Philosophy games

Can anyone recommend some short indie games that deal with philosophical issues, by which I mean

- ethics: what does it mean to be a good person? What is morally permissible? Can there be objective standards for morality or is it all relative? What are the main different ethical systems in western philosophy? How do other systems - Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist for example - differ?
- metaphysics: what is the self? what is identity? what is individuality? is memory real? what is the nature of reality? Is truth a construct or objectively absolute?
- logic
- aesthetics: what is beauty? what is the role of art in society?
- the philosophy of science, esp addressing Popper's falsification case
- what is a just war?

By the way this is a good site for exploring your own philosophical position on a range of issues:
While I haven't played it myself, "Papers, please" is supposed to be really thought-provoking on the ethics/morality department. I doubt it provides any answers, so much as it simulates what it's like to make tough choices and how your job may encourage- or even force a lack of empathy and trust. A "social experiment" simulation, in essence.

Then there is the game "Everything", which outright plays the philosophical audio tapes of Alan Watts and visualizes the ideas of his lectures with the game mechanic of you being able to BE anything on any scale.

It frustrates me that I can't think of a game that acts as a good balance between these two titles. "Papers, please" dares you to question the social experiment you are inhabiting but you can choose to ignore it. "Everything" is so in-your-face (albeit beautiful) about the philosophy of it all that it might be considered lazy, since you may as well just listen to the Alan Watts lectures on their own for (mostly) the same effect. Depends on how impactful you feel that the basic game mechanic is, I guess.
I believe in the rights of Fat Men to not be pushed in front of trains, and random backpackers right not to be harvested for organs. I do not consider this contradictory.

Keveh Kins

Pun Enthusiast
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysey deals with a loft of moral issues. The ethics of big business, slavery, religion, nature and sustainability versus industrialism, and the morality of killing, cause you're this puny little skinny dork with no weapons rising up against your oppressor, but you're also using your superior intelligence to kill guards in frequently gruesome ways. You also have the choice of freeing your fellow slaves, abandoning them, or outright killing them for an easier progression.

There's a lot of pretty hefty ethical subtext in a game that presents itself as a bit of a cartoonish, if dark, comedy.
Sorry, left out some relevant details in the interests of brevity and snarkiness.

I was in favour of diverting a train to said fatman as opposed to five other people, which is using him as a means to an end, which I had earlier committed not to do, but not to endorse the organ harvesting, which would also be using someone solely as a means to an end, which the test flagged as a contradiction. I think the situations are different enough to make a difference, because the organ harvesting can be extrapolated into a widespread occurrence, while the other is just a freak accident. You can't endorse a policy of diverting trains onto fat people to save others, because this situation doesn't come up as often as it does in philosophy classes.

The other interesting moment is that it appears I am slightly less sympathetic to unconscious soccer players than I am to violinists.

Sorry, I have nothing to contribute to the actual thread topic.
What I like about those philosophy experiments is that they lead to precisely that kind of discussion, Clem. First you expose any real or apparent inconsistencies and you try to figure out what logically justifies holding what appear to be two inconsistent beliefs.

I'm proud to say that 2 of my 12 students changed their university major after taking my philosophy class this year (changed it to include philosophy). I think that's pretty good going on my part.

trash panda

...I just started doing the Valid/Invalid game and I made it through about five questions before my brain split in half. I...I have to read the statements like 15 times and I'm still confused about what's true. Is that the point of the game, or am I a moron? :wacky:

I'm doing battleground God now. This was my only hit:
Earlier you responded that it is rational to believe the Loch Ness monster does not exist if there is an absence of strong evidence or argument that it does. No strong evidence or argument was required to show that the monster does not exist - absence of evidence or argument was enough. But now you claim that the atheist needs to be able to provide strong arguments or evidence if their belief in the non-existence of God is to be rational rather than a matter of faith.

The contradiction is that on the first occasion (Loch Ness monster) you agreed that the absence of evidence or argument is enough to justify belief in the non-existence of the Loch Ness monster, but on this occasion (God), you do not.
I'm a little confused about this one. Atheism pertains to something that we have no real way of validating or testing by scientific means, whereas we can actually examine the biological probability of the Loch Ness Monster...?
I think what is happening is perhaps a confusion on the definition on Atheism. Atheism means different things to different people, sure, and is often divided up into sub-categories to show the differences, but in my view, the word itself simply refers to a lack of belief in god(s). It does not actually pertain to the question of a person's knowledge of god(s) not existing.

In regards to the question of knowledge, a "Strong Atheist" claims to know that god(s) don't exist, where as a "Weak/Agnostic Atheist" doesn't make any knowledge claim. I don't know whether god(s) exist or not, but I am still an Atheist given the existence of god(s) is a claim that isn't substantiated, as with the claim of the Loch Ness Monster's existence. The burden is not on me to then go the extra step to prove god(s) doesn't exist. We shouldn't believe in the Loch Ness Monster by default, just as we shouldn't believe in god(s) or anything else for that matter by default. Starting with a conclusion and fitting the evidence to it is exactly the wrong way to go about things, if one is interested in what is true anyway.

Also, can't contribute to helping out with the games thing. I think some of those questions can be applied to a lot of games though, but it might not be what you're after. I can't think of any short games anyway. Sorry, Lic.
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In regards to what? If you're talking about how (some) pantheists simply label the universe "god" without giving it any other special attributes (that would differentiate it from a scientific understanding), and you're saying this proves god exists, then sorry, but I'd disagree with the labelling :mon:. That is to say you can assert the universe is god without substantiation as to the necessity of doing such, and I can dismiss this claim without substantiation.

You can always use "spiritual" language to describe the wonder of nature and give reverence to nature without mudding the waters with a god label. However, if you add further attributes to this "god"/universe, then we can talk, but one would need to demonstrate the claims made. Anyways, probably a discussion for another thread, which I probably won't participate in :P.

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
My results for the first questionnaire:

Your response that the fat man should be tortured is consistent with your view that torture is not always wrong. It also makes sense in terms of other responses you have given. For example, you think that the morality of an action is determined by the extent to which it maximises the happiness of the greatest number of people. It is certainly possible to argue that torturing the fat man is justified in these terms if it prevents, or there is good reason to think that it might prevent, the detonation of a nuclear device. Also, on at least one occasion you have responded that it would be right to end the life of one person to save the lives of some other greater number of people. It would be strange then if you did not think it might sometimes be right to torture a person if by doing so it is possible to save all those people whose lives would otherwise be lost in a nuclear explosion.


A Matter of Consistency

The first thing to note is that your consistency score is 83%. This is higher than the average score for this test (where higher is better), which is 77%.

It is often thought to be a good thing if one's moral choices are governed by a small number of consistently applied moral principles. If this is not the case, then there is the worry that moral choices are essentially arbitrary - just a matter of intuition or making it up as you go along. Suppose, for example, you think it is justified to divert the train in the first scenario simply because it is the best way to maximise human happiness, but you do not think this justification applies in the case of the fat man on the bridge. The problem here is that unless you're able to identify morally relevant differences between the two scenarios, then it isn't clear what role the justification plays in the first case. Put simply, it seems that the justification is neither necessary nor sufficient for the moral judgement that it is right to divert the train.

I leave it to you fine people to tell me if I'm a sociopath or something approximately equally wholesome. :wacky:

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
I'm not arguing with you, Ghost. I'm just saying that before one can proceed to proving God exists (if that's possible) one first has to define what God is.
In other words, defining its parameters? E.g. the Judaeo-Christian God; or a more generalized entity that may have some or all of the following attributes: omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, sentience, emotion, a sense of morality, an entitlement to judge, etc.?

This is one respect where I think the test you linked came up short with its "Battleground God" module: it really doesn't define what we're talking about. I know that's probably supposed to be half the point (to get participants to read into the term what associations they bring with them), but in my mind, that severely limits what we can hope to glean from respondents.

I suppose it depends on what you're trying to glean, though. :monster:
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