I’ve officially gone full nerd:

This volume will convince readers that the swift ascent of the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons to worldwide popularity in the 1970s and 1980s is “the most exciting event in popular culture since the invention of the motion picture.”


Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy presents twenty-one chapters by different writers, all D&D aficionados but with starkly different insights and points of view. It will be appreciated by thoughtful fans of the game, including both those in their thirties, forties, and fifties who have rediscovered the pastime they loved as teenagers and the new teenage and college-student D&D players who have grown up with gaming via computer and console games and are now turning to D&D as a richer, fuller gaming experience.

The book is divided into three parts. The first, “Heroic Tier: The Ethical Dungeon-Crawler,” explores what D&D has to teach us about ethics and about how results from the philosophical study of morality can enrich and transform the game itself. Authors argue that it’s okay to play evil characters, criticize the traditional and new systems of moral alignment, and (from the perspective of those who love the game) tackle head-on the recurring worries about whether the game has problems with gender and racial stereotypes. Readers of Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy will become better players, better thinkers, better dungeon-masters, and better people.

Part II, “Paragon Tier: Planes of Existence,” arouses a new sense of wonder about both the real world and the collaborative world game players create. Authors look at such metaphysical questions as what separates magic from science, how we express the inexpressible through collaborative storytelling, and what the objects that populate Dungeons and Dragons worlds can teach us about the equally fantastic objects that surround us in the real world.

The third part, “Epic Tier: Leveling Up,” is at the crossroads of philosophy and the exciting new field of Game Studies. The writers investigate what makes a game a game, whether D&D players are artists producing works of art, whether D&D (as one of its inventors claimed) could operate entirely without rules, how we can overcome the philosophical divide between game and story, and what types of minds take part in D&D.

Jon Cogburn is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Louisiana State University. He served as a founding member of Louisiana State University’s AVATAR (Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research) initiative. He is co-author of Philosophy Through Video Games (2008). Mark Silcox is Associate Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Central Oklahoma. He has worked as a freelance writer and designer in the video game industry. He is co-author of Philosophy Through Video Games (2008).


Introduction – Rolling a Wisdom Check

I: Heroic Tier – The Ethical Dungeon-Crawler

1. David Merli, Heroes of Virtue?
2. Jon Cogburn, Beyond (Chaotic) Good and (Lawful) Evil?
3. Chris Bateman, Chaotic Good in the Balance
4. James and Mona Rocha, Elf Stereotypes
5. Heidi Olson, Dude, Where are the Girls?
6. Mark Silcox, Elegy for a Paladin
7. E.M. Dadlez, Being Evil
8. Brandon Cooke, Why (Fictionally) Being Evil is (Actually) Fine

II: Paragon Tier – Planes of Existence

9. Mark Silcox and Jonathan Cox, The Laboratory of the Dungeon
10. Jon Cogburn and Neal Hebert, Role-playing Magic and Paradoxes of the Inexpressible
11. Levi Bryant, The Intentionality of Objects
12. Timothy Morton, The Worlds of Dungeons and Dragons
13. Levi Bryant, A Role of the Dice
14. Monica Evans, The Secret Lives of Elven Paladins

III: Epic Tier – Leveling Up

15. Carl Ehrett and Sarah Worth, What Dungeons and Dragons is and Why We Do It
16. Pete Wolfendale and Tim Franklin, Kant on the Borderlands
17. Chris Bateman, Dungeons & Dragons & Dice &… Prop Theory for Role-Play
19. Timothy Christopher, Justice is not Blind, Deaf, or Willing to Share its Nachos
20. Jason Rose, The Gunpowder Crisis
21. David Aldridge, “To Know My Character Better than He Knows Himself”