caiuscamargarus

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Eight Short Studies On Excuses

As someone who went to an elite university: professors can indeed be extraordinarily lax with deadlines, and 9 times out of 10, the reasons for turning work in late are not what anyone would call "legitimate".

Policy Debates Should Not Appear One-Sided

"Everyone gets what they deserve" is the unironic (and secular) motto of a close family friend who is wealthy in Brazil, one of the countries with the greatest levels of economic inequality in the world. I have heard the sentiment echoed widely among the upper and upper middle class. Maybe it's not as extreme as that, but it is a clear expression of the idea that unfortunate people deserve their misfortune to the point that those who have the resources to help them should not bother. This sentiment also characterizes Objectivism, which is commonly (though not always) associated with libertarianism.

Rationality Quotes: October 2009

The kind of epistemology that allows you to be that certain about something so false is immoral.

To wit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5cFKpjRnXE&feature=player_embedded

Rationality Quotes - April 2009

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Why do people say that it was natural to think that the sun went round the earth rather than that the earth turned on its axis?

Elizabeth Anscombe: I suppose, because it looked as if the sun went round the earth.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Well what would it have looked like if it had looked as if the earth turned on its axis?

Rationality Quotes - April 2009

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Philip K. Dick

Proverbs and Cached Judgments: the Rolling Stone

Looking for new information in proverbs, this one in particular, seems wrongheaded to me. Both interpretations are equally plausible (and I wonder what it would mean for an interpretation to be "correct" in this case, except in context), and its metaphor is so removed from its literal content that it can do absolutely nothing to inform the issue: anyone who is convinced by this proverb is doing it wrong. Its meaning depends heavily on what you bring into it (though it does express a relationship, as Annoyance says, which isn't a blank screen). Given that, I don't see a problem with assigning whichever meaning you prefer in order to use it for yourself (and for others, if its meaning is clear from context) as a shorthand for your stance on long-term attachments.

The Power of Positivist Thinking

Based on the original Newcomb Problem post, I would say this statement has a definitional, an empirical, and a normative component, which is what makes it so difficult to unpack. The normative is simple enough: the tools of rationality should be used to steer the future toward regions of higher preference, rather than for their own sake. The definitional component widens the definition of rationality from specific modes of thinking to something more general, like holding true beliefs and updating them in the face of evidence. The empirical claim is that true beliefs and updating, properly applied, will always yield equal or better results in all cases (except when faced with a rationality-punishing deity).

Closet survey #1

That the psychoanalytic theory of psychodynamics is in some sense true, and that it is a useful way to approach the mind. My belief comes from personal experience in psychotherapy, albeit a quite unorthodox one. I have found that explanations in Freudian terms such as the unconscious, ego, superego, Eros and Thanatos help to greatly clarify my mental life in a way that is not only extremely useful but also seems quite accurate.

I should clarify that I reject just about everything to come out of academic psychoanalytic theory, especially in literary theory (I'm an English major), and that most clinicians fail to correlate it with real mental phenomena. I know that this sounds--and should sound--extremely suspect to any rationalist. But a particular therapist has convinced me very strongly that she is selling something real, not only from my personal experience in therapy, but in how she successfully treats extremely successful people and how I don't know anyone who wins at life quite so hard as she does.

That You'd Tell All Your Friends

Given how many people I see making the choice of being mediocre--and I say this from an elite university--I would second rwallace. Without wanting to become stronger you lose much of the incentive to be truly rational. Tsuyoku Naritai should be the first thing in your book.

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