I started this blog with a post on the 14th of October, 2017. I mostly posted random collections of links for the next 6 months until I started to actually publish my own writing in April. I think now’s a good time to look back.
My best articles this year:
- We Worship The Beast (https://dissent.blog/2018/09/09/we-worship-the-beast/) which articulates an idea that’s been hovering at the back of my mind since I was a child trying to resist the comfort of praying when I was scared at night.
- Against Singular Conceptions of the Good (https://dissent.blog/2018/06/07/against-singular-conceptions-of-the-good/) which talks about why ethical theories based on single values, which is most of them, fail to align with our moral intuitions
Decent articles this year:
- Leaking Meaning (https://dissent.blog/2018/10/26/leaking-meaning/) which points out that our stories and imagined worlds decay over time.
- Rationalising Asylum Laws (https://dissent.blog/2018/08/21/rationalising-asylum-laws/) which points out why Asylum Laws are silly in a variety of ways. In retrospect I think it was too one-sided. The fact that better hypothetical alternatives exist means nothing without some reasoning as to why a state in reality would implement those alternatives given the unpopularity of immigration.
- Rape is asymmetric (https://dissent.blog/2018/08/27/rape-is-asymmetric/) which points out the gap between the definitions of rape victim and rapist and uses that to draw out the two different concepts rape actually refers to.
- Two Sides of Goodness (https://dissent.blog/2018/05/26/two-sides-of-goodness/) which distinguishes between the two meanings sayings someone is a good person has
- Two Kinds of Bad People (https://dissent.blog/2018/11/25/two-kinds-of-bad-people/) which distinguishes between amoral and moral evil.
- Being Good and Doing Good (https://dissent.blog/2018/05/27/being-good-and-doing-good/) which talks about the tension between being moral and achieving good aims
- In the Stars (https://dissent.blog/2018/09/15/in-the-stars/) and The Moral Arc of the Universe Tends Towards Evil (https://dissent.blog/2018/05/27/the-moral-arc-of-the-universe-tends-toward-evil/) both of which talk about the horror of evolution.
I’m happier with this year than with the ones that came before, I wrote more and I got some of the important ideas that occupy me down on paper. There’s a long way to go, both in content to cover and the quality and clarity of my writing. There’s also a tension between my two styles of writing. Sometimes I write in a clear, logical and precise manner, checking off arguments one by one. Other times I write more freely mixing metaphor and image and idea together into one big mess. I think both are valuable but it’s an open question how far the latter is intelligible to people who don’t already know me and aren’t familliar with my ideas.
What about the coming year? The main objectives are the same as always: to keep writing and not be afraid of writing dumb stuff. There are also some things I want to write about. I’ve been meaning to start writing book reviews when I read valuable things. I have a few drafts hovering around from last year which should be decent with a little bit of polish. Specifically, I have reviews at some stage of in progress for:
- The three heads of cerberus
- Skin in the Game
- The high growth handbook
- On violence and Violence of the Mind
- Fear no Evil
- The elephant in the brain
I also have some topics in mind to cover in a bit more detail:
- The Identity sequence
- The problem with naive physicalism
- The problem with continuity
- A mind-space theory of identity
- Is the copy problem a problem?
- Past-body privilege and why location is morally irrelevant
- The irrelevance of causal entanglement
- Practical and Pure ethics
- Practical vs Pure ethics
- Applications to common ethical problems
- Philosophers cannot build skyscrapers
- The horror of evolution
- My rules for relationships and daily life
- For honesty
- Against false friendships
- Accept suffering & adversity
- Most people are amoral
- Towards moral vision
- Marginal Improvements Compound
- Competitive Debating
- Software Engineering (potentially in a separate blog to avoid political contamination or the need for self-censorship)
The first two sequences are things I’ve been thinking about on and off for years now. Evolution I’ve already covered but I think a clean and argumentative piece would be good. The real added value probably lies in discussion of my rules for relationships and daily life. I find that some of my most deeply held beliefs are also ones I consider obvious and not worth writing about. I also find they’re not so obvious to many people I talk to. I should write about them a bit.