Choose a topic

.. Epistemology
Language and thought

.. Art
Fake art

.. Cognition
General Artificial Intelligence
Observing My Experience

.. Epistemology
Consciousness defined
Dialectics and Evolution
Intentional Stance
Training vs learning
What is a Vegetable?

.. Epistmology
Dire Warnings

.. Evolution
Life is Amazing
What is a Species?
Why are Tropical Birds So Colorful

.. HUM
A Mind

.. Society
Adversarial Legislatures
Cut Energy Use
Emotional Plague
Improving Democracy
Jesus and the Money Changers
Merry Christmas
Misinformation and disinformation
Moral Hazard
Red flags
Red Rover Red Rover
Reusable Bags
Sleeping in a tent
Social Media

Culture is Ordinary

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Excellence is a Plateau
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
Gender dysphoria
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Intelligence and Motivation
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
Structures of Understanding
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?
What is going on?

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
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
Semiotics and Body Language
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
The Past and the Future.
Uncertainty and Unpredictability
Whatever happened to The Truth?

Body Plans
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

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

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 Job
A society needs a government.
Babies and Bathwater
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Drag Story Tellers
Family Values
Governance and Power
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
I Distrust the News
Inclusion and Christmas
Its a Free Country
Life Extension
Moral Decline
Open Society and Falsification
Parents, Children, and Community
Rethinking Rights
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Should We Go to Mars?
Social vs Individual Responsibility.
Society and The State
Society evolved
Spheres of Influence
The Care and Feeding of Free Speech
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Common Good
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
The Rule of Law.
Thoughts on Justice
To the Moon
Trial by jury
Virtue Signalling
We Live in the Present
What is to be said?
What made freedom a bad word?
Why is there a shortage of nurses?
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 Metaphysics of Money

A valuable social construct

What is money like? That's what the metaphysics of money would talk about. We all know what money is like on the physical level of bills and coins and bank accounts. It's stuff we earn and stuff we spend - and we handle money at that level without much mystery thought it can be troublesome.
The theory is easy but the practice can be tricky.

But once we move our attention from that material level the idea of money becomes tricky. A slightly more abstract way of thinking of what money is like is to think of it as a medium of exchange. Once the conventional wisdom was that money was invented to get around the limitations of barter. Recent research shows a different story.

Long story short; When states and kings first arose thousands of years ago they needed a way to pay their soldiers. The solution was to mint coins to pay with. The soldiers would use the coins to pay for their supplies from the population. The king also applied various taxes and fees and rents and fines on the population that could only be paid in the coinage of the realm.

Once the coins were made of precious metal that gave a tenuous link to the barter idea. But that link was fading even in ancient times because kings were putting less and less precious metal into the coins. The courts ruled that that doesn't matter. The coins were worth whatever the king said they were worth. And of course now we have paper money with no precious metal content at all.

Thus money can be thought of as a medium that facilitates transactions - a catalyst or a lubricant perhaps. The pressure for the transaction is there and money makes transactions so much easier that they multiply.

Money allows people to trade at a distance. And when they use money farmer Fred can get fish from fishmonger Lizzie using the money paid for food by logger Ethelred. Money enables the sort of division of labour that makes society so much more effective than a bunch of individuals. And the money that does that can be anything society designates - conch shells, pearls, gold, jewels - all it has to be is scarce and beautiful enough that people take it in exchange as exchanging value for value. The shell is worth to the farmer what the bushel of what he gives in exchange is to the logger. In general its a zero sum game because the farmer might like the shell as a beautiful object enough to not want to trade it on. So the shell has value in exchange because it has aesthetic value.

But that's not what money is now. I mean the banknotes are fabulous these days, but I'd not keep a hundred dollar bill because I thought it was pretty enough to be actually worth $100 to me as an aesthetic object. Current money has no intrinsic value - it is deemed to have value by fiat of some authorizing agency. And it can be just made up out of thin air.

With the reserve system a dollar deposit value can multiply to 10 times that much value in new money. Nobody has to run printing presses. A number in one account is changed to go up. That's it. And that's what happen everytime you make a credit card transaction - money is created out of thin air and put in your vendor's account on your promise to repay later. And the strange thing about this whole system is that when you repay the loan you are actually destroying money.

So - in the present world we can see a new aspect of what money is like. It's stuff that can be created at will or whim. This is a bit of a shock when you first get it; it raises huge moral questions since being in a position to create money is means you are in a position to get rich.

Who should be so privileged and why? But let's leave that as a side issue. The surprising thing when we arrive at this view of what money is like we can see that instead of enabling a class of rich people to get rich by creating money, society could just create that money to do worthwhile things and then destroy that money again when the worthwhile things increase the stock of goods and services that we can pay off the obligation from the surplus.
That's pretty mainstream economics.

Bitcoins are an interesting return to non-fiat value money like conch shells or jewels. I'm not quite sure of how it all works - but at the base it seems that miners let their machines be nodes in a huge parallel processor that does something that generates bitcoins. The miners are rewarded in bitcoins in proportion to the work their machine contributed to the process. These days you can by very specialized machines for thousands of dollars that are optimized to make bitcoins.

We are so used to money that one of the things we often don't notice is what it isn't. Money isn't intrinsically valuable - it's value is derived from the value of the transactions it enables.

But there are many valuable transactions that money doesn't enable because in our society the norm is that if you have no money then you cannot do lots of transactions.

And this economic fact is doing lots of damage. The fundamental problem is that people can't get work that pays them well enough to buy all our society produces. So in a situation where we could easily produce all that everyone needs we can't because of a blockage in the way we think about money.

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.