Save vs. existential angst

Lecturers must be Clerics.  Or maybe Bards?

Lecturers must be Clerics. Or maybe Bards?

On Boing Boing, Ethan Gilsdorf is reporting on the publication of the latest volume in Wiley’s popular culture and philosophy series: Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy.  Edited by Christopher Robichaud, a lecturer in Ethics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, this volume investigates the uses (and abuses) of philosophical concepts like free will and how they interact with game concepts such as alignment (Good/Evil, Lawful/Chaotic), leading to essays on the ethics of spellcasting and the morality of necromancy.

Robichaud finds parallels between philosophical inquiry and dungeon crawling: “One of the pleasures of playing the game is the dance between improvisation, creative problem-solving, and mathematical calculation.  Philosophy does a similar dance, balancing imagination with argumentation and logical analysis.”

Within the imaginary worlds and among the fantasy fellowships forged in roleplaying games, contributor Jeffery Nicholas finds grounds for Aristotle’s theory of social virtues: “Through D&D, individuals have the opportunity not only to learn about friendship, loyalty, and love but also to develop those rare true friendships in which they live a life valuing loyalty and love.”  I am tempted to resort to an X-Files quote about the playing of D&D to “learn a little something about courage”, but I am more inclined to agree with the subtitle of the book: “Read and Gain Advantage on all Wisdom Checks”.

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