Squid games and the lusory attitude

Analysis 82 (4):638-646 (2022)
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On Bernard Suits’s celebrated analysis, to play a game is to engage in a ‘voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles’. Voluntariness is understood in terms of the players having the ‘lusory attitude’ of accepting the constitutive rules of the game just because they make possible playing it. In this paper I suggest that the players in Netflix’s hit show Squid Game play the ‘squid games’, but they do not do so voluntarily; they are forced to play. I argue that this means that we should rethink Suits’s analysis by claiming that all that is needed for players to play is that someone has put the rules in force for them for the reason that it makes playing the game possible. I then illustrate the virtues of the revised analysis by showing how it helps us to defuse Hurka’s recent counterexamples to Suits’s view.

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Indrek Reiland
University of Vienna


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