What Is Consciousness?

What Is Consciousness?

Getting a handle on the amazing inner movie all of us enjoy
with 0 Comments 

What makes the brain really special is not its complicated function. It is what may deserve to be called our biggest scientific surprise: the brain’s performing these various functions is accompanied by an amazing “inner movie”.

Basic Decision Theory

Basic Decision Theory

How to get better at making decisions
with 0 Comments 

Each day every one of us faces decision problems. Many of these decision problems are not solved consciously – we simply choose an option intuitively, without thinking much about it. But we better not rely on this approach when it comes to high-stakes decisions.

Verbal Disputes II

Verbal Disputes II

False positives and fake explanations
with 0 Comments 

In Verbal Disputes I we had a look at a tool for detecting verbal disputes so we can avoid them, namely the method of elimination. How good is this method? Is it perfectly reliable or does it sometimes lead to false positives or negatives?

Why Animals Matter I

Why Animals Matter I

Can we justify discrimination based on species-membership?
with 1 Comment 

“A full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversible animal, than an infant of a day, a week or even a month old.” – Jeremy Bentham

Theism and Expert Knowledge

Theism and Expert Knowledge

70% theists among philosophers of religion: me worry?
with 22 Comments 

Among philosophers specialized on philosophy of religion only 19.1% accept or lean toward atheism while 72.3% accept or lean toward theism. What should we make of this?

Cognitive Biases and Irrationality

Cognitive Biases and Irrationality

Stone age brains in a silicon age
with 7 Comments 

The human brain is a liar that relentlessly sabotages our success. For all its complex brilliance, the brain stumbles into a number of cognitive traps with astonishing regularity. The more often it does so, the less often we are able to achieve what we truly want.

What Is Reductionism?

What Is Reductionism?

How Laplace's demon knows about Eddington's table
with 7 Comments 

In 1927, the physicist Arthur Stanley Eddington gave the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh. In his introduction he talked about his two tables. First, the table of his everyday experience, the kind of table we’re all acquainted with through ordinary sensory experience…

Sphexishness

Sphexishness

A wasp's attack on free will
with 4 Comments 

Douglas Hofstadter has coined the term “Sphexishness” after the digger wasp Sphex ichneumoneus. This wasp usually exhibits sophisticated and apparently intelligent behavior, but can easily be tricked into an action loop, where the wasp mindlessly repeats the same action without end…

What Is Life?

What Is Life?

"Life" is what you make it
with 0 Comments 

For the sake of neatness we could arbitrarily stipulate specific criteria for what qualifies as “life”. We could then draw a sharp line between life and non-life, but we would not thereby learn anything new. We would only clarify our vocabulary…

Replicators and Selection

Replicators and Selection

A lesson in navigating logical space
with 0 Comments 

This post is about (biological) replicators and (natural) selection, but let us start with some thoughts on network security (bear with us, we’ll explain later). Most people don’t want just anybody to use their wireless network and this is why they protect it with a password…

Ethics and Objectivity

Ethics and Objectivity

Wanted: objective ethical facts
with 0 Comments 

If there is no God, so the argument goes, there is no objectivity in ethics either. This article will later attempt to specify what exactly “objective ethics” could refer to. First however, we’ll get God out of the way…

Verbal Disputes I

Verbal Disputes I

How words confuse us
with 0 Comments 

Here is an ancient philosophical puzzle (in slightly modernized form): Cartman is captain of a pirate ship. To motivate his crew he swore that even if the ship sinks he will remain loyal and stay on the ship, and, if it comes down to it, drown with it…