July 31, 2022
Can AI write philosophy?
How Jasper AI will shake up education
I tried out Jasper AI, a computer program that generates natural language text. It turns out that it can create near-perfect output that would easily pass for a human-written undergraduate philosophy paper. (more...)
July 15, 2022
Am I irrational?
And how would I know?
People as well as large-scale events, for example the Durch Tulip Mania or the technology crash in the early 2000s, are sometimes said to be irrational. But what exactly do we mean by that? (more...)
July 1, 2022
What’s Wrong with The Passion Economy?
Adam Davidson’s “The Passion Economy”
Adam Davidson describes the “Passion Economy” in a book released in 2020. This article shows why Davidson’s proposal is not a sustainable solution to fix our current relationship with work. (more...)
June 23, 2022
When Is an AI System Sentient?
Blake Lemoine and LaMDA AI
How can we tell whether an AI program “thinks” or “feels”? In the recent debate of Blake Lemoine’s claims about LaMDA, a functionalist approach can help us understand machine consciousness and feelings. (more...)
June 10, 2022
Can We Define Mental Health?
Disclaimer: This is an article about the definition of mental health. It is not meant and should not be used as advice on how to treat mental health problems. (more...)
May 13, 2022
Deepfakes, deception, and distrust
Epistemic and social concerns
The main epistemic concern in the light of the potential ubiquity of deepfakes is not that we are going to be massively deceived. Global distrust and not global deception could be the ultimate consequence of deepfakes. (more...)
March 25, 2022
Confucianism and Just War
Since governments are charged with pursuing the popular well-being and not state power or prosperity, wars of aggression are illegitimate. - David Cockayne on how classic Confucianism would see wars. (more...)
March 18, 2022
Philosophy and Nuclear Weapons
In ‘The Duty of a Philosopher in this Age’ (1964), Bertrand Russell wrote that the philosopher’s duty was now to forget philosophy and to study “the probable effects of a nuclear war.” But is it true that we need to forget philosophy in order to save the world? A guest article by Prof. Stephen Leach. (more...)
February 21, 2022
I’m depressed and it’s all your fault!
Separating depression from sadness
Are we driving ourselves insane? And have we been doing so for over a hundred years? To understand this, we need to understand how we came to think of ourselves as depressed. (more...)
January 12, 2022
Nothing Matters. Or Does It?
What exactly do we mean when we say that “nothing matters”? More than sixty years ago, the British philosopher Richard Mervyn Hare attempted to answer this question in an early essay. (more...)
If only I hadn’t done that...
Why counterfactuals are misleading
What if the Second World War had turned out differnetly? This article explains why counterfactuals and alternative histories can be misleading. (more...)
Inventing the New World
Can AIs have intellectual property?
For the first time in history, an AI called DABUS has been granted a patent in South Africa. This article analyses the metaphysics of attributing inventions to non-human agents. (more...)
The hidden influencers
In a book published in 2008, Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein define nudges as “any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.” (more...)
Is Data Science Evil?
What does “Don’t Be Evil” really mean?
Computers have a long history of being associated with evilness. Machine minds without emotions suggest cruelty, unfeeling judgement, unflinching execution of inhuman orders. (more...)
The Uncontrollability of AI
The creation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds great promise, but with it also comes existential risk. How can we know AI will be safe? How can we know it will not destroy us? How can we know that its values will be aligned with ours? (more...)
More Aristotle than Galileo?
Artificial Intelligence and scientific discovery
Can artificial intelligence discover new laws of physics? Possibly. An article in Technology Review suggests that data from a swinging pendulum experiment allowed a neural network to discover some of the laws of motion. (more...)
What is Luddism?
The challenges of modern technology
Luddism as a social and political movement begins with the introduction of mechanised looms and other machinery during the British industrial revolution. Luddism, at its core, is the thesis that technology must serve human life, rather than the other way round, and that often the use of technologies does not make for better or happier societies. (more...)
The illusive quest to predict the future
The very idea of predicting future states of the world continues to fascinate and perplex philosophers and social scientists. Why is it so difficult to make predictions about society? The problem is not so much the complexity of the task, but the concepts we use to think about the world. (more...)
Stephanie Mills: Epicurean Simplicity
Is a simple life the key to happiness?
In her book “Epicurean Simplicity,” author and activist Stephanie Mills analyses what is wrong with our modern way of life – and she goes back to the philosophy of Epicurus to find a cure. Mills’ book is as beautiful and relaxing as it is inspiring – a passionate plea for a life well-lived, a life that is less wasteful and more meaningful. (more...)
Who Needs Cash Anyway?
The ethics of a cashless society
A cashless society seems convenient, but it has severe drawbacks, especially for the least privileged in society: cashless transactions exclude the homeless and card-less; they have been shown to lead to increased spending; they obscure the real price of purchases behind hidden fees; and they enable the pervasive and uncontrolled surveillance of citizens by both private companies and state authorities. (more...)
What to Do When People Talk #$!!~#
The importance of meaningful disagreement
Can two people’s experiences and outlooks on life be so different that meaningful communication between them is impossible? Recent events suggest so. Despite this, philosopher Donald Davidson gives us good reasons why this distance need not inhibit constructive discussion and provides us with the tools to argue well. (more...)
What Exactly are Affiliate Links?
Helping the sites you love - for free!
Affiliate links are just like normal Internet links, except that inside the link is embedded a little identifying code-word that says that this link was provided by the Daily Philosophy website. (more...)
History of Robots: From Albertus Magnus to the Blade Runner
The story of our fascination with our own image
From ancient China and the European Middle Ages, to zombies, Frankenstein’s monster and HAL 9000, our literary tradition is full of robots – sometimes helpful, sometimes threatening, and always questioning what it really means to be human. (more...)
Is laziness a human right?
Being lazy, far from being something good, would be, for Aristotle, a total failure of a human being and the best way for someone to make sure that they will never reach true happiness. (more...)
Can Machines Think?
Why it’s so hard to tell
The question whether machines can think is more complex than it appears at first sight. The Turing Test attempted to provide a way to judge whether computers are intelligent, but pretending to be human in a chat is not the same as being intelligent. AlphaGo is undoubtedly intelligent in its domain, but couldn not pass a Turing Test. (more...)
Epicurus and Luddism
Would we be happier without technology?
Technology, at least in the way that it is deployed in capitalism (based on planned obsolescence) contradicts the essential simplicity of the ideal Epicurean life. Epicurus would likely have sympathised with Luddism. (more...)
Which Social Media Site Is the Most Ethical?
A case for applied utilitarianism
Social media affect our society in many ways. We consider issues of addiction, democracy, the decline of journalism, privacy, surveillance, and effects on friendships and user happiness. Taking the most obvious problems of social media into account, it seems that LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Pinterest are more ethical, on the whole, while Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are least ethical. (more...)
Is Whistleblowing Ethical?
...and why Confucius might disagree
The ethics of whistleblowing exposes a deep difference between Western and Confucian ethics. While both utilitarianism and Kant would probably say that whistleblowing is morally right, in Eastern (Confucian) ethics (and perhaps in virtue ethics), whistleblowing might be wrong because it violates one’s obligations to one’s friends, relatives, co-workers or superiors. (more...)
The Memories of Our Experiences
Daniel Kahneman on the Happiness of Memories
Daniel Kahneman, economist, has studied the effects of memory on our perception of past suffering and happiness. He distinguishes experienced and remembered happiness, and emphasises that the two may be perceived very differently, even for the same individual and the same event. This is a crucial insight for the design of better subjective happiness surveys and, more generally, for our understanding of how we evaluate our own happiness. (more...)
The Ethics of Eating Meat
Four moral theories and their views
Eating small quantities of meat that was grown organically in a sustainable way might be morally justifiable. Utilitarianism would consider both animal suffering in the process of meat production and the environmental impact of animal farming. Most ethics theories would agree that large-scale animal farming as it is practiced today is morally wrong. (more...)
Let’s Talk About Love
The complexities of understanding love
The philosophy of love is one of the smaller areas of philosophy but one that has fascinated thinkers since ancient times. Love is a very complex phenomenon that encompasses sex, friendship, self-love and selflessness, as well as God’s love in many religious traditions. (more...)