Posts about philosophy

I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup | Slate Star Codex

In Chesterton's The Secret of Father Brown, a beloved nobleman who murdered his good-for-nothing brother in a duel thirty years ago returns to his hometown wracked by guilt. All the townspeople want to forgive him immediately, and they mock the titular priest for only being willing to give a measured forgiveness conditional on penance and self-reflection. They lecture the priest on the virtues of charity and compassion.

Later, it comes out that the beloved nobleman did not in fact kill his good-for-nothing brother. The good-for-nothing brother killed the beloved nobleman (and stole his identity). Now the townspeople want to see him lynched or burned alive, and it is only the priest who – consistently – offers a measured forgiveness conditional on penance and self-reflection.

The priest tells them:

"It seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don't really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don't regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. You forgive a conventional duel just as you forgive a conventional divorce. You forgive because there isn't anything to be forgiven."

Rationality: From AI to Zombies

Rationality: From AI to Zombies is a 2015 ebook by Eliezer Yudkowsky on human rationality and irrationality in cognitive science. The ebook can be downloaded on a "pay-what-you-want" basis from It is an edited and reorganized version of the Sequences, a series of blog posts published to Less Wrong and Overcoming Bias between 2006 and 2009. Rationality: From AI to Zombies serves as a long-form introduction to formative ideas behind Less Wrong, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, the Center for Applied Rationality, and substantial parts of the effective altruist community.

Time Machines (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Recent years have seen a growing consensus in the philosophical community that the grandfather paradox and similar logical puzzles do not preclude the possibility of time travel scenarios that utilize spacetimes containing closed timelike curves. At the same time, physicists, who for half a century acknowledged that the general theory of relativity is compatible with such spacetimes, have intensely studied the question whether the operation of a time machine would be admissible in the context of the same theory and of its quantum cousins. A time machine is a device which brings about closed timelike curves--and thus enables time travel--where none would have existed otherwise. The physics literature contains various no-go theorems for time machines, i.e., theorems which purport to establish that, under physically plausible assumptions, the operation of a time machine is impossible. We conclude that for the time being there exists no conclusive no-go theorem against time machines.