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

Rules in a Knife Fight?

OK - No rules

The point was, in a knife fight you do whatever you can to win. Butch kicked the guy in the balls after catching him by surprise with the comment. Lao Tsu would have smiled. Sports has that element; it has this 'may the best man win' sort of ethic.

In sports though, the idea is of who is best while also playing by the rules.
Butch had a political problem to solve and his method seemed to work in the context of a gang hiding out in the desert.

One form of democracy that is much like a knife fight; direct democracy - taking a vote by everyone to decide everything. Plato hated the idea; he didn't trust 'the people' much. In practice it doesn't work with groups of people much bigger than 4 or 5.
The danger of direct democracy is that it can enable the 'tyranny of the majority' where a minority has no rights. That is, there are no rules inhibiting the will of the majority.
But, as mentioned - direct democracy is very cumbersome for large groups.
Imagine 5 people approaching a fork in the road. Shall we take the high road or the low road. The vote is quick and easy.
Imagine a group of 100. It might take an hour to get the vote done. It's pretty obvious that a point will be reached where the group is large enough the time it takes to vote effectively paralyzes the group. So direct democracy doesn't scale well.

Democracy is an idea that evolved contra the idea of kings and queens and their ilk. Kings and queens had councils of advisers. As the kings and queens were overthrown the councils evolved into bodies of elected representatives. So everyone votes for the representatives and then the representatives vote among themselves to decide social issues. This still left minorities vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority. The solution to this that evolved over time was to create a kind of fundamental law for the society called a constitution. A constitution is intentionally designed to be very hard to change once adopted. The constitution sets out things like rights, and the structure of government.

So we come to a form of government that is common around the world - a constitutional representative democracy.

A republic has an elected head of state. By that token the USA is a republic. Canada's nominal head of state is the Queen of England via her representative Mary Simon. It's her signature that legitimizes laws and she's appointed - not elected. So I'm cool with the idea that Canada is not a republic.
What surprised me was the meme that "the USA is a republic, not a democracy". What could that mean in a country that has more elections than any other?
I see a link between "the USA is a republic, not a democracy" and originalist interpretations of the USA Constitution.
That is that the Constitution has to be interpreted in terms of the perspective of the Founding Fathers.
The people of the society of the founders were 'real' Americans. Lots of people living in America at that time were not real Americans like first nations people or black people.
The American republic was set up to be a democracy for real Americans.

For a long time the real Americans were ascendant. They always were a majority of voting Americans and their way was the norm. But hundreds of years of demographic and social change eventually change meant that those real Americans were no longer in the majority. But they still felt themselves to be the people whose perspective should rule America. They speak of themselves as being replaced by some sort of nefarious conspiracy but the demographic trends have been obvious for decades.

The real Americans think of themselves as fighting for their lives - as if they were in a knife fight. They don't seem to like being constrained by rules but they feel entitled to push their rules on others. It does go against the idea of democracy that a minority should rule a majority but that's what the real Americans feel entitled to do - hence the denial that America is a democracy.

What do you think?
I open the floor

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.