A philosophy webcomic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. Also Jokes

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Fantasy Morality

Of course the real reason is because the good people are beautiful, and the bad people are ugly. Any idiot knows that.

It is funny to think about the morality in the fantasy genre, because often it just seems more like a war between species which are both trying to exterminate each other, rather than a moral issue. They have to find ways to explain why humans are justified to kill orcs or goblins or whatever on sight. The crudest reason is simply that they are ugly and we are beautiful. For example the elves in Lord of the Rings are always the fairest of all creatures, and the orcs are hideous monsters. Aesthetics seems to play some even greater role, because we can see that once Gollum is corrupted he even now prefers ugliness and darkness itself to beauty and light, even in the type of food he wants to eat, or the type of art he would want to look at.

Having bad taste in art is hardly a justification of genocide though, so they often need something more. Here we start seeing things that more resemble real world colonial justifications. The orcs, unlike the noble elves, are simply uncivilized. They are brutal and ignorant. They are savage creatures who haven't read any Shakespeare. Well, except for maybe Romeo and Juliet, but everyone has read that. Still not enough Shakespeare to be considered civilized though. Since the good guys always win in the end, and are typically outnumbered, this becomes pretty important. The orcs will brutally, savagely kill a few dozen elves, and the elves will respond in a very civilized fashion by wiping out the entire orc civilization. You can even still see this kind of justification in contemporary colonialism (cough Israel cough).

In the original Dungeons & Dragons rule set, the orcs were simply "ontologically evil", that is to say, born with a kind of "evilness" in their essence. It was therefore not only justified, but a moral obligation for paladins to kill them on sight. If they didn't kill them on sight, they would risk losing their "good" status, and being kicked out of the Order of Paladins. Pretty brutal stuff, if you think about it. In the latest editions, this sort of thing has been seen to be problematic, and stripped out. Now the orcs simply have an evil culture, most likely because they weren't exposed to John Rawls at University.

It is funny to think about the morality in the fantasy genre, because often it just seems more like a war between species which are both trying to exterminate each other, rather than a moral issue. They have to find ways to explain why humans are justified to kill orcs or goblins or whatever on sight. The crudest reason is simply that they are ugly and we are beautiful. For example the elves in Lord of the Rings are always the fairest of all creatures, and the orcs are hideous monsters. Aesthetics seems to play some even greater role, because we can see that once Gollum is corrupted he even now prefers ugliness and darkness itself to beauty and light, even in the type of food he wants to eat, or the type of art he would want to look at.

Having bad taste in art is hardly a justification of genocide though, so they often need something more. Here we start seeing things that more resemble real world colonial justifications. The orcs, unlike the noble elves, are simply uncivilized. They are brutal and ignorant. They are savage creatures who haven't read any Shakespeare. Well, except for maybe Romeo and Juliet, but everyone has read that. Still not enough Shakespeare to be considered civilized though. Since the good guys always win in the end, and are typically outnumbered, this becomes pretty important. The orcs will brutally, savagely kill a few dozen elves, and the elves will respond in a very civilized fashion by wiping out the entire orc civilization. You can even still see this kind of justification in contemporary colonialism (cough Israel cough).

In the original Dungeons & Dragons rule set, the orcs were simply "ontologically evil", that is to say, born with a kind of "evilness" in their essence. It was therefore not only justified, but a moral obligation for paladins to kill them on sight. If they didn't kill them on sight, they would risk losing their "good" status, and being kicked out of the Order of Paladins. Pretty brutal stuff, if you think about it. In the latest editions, this sort of thing has been seen to be problematic, and stripped out. Now the orcs simply have an evil culture, most likely because they weren't exposed to John Rawls at University.

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