Browsing All Posts filed under »Metaphysics«

How Many Lego Bricks to Build a Mind?

January 30, 2017 by


How many Lego bricks would it take to build a conscious, rational mind? This may sound like an absurd question. Lego bricks don’t seem like the sort of thing that you could build a mind out of. (At least, I’m assuming that artificial intelligence researchers aren’t currently tinkering away in their state-of-the-art labs with a […]

Some Facts about Facts

January 26, 2017 by


Facts about Facts Facts, and in particular “alternative facts”, have been in the news a lot this week, and for good reason (I toyed with calling this post “Facts: talking metaphysics to power”). I’ll have something to say about “alternative facts” later in the post, but first I’m going to talk about facts more generally, […]

On Teaching Philosophy of Religion

December 11, 2016 by


In his recent book, John Loftus argues that we ought to stop teaching philosophy of religion. This is not an extended review of the book; I might read it in the future and write a more fleshed out review, but rather a response to the excerpt (in the link above) that Hemant Mehta posted recently; it is […]

Men and Emotion

June 24, 2016 by

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Originally posted on sibilantfricative:
I teach at a university that was, up until recently, a polytechnical college before it was eaten up by a larger state school. That means on a daily basis, I work primarily with men. In a typical writing or literature class that I teach, there are often only one or two…

Programmable Friends

June 18, 2016 by


While robots were originally conceived of as laborers, advances in AI and emotional modeling have led to “companion robots” like Aldebaran’s Pepper and Intelligent Systems Co.’s Paro. But a companion is fundamentally unlike a standard worker[1]: labor is by its nature fungible, and companions, if we understand companions as something like friends, are, presumably, non-fungible. Workers […]

Is the Universe Part of the World?

June 11, 2016 by

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First let me head off the suspicion that I’ll be discussing some sort of weird idealist/massively subjectivist/etc metaphysics. I’m concerned with ‘world’ and ‘universe’ as they’re used by analytic metaphysicians, logicians, and philosophers of mathematics. In particular I’m concerned about the cardinalities of the domains of discourse assumed by some philosophers when dealing with, in […]

Responsibility, Identity and Artificial Beings: Persons, Supra-Persons, and Para-Persons

June 2, 2016 by


  Thanks to Justin Caouette for inviting me to the blog. I’ll start with a bit that draws ideas from a paper I’m working on for a book on Robot Ethics: The standard criteria for personhood are not obviously inherently impossible for AIs to obtain: they could be self-conscious, they could regard others as persons, they could […]