Choose a topic

.. Epistemology
Semiotics and Body Language

.. HUM
A Mind

Culture is Ordinary

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
Whatever happened to The Truth?

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 society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Inclusion and Christmas
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
We Live in the Present
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

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

It's not that we don't know better

One day long ago Bill and I were exploring Trout Creek. We lived in Summerland and Trout Creek made a canyon through the sandy geology. Summerland was built on sand. I surmise it was once the location of a lake that collected sediment - dunno really.
Bill and I went down to the lake that Trout Creek drained into and then went up the canyon. After a while we came to a place that was under bridge that was half a mile from our home. It was a few hundred feet up the canyon wall.
The sand cliff was easy to climb. You could just kick your foot in to make a foot hold. Bill and I looked at each other - let's just climb up to the bridge. What could possibly go wrong?
We soon found out.

The cliff was made of sand but it had lots of sharp rocks in it too. If I tried to go down the toe holds were not solid and I risked sliding down a slope over stuff like broken glass. So Bill and I continued up. We could see the grassy slope of safety right there.

We got to a tree growing out of the cliff just below the grass. You could almost reach the grass - but there was 7foot cliff of rubble in the way. (I'd be interested in how geologists explain that rubble but that would be another story.)

Bill scrambled up that rubble cliff and got to the top and to safety . But every time he took his hand or foot from a rock it would fall towards me.
I had to avoid falling rocks while standing on pile of sand supported by a tree growing out of a cliff.
Well! when that was done I was glad that Bill was safe - but no way I was going to scramble up that cliff.

I found another solution.
There was a ledge at the base of that cliff - and I edged my way along it.
It ended at a place where the sand had fallen away and that left a sort of cylinder of sand to my left. Just across that cylinder was another tree growing out of the cliff. About 10 feet away - way - too far for me to jump.

I ran at the sandwall and in a couple of steps made it to the tree and got safe up into the grass Bill was near and we went up the hill a bit and sat.
He sat on a cactus - jumped up yelling I've been bitten by a snake
I pulled the cactus from his pants and we laughed and laughed and laughed.
And then we were close to home.

And at the time my household was playing Supertramp's "I took the long way home".
My point here is that it is easy to start on paths that are later hard to get off.

This is a common situation. There's even a name for it. The Collingridge Dilemma: "This dilemma was articulated by David Collingridge in 1980 in his book "The Social Control of Technology". The dilemma is that when we can easily control the social effects of technology we don't know enough about those effects to place appropriate controls.
By the time we do know the effects, the technology is too embedded in society to be easily changed, let alone controlled.

Cars provide an example.
Once they were 'horseless carriages" that had advantages over horses. They didn't need to be fed or watered. They didn't get tired. People who could afford them liked cars.
But wheeled vehicles don't do well on rough ground. They need roads, preferably paved roads. Once there was a network of paved roads then suburban sprawl became possible.
What could possibly go wrong?

Now we are in a bit of a mess.
Cities are designed so that nothing is within walking distance. Many cities don't have adequate public transit. People are dependent on cars to get to work and to buy groceries. And now the price of cars and fuel is going through the roof.

This is a bit like me climbing that cliff.
If I'd known at the start what I'd encounter I might not have gone that way. Similarly, if we'd known about suburban sprawl and the effects of highways on cities and the effects of fossil fuels on the atmosphere we might not have gone that way either.
But now that we have gone that way it's pretty hard to back out.
The public infrastructure that enables cars is a huge investment by society.
But in our culture there is a huge private investment too.
There are supply chains of huge factories that cost billions to build. There are oil fields and refineries and pipelines that cost billions to build.
And the investors who put up the capital expect a return on their investment.
Canada is facing a lot of pressure to build pipelines from the tarsands to the ocean.
Once that infrastructure is built then Canada is kind of locked into producing fossil fuels for as long as that infrastructure endures - global warming notwithstanding.
The difference is that now the consequences of cars and fossil fuels are quite apparent. It's not like we can't see what's coming.

But we're locked into this system where the needs of private investors to profit from investments are paramount.
For them, if they invest in a factory then they feel entitled to make a profit from it even if it's a bad thing for the rest of us.

What could possibly go wrong?

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.