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


Which way will we go?

I've been reading histories discussing the rise of capitalism as a dominant economic system. It is a tale full of woe and misery, let alone bloodshed. A tale about how economies boom and bust and the busts hurt the poor a lot. That's on top of the fact that capitalism has tormenting unlucky people as a key part of it's incentive system.

And yet, at the same time capitalism is so productive that even though it's so nasty in some ways, it has raised more people out of poverty than any king, let alone a benevolent philosopher king.
And the boom/bust nature of the economy enabled what Joseph Schumpeter called creative destruction.
That is; after each bust the subsequent boom takes us all farther forward, somehow, than if we'd just rested on our accomplishments.

The capitalists were sanguine. At the beginning of the story the main way of capital accumulation was investing in slave ships selling African slaves to plantations. The plantations were a precursor and model for later productive resources like factories. They were comfortable with the fact that their riches; their mansions, and pictures, and jewels and churches - all of the things that they called civilized - were based on exploiting unlucky people. For them it was not a bug. It was a feature. The harshness of life at the bottom served to keep the rabble under control (usually). I read many times the idea that economic hardship imposed 'discipline'on labour

I think that our society is in fact a pretty good society even given all the bad that is easy to see. I can imagine people living happily in a resource rich environment who didn't need or want a capitalist productive system. In fact, the First Nations here in BC lived in that kind of situation. And their culture was almost wiped out by settlers from Europe.
But - being who I am now I wouldn't be happy living in a First Nations longhouse 300 years ago.
It's not just that I'd miss my computer.
It's that I like knowing what I do about reality and that knowledge was just not there in the longhouse. And I can imagine that my personality type might not prosper in a longhouse too. I like the looseness of social relations that our society provides.

I share Stephen Pinker's view that life for most people gets better and better. I am aware that there are a lot of people who don't share my good luck in living in a peaceful place like Vancouver. There are wars and threatened war and with contemporary weapons the bloodshed is or would be immense. And the anguish will be shown almost in real-time to billions of people all over the world.
But - that people all over the world get to experience the bloodshed (even indirectly) also increases popular pressure to make things better.

I think that paradise implies the aspiration we all share for civilization. A place where everyone has a good life as just the natural course of things. And I think that humanity is potentially on a cusp of flipping to a civilization that is much more like a paradise than what we see now.

On the one hand we don't really have a problem of scarcity now. We have a problem of misallocating resources.
On the other hand ideas like the UBI and Modern Monetary Theory are debunking the myths of conventional economic wisdom.

One of the myths of conventional wisdom is that there is not enough money on the planet to give all 7 billion people a UBI of $2000 a month.
Turns out there is. Well - by a 'back of an envelope' sort of calculation here is how a UBI would compare with various GDPs .

UBI as percentage of GDP

USA 3%
China 14%
India 28%
Canada 4%
Britain 4%

I hasten to emphasize that this is a very simplistic calculation.
For one thing, the whole idea of a GDP is a bit ridiculous.
One thought I had was about how not all the product that is produced in a year is consumed that year.
I live in a city full of buildings and cars and other people; I know that a lot of what we produce sticks around and is useful for extended periods.

I think humanity is stuck with one sort of civilization or another. It's implied by our numbers and psychology. But does it have to be a bad civilization?

Or could we flip to a good one?

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.