The Big Lebowski

It’s been very quiet here at OP, so I thought I may as well use the venue to announce some good news.  My friend Adam and I heard yesterday that an essay we proposed for Blackwell’s The Big Lebowski and Philosophy was accepted and will be published in 2012–released at that year’s “Lebowskifest,” no less.  Being such huge fans of TBL, having our essay in this volume will be very cool.  Here’s the abstract:

Drawing a Line in the Sand: Rules of Aggression in The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is the most hilarious war movie ever made. Around the time George The First was dragging a reluctant American population into a confrontation in the desert with Saddam and the Iraqis, so too was the hawkish Walter dragging a reluctant Dude into a confrontation in Los Angeles County with The Big Lebowski, Nihilists, and Jackie Treehorn. And both campaigns were allegedly justified for the same reasons—viz., a line in the sand had been crossed, unchecked aggression demanded a forcible response, and victims deserved compensation for their losses. Whether and when aggressive actions merit aggressive reactions is the question that confronts students of just war theory, and in this essay we aim to illustrate the complexities of this question by the hilarious events that unfold in TBL. Topics include (1) the set of requirements falling under jus ad bellum, or justice in initiating a wardid a soiled rug merit an aggressive response? Did Walter and the Dude have a reasonable hope of success? Were their reactions proportional to the instigating offense? Was the justice, if any, of their cause diminished by their transparently selfish motives? And (2) the requirements falling under jus in bello, or justice in prosecuting a wardid Walter and the Dude adhere to the requirement of discrimination, or successfully distinguish between those who are liable to aggression and those who are not? Were the prospective benefits of their actions sufficiently great to justify the harms inflicted? Did they take care to utilize the least amount of force consistent with defending themselves from attack? TBL is a brilliant depiction of how things can go monumentally wrong when the answers to these questions are, well, ‘no.’

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4 Responses to The Big Lebowski

  1. Josh says:

    David –

    That’s definitely a cool publication credit… I’m interested to actually see it.

    One of the things that it sounds like you won’t be writing about, though, is the linguistic/cultural process whereby a putatively unjust conflict ends up being waged anyway. That’s probably less of a philosophical question and more of a culture/media studies-type issue.

  2. David says:


    I’ll send you a draft when it’s ready. In the meantime, any interest in reading the essay on Curb that Chad and I wrote?

  3. Josh says:

    David – I think I envy your job. You apparently write essays about TV shows and movies I like and also get to say things about philosophy in the meantime 🙂 I’m glad to read your articles, of course.

  4. David says:

    Yeah, it’s good work if you can get it–and keep it! (I’ll send the Curb essay before I leave, and I’ll send a draft of the Lebowski essay in a month or so.)

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