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


We can make statements that are not true

I exist. Here I am.
You exist. There you are.
Seems an easy idea but the details are tricky.

We use the word exists to say that something is actual. But what does the word add to the meaning of our statements?

The table that my computer rests on exists - but does that give me any extra information over and above saying that my computer rests on that table? The issue seems to only be important to people. People have the capacity to imagine things that may or may not exist.

That is; the idea of exists is significant to people because we can imagine things that don't exist.

When we talk to each other we do something that rocks don't do to each other. When we talk we come to act as if the world was this way or that. When we talk we are presenting our impressions of reality and those impressions can be wrong. The price we pay for me being able to talk about this table, for me to convey the information that the table is here, is that you can doubt what I say.

This isn't a problem for the table as a physical thing. The table and my computer don't ever have a crisis of faith about the other's existence. It's only a problem for people receiving my communication - they have to decide whether they can trust my assertions.

Thinkers like Bishop Berkeley could doubt that physical reality exists. He didn't do that by denying that we had experiences - he just had an explanation for those experiences that didn't depend on physical reality.

Does a bicycle exist?
Isn't it the case that there are just a bunch of atoms at a particular place?
What makes a bunch of atoms into a bicycle?
Reductionists acknowledge that the atoms exist but have a hard job accounting for the bicycle. The bicycle riders among us have to acknowledge that bicycles exist but may doubt that atoms exist. They can doubt that atoms exist because the evidence for atoms only makes sense if you accept a long narrative about what the world is like. And many people don't accept that narrative - they have other explanatory stories.

So we have contrasting ideas about the idea of exists. On the one hand that which exists is like my computer on the table - it is physically there. On the other hand that which exists is the computer as a tool that enables me to write. And in that sense there are many different ways to provide the same tool.

With that we move away from existence being physically actual towards existence being something that is temporally stable. Something that exists lasts through passing time. Ideas exist but are not physical at all - we see their existence as a persistence.

Can we take persistence as the key to what exists? So - unlike ideas that link existence to objective reality (whatever that is) we move to new ideas that link existence to persistence That which persists, for whatever reason, exists. Now - persistence - that's a fact about reality that we don't talk about much. But it's real - some things persist and others don't. Think about clouds.

Do clouds exist? Well - sure they do. They are structures of condensation that are persistent enough that we can see faces in them.

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.