New Class: Philosophy and D&D
Jan 01, 2021
New Class: Philosophy + Dungeons and Dragons
- Dungeons and Dragons, recently popularized by Stranger Things, is widely known as a fantasy roleplaying game where friends get together, act as characters inspired by books like Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, or Harry Potter, and tell an immersive story about fighting evil. But the University of Melbourne reported in 2019 that students who play roleplaying games “have higher cognitive abilities than the average population…[including] comprehension, spelling, attention span, and critical thinking.”
- Other studies from the Rochester Institute of Technology have concluded that these games enhance the ability to experience other perspectives, manage anxiety, and open up interests in topics “such as mathematics, science, history, culture, ethics, critical reading, and media production.” Professor David Simkins of RIT concluded: “When D&D and its cousins are played in an inviting, encouraging, compassionate, and intellectually engaged environment, play opens the door to truly amazing possibilities for learning.”
- One of DND’s most beneficial elements is its ability to help us think through philosophical dilemmas in an engaging way. For example, would a sentient, talking treasure chest qualify for the same considerations of ‘personhood’ as a human or elf? How does ‘just war’ theory apply when confronting an army of goblins? How can we solve the famous trolley problem?
- That’s why we’re offering a brand-new class: Philosophy + D&D! In this class, we will spend the first 30 or so minutes of each session describing the philosophical and real-world implications of our fantasy story from last week. Then, students will have the remaining 90 minutes to expand on their story, improve their critical thinking ability, and develop their acting skills under the guidance of their teacher/”Dungeon Master!”
- Here’s a glimpse of some of the well-known thought experiments our brave adventurers will confront during these stories:
- The Case of the Speluncean Explorers (L. Jon Fuller)
- The Experience Machine (Robert Nozick)
- Famine, Affluence, and Morality (Peter Singer)
- The question of personhood (Jacqueline Laing’s baby farming)
- Free Will and the Big Book (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
- The Heinz dilemma (Lawrence Kolhberg)
- The Kingdom of Ends (Immanuel Kant)
- We’re excited for you to put on your thinking caps, draw your swords, cast your spells, and roll the dice!