Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown: S7E2 “Stormborn” – Loyalty, Nationalism, Oaths, and Cowardice

*SPOILER ALERT FOR GAME OF THRONES, OBVIOUSLY. Don’t listen to this if you haven’t watched the show!*

When should you betray someone? Should you keep ALL your oaths? And is cowardice really unvirtuous if it saves your life and the lives of others?

If you’ve listened to episode 1 of Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown, you’ll already know that the themes of Game of Thrones are already rich with philosophical questions. And now, with Jon Snow and Daenarys Targaryen meeting up and the Night King moving further south, our favorite HBO show is bringing whole worlds together. The stakes are higher than ever for the show’s characters and for the decisions they make.

In the second episode of our podcast, Ryan Ferguson and I talk about some of the many philosophical decisions in Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 2: “Stormborn”:

  • When is it right to betray someone? Is Varys morally admirable? Is he really serving the greater good? – Varys and Daenarys 
  • How do leaders use in-group bias (nationalism, etc) to maintain and gain power? How do you know when in-group bias blinds you to in-group evil? – Cersei and the Lords of the Reach 
  • When is it appropriate to make and break oaths? When do covenants become null and void? – the Tarlys, the Tyrells, and Jaime
  • Is it ever acceptable to harm innocents in warfare? Is it better to be feared or loved in leadership? – Tyrion, Daenarys, and Olenna 
  • How should we think about the virtue of courage against the vice of cowardice? Would Theon have been virtuous to attack Euron? – Theon and Euron

Ready to dig in? Download episode two from iTunes or your favorite podcast app. 

You can also listen to this episode (and others!) in the in-browser player below. Want to chime in with your thoughts? Comment on this blog! I’m sure we haven’t said anything controversial AT ALL.

NSFW WARNING: These episodes contain language and themes not appropriate for children and probably not safe for work or your grandmother. In no circumstance should these be heard by the delicate ears of Prince Tommen.

DISCLAIMERS: Despite all evidence to the contrary in this show, I am not a professional philosopher, doctor, climatologist, maester, brother of the Night’s Watch, or financial advisor.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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