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

Money and Value


Value is based on use value; what something is useful for. If we make anything of value, we have to expend effort as a cost of production. Normally we buy valuable things that already exist to incorporate into new things of value somehow. I may buy a shovel so I can plant a garden. The cost of the shovel is part of the cost of production and is a money cost. But I'm trying to get at an idea of value that doesn't have money built into it. This can be done because eventually, the money cost of a shovel is the sum of what was paid for all the effort that went into making it. Many people, from miners to manufacturers to distributors provide effort in order for something like a shovel to exist, and the money value of it can be reduced to the sum of all those efforts. So, for something to be produced, at minimum the use value has to be equal to something's cost of production in terms of effort expended.

Even this relationship (between use value and cost of production) is complicated. If I'm naked and alone in a wilderness, a shovel might be very useful, but the cost of production would be too high since I'd have to do everything from mining to manufacturing myself starting with my bare hands. Hence no shovels (even if I knew all the skills involved and had access to the raw materials), because my time would be better spent feeding myself in the moment by hunting and gathering.

In our present society, things like shovels are made in their millions by networks of thousands of people. This means that the cost of production per shovel is quite low. And since an existing shovel is useful for gardening we end up with lots of shovels and lots of gardens.

How does money relate to cost of production?
The first thing to state here is that there is no intrinsic relation. Let's suppose that the link is that effort is worth so much money per hour. This is the norm in our society. It's also normal in our society for that linkage to be established by a market. If I'm being paid for my effort I want to be paid as much as I can get. If I'm paying for the effort of another, I want to pay as little as I can. There is always that tension between buyer and seller. If the buyer offers too little it's unpleasant for the seller so there is no deal. If the seller demands too much it is unpleasant for the buyer so no deal.

The money value of something is the equilibrium when the displeasure felt by each is the same. This equilibrium is not a fixed thing.
If something increases or decreases the displeasure in a transaction for one side or the other then the money value will change. But money itself has use value. We use it all the time to buy and sell things of course, but there is another use. Money accounts that are very large are useful in themselves. In a buy/sell transaction we have seen that (value + money) for buyer is the same before the transaction as after. The same goes for the seller. This can create an asymmetry between the buyer and seller in terms of how important the transaction is. This allows the person with the large money account to "drive a hard bargain". I think this has the effect of driving a positive feedback loop for whoever has the large money account and a negative feedback loop for whoever does not have a large money account. We see the effects of this in our society; a seemingly run-away process where the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. This has the result of generating large pools of money in private hands which can be good or bad depending on how the pools are used.

I've looked at how money can be, and is, created at need when a bank makes a loan. There is a new idea called Modern Monetary Theory. This holds that the important thing for society is for there be enough money in circulation to enable society to do what it needs to do. The central bank can add money to the system by giving loans. The taxation is how excess money is taken out of the system. This is a very abstract take on the economy that doesn't pay attention to who actually has the money or how they got it.

The real economy does pay attention to that of course. But the real economy has also evolved to an extremely polarized state with some people having way too much money and others having not enough. The UBI is a long way from being possible for political reasons (though I note that the State of Texas seems to be doing a trial UBI experiment!!) But I'm seeing a glimmer of how the system would work in practice. The basis of a UBI would be a money account from which UBI payments to citizens are made. This account would get money from other government accounts like general taxation revenue and profits from government enterprises (a long story :-) At the start of the program there would be few profitable government enterprises, and many huge and unused pools of money that would be drawn down by taxation. This would have the effect of raising the floor for personal incomes and lowering the ceiling. In the long run the effect of this on the economy would be to transfer a lot of productive capacity from private to public hands. Markets would remain very important because markets are a useful mechanism for finding the link between use value and money value.

I think it is essential that all that take place within the framework of a constitutional democracy with elections of representatives to legislatures and courts that respect the rule of law. And of course, right now, it seems that many of those large pools of money I spoke of earlier are being used to make democracy less effective. So we have our work cut out for us.

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.