaron’s bag containing pictures of Alexandria.

 

aaron's pics

THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT THE GUYS WHO JUST ATTACKED YOUR TOWN HAVE YOUR PHOTOS OF THE PLACE WHERE YOU LIVE

 

  • Based on the information in Aarons bag, the Wolves raid Alexandria.
  • Where they proceed to viciously attack and murder the people of Alexandria.

 

xgtclvw

 

  • During the attack, Morgan allows one of the Wolves to escape with a gun.

 

this guy 2

THIS GUY AGAIN

 

  • That Wolf, in turn, almost successfully uses the gun to kill Rick.

 

rick and the wolf

 

 

At this point, it’s kind of fair to place some of the blame for the attack on Alexandria on Morgan’s ethic. And it’s not unreasonable to argue, at least on a utilitarian scale, that although Morgan is motivated by a sense of duty to respect all life, his actions have done more harm than good. Morgan’s actions clearly have endangered the lives of his fellow survivors

Perhaps Michonne is correct when, in the Season 3 episode “Clear” she observes that Morgan is “dangerous”?.

  • To make matters worse, Morgan is secretly keeping a mortally injured member of the Wolves in a home that serves as a makeshift prison.

 

injured wolf after

THIS GUY, TOO. AGAIN

 

In what is sure to result in another series of horrific consequences, rather than kill the Wolf outright, Morgan has allowed the Wolf to live.

 

disturbing fact

 

We can only imagine the extent of the death and destruction that‘s going to happen if – rather, when the injured Wolf dies and becomes a zombie.

 

 

Certainly all of it will be unintended.

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/pacifism/