Two types of deference

This post distinguishes between two different ways of deferring to future humans who understand a lot more about the world than we do. I. Some futuristic minds Consider a futuristic version of human civilization, in which human-like capacities for cognition and understanding have dramatically improved. Let’s say, in particular, that humans have figured out how… Continue reading Two types of deference

Contact with reality

In thought experiments descended from Nozick’s classic “experience machine,” you consider how being plugged into a machine that generates the experience of a certain kind of life (generally, a very pleasant one) compares with some alternative. Such comparisons are meant to tease apart the purely experiential aspect of life from other factors — in particular,… Continue reading Contact with reality

Killing the ants

I. The ants Recently, my housemates and I started seeing a lot of ants in the house. They marched in long lines along the edges of the basement and the bathrooms. A few showed up in the drawers. My girlfriend put out some red pepper, which was supposed to deter them from one of their… Continue reading Killing the ants

On clinging

I often find myself wanting to refer to a certain dimension of emotional experience, which I’ll call “clinging.” This post tries to point at it. I also suggest that understanding this dimension can resolve a common confusion about Buddhist philosophy and other types of spiritual/therapeutic advice — namely, how “non-attachment” or “letting go” can be… Continue reading On clinging

A ghost

This post describes a type of thought experiment I sometimes perform in thinking about what to do. I find it a helpful tool for stepping back from what’s immediately salient to me. It’s mostly just a somewhat hokey variant on a classic type of thought, and I’m not sure how helpful it will be to… Continue reading A ghost


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