Moral philosophy

The human side of moral calculations, excepting that you can get away without having to write it down, usually.

Morality in governance

On aligning our brutish heroism with the needs of a global society. You can also call this political economy, realistically, but I won’t because terminological assumptions in this domain are tedious.

Enlightened imagination for citizens

In a raging flood, a man risks his life to save a swept away child, but two years earlier he voted against strengthening the levee whose breaching caused the flood. During an epidemic people work tirelessly to help the stricken, but ignored elementary sanitation processes that could have prevented the outbreak. More astoundingly, as many as 200,000 Americans die each year from diseases spread by their own doctors who have been ignoring elementary sanitation (including simply washing their hands when needed), but who then work diligently to try to save the patients they have infected. Studies show that about 80% of Americans are “highly concerned” about climate change, yet this percentage drops to less than 20% when the issue is combined with what it will cost to actually deal with these changes. […]

In our world, we have enough power to topple our most important systems, but not the power to restore most of them.

Being heroic in the face of disaster — as humans often are — will not help in most of these cases. This means that we have to “learn about consequences before they happen”. We have to be able to summon vivid enough imaginations of the disasters to be heroic long before they happen.

Also, Libertarianism: a Philosophy of Discipline and Self-Control is an articulation of what an attitude would be that would make hard libertarianism the best possible system. Exercise for the student: a populace attaining this libertarian systems and this attitude of ‘discipline and self control’.

The Story of the COVID-19 Pandemic:

A common theme […] is a willingness to kill hundreds of thousands of people through inaction, before decisionmakers are willing to risk taking any unpopular action.

The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics points to one possible explanation, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that leaders are to a large extent giving the public what they want in all of this — it’s just that the public has pathologically low standards and a bizarre level of change aversion.


The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics says that when you observe or interact with a problem in any way, you can be blamed for it. At the very least, you are to blame for not doing more. Even if you don’t make the problem worse, even if you make it slightly better, the ethical burden of the problem falls on you as soon as you observe it. In particular, if you interact with a problem and benefit from it, you are a complete monster.


Bierbrauer, Felix. 2021. “Harry Potter and the Welfare of the Willfully Blinded.” In Deliberate Ignorance, edited by Ralph Hertwig and Christoph Engel, 187–98. The MIT Press.
Carugati, Federica, and Margaret Levi. 2021. “A Moral Political Economy: Present, Past, and Future.” Elements in Political Economy, May.
Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life. 2006. The MIT Press.
Nilsson, Artur, Henry Montgomery, Girts Dimdins, Maria Sandgren, Arvid Erlandsson, and Adrian Taleny. 2020. “Beyond Liberals and Conservatives: Complexity in Ideology, Moral Intuitions, and Worldview Among Swedish Voters.” European Journal of Personality 34 (3): 448–69.
Schei, Thea S., Sana Sheikh, and Simone Schnall. 2019. “Atoning Past Indulgences: Oral Consumption and Moral Compensation.” Frontiers in Psychology 10.
Sigmund, Karl. 2011. “Moral Assessment in Indirect Reciprocity.” Journal of Theoretical Biology In Press, Corrected Proof.

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