Choose a topic

The Past and the Future.

AI and Art
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
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
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
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
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


The consequences of sincere belief

I like writing computer programs.
I know - I'm showing my age. Nobody talks about programs anymore:-)
But 40 years ago I learned an important lesson. Garbage In - Garbage Out
A computer program is a logical structure based on assumptions.
The logical structure is easy to see - it's just words.
The assumptions are hard to see. Even if you go looking they can be elusive. I'm working on a program that isn't working right - a classic GIGO thing - and I can almost hear my false assumptions giggling in their hiding place.
This brings out an aspect of logic we don't often think about - it can become a mental trap. If your assumptions are off then your conclusions can be very wrong and you can't see it.
It get's worse.
Since you are confident of your conclusion you misinterpret the resulting problems as having other causes, and being the pattern making creatures that we are, those are often (seemingly) easy to find.
And so the error gets compounded.
Sherlock Holmes was aware of the issue. He was adamant about not making up theories about a crime until he'd spent a lot of time gathering evidence.
Any explanation is constrained by facts. We take explanations that include all the relevant facts to be better than those that don't.
For me, one of the pleasures of mystery novels is learning a whole pile of facts until suddenly one emerges that makes the rest make sense.
I think that GIGO has a lot to do with the polarization our society suffers now.
Let me take a contemporary example: abortion. Let me say up front that I think most people who oppose abortion are sincere and good people who believe that a human soul is created at conception.
This is what they say and I think they are honestly reporting what they believe. It's why they insist on calling a fetus a child. And everyone agrees that killing a child is very bad - in the proximate case it's called murder.
And I can see that many things entail if you believe that. Like it becomes no more reasonable to allow others (who may not share their belief) to have abortions than it would be to release a murderer because the murderer didn't think it was a crime.
I get that.

There is another dimension to it as well. The 'unborn child' is innocent and pure. There is kind of a metaphor for our whole lives in our physical development here: we start off perfect and cute and 70 years later are wizened and full of memories.
I'm no theologian but I've encountered a thread of thinking among Christians that holds the right of the 'unborn child' to be superior to the rights of the mother just because the mother has had time to be corrupted by the experience of living.
So, at conception, two people inhabit one body. The question is, which person's interest is dominant.
And for lots of people, the interests of the innocent 'unborn child' should rule.
And if you believe that then you are morally obligated to take a lot of the steps against abortion that we are seeing since Roe vs Wade was struck down.
I get that too.

The problem lies in the assumption that a soul is created at conception.

I don't have that assumption.
I don't think its true in fact.
So for me the fertilized egg becomes an embryo which becomes a fetus which becomes a child once it's born and living outside the mother.
So for me there is no conflict of interest between the growing fetus and the mother. I'd say that the mother's interest always dominates.
Logic set up a mental trap for me there, I confess. I said once that the fetus was a parasite within the mother. I thought that a fetus was logically equivalent to a parasite. They are not logically equivalent and I shamefully admit the comparison was hurtful.

One big difference is that the longer the pregnancy continues the more the mother wants to have the baby.
(That's an assumption on my part since I'm male and don't know the experience of pregnancy. Though once my girlfriend got pregnant and had an abortion and I could see that it was not a fun experience for her.)
I must say that in many cases when the 'unborn child' is born there is not a good support system in place. If the mother is poor and lives in poverty then the baby will too - not good.

The abortion question would become less acute if all people were enabled to live good lives.

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.