Choose a topic


...Epistemology
The Past and the Future.

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

Cognition
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
Genius
GIGO
I Lost My Knife
Illusion
Incomplete Information and Stories
Instinct
Is free will an illusion?
Metarepresentations
Natural Law
Necessary Illusions
On Affordances
Pencil and Paper
Post Phenomenology
Reflective Equilibrium
Return of the Law of Forms
Shifting Meanings
Superstition
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?

Economics
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
Markets
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

Environmentalism
Blowing Up Pipelines

Epistemology
Absolute Knowledge
Equivalence
Exists
I do not know everything
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
Uncertainty and Unpredictability
Unpredictability
Verificationism

Evolution
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?
Networks
Omicron
Politics and Evolution
Roles
The Evolution of Purpose.
The Problem with Natural Selection.
The Source of Bad Behavior
Thinking about Tails
Why Does a Leopard Have Spots?

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

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

Mathematics
As Much As Possible
Zipfs Law

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

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

pending
Police

Philosophy
Agency
Being
Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
Philosophy Buds
Ratchets
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?

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

Programming
Loopsidaisy

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

Society
A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Civilization
Corruption
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Governance
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Magic
Open Society and Falsification
Privacy
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
Totalitarianism
Work - Productive, Useful, Worthless, and Bad.

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







Necessary Illusions

We work in realtime

I'm reading Dennett's From Bacteria To Bach And Back. It's an excellent book; a sort of rehashing of the ideas he's developed about cognition since Consciousness Explained (gad - has it really been 30 years?) He examines the distinction proposed by Wilfrid Sellars between the "manifest image" and the "scientific image" The scientific image deals with the physical reality of photons and atoms and rocks and stars. It's an image of how and what reality is.
The manifest image deals with the meaningful world we perceive.
Ideally, the scientific image is the same for everyone. But the manifest image varies from person to person; sometimes by a lot. The manifest image is full of necessary illusions. Free will is one.

(quoting Dennett)
The traditional view of free will, as a personal power somehow isolated from physical causation, is both incoherent and unnecessary as a grounds for moral responsibility and meaning. The scientists and philosophers who declare free will a fiction or illusion are right; it is part of the user-illusion of the manifest image. That puts it in the same category with colors, opportunities, dollars, promises, and love (to take a few valuable examples from a large set of affordances). If free will is an illusion then so are they, and for the same reason.

This is not an illusion we should want to dismantle or erase; it’s where we live, and we couldn’t live the way we do without it. But when these scientists and philosophers go on to claim that their “discovery” of this (benign) illusion has important implications for the law, for whether or not we are responsible for our actions and creations, their arguments evaporate.

Yes, we should shed the cruel trappings of retributivism, which holds people absolutely responsible (in the eyes of God) for their deeds; we should secure in its place a sane, practical, defensible system of morality and justice that still punishes when punishment is called for, but with a profoundly different framing or attitude. One can get a sense of this by asking yourself: If—because free will is an illusion—no one is ever responsible for what they do, should we abolish yellow and red cards in soccer, the penalty box in ice hockey, and all the other penalty systems in sports?
(end quote)

I've criticized the idea of free will for the same reasons that Dennett does; the idea implies doing things without reasons which is absurd. But most of our thinking takes place on a pre-conscious level so we are generally not aware of the mechanics behind the choices we make. We just go with "I made a choice" of my own free will. The illusion is that something called the will made the choice.
There is no such something.
There are many physical processes that enable us to make choices. But we have to be unaware of them for them to work. Our conscious processes are too slow. So we end up with the necessary illusion: I made a choice.

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.