Sunday, August 17, 2014

Seemingly a priori truths are really evolutionary a posteriori truths. As WV Quine said: “Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind.”

Monday, August 11, 2014 Saturday, August 9, 2014

Adam Ford on reconciling physics with idealism, and why he believes progress on understanding the hard problem of consciousness requires adopting something like Strawsonian Physicalism, or the view that experience is the most rudimentary thing in the universe.

I like Ford’s active ongoing engagement on these issues, but I fundamentally disagree that materialism or physicalism entails having to address any kind of “hard problem”, Give computer and neuro-science some more time and I predict consciousness will collapse into information processing turned back onto itself. This is a point that I’ll have to elaborate on sometime soon, but I can sum it by saying that most “experience” really isn’t ”consciously experienced” as such. We experience a lot of stuff without (consciously) knowing it. So for the most part we are p-zombies, incognito. The narrow slice that subsumes the hard problem is all that stuff we direct attention to. We need more research on how attention functions

Anyway, Stawsonian Physicalism seems completely mistaken regardless of if I’m wrong that the hard problem is a distraction. Experience does not appear at all rudimentary. Rather, it appears to be the opposite: an abstraction we use to describe goal directed computational processing. Whatever the details of how experience is related to computation, it will be necessarily contained in these low entropy containers called brains, and is unlikely to exist on any other plane of existence but that of multicellular organisms.

Speaking of low entropy, something that is replete in the universe is information. And saying the most rudimentary thing in the universe is information has thus far been highly useful to physicists. But Adam Ford will probably pass on that way of framing physicalism, as it doesn’t havethe same philosophically mischievous feeling as the posit that experience is fundamental. 

Friday, August 8, 2014 Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hayek was for limited government, not a minimum state. This is from Institutional Economics in France and Germany.

As late Hayek became increasingly evolutionist, he gave ordo-liberalism an injection of epistemic humility. On matters welfare, I reckon Hayek would have argued based on the principals of subsidiarity and local knowledge that bottom up safety nets are preferable if they worked just as well. This conceptualization is what motivates my own research into how top-down welfare programs like Medicaid have displaced informal social insurance networks proxied by religious affiliation

WÖRSDÖRFER (2013) summarizes the similarities and differences between FA Hayek and ordoliberalism

WÖRSDÖRFER (2013) summarizes the similarities and differences between FA and ordoliberalism

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

From Ordoliberalism and Christian Social Doctrine by Fachhochschule Düsseldorf. I wish my name was Düsseldorf.

Supplemental reading:

F.A. Hayek as an Ordo-liberal by Stefan Kolev
Hayek’s liberaltarian essay “”Free” Enterprise and Competitive Order” by Tyler Cowen

answer was under our noses the whole time

answer was under our noses the whole time

Thursday, July 17, 2014
If we stipulate Institutions AND Idea imply Growth, then Not-Growth implies EITHER Bad Institutions OR Bad Ideas. If, on the other hand, as so many do, we stipulate Institutions (alone)imply Growth, then we are going to think, erroneously, that Not-growth implies Bad Institutions, only.

Deirdre McCloskey (via afgurri)  

Deirdre McCloskey has replied to my last Sweet Talk post on Ideas vs Institutions!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 Monday, July 14, 2014
Quine on his continuity with John Dewey. From Ontological Relativity, 1968.

Quine on his continuity with John Dewey. From Ontological Relativity, 1968.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

John Dewey: Evolution’s First Philosopher

From The View of Life:

With this work, Dewey attempted to lay waste to philosophy not grounded in science. He was comfortable doing this because, unlike his contemporaries and most of his successors, Dewey embraced evolutionary thought.

As is apparent from the label he was assigned as Evolution’s First Philosopher (courtesy Jerome Popp, a scholar of John Dewey), Dewey was among the first philosophers to openly state that Darwin’s theory would change philosophy forever. He earned this title in part by concluding:

No one who has realized the full force of the facts of the connection of knowing with the nervous system, and of the nervous system with the readjusting of activity continuously to meet new conditions, will doubt that knowing has something to do with reorganizing activity instead of being isolated from all activity, complete on its own account. … The development of biology clinches this lesson, with its discovery of evolution. For the philosophic significance of the doctrine of evolution lies precisely in its emphasis upon continuity of simpler and more complex organisms until we reach man (Dewey, 1953, p. 337).

That last line speaks to the notion of pragmatism as global supervience. The minimalist on truth only seeks understanding. To explain a phenomenon is to put it in simpler terms, to look at its parts and their interactions, and the parts of the parts. But at the foundation of all this standing under? Only useful posits

Do meta-ethics without the baggage

A useful exercise for thinking about moral philosophy is to actually stop thinking about moral philosophy. If the non-cognivist’s thesis is correct, you can think about other evaluative or expressivist modalities that don’t carry the same baggage, and then draw parallel lessons.

Take humor. It’s much less controversially non-cognitivist. Few people defend an “objective” or truth-apt theory of humor. In fact sometimes its extremely difficult to articulate why something is funny. Nonetheless, patterns emerge about the real circumstances or properties humor is liable (but not guaranteed) to supervene to. That is, humor begins as an irreducible Humean projection that down the road can assume propositional content.

But that non-cognitive germ of humor has a few important implications. What’s funny isn’t fixed or absolute. It can change with history, and potentially with genetic engineering. That is, it has a dependency relationship to lower level phenomena, and isn’t intrinsic or ‘real’ in nature. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Most memory researchers assume that memory is controlled by a few domain-general processes, such as the “richness of encoding,” that apply to any kind of information content. We have argued instead that memory evolved to solve specific adaptive problems, such as remembering the locations of predators, and that general remembering is largely derivative of these specialized functions. Then to maximize retention, one needs to develop learning strategies that piggyback on these natural tendencies."

From Evolutionary View of Life. Here’s my post on memory and mental materialism.

We can plausibly attribute our industry-era loss of rituals to many factors. Increasing wealth has given us more spatial privacy. Innovation has become increasingly important, and density and wealth are high enough to support fashion cycles, all of which raise the status of people with unusual behavior. These encourage us to signal our increasing wealth with more product and behavioral variety, instead of with more stuff. With increasing wealth our values have consistently moved away from conformity and tradition and toward self-direction and tolerance. Also, more forager-like egalitarianism has made us less ok with the explicit class distinctions that supported many farmer-era rituals. And our suppression of family clans has also suppressed many related rituals.

These factors seem likely to continue while per-capita wealth continues to increase. In that case overt ritual is likely to continue to decline. But there is no guaranteed that wealth will always increase.

Robin Hanson on the decline of ritual.