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Can you control the past?

I think that you can “control” events you have no causal interaction with, including events in the past, and that this is a wild and disorienting fact, with uncertain but possibly significant implications. This post attempts to impart such disorientation. My main example is a prisoner’s dilemma between perfect deterministic software twins, exposed to the… Continue reading Can you control the past?

In search of benevolence (or: what should you get Clippy for Christmas?)

Suppose that you aspire to promote the welfare of others in a roughly impartial way, at least in some parts of your life. This post examines a dilemma that such an aspiration creates, especially given subjectivism about meta-ethics. If you don’t use idealized preference-satisfaction as your theory of welfare, your “helping someone” often ends up… Continue reading In search of benevolence (or: what should you get Clippy for Christmas?)

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

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