Choose a topic

Pencil and Paper

Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
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
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
Uncertainty and Unpredictability

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

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
Open Society and Falsification
Sex and Gender
Society and The State
Spheres of Influence
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Problem with Hedonism
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

Can Capitalism Survive?

Cui bono

I've lived in a benign capitalist country all my life. Benign for me that is. When I was young I was a bit of an activist. I worked with people in our local black ghetto and knew that racism was alive and well in Saint John. But for me, life was pretty good. Work was easy to find. In those days I could hitch-hike into a strange city and find a job the next day. After a friendly stranger offered me a place to sleep for the night.

The people I knew all assumed that capitalism would collapse at any moment. It was too racist and sexist to survive. Hah - turned out that capitalism thrives on racism and sexism. And so - 50 years down the road - capitalism has become trumpism.

Let me be plain - I understand how capitalism works. The core idea is that people with surplus funds invest those funds to build productive operations. For instance, pins are pretty hard to make. If I knew what I was doing I might be able to make a couple a day on my own. But if you set up a factory that organizes the labor of many people and provides them with tools then each worker can produce thousands of pins a day. And it takes capital to set up factories like that. Capital to build the building and buy the machines and hire the workers and the people who sell pins. A society that enables that sort of thing will prosper. I've lived with that prosperity all my life. But that prosperity had a dark side. While the capitalists got richer and richer to a fabulous extent, the rest of us were struggling.

Capitalism presents itself as rich people investing in productive resources. But that is old fashioned. Now capitalism is people buying stocks in a stock market (simplifying here) from a company that proposes to build productive resources.
Seems like a small change - but it isn't.

Say I want to set up a bike shop. I do my business plan and find I need $1000 to do it. I only have $100 To raise money I sell 'shares' in my bike shop. Say 9 shares for $100 each. Each share would entitle the owner to a share of the profit from the bike shop Owners of shares might want to sell their shares. That's what stock markets are for. As you might expect, shares in companies that produce handsome profits might sell for more than their original purchase price.
So far so good.
But that enables people who can profit just by buying and selling stocks.

Let us be clear here - the initial public offering of a stock does good by providing capital to a company to build a productive resource. Subsequent trades of the stock do the company no good directly. Those trades have become a speculative medium.

I think of playing the stock market as akin to gambling. But it's gambling like playing bridge rather than gambling like rolling dice. And some people get very very rich by gambling on stocks And other people get very very rich by advising others on which stocks to gamble on (and by taking a cut of each trade) We see the outcome - a few people 'owning' almost all the wealth.

But other forces are at work too.
Automation has meant that there are fewer and fewer good jobs. In a society where you need a good job to mate and have a family; that's a problem. Capitalism promises maximum prosperity. It doesn't talk about how that can make most people poorer while a few get fabulously rich.

And the pandemic has revealed that the old common wisdom was basically lies. In fact, we can just send people home from work and pay them anyway. Because in fact a government can make money as it needs And in that context who needs capitalists? If you need capital to start a productive enterprise, if you have a dynamite business plan, why not just take it to the government for funding.

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.