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.. Cognition
General Artificial Intelligence
Observing My Experience

.. HUM
A Mind

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

Freedom and Morality


The concept of freedom is important because in some intellectual traditions a person is not culpable for an act unless they are free to do it or not.

That is; they CHOSE to do the act.
Without that choice they are not culpable.
And if they are not culpable how does it make sense to sanction them for the act?

There is a continuum here.
In general a person isn't held culpable for something somebody else does.
(There are exceptions: consider cases where you let a drunken person drive away from your party you are culpable for resulting damages).
And people who are insane aren't criminally culpable for their acts though they do face other sanctions.

Once we thought that that a drunk driver wasn't culpable for the harm harm caused because, well, they were drunk and didn't know what they were doing.

We also don't hold minors culpable for their actions the idea being that their minds aren't well enough formed for them to be considered culpable in the same way adults are.

Culpability doesn't depend on intentions.
You are culpable if somebody slips and falls on your icy sidewalk even if you were asleep and didn't know of the ice storm.
The law says you have to have the walks cleared by 10 am and no excuses.

OK what's happening here?

We've slipped from talk of morality to talk of culpability because we think that a person isn't culpable for an act unless the person is free to do it or not.

It's a concept that is embedded in our legal code.

Let's think about that a bit.
I take morality to deal with what is the right or wrong thing to do in a circumstance.
Culpability is narrower.
Culpability has to do with legal responsibility.
Morality is an individual evaluation done in real time about what is the right or wrong thing to do.

Our moral evaluations often get second guessed in hindsight. Morality isn't simple.
Culpability isn't simple either, but it's much more codified.

I've looked at how the concept of culpability rests on the concept of freedom. Does morality rest on the concept of freedom the same way?
Maybe not here's why.

We tend to think of something as right or wrong independently of whether it is actually done or not.
For instance I think it is wrong for somebody to steal from another. (stealing is an easy example fairly clear you take something from me that you aren't entitled to.
But the devil is in the details.
Why am I entitled to something and you not?

But let's keep it simple for discussion)
That is; stealing is wrong. Full stop.

That wrongness is there whether anyone actually steals anything or not.

Or to put it another way: I can choose whether to steal or not and if I do steal then I am culpable, and I am free to be culpable or not. But whether stealing is good or bad does not depend on anybody choosing anything.

That is, the concept of freedom (ie freedom to choose) does not apply to questions of whether situations or actions are good or bad (ie moral questions).

It must be acknowledged that different people make different moral judgments.
In my neighborhood there is a big single room occupancy building where the tenants have been without heat all this winter.
I think that's wrong.
Seems the landlord isn't culpable though.
He's free to take in his rents for years but when time comes for repairs he claims he is broke.
How can a stone be culpable if it has no blood ?
Meanwhile his tenants are stuck with no heat.

One might ask; why don't they move?

That brings up another issue of freedom.
How do you move when you have no money for moving expenses and no place to move to? So we see another aspect of the difference between morality and culpability.
The landlord is wrong, but is not culpable at all.
The case I'm presenting is one where the landlord is not practically culpable there is no way to cause him to fix the heat.

But libertarians would say he's not culpable at all if the tenants 'choose' to remain in the building then that absolves the landlord of culpability. So we can see that the idea of 'freedom' is closely tied to the idea of culpability.

Whence comes this idea that morality and culpability are the same? Perhaps we can think of this in terms of hegemons those who seek to define what is normal. (Think of the way Bill Gates has manipulated intellectual property laws when you think of hegemons.) Hegemons want us all to think that whatever is in THEIR interest is the norm. Now we all know that the hegemons control the legal system that determines culpability. And certainly we are all free to choose whether to go along with the hegemon's or not knowing the penalty if we get caught.

But are the hegemons free to define morality?

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.