Articles about Philosophy
Evaluating effective knowledge.
Alexa, iRobot, and some thoughts about consciousness.
Do you have reasons for making the choices that you make? If you do, then you don’t have “free will”. If you don’t, then you also don’t have “free will”. It’s really just that simple.
The most recent episode of Futuristic Now, a podcast by my friend Gray Scott, is about The Simulation Theory: the idea that the entirety of our experience–perhaps our entire universe–may be some form of simulation. Gray goes over some of the ideas people have put forth, and talks about some ways this view could be interpreted. As is always the case with his thought-provoking podcast, he brings up more questions than answers: If we are a simulation, who or what created us? What would the purpose be for creating a simulated universe? Does the mere existence of a simulation even require that there be a “creator” at all? As always, I like to dig in and get technical, and ask what it means for something to be a simulation in the first place.
I feel the most like a cat when I wake up late on a weekend. I roll over onto my side, fidget a little, and dab, dab, dab fluff the pillow. What is interesting about my behavior is that I’ve seen almost exactly the same thing in cats. In fact, there are a large number of behaviors that seem conscious and willful and “very human” that are actually completely stereotyped across a wide variety of mammals. This suggests that these behaviors could be primarily driven by biology, and not willful or conscious at all; and it opens up a number of questions about our own intuitions about will and consciousness, and how reliable they are.
Didaskalus and Foititus discuss what it means to say that everything happens for a reason, and whether it is true. Understanding what people really mean when they say that “everything happens for a reason” requires peeling back some layers of meaning, understanding different types of “cause”, and understanding how causes work in large and complex systems.
“Good arguments” can be vile things. They are a tool that smart people can use to never question themselves, and feel superior the whole time they are doing it. The core of the problem is this belief: “If I can come up with an argument for conclusion X that sounds logical, then that means I […]
I have a theory that there are two types of people in the world: those who assume that other people are devils, and those who assume that other people are fools. The Devil and the Fool are two powerful archetypes that are engrained in our cultural consciousness. Both characters appear regularly and prominently in our […]
Ayn Rand once said, “…an error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error.” This is a ridiculous and meaningless statement, and you need to know why. First, let me […]
It is time for you to consider the deeply profound question: Do bees make hexagons? You look at a honeycomb, the thing that the bees build, and it has hexagons. So the answer seems obvious: sure, bees make hexagons. There are a lot of websites out there that will tell you that bees make hexagons […]
When I was little, I learned how to write my lower-case “n” the same way that everyone else does. I drew it the way that (in all likelihood) it appears on the screen to you now: a vertical line on the left side with a kind of hump on the right side. Later on, I […]
Universal, inalienable human rights do not come from God and they do not come from nature. They are decided and reaffirmed every day by society. Because we are human, and because the human world is crazy and chaotic and beautifully unstable, our universal human rights are fluid. They evolve, they stretch, they are re-defined and […]
I recently came across a Discover Magazine blog article entitled, “Is resurrecting Neanderthals unethical?” The question was pretty simple: if we developed the ability to use preserved DNA and cloning technology to raise living Neanderthals, would there be anything wrong with doing that? Most of the people replying made arguments that followed a similar pattern. […]