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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
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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
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Do Our Minds Own Our Bodies?
Everyday Communism
Invisible Hand
Job Creators
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Money and Value
Money is Different
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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
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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.
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I Distrust the News
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Its a Free Country
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Sex and Gender
Should We Go to Mars?
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Society and The State
Society evolved
Spheres of Influence
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Thoughts on Justice
To the Moon
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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

Reflective Equilibrium

Finding balance

I consulted this page at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for this topic at

There we find a good description of Reflective Equilibrium: " The method of reflective equilibrium consists in working back and forth among our considered judgments (some say our 'intuitions') about particular instances or cases, the principles or rules that we believe govern them, and the theoretical considerations that we believe bear on accepting these considered judgments, principles, or rules, revising any of these elements wherever necessary in order to achieve an acceptable coherence among them. . . . .

A 'reflective equilibrium' is the end-point of a deliberative process in which we reflect on and revise our beliefs about an area of inquiry, moral or non-moral. The inquiry might be as specific as the moral question, 'What is the right thing to do in this case?' or the logical question, 'Is this the correct inference to make?' Alternatively, the inquiry might be much more general, asking which theory or account of justice or right action we should accept, or which principles of inductive reasoning we should use. "

Note that this is a method for bringing a SET of beliefs into optimum coherence.

It is useful in many philosophic contexts from how to justify lines of inductive reasoning to evolving our moral and political principles. This method was first articulated it seems by Nelson Goodman in 1955 but was was named by John Rawls in A Theory of Justice from 1971.

t seems it's an idea that was in the air around the middle of the last century. I find it to be closely related to Quine's web of ideas where the meaning of any idea is determined by the web of other ideas with which it is immeshed. Or with Wittgenstein's ideas about language games from about the same time. It seems also related to Karl Popper's idea of an Open Society where people just solve their problems as they go along instead of looking for perfect utopias.

I suspect that with these ideas we are seeing darwinian ways of thinking finally starting to displace Platonic thinking. Instead of expecting crystal perfection underlying everything, a perfection only accessible via pure logic, philosophers turned to trying to understand how we really do think and decide.

The idea of equilibrium itself is interesting in the context of this shift away from platonic thinking. Plato was fascinated with forms; ie things that were permanent. Heraclitus recognized that some things like rivers were not static and ever changing.

Equilibrium is perhaps more subtle than Heraclitus' river - the river is visibly moving. But with equilibrium things seem still - but it's a stillness of forces in balance. When working towards a reflective equilibrium the idea is to do something, check out what happens, adjust things so that next time everything works out better. Repeat. When you reach the point where there is no change that will make things better then you have reached reflective equilibrium.

And when you reach the same circumstances you'll do the thing you know works best. But as soon as any of the elements of the system do change, then the process of reflective equilibrium shifts everything to find a new balance.

This flexibility has consequences. It's perfectly possible for different people to reach different reflective equilibria, since each person's personal reflection can lead to different conclusions. The idea of reflective equilibrium works at the individual level but it also works at a social level.

In a way, culture might be thought of the kind of equilibrium about what is acceptable social behavior. Within each culture most people are congenial to behaving in ways that have evolved locally, but there is no reason it seems for different cultures to evolve in the same way. But the reflective part of reflective equilibrium is hopeful perhaps when confronting the polarization that people are prone to. That is - we can reflect to each other and learn and gradually come to an equilibrium that includes us all.

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.