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D&D and Racism 2: Violence

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The owners of D&D, Wizards of the Coast, recently issued an article on diversity. The response, as expected, divided mostly along ideological lines. In addressing this specific matter, I advanced two general arguments in defense of some of what Wizards has proposed. One is the utilitarian argument stolen from Plato that harmful aspects of art can harm a person’s character and could increase their chances of behaving badly for real. The second is a Kantian style argument that it does not matter whether immoral content causes harm, what matters is that the content is immoral. I ended the essay noting an obvious concern with my argument: the same reasoning would seem to apply to two core aspects of D&D: killing and looting. As an aside, I am aware of the Satanic Panic D&D faced in the 1980s—having lived through that time. The public argument made against D&D was like Plato’s argument from corruption with a Christian modification that D&D would lead people to Satanism and other cults. Like other panics about Satanists, this was debunked long ago. For those who want to refight these battles, I will leave that to others to address—now back to killing and theft. Using Plato’s argument as a template, it is easy enough to argue that violence and looting should be removed from D&D: engaging in fictional violence and theft could corrupt people  and make them more likely to behave badly in real life. I can also reuse the Kantian style argument: even if hacking up dragons and looting their hoards had no impact on people, allowing the immoral content of killing and stealing would be immoral. This would provide a clear argument from analogy: if D&D should be cleansed of racist elements in favor of diversity on moral grounds, then it should also be cleansed of violence and theft on moral grounds. There are two main options as to where this reasoning should take us. The first is to accept the analogy on its face and agree that D&D should also be. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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