Saturday, 7 July 2018

My Savings Policy Rationale for Friends

 There is a total market of capital assets to invest in. That market has an annual return (which, over the long term, has been a surprisingly stable proportion of gross world product). So if you are invested in proportion to that total market  you will get whatever that return is.

Passive investing (ideally) is simply investing in proportion to the total market. Active investing is being invested in some other way. Usually active investing is done in an attempt to do better than the total market return by buying the things that are going to go up and selling the ones that are going to go down. But people can be active investors without realising it, for example, investing in a single country or region or even merely out of proportion to the world capital market, is a kind of active investment, since by doing so you are in effect hoping that the bits you are investing in are going to do better than the bits you aren’t invested in. Most people are currently active in both ways since they are invested in a managed fund rather than a passive index and are entirely invested in their own country's stock exchange.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Bigots abound.

Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist: My claims are based on evidence and reason. I am an expert and so you should believe what I say. My theory is that the living world is the product of natural evolution alone.

Michael Behe, biochemist: My claims are based on evidence and reason. I am an expert and so you should believe what I say. My theory is that the living world is the product  of natural evolution and intelligent design.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Truth and the debate on truth between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson

Sam Harris reports that Jordan Peterson was the person his current audience most wanted him to podcast just because the latter was the only person who spoke of religion in a way that they (largely atheists) could make sense of. The pair started their discussion by agreeing their common ground on the issue of freedom of speech, the Canadian human rights commissions being kangaroo courts and the perniciousness of embedding social constructivist theories of human identity in the law.  Sam Harris then turned to identifying what he thinks is their important disagreement:  a disagreement over the nature of truth. Jordan Peterson distinguishes religious/spiritual/moral truth from scientific truth, claiming that this distinction is licensed by pragmatism, and Sam Harris rejects that distinction. The conversation went on a very long time without resolution and raised two possibilities: either one or the other  was confused about truth or that there was a deeper disagreement about truth than they had managed to bring to light. Quite well known philosophical theory throws a light on this question.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Reasonable radical disagreement

Some people believe that anyone who disagrees with them is either evil or stupid. Such people deny that it is possible for there to be reasonable disagreement. Many people would reject that but believe than anyone who disagrees radically with them is either evil or stupid. Such people deny that it is possible for there to be reasonable radical disagreement. This last position appears to be held by significant portions of Trump, Clinton, Brexit and Remain supporters. All of these people are wrong. Here is why:

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Motte and Bailey Doctrines


One of the difficulties of getting people to behave better epistemically is that, whilst intellectual dishonesty is wrong, it is difficult to convict people of intellectual wrongs. As David Stove showed in his wonderful paper ‘What is Wrong with Our Thoughts?’ (The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies Chapter 7 here), there are indefinitely many ways of cheating intellectually and for most there is no simple way to put one’s finger on how the cheat is effected. There is just the hard work of describing the species in detail.

Some time ago I wrote a paper entitled The Vacuity of Postmodernist Methodology (here or here or here) in which I described and named a number such cheats that I detected in postmodernism. One of these I named the Motte and Bailey Doctrine. There has recently been a flurry of use of this concept to analyse ethical, political and religious positions (e.g. here, here,)  so I am taking the opportunity to have a look at it again.

VW cheating like Obama



Nothing annoys the plunderers more than when the producers try to get away with the tricks that they have reserved to themselves. I pointed out one such instance some time ago (Penzions and Politicians http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2011/01/politicians-and-penzions/) and we have another one before us in the VW scandal.

No fortune of birth.

Suppose you are born with valuable talents or to wealthy parents. What is added if we say that your talents or wealth are a fortune of birth? I say, nothing! This is merely a misleading way of repeating that you were born with good possessions. It is misleading because it seeks to insinuate what requires proof and in fact, as I shall now show, cannot be proved.