Choose a topic

.. 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

Profit Motive Fails

The best we can do?

The profit motive provides a powerful incentive that drives production and innovation. Also the profit motive can provide the funds that enable production and innovation.

Profit isn't a complicated idea. You sell something for more than you paid for it. In a business the profit is the money taken in minus the money spent to operate the business. That is, a business can increase its profits by minimizing it's expenses.

This can only go so far of course. Wages and rent and taxes must be paid pretty promptly or things fall apart. But maintenance is an expense of a different sort. Maintenance is done in anticipation of problems. It's not a response to a problem. It's a wise thing to do but it can be expensive and it can be pushed off onto others.

One of the ways of looking at farms and factories polluting the environment is they are pushing the expense of dealing with the problems onto others. This is easy to do when the others don't really know the source of the problem. This of course increases the profits for the polluter which is an incentive for the polluter to pollute more while denying that there is a problem. I'd say that is an ongoing failure of the profit motive.

The collapse of Champlain Tower South provides a different sort of example. It was a condominium; a building owned by its residents. It isn't really a for-profit kind of organization. The residents want their bank balances to increase over time. Let's call that 'profit'. So they too feel a pressure to minimize expenses by deferring maintenance. But they are not people who are expert at maintaining buildings over the long term. They may not even be around in the long term. A building like that should be collecting money from residents as a part of the condo fees to build a reserve fund to pay for maintenance in the future.

In Florida years ago there was a law mandating that but building owners and the real estate industry found the requirements too onerous and got the law repealed. So when the residents got the engineer's report detailing the damage in the building and estimating it's repair cost at $9 million they only had $700,000 in their reserve. The residents were going to be on the hook for about $80,000 each. Ouch. Much squabbling ensued. 3 years later most of the condo board resigned.

6 months later financing was finally in place and then the building collapsed. I'd say that that was a failure of the profit motive too.

What the examples show is that the profit motive can provide an incentive that does a lot of harm. I distinguish the harm done by this incentive from harm done by bad people. It's an insidious incentive in that the choices made by people seem to be rational to them at the time. And I can see a lot of rationalizing involved too. A pig farmer doesn't take steps to protect a creek from his farm. The creek turns black. The farmer rationalizes that it doesn't matter because the water will be greatly diluted as it goes down stream. This kind of thinking is a pretty normal human thing. And as they say; It's hard to get a person to see something that their income depends on them not seeing. This is a huge problem that needs a solution, but I don't think it's a moral problem. It's a practical problem. We might even think of it as a public mental health issue. (It certainly is a public health issue in many other ways too)

I think that we state the problem abstractly as: How do we get rid of the negative incentives that the profit motive enables? I'm actually fairly optimistic at this point. I know that we might fall into a right wing totalitarianism. But if we don't then we will need to deal with big issues that will change the effect of the profit motive a lot I think. The gorilla in the room is automation and the problem it causes with overproduction while not providing enough good jobs for all who need them. Our tech is so powerful now that it's stripping the mountains of trees and stripping the oceans of fish. The profit motive is behind that.

Society will need to find a way to limit the profit motive if it wants to solve those problems by doing those productive activities as a state function I think that the UBI may be very near. I've written about how it's a sort of moral requirement and also a very practical and affordable thing to do. And I think that that will greatly reduce the negative incentives from the profit motive because people won't be so desperate

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.