Choose a topic

.. Society
We Live in the Present

10 Views of Landscape
Affect and Effect
Culture is Ordinary
I pay rent.
Listening to Corn
The Reform vs Revolution Paradox
What is Public Schooling For?

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

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

Rentier Capitalism

The entitled class

I have rented my living space all my adult life. I'm comfortable with that. It means that I pay a portion of my income to the owner of the building in return for permission to stay here. Once I managed a small apartment building so I understand (to a slight extent) how much work is involved in owning property.

But is owning property inside or outside the circle of production? That idea is that some activities increase the amount of material wealth for society as a whole and are within the circle of production. And other activities merely move that wealth around but don't produce more wealth and are outside the circle of production.

Starting from scratch and coming to own property is not easy and it's reasonable to expect people to pay the owner to use it. They are inside the circle of production. But many people don't start from scratch. They come from families that are rich enough to pay for things like down payments or even a whole building. We still pay them rent because they do own the building and you can't live there if you don't pay. But they are outside the circle of production. They are entitled to wealth because they are wealthy.

Let's be clearer here - they are entitled to material wealth because they have a lot of money, not because they produced anything. Yes - I'm thinking of the former guy :-)

In recent decades the idea of a circle of production has morphed a lot. Now making money is seen as productive however it's done. People who are already rich have many ways of making more money and are now seen as the most productive among us even though the money making may be destructive of material wealth. Bains Capital was a good example of that. They'd do hostile takeovers of viable companies whose assets were worth more than their stock value then wreck the company by selling the assets. They made lots of money doing that. And they looked down at the poor slobs who lost their jobs as 'takers'.

We're in a time of rentier capitalism. That is, rich people demanding rents in return for access to resources rather than produce anything of value. And this can cause a positive feedback loop that can cause fortunes to skyrocket. One sign of this is the extreme economic inequality our culture features now.

Another sign is the extreme volatility of speculative media like bitcoin or the stock market which show that the money making is not connected to anything productive. The production of material wealth instead of money cannot be that volatile - reality is harder to change.

Dialectical Materialism has the concept that everything contains the seeds of its own destruction. I kind of watched that happen in the 1970s with the 'tax revolt'. The prosperity of the 50s and 60s led my parent generation into a complacent "keep your hands offa my stack" kind of attitude. We may be seeing a thing like that happening now but in the opposite direction. The manifest injustice of massive inequality because of rentier capitalism is causing social pressure to reduce it.

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.