About Brett Hall

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Humans are Creative

2023-12-04 12:26:43

It is fashionable to deny the creativity of people. Often that denial is disguised. It is fashionable to deny that we are special. But ultimately, at root, regarding humans as "predictable" or in some other sense little more than animals with slightly bigger brains (just more environmentally damaging) is a denial of our humanity - our personhood. Our creativity. Ever since (and perhaps before) Copernicus dared to suggest Earth was not the centre of the universe there have been people who have co [...]

Philosophize This!

2023-09-02 08:52:16

In response to my very recent blog post about consciousness in animals a follower tweeted/posted the following: So I thought - great. I will do this. I’ll take the advice and open my mind to alternatives. So it turns out there exists a very popular podcast on Youtube with a slick website and lots of episodes (178 as of writing this today according to the website https://www.philosophizethis.org/, although in other places on the website episode 181 https://www.philosophizethis.org/p [...]

Animal Consciousness - update

2023-09-02 01:08:38

Abstract:We still do not know if animals have "consciousness" because we just do not know what consciousness is yet. We can ascribe it to other people because they can explain they have it as I explain below in "Consciousness and Creativity". Animals close to us socially (cats, dogs (especially) and farm animals (such as cows, pigs, etc) and great apes and even monkeys which is to say largely those animals that have coevolved with humans in one sense or another display i [...]

The Problem with Fallibilism

2023-04-14 10:14:55

The problem with fallibilism is that it is not well understood. Well, there I’ve said it, so why bother going on with this piece? Well I want to attempt to understand why exactly this simple idea is deceptively simple and therefore so easily mistaken for something else. Moreover many who claim to be fallibilists of some kind often turn out to be dogmatists of another kind which means they never were (thoroughgoing) fallibilists to begin with. I don’t like labels - I’d pref [...]

The white swan and red pen

2023-04-13 08:06:46

Note that this post is focussed largely on science and how it works.If you think that it is possible to accumulate evidence for a theory then a red pen is evidence in favour of the claim “all swans are white”. How is this so? And, Brett, aren’t you one of those people who keeps on saying you cannot have evidence for a theory anyway? Yes, I am. But let’s understand the reasons against this claim at a deeper level than some realise.It’s not enough to know falsi [...]

Infinite Travelators.

2023-03-10 06:03:12

 Choice in the Quantum Multiverse Infinite Travelators.Choice in the Quantum MultiversePreamble: This is a philosophical “self help” story that bends some rules and breaks minimal others just to get a couple of points across. Pushed too far, it will like all analogies break apart into demands for what things are *really* like and the answer there is simply: the corpus of fundamental physics as we understand it. But mysteries lurk in our circumstance as they always will. [...]

Oracles and Supercomputers

2023-02-01 08:55:44

The laws of physics determine what happens in the universe. That is, they mandate everything in physical reality that occurs. It is sometimes then claimed, on the basis of this, that if only we had perfect knowledge of those laws of physics and a set of conditions at some moment in time and further a sufficiently powerful computer to do the calculation, then “in principle” we would be able to predict what happens from moment to moment - at all times in the future and the past.But thi [...]

Talents

2022-09-02 05:10:27

At one of the much better schools I worked at (better by the measure the teachers were very caring and better by the measure the students  rather enjoyed their days as much as possible within a coercive system could) a well intentioned "service" reliably crushed the dreams of large numbers of teenagers on a single day each year. It was not the regular set of tests or assessments. Indeed the teachers had nothing whatever to do with this. In fact, it worked in opposition to those teachers' be [...]

An autobiography of wealth

2022-08-18 15:00:00

SummaryAn older version of this piece was written in December of 2020. Recent talk of high inflation and forecasts of recession make it seem things have only gotten worse since "stagnations" were predicted some years ago. My own views have not changed on any of this but I thought it useful to update the article in light of what many people have been saying about the extent to which younger generations can hope their future will be as bright as those of their parents and grandparents. They can ha [...]

Civilization

2022-08-14 09:30:13

There is no perfect policy; there is no solution that will once and for all solve a problem unproblematically. This is to say: no solution, however good, will not open up more problems. And oftentimes our circumstance is worse than that, for while moving from worse to better problems is a virtue and indeed one of the joys of life - a beginning of infinite progress - there can be occasions where purported solutions turn out to be anything other than genuine. Some (so-called!) "solutions" exacerba [...]