Freedom and the Value of Games


ABSTRACT: This essay explores the features in virtue of which games are valuable or worthwhile to play. Against Thomas Hurka’s view that the value of games comes from their difficulty, I argue that games are worth playing in part because they provide their players with an experience of free decision-making unconstrained by the norms of morality and rationality. Drawing on Foucault’s account of security, I suggest that games and modern forms of bureaucratic governance use similar formal techniques to promote subjective experiences of freedom among their players and citizens, respectively. While the use of such techniques in politics is often deceptive and pernicious, their use in games provide a taste of the sort of freedom that the state should enable. [Draft of September 27, 2017]

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