February 2, 2012

Is there a purpose for which the present university system is roughly a good answer?

Or a set of them? More discussion.

February 1, 2012

Why are overarching moral theories popular, and overarching preference theories not?

There are whole academic fields trying to boil ethics down to a small number of consistent principles, yet we are happy to want steak one day and fish the next, to enjoy just one apparently arbitrary romantic comedy while hating the others, to gleefully drive a small car for years then want a big one on a whim.

January 25, 2012

Will AI take over the world?

Where ‘take over the world’ means reconfigure it not in accordance to many humans’ desires.

January 25, 2012

What kinds of social institutions need a government to get them started?

Some suppose public goods, but assurance contracts could supposedly get around that. Opt in carbon trading sounds tricky.

January 24, 2012

What causes the demographic transition?

Not the things you might first think.

January 20, 2012

At what level of generality should a consequentialist’s calculations be?

You don’t want to weigh up the … costs and benefits of every toothpick you use, but neither do you want to determine that red things are on average better than things of other colors and use that as the basis for every decision.

January 20, 2012

How do new concepts come about?

What influences the frequency and goodness of this process?

January 20, 2012

How much is human behavior explained by signaling?

Chosen by people to signal, selected by evolution because of the signals it sends, and everything in between.

January 9, 2012

How much of what we do is picked because it matches our identity?

As opposed to because it will give good consequences, for instance.

January 9, 2012

How much should you care what you wanted or will want at other times?

Does it matter what you dreamed of doing when you were young, or what you will regret on your deathbed?