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

Thinking about Money

It's Complicated.

We are all very familiar with money. We earn it and save it and spend it. But when you think about it, it's pretty weird. Who invented that? Nobody did. It evolved as people and human society did, in response to various selection pressures. The result is a pretty strange structure that works - sorta

It comes in a few forms: cash and checks and numbers written in various accounts. All forms share this characteristic: they are kinds of IOU's where somebody promises to pay the IOU when the bearer presents it to them. With cash, you have physical tokens. These days these are usually state issued banknotes and coins. But, many things have been used as those tokens, from seashells to IOU's run up by sailors in bars. Long ago states took the stance that taxes could only be paid in money the state itself issued. This clobbered other forms of tokens. Since money is physical and physically moves from buyer to seller the nature of the transaction is pretty obvious. At the end of the transaction the buyer has less money in their pocket and the seller has more. Presumably, the buyer gets something they value in exchange for the money that is worth as much to them as the money is. The idea is that the net worth of both buyer and seller remains constant but the transaction causes the proportion of cash to other values they possess to change for each. (It's actually quite a bit more complicated. What is a good worth in money? That is very hard to say and may be different for buyer and seller. But let's stick with the simple case for now and I'll look at that next week.)

Most of us have bank accounts and are familiar with the idea that some of the money we own is in the form of numbers in that bank account. When we take cash from our pocket and deposit it the number associated with the account gets bigger and it gets smaller when we withdraw cash and put in our pocket. Checks are a form of IOU. The check writer promises to transfer money to the receiver when the check is presented at the writer's bank. And I've used checks as money in that I could sign them over to someone and use that to pay for a good that they sell me.

When we do transactions there is always a buyer and a seller; somebody who's cash holdings goes down paired with somebody who's holdings increase the same amount. With a bank account this isn't completely obvious since you only see one side of the transaction. In book-keeping it is much more obvious. Each transaction needs to be explicitly informed about where the money came from and where it is going. In book-keeping, the goal is that the transaction balance. That is the loss or gain in one account has to be matched by the complementary loss or gain in another account.

If a person lends another person some money, then clearly the lender has less money at the end of the transaction and the borrower has more. If a bank was a lender like you or me they would have cash in an account that they would transfer to the borrower's account. That is the lender's account would decrease and the borrower's increase. With banks this gets modified. Many regulations are involved, but the take-away is that a bank can lend you money by just raising the amount in your account without diminishing any of their accounts by the same amount.

This is how money is made.

A borrower causes money to be created on the spot that is available for them to spend based on their promise to repay the loan from future earnings. When the loan is repaid then the money created is extinguished. The goal is that once that is all done, the result of the project will increase the net wealth of the individual and society by producing something of lasting value. I think this is called 'fiat money' because it is money created by fiat. It's not physical stuff that has to be found like gold. The problem with currencies based on any sort of base like gold runs into problems because the amount available is limited and can't accommodate a growing economy. The system of money that has evolved in our society is a strange thing to behold but it works quite well.

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.