Pyrrho on selfishness

I was looking for something else.. and found this instead… From here:



I think a 9 year old killing himself is a good representation of suicide as a whole. Selfish,short-sighted, and always looking for an escape. Although it seems insensitive for me to say this, I think we just need to realize that those things are apart of deciding to end your life.


It is funny that people who stay alive because they want to, call people “selfish” who kill themselves because they want to. (It is like those who have children because they want children calling childless couples selfish for not having children because they don’t want to have children.)

And it is absurd to call a solution to all of life’s problems forever a “short-sighted” solution. The 9 year old could not possibly have come up with any other solution to his problems that would have been so complete and long lasting.


Paper: The impact of genetic enhancement on equality (Michael H. Shapiro)

The impact of genetic enhancement on equality found via another paper: The rhetoric and reality of gap closing—when the “have-nots” gain but the “haves” gain even more (Stephen J. Ceci and Paul B. Papierno), which i was reading becus i was reading varius papers on Linda Gottfredson’s homepage.


There apparently  is a genuine  possibility  that  genetic and non-
genetic mechanisms eventually will  be able to  significantly  en-
hance  human capabilities and  traits generally.  Examining
this prospect  from the  standpoint  of equality considerations  is
one  useful way  to  inquire  into the  effects  of such enhancement
technologies. Because of  the nature and  limitations  of compet-
ing ideas  of equality, we are  inevitably led to  investigate  a very
broad  range  of issues.  This Article considers matters  of distri-
bution and withholding of scarce enhancement resources and
links different versions of  equality to different modes of distri-
bution.  It  briefly  addresses the  difficulties  of defining  “en-
hancement”  and  “trait”  and  links  the idea  of  a “merit  attribute”
to that of  a “resource  attractor.” The role of disorder-based  jus-
tifications  is related  to  equality considerations,  as is the possi-
bility  of  the  reduction or “objectification”  of persons  arising
from  the  use  of enhancement resources.  Risks of  intensified
and more entrenched  forms of  social  stratification  are outlined.
The Article also considers whether the notion of merit can  sur-
vive,  and whether the stability  of democratic  institutions  based
on  a one-person, one-vote  standard is  threatened by  attitude
shifts given  the new  technological  prospects.  It  refers to  John
Stuart Mill’s “plural  voting” proposal to  illustrate one  chal-
lenge to equal-vote  democracy.

Nevertheless, it is conceivable that, despite rigorous division of

labor, there may be political and social equality of a sort. Different

professions, trades, and occupations and the varying aptitudes un-

derlying them might be viewed as equally worthy. The “alphas”

may be held equal to the “betas,” though their augmentations (via

the germ line or the living body) and life-work differ. Perhaps

(paradoxically?) there will be an “equality of the enhanced” across

their categories of enhancement. But do not count on it.


sort of. at least one study showed that nootropics have greater effect the lower the intelligence of the population. so, in theory, it is possible that at some theoretical maximum M relative to drug D, the drug wud hav no effect. and everybody under that M wud be boosted to M, given adequate volumes of D.


i did come across another study with this IQ-drug interaction effect once, but apparently i didnt save it on my computer, and i cant seem to find it again. it is difficult to find papers about exactly this it seems.


below is a figure form the study i mentioned abov. it is about ritalin:


Effects of methylphenidate (ritalin) on paired-associate learning and porteus maze performance in emotionally disturbed children.



somthing similar seems to be the case with modafinil, another nootropic. it wud be interesting to see if ther is any drug-drug interaction between ritalin and modafinil, specifically, whether they stack or not.


here is the best study mentioned on Wikipedia: Cognitive effects of modafinil in student volunteers may depend on IQ


as for the topic of cognitiv enhancers in general, see this somewhat recent 2010 systematic overview. it appears that ritalin isnt a good cognitiv enhancer, but modafinil is promising for non-sleep deprived persons. Modafinil and methylphenidate for neuroenhancement in healthy individuals a systematic review




a. Enhancement and democratic theory: Millian plural voting

and the attenuation of democracy.

i. Kinds of democracy; is one-person, one-vote a defining char-

acteristic of democracy? Most persons now acknowledge that there

are stunning differences, both inborn and acquired, among individu-

als. Not everyone can be a physicist, novelist, grandmaster, astro-

naut, juggler, athlete, or model, at least without enhancement, and

those who can will vary sharply among themselves in abilities.


For better or worse, these differences make for serious social,

economic, and political inequalities. The question here is what ef-

fect these differences in human characteristics ought to have on

various matters of political governance. If we are not in fact equal

to each other in deliberative ability, judgment, and drive, why do we

all have equal voting power in the sense that, when casting ballots

in general elections, no one’s vote counts for more than another’s?

We are not equal in our knowledge of the issues, our abilities to as-

sess competing arguments, the nature and intensities of our prefer-

ences, our capacities to contribute to our social and economic sys-

tem, our stakes in the outcomes of particular government policies, or

even in our very interest in public affairs.



this topic was the primary reason i started reading this paper.


i also found som other papers dealing with Millian meritocracy, i suppose one cud call it. i came upon the idea individually, but was preceded by JS Mill with about 200 years.

his writing on the subject is here: John Stuart Mill – Considerations on Representative Government


another paper i found is this: Why Not Epistocracy





“The naturalistic fallacy” as used in the science literature…

“It goes without saying that our contention that beautiful people are more intelligent is purely scientific (logical and empirical); it is not a prescription for how to treat or judge others. To derive a behavioral prescription (what one ought to do) from a scientific conclusion (what is) would be an example of what Hume (1964/1739) calls the ‘‘naturalistic fallacy.’’”

Why beautiful people are more intelligent

How annoying it is to read stuff like this is the scientific literature. The phrase mentioned was introduced by GE Moore, not Hume. Hume didn’t even call it “fallacy”. Besides, Moore’s use of the phrase is different from what the author is talking about, which is inferring is from ought, i.e. is/ought fallacy. And lastly, since Hume was an ideal observer theorist, he would be inconsistent to claim that “ought” can never be deduced from “is”, since that is precisely what he is claiming that it can. Although from a special kind of “is”.

Just world bias and karma

As i remarked to Maggie McNeill

Maggie McNeill I don’t believe in Hell, but I do believe in karma. And it’s going to be a long, long time before these savages work their way up into the range of full humanity. The important thing in the meantime is for the rest of us to stop giving them opportunities to exercise their bestial impulses on everyone else.


Emil Too bad about that, that is, believing in karma. Is that the only irrational domain of your beliefs? I have not noticed anything else. A few of my friends who are also readers also commented on this exact thing.

Luckily, karma beliefs are rather harmless by themselves, and seem to be an effect of the Just World bias.

It seems spot on. The just world bias is exactly the reason why people believe in karma and other things?

I did write that karma beliefs by themselves are rather harmless, but i can easily think of a few ways that bad things can happen becus of people’s belief in karma/just world. For instance, if the world is just, then any observed suffering is deserved, and there is thus no reason to try to eliminate it. Irrational beliefs really are dangerous.

The ban on child porn possession

Falkvinge recently ran an article about the legalization of child porn possession. Either very foolish or very brave, perhaps both. Surely some reporters will pick up on this sooner or later and run headlines like “Pirates want to legalize child porn”, which even if true will damage the media image of the Pirate Parties. However, there is no way around this if one wants to discuss censorship and freedom of information. There is a reason why online censorship started with child porn, and ofc, the copyright people are happy about it.

I suggest that people read the comments as well, i also made some comments there as well.

Consider also reading this article which is making the basic point: if sexual orientation is something one is born with (it is), then the preference for children is as well. So, no law can make people become not pedofiles. Sad situation. Now comes the saddest part: Suppose one is born a pedofile. What to do? If one is a moral being, then one will avoid actually raping children. One can have sex with some rather young ones (say, any consenting child in puberty) without any moral problems, especially when one is young oneself.

For the rest, one is left to masturbate to porn, perhaps child porn (animated or not), and regular porn. That sucks, and there is nothing to do about it. Perhaps a compromise is having sex with a sleeping child without them knowing it (so, using sleeping medicine). If they dont notice it is difficult to see how they cud be harmed, even if it is rape. One must distinguish between rape becus the other was disconsenting (wanting to not have sex), and rape becus the other is not consenting, but not disconseting either (so, unaware of the action becus of sleep or coma or something like that). There is also the possibility of bodily harm that will be there after the person wakes up. This is especially the case with small children since their bodily openings are not large enuf for a regular sized male penis. To avoid this one shud not penetrate.

Oh, and perhaps the best solution to one who is exclusively aroused by very young children: castration, either medical or fysical. This will help reduce libido.

Thoughts about SEP’s Vienna Circle + Logical Empiricism

Vienna Circle

Despite its prominent position in the rich, if fragile, intellectual culture of inter-war Vienna and most likely due to its radical doctrines, the Vienna Circle found itself virtually isolated in most of German speaking philosophy. The one exception was its contact and cooperation with the Berlin Society for Empirical (later: Scientific) Philosophy (the other point of origin of logical empiricism). The members of the Berlin Society sported a broadly similar outlook and included, besides the philosopher Hans Reichenbach, the logicians Kurt Grelling and Walter Dubislav, the psychologist Kurt Lewin, the surgeon Friedrich Kraus and the mathematician Richard von Mises. (Its leading members Reichenbach, Grelling and Dubislav were listed in the Circle’s manifesto as sympathisers.) At the same time, members of the Vienna Circle also engaged directly, if selectively, with the Warsaw logicians (Tarski visited Vienna in 1930, Carnap later that year visited Warsaw and Tarski returned to Vienna in 1935). Probably partly because of its firebrand reputation, the Circle attracted also a series of visiting younger researchers and students including Carl Gustav Hempel from Berlin, Hasso Härlen from Stuttgart, Ludovico Geymonat from Italy, Jørgen Jørgensen, Eino Kaila, Arne Naess and Ake Petzall from Scandinavia, A.J. Ayer from the UK, Albert Blumberg, Charles Morris, Ernest Nagel and W.V.O. Quine from the USA, H.A. Lindemann from Argentina and Tscha Hung from China. (The reports and recollections of these former visitors—e.g. Nagel 1936—are of interest in complementing the Circle’s in-house histories and recollections which start with the unofficial manifesto—Carnap, Hahn and Neurath 1929—and extend through Neurath 1936, Frank 1941, 1949a and Feigl 1943 to the memoirs by Carnap 1963, Feigl 1969a, 1969b, Bergmann 1987, Menger 1994.)

Never heard of that danish guy. A Google search revealed this:,_jura_og_politik/Filosofi/Filosofi_og_filosoffer_-_1900-t./Filosoffer_1900-t._-_Norden_-_biografier/J%C3%B8rgen_J%C3%B8rgensen. He is somewhat cool. I dislike his communist ideas, obviously, but at least he is more interesting than Kierkegaard.


The synthetic statements of the empirical sciences meanwhile were held to be cognitively
meaningful if and only if they were empirically testable in some sense. They derived their
justification as knowledge claims from successful tests. Here the Circle appealed to a meaning
criterion the correct formulation of which was problematical and much debated (and will be
discussed in greater detail in section 3.1 below). Roughly, if synthetic statements failed testability in
principle they were considered to be cognitively meaningless and to give rise only to pseudo-
problems. No third category of significance besides that of a priori analytical and a posteriori
synthetic statements was admitted: in particular, Kant’s synthetic a priori was banned as having
been refuted by the progress of science itself. (The theory of relativity showed what had been held
to be an example of the synthetic a priori, namely Euclidean geometry, to be false as the geometry
of physical space.) Thus the Circle rejected the knowledge claims of metaphysics as being neither
analytic and a priori nor empirical and synthetic. (On related but different grounds, they also
rejected the knowledge claims of normative ethics: whereas conditional norms could be grounded in
means-ends relations, unconditional norms remained unprovable in empirical terms and so
depended crucially on the disputed substantive a priori intuition.)

I like this idea. I generally prefer to talk about cost/benefit analyses with stated goals instead of using moral language. See also Joshua D. Greene’s dissertation about this.


Given their empiricism, all of the members of the Vienna Circle also called into question the principled separation of the natural and the human sciences. They were happy enough to admit to differences in their object domains, but denied the categorical difference in both their overarching methodologies and ultimate goals in inquiry, which the historicist tradition in the still only emerging social sciences and the idealist tradition in philosophy insisted on. The Circle’s own methodologically monist position was sometimes represented under the heading of “unified science”. Precisely how such a unification of the sciences was to be effected or understood remained a matter for further discussion (see section 3.3 below).

I agree with this. There is no principled distinction between natural and social sciences. Only matters of degree and areas of study, and even those overlap.


As noted, the Vienna Circle did not last long: its philosophical revolution came at a cost. Yet what
was so socially, indeed politically, explosive about what appears on first sight to be a particularly
arid, if not astringent, doctrine of specialist scientific knowledge? To a large part, precisely what
made it so controversial philosophically: its claim to refute opponents not by proving their
statements to be false but by showing them to be (cognitively) meaningless. Whatever the niceties
of their philosophical argument here, the socio-political impact of the Vienna Circle’s philosophies
of science was obvious and profound. All of them opposed the increasing groundswell of radically
mistaken, indeed irrational, ways of thinking about thought and its place in the world. In their time
and place, the mere demand that public discourse be perspicuous, in particular, that reasoning be
valid and premises true—a demand implicit in their general ideal of reason—placed them in the
middle of crucial socio-political struggles. Some members and sympathisers of the Circle also
actively opposed the then increasingly popular völkisch supra-individual holism in social science as
a dangerous intellectual aberration. Not only did such ideas support racism and fascism in politics,
but such ideas themselves were supported only by radically mistaken arguments concerning the
nature and explanation of organic and unorganic matter. So the first thing that made all of the
Vienna Circle philosophies politically relevant was the contingent fact that in their day much
political discourse exhibited striking epistemic deficits. That some of the members of the Circle
went, without logical blunders, still further by arguing that socio-political considerations can play a
legitimate role in some instances of theory choice due to underdetermination is yet another matter.
Here this particular issue (see references at the end of section 2.1 above), as well as the general
topic of the Circle’s embedding in modernism and the discourse of modernity (see Putnam 1981b
for a reductionist, Galison 1990 for a foundationalist, Uebel 1996 for a constructivist reading of
their modernism), will not be pursued further.


This also reminds me of the good book The March of Unreason. Written by a politician!


In the first place, this liberalization meant the accommodation of universally quantified statements
and the return, as it were, to salient aspects of Carnap’s 1928 conception. Everybody had noted that
the Wittgensteinian verificationist criterion rendered universally quantified statements meaningless.
Schlick (1931) thus followed Wittgenstein’s own suggestion to treat them instead as representing
rules for the formation of verifiable singular statements. (His abandonment of conclusive
verifiability is indicated only in Schlick 1936a.) By contrast, Hahn (1933, drawn from lectures in
1932) pointed out that hypotheses should be counted as properly meaningful as well and that the
criterion be weakened to allow for less than conclusive verifiability. But other elements played into
this liberalization as well. One that began to do so soon was the recognition of the problem of the
irreducibility of disposition terms to observation terms (more on this presently). A third element was
that disagreement arose as to whether the in-principle verifiability or support turned on what was
merely logically possible or on what was nomologically possible, as a matter of physical law etc. A
fourth element, finally, was that differences emerged as to whether the criterion of significance was
to apply to all languages or whether it was to apply primarily to constructed, formal languages.
Schlick retained the focus on logical possibility and natural languages throughout, but Carnap had
firmly settled his focus on nomological possibility and constructed languages by the mid-thirties.
Concerned with natural language, Schlick (1932, 1936a) deemed all statements meaningful for
which it was logically possible to conceive of a procedure of verification; concerned with
constructed languages only, Carnap (1936–37) deemed meaningful only statements for whom it was
nomologically possible to conceive of a procedure of confirmation of disconfirmation.

This distinction between logical and nomological possibility inre. verificationism i have encountered before. I know a fysicist who endorses verificationism. We have been discussing various problems for this view. His view has implications regarding quantum mechanics that i don’t like.

First, black holes have only 3 independent fysical properties according to standard theory: mass, charge, and angular momentum. However, how does one measure a black hole’s charge? Is it fysically possible? My idea was that it wasn’t, and thus his verificationist ideas imply that a specific part of standard theory about black holes is not just wrong, but meaningless. However, it seems that my proposed counter-example doesn’t work.

Second, another area of trouble is the future and the past. Sentences about the future and the past, are they fysically possible to verify? It seems not. If so, then it follows that all such sentences are meaningless. My fysicist friend sort of wants to buy the bullet here and go with that. I consider it a strong reason to not accept this particular kind of verificationism. The discussion then becomes complicated due to the possible truth of causal indeterminism. Future discussions await! (or maybe that sentence is just meaningless gibberish!)

Also, i consider the traditional view of laws of nature as confused, and agree with Norman Swartz about this.


Logical Empiricism

Richard von Mises (1883–1953)
Born in what is now the Ukraine, Richard von Mises is the brother of the economic and
political theorist Ludwig von Mises. Richard was a polymath who ranged over fields as
diverse as mathematics, aerodynamics, philosophy, and Rilke’s poetry. He finished his
doctorate in Vienna. He was simultaneously active in Berlin, where he was one of the
developers of the frequency theory of probability along with Reichenbach, and in Vienna,
where he participated in various discussion groups that constituted the Vienna Circle.
Eventually it was necessary to escape, first to Turkey, and eventually to MIT and Harvard.

Another polymath that i hadn’t heard about before.


Hilary Putnam (1926–)
This American philosopher of science, mathematics, mind and language earned his doctorate
under Reichenbach at UCLA and subsequently taught at Princeton, MIT, and Harvard. He was
originally a metaphysical realist, but then argued forcefully against it. He has continued the
pragmatist tradition and been politically active, especially in the 1960s and 70s.

I keep thinking this is a woman. Apparently, however, the female version of this name is spelled with 2 L’s according to Wiki:

Hilary or Hillary is a given and family name, derived from the Latin hilarius meaning “cheerful”, from hilaris, “cheerful, merry”[1] which comes from the Greek ἱλαρός (hilaros), “cheerful, merry”,[2] which in turn comes from ἵλαος (hilaos), “propitious, gracious”.[3] Historically (in America), the spelling Hilary has generally been used for men and Hillary for women, though there are exceptions, some of which are noted below. In modern times it has drastically declined in popularity as a name for men. Ilaria is the popular Italian and Spanish form. Ilariana and Ylariana (/aɪˌlɑːriˈɑːnə/ eye-LAH–ree-AH-nə) are two very rare feminine variants of the name.

It also reminds me that i really shud get around to reading his famous paper:


Review: Joshua D. Greene – The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth about Morality and What to Do About it

His website.

Download The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth about Morality and What to Do About it (hosted here, it is also available from his website).

In it you will find: a defense of antirealism, an explanation of morality in evolutionary terms, an explanation of moral intuitions in neuroscientific terms, a discussion about what to do given that antirealism is true, his ideas about doing it. It’s not analytic enough making some parts a bit unclear (for instance, he talks about an analogy holding but only imperfectly cf. p. 254). I think the argument in favor of antirealism is unconvincing but worth reading. Perhaps something similar works. If you are a Hume fan, then you’d want to read this as a whole chapter is dedicated to how right Hume was about the source morality (the sentiment). I enjoyed reading it. 377 pages.