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

Right Wing Freedom

It aint too pretty

I do get it when it comes to freedom used in a colloquial sense. I like to do what I want to do, and I don't like being constrained. Especially I don't like being constrained by other people. That kind of constraint feels like oppression in a way that being constrained by the edge of a cliff does not. I've been a remarkably free man all my life. I've been able to do what I want a lot. Especially now that I'm retired. I have not felt oppressed. But that's using freedom in a colloquial sense.

But when I look at the idea from a philosophic perspective I find the idea to be incoherent and even pernicious. I think that the idea of autonomy captures the colloquial idea of freedom without incoherence or the pernicious baggage. I'm pretty autonomous and to a large extent do things for my own reasons. I'm able to balance competing influences and embark on a course of action to attain my goals. Being autonomous requires that I be sensitive to the expectations of my society. And in general we negotiate those expectations as easily as we avoid trees when we walk through the woods. And nothing is guaranteed to work. Situations can just blow up in your face.
Such is life.

Embedded in the idea of human freedom is the idea of free will. The idea of free will, at base, assumes that we can do things without reasons for doing them. This idea might seem silly, and I think it is, but it's an idea at the base of a lot of ideas in our culture. For instance, there is this idea that since we are free we can do and become whatever we want. I remember getting a lot of propaganda about that in high school when we were all trying to decide on careers and stuff. And we could certainly choose, but things rarely worked out as expected.

Human societies are stratified with some people having way more power than others. I'm thinking of people like kings who were way more personally powerful than other people.
They seemed to be free. They could push people around and the people couldn't push back (in general). Now of course they weren't really free. They had lots of constraints but these were not generally seen by the common folk. And when kings were finally overthrown, freedom came to be seen as a human right.

Freedom also emerges from the idea of a deity. The deity I'm most familiar with is the Christian one who is seen to be all knowing and all powerful and all loving. Such a being is seen to be absolutely free; able to do anything, the creator of reality after all.
Now that's freedom!!!
And people each had a slice of that divine freedom - we call it free will.

When I was in art school people were very concerned with 'authentic' freedom. And if there were reasons for what people did then it was hard for them to show that their freedom was authentic. As you can imagine this lead to all sorts of strange behavior.

Lately we've seen a very strange phenomenon. Due to the pandemic we are now required to do things like wear masks and to not gather in large groups indoors The evidence of the effectiveness of those measures against covid 19 is pretty solid. (One interesting fact is that those measures has reduced the transmission of other flu strains to about zero) They make sense and most people comply without a problem. But for some people those public health measurements are an attack on their 'freedom'. There have been cases of rage where people have been assaulted or even shot. There have been death threats against politicians and medical experts who have mandated the social distancing measures. It's been deplorable actually.

I'm talking about the right wing here. People on the left have their own concept of freedom. And lately pretty large disturbances of the peace have been associated with left wing demonstrations.

But the left wing didn't attack the capitol howling for the heads of politicians.
The right wing did
Let's face that.

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.