Choose a topic

.. Epistemology
Semiotics and Body Language

.. HUM
A Mind

Culture is Ordinary

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Is this picture real?
NonFungible Tokens
Public Art
Tearing Down Statues
What is Art?
Working With Reality

Artificial Intelligence and the Collingridge Dilemma.
Bird Brains
Bounded Rationality
Competence Without Comprehension
Consciousness is More Like Fame Than Television
Developmental Processes
Emergence and Cognition
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Is free will an illusion?
Natural Law
Necessary Illusions
On Affordances
Pencil and Paper
Post Phenomenology
Reflective Equilibrium
Return of the Law of Forms
Shifting Meanings
Taking Things on Faith
The Hard Problem
The I Love You Gesture
The Imagined Order
The Phenomenology of Swim Bladders.
Thinking about medical procedures
Thinking About Risk
Underdetermination and Redundancy
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
What Does Google Know?

A Country Is Not Like A Company
Alternate ideas lying around waiting for disaster
Blood and Money
Can Capitalism Survive?
Do Our Minds Own Our Bodies?
Everyday Communism
Invisible Hand
Job Creators
Job Destroyers
Money and Value
Money is Different
National Accounts
Necessary Production
Paper Wealth
Post Capitalist Society
Profit Motive Fails
Rentier Capitalism
Social Wealth vs Surplus Value
Spending Money Into Existence
The Metaphysics of Money
The Ontology of Debt
Thinking about Money
Wealth is What Money Buys

Blowing Up Pipelines

Absolute Knowledge
I do not know everything
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
The Past and the Future.
Uncertainty and Unpredictability
Whatever happened to The Truth?

Competition and Cooperation
Dr Malthus would be pleased
Error Correction
Evolution Defended
Evolution is not Religion
Evolution of Cars
Forces of Nature
Is Natural Selection Obsolete?
Politics and Evolution
The Evolution of Purpose.
The Problem with Natural Selection.
The Source of Bad Behavior
Thinking about Tails
Why Does a Leopard Have Spots?

Free Speech in the age of Twitter
Freedom and Badness
Freedom and Morality
Freedom From and Freedom To
Freedom in the Age of Convoys
Libertarian Coercion

10 Views of Landscape
Affect and Effect
I pay rent.
Listening to Corn
The Reform vs Revolution Paradox
What is Public Schooling For?

Levels of Abstraction
Levels of Abstraction and Minds
What is a newspaper?

As Much As Possible
Zipfs Law

Emotional Plague
Memes: Imitated Behavior.
The Problem with Memes
What is a replicator?

Beyond Rules Based Morality
Freedom and Morality
Moral Realism.
What do we owe animals?


Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
Philosophy Buds
Sincerely Held Beliefs
Sorites Paradox
Stereoscopic Vision and The Hard Problem
The Gorilla in the Room of Science
The Purpose of Science
What is Going On?

If It Walks Like a Duck
Right Wing Freedom
The Sovereign Citizen
Tyranny of the Majority


Constructed Life
Correlation Wins
Quack Doctors
The Great Shattering
The Material Space
Thinking about Interconnection
Too Small to See
Watching Pigeons
Weirdness in Physics

A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Inclusion and Christmas
Open Society and Falsification
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Society and The State
Spheres of Influence
The Care and Feeding of Free Speech
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
To the Moon
We Live in the Present
Why is there a shortage of nurses?
Work - Productive, Useful, Worthless, and Bad.

Implications of Very Productive Technology
Modest Proposal
Problems with Universal Basic Income
Tormenting Unlucky People
Why there are oligarchs


Storms don't have it
Ronald Dworkin
Here's a quick question for you. Did a hurricane cause the destruction in the Bahamas last month? Dworkin says no.
You see; the hurricane had no mind and so was just a passive thing happening in the world and couldn't 'cause' anything because only things with minds can be active and causal. People have agency and can decide what to do. A hurricane has no agency and can't decide what to do.

This idea that only agents can cause anything is a bit muddled I think. I think that reality is a web of cause and effect. I don't know how that all started but I have detected it without a doubt. It's a web where every effect has many causes, and where every cause has many effects. And it seems obvious to me that things that can decide what to do have emerged in that web.

I decide what to do all the time. The animals I am most familiar with, mammals also seem to decide what to do. Reptiles and fish seem to decide too (though they do not have the cognitive capacity of mammals) I'm not sure whether insects decide. But that might be just because I don't know much about their behavior. A venus fly trap plant has a behavior of sorts when it traps an insect and even makes a rudimentary sort of decision. It has leaves that snap shut when hairs on the surface are stimulated by an insect - but it takes two stimulations in a short time to trigger the behavior so that raindrops or small debris don't cause the leaves to snap.

My point here is that people certainly decide, but we aren't the only ones who decide in the natural world. There are many things that decide. How is it that things can decide? Dworkin proposes that things with agency can decide or things with minds can decide (I think he treats agency and mind as synonyms.) He looks at the brain as a physical thing, and he take's Descarte's view that no matter how closely we look at a brain we won't find a mind. Now since Descartes time we have learned a lot about the brain as a physical thing and we've learned a lot about how that thing decides - and it's true that we don't find a mind - it's much more interesting than that

One of the thrusts of Dworkin's article is to discuss the effect of Artificial Intelligence on human intelligence. He imagines a time when computers will be better at most things than people are. It's happening. Already there are ai medical diagnostic systems that do a better job than doctors. His view is that humans will become discouraged at their 'imperfection' compared to machines.
But is that true?

For instance, I enjoy chess. And I played a chess game called Sargon on my 16 k TRS80 30 years ago. It always beat me. Since then the chess software has improved to the point where it beats grandmasters. I still enjoy playing chess - it's a fun thing to do. It doesn't matter that software is better than me - the point is to have fun playing. And after all - I live in a world where there are human grandmasters at chess. I've played with a few of those and I never win against them either. That didn't spoil my pleasure at the game.

I think AI is coming and it will bring huge changes I think we will benefit from them. People are people and are good at making their own fun. And machines can free us from drudgery so we can explore better things.

Be not afraid

What do you think?

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.