Problems of evil

I. I wasn’t raised in a religious household, but I got interested in Buddhism at the end of high school, and in Christianity and a number of other traditions, early in college. Those were the days of the New Atheists, and of intricate wrangling over theistic apologetics. And I did some of that. I went,… Continue reading Problems of evil

The innocent gene

(Content warning: violence, spoilers for King Lear) “With this and that I tried to keep the bucket together, and then the bottom fell out. Where water does not collect, the moon does not dwell.” — Chiyono This post re-imagines Richard Dawkins’s description of evolution, with genes not as selfish agents, but as passive, innocent patterns, that don’t want… Continue reading The innocent gene

On future people, looking back at 21st century longtermism

“Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?” – Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Roughly stated, longtermism is the thesis that what happens in the long-term future is profoundly important; that we in the 21st century are in a position to have… Continue reading On future people, looking back at 21st century longtermism

Care and demandingness

People sometimes object to moral claims on the grounds that their implications would be too demanding. But analogous objections make little sense in empirical and prudential contexts. I find this contrast instructive. Some ways of understanding moral obligation suggest relevant differences from empiricism and prudence. But the more we see moral life as continuous with… Continue reading Care and demandingness

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


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