How sure you need to be depends on what you’re doing (Or: As usual I think social media discussions are missing a more fundamental disagreement, this time about a SCOTUS nominee)

Brett Kavanaugh is being considered for a position on the Supreme Court of the United States. He’s also been accused of sexual assault. This information has been all over social media lately, and there seems to be, as there often is, a fundamental disagreement behind the arguments. On the surface, we see basic support versus opposition of the man. There are some straightforward statements of … Continue reading How sure you need to be depends on what you’re doing (Or: As usual I think social media discussions are missing a more fundamental disagreement, this time about a SCOTUS nominee)

A better-or-worse ethical space

Often when I see ethical categories they fall into a rather neat binary of good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral, or some other duo. (I’ll just use “good” and “bad” from here on out for simplicity.) Sometimes the binary will be complicated by expanding into obligatory, permissible, forbidden, and superogatory. (That is, stuff you must do, stuff you can do, stuff you … Continue reading A better-or-worse ethical space

Freedom of speech does not end at the First Amendment

Someone said or did something controversial. Then, private companies decided not to let the person use their platforms anymore. (Or they deleted a few posts or whatever.) Not too long after, the person (or their followers) make an appeal to freedom of speech. Something like “[Company] is violating [person]’s free speech!” with “and that’s bad” implicit at the end. In response, people who don’t like … Continue reading Freedom of speech does not end at the First Amendment

Another attempt to bring out the two most critical points in the abortion debate

A month or two ago Ireland made a stride towards legal abortion, and the US made a stride in the opposite direction. Abortion is always on the political table though. I imagine a perfect pregnancy-prevention mechanism would cool the flames quite a bit, but even then, people can change their minds, and the question will emerge of whether that should be allowed. But as usual, … Continue reading Another attempt to bring out the two most critical points in the abortion debate

Some media is better than other media

This article is excellent. I don’t agree with everything in it, but I think it has two very good and important points:   1. If you give up on things like value judgements and expertise, you lose almost all ground you have to say much with oomph. Some things are better than some other things. Aesthetically as well as politically. Media created with nuance and … Continue reading Some media is better than other media

What does it say that people have no idea how to argue for caring about other people?

Certain debates prompt a certain article from the Huffington Post to make the rounds again. Sometimes it’s gun control; sometimes it’s health care. At this point people have mostly given up on linking to the article, preferring to state the headline and move on: Usually this comes from liberal spheres. On the occasion a leftist voice can be heard, sometimes a leftist will deal with … Continue reading What does it say that people have no idea how to argue for caring about other people?

Whether to accelerate is not so much a question of values

To oversimplify, but catch the essence of, the case for acceleration versus putting a band aid on the status quo, the agreed seems to be that: Right now x=h people are dying/being substantially harmed/bad thing per year. Accelerating would increase that to an average of h=x+a for y years, but then decreasing it to h=x-b for z years. The band aid Bernie would decrease it … Continue reading Whether to accelerate is not so much a question of values

A new answer to the trolley problem, plus follow-up on likely outcomes

The problem: A train is going down some tracks, as trains do. I am standing many yards away. I can see the train, but I cannot get any nearer to it. The track the train is on will soon have it run over and kill five people, because they are tied to the tracks. But! I have a lever that will make the train go … Continue reading A new answer to the trolley problem, plus follow-up on likely outcomes

An inverted values argument for the importance of whether skeptical hypotheses matter

Skeptical hypothesis are nice philosophical quandries. Do we have reason to believe the world we perceive is real? Maybe we’re brains in vats or under the spell of an evil demon.  (What is this “we”, anyway? How do I know there’s any experiences besides my own?) I spend a fair bit of my thinking time on these problems. Berkeley wrote a substantial amount on why … Continue reading An inverted values argument for the importance of whether skeptical hypotheses matter