Browsing All Posts filed under »Metaphysics«

Men and Emotion

June 24, 2016 by


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


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 […]

Barack Obama Is Not My Father: A Simple Argument Against Physicalism

March 26, 2016 by


The following is a rather simple (simplistic?) argument against certain forms of physicalism*, specifically, those forms which identify the conscious mind with physical processes of the brain. The argument starts with the principle of the indiscernibility of identicals (thank you, Leibniz), which is usually uncontroversial: If A and B are one and the same thing, […]

Hey, Neuroscience, Why Can’t We Be Friends? Objections to Substance Dualism (Part 1)

October 7, 2015 by


For many who’ve taken philosophy courses at the university level (let alone those who teach philosophy), substance dualism appears to be a theory with, dare I say it, no substance. It’s not a “live option.” But, to extend the pun, I think it’s the dismissal, not the theory, that lacks substance. In the introduction to this series of posts, I […]

Tell Me a Story (about how Strawson gets it wrong about stories)

September 17, 2015 by


Originally posted on UP@NIGHT:
  Once upon a time I was having dinner at the home of a colleague, a professional philosopher. The conversation took an intriguing turn when my colleague revealed that he had virtually no visual memory. Of course I had known that people remember things and events with varying degrees of…


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