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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


Hard to get away from

Corruption is a pervasive problem in human affairs. Wikipedia tells us that corruption "as defined by the World Bank, is a form of dishonesty or a criminal offense which is undertaken by a person or an organization which is entrusted with a position of authority, in order to acquire illicit benefits or abuse power for one's private gain. Corruption may involve many activities which include bribery and embezzlement, "
This definition refers mostly to government figures. Private people get involved when they do things like pay bribes to government figures.
Is this definition too narrow?

If we just use this part: "acquire illicit benefits or abuse power for one's private gain", then the definition get's much larger in scope. It includes everyone from people cheating on taxes to farmers polluting waterways to companies lobbying to prevent environmental regulations.
Is that definition too broad?

I'm a long way from being in philosophy 101 where the clever move in a discussion was to insist on defining the terms. That has the effect of changing the topic of the discussion until the terms are satisfactorily defined which never happens. On the other hand, a dictionary is a very handy device. It serves as a way of verifying the meaning of a word. But as I later learned, it's a tool that is limited. For instance, with corruption it's not hard to interpret any behavior you dislike in terms of corruption: that is, interpret the behavior in a way that fits the definition.

I favor language that is more precise than that. I would distinguish between a corrupt official and a dishonest person who offers a bribe for instance. So the environmental inspector who takes a bribe to ignore pollution is corrupt. The polluter is guilty of two things; polluting and offering a bribe.

There are words whose meaning is very broad. For instance; the word "bad". All sorts of things are bad. Floods, theft, being punched in the nose . . . and all those bad things don't have much in common. It indicates that something is unpleasant or disagreeable somehow - but it's meaningless unless attached to another word like flood. The point here is that corruption is bad but not everything that is bad is corruption.

I'm interested in understanding the world I live in. I think I'm like everyone else and would like to make things better rather than worse. To make things better you actually need to get into the details. For instance, I'm interested in how the economy works. I'm very well aware of the many forces distorting the economy in bad ways It does not help to lump all of those forces into the term corruption because that doesn't tell us how to solve the cases we encounter. But more significant to me is that being distracted by corruption doesn't help me figure out how we can improve things.

I've looked at our culture and concluded that it is based on a huge bad - specifically, it has an incentive system based on tormenting unlucky people. It's not enough to say it's bad. You need to look at how the system works. Once you realize that it's the incentive system that's the problem then solutions start to emerge. That doesn't happen if it's all just based on corruption.

And also - we can study corruption itself. It's a kind of cheating and game theory talks about competition between cheaters and cooperators. Perhaps there are social pressures that can inhibit the cheaters rather than encourage them.

For instance consider the form of corruption called bribery. It's kind of normal in many places because officials are very badly paid. One solution is to just pay officials more money.

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.