Rational life plans and the stopping problem

Image: a poor solution to the stopping problem In earlier posts I discussed the question of "rational plans of life" (link, link, link, link) and argued that standard theories of rational decision making under uncertainty don't do well in this context. I argued instead that rationality in navigating and building a life is not analogous to remodeling your …

Slime mold intelligence

We often think of intelligent action in terms of a number of ideas: goal-directedness, belief acquisition, planning, prioritization of needs and wants, oversight and management of bodily behavior, and weighting of risks and benefits of alternative courses of action. These assumptions presuppose the existence of the rational subject who actively orchestrates goals, beliefs, and priorities …

Declining industries

Why is it so difficult for leaders in various industries and sectors to seriously address the existential threats that sometimes arise? Planning for marginal changes in the business environment is fairly simple; problems can be solved, costs can be cut, and the firm can stay in the black. But how about more radical but distant …

Values, directions, and action

    Several earlier posts have raised the question of rational life planning. What is involved in orchestrating one's goals and activities in such a way as to rationally create a good life in the fullness of time? We have seen that there is something wildly unlikely about the idea of a developed, calculated life …

Deliberation, rationality, and reasoning

  Recent posts have raised questions about formulating a rational plan of life. This way of putting the question highlights "rationality," which has the connotation of short-term, one-off decision making. And this implication plainly does not fit the problem of life planning very well -- as noted in the two prior posts on this topic. …

A fresh approach to life plans

There isn't a clear philosophy of life-planning in the literature. So let's start from scratch. What do we need in order to make a plan for any temporally extended project? An assessment of the outcomes we want to bring about An assessment of the likely workings of the natural and social environment in which action …

How to do cephalapod philosophy

How should researchers attempt to investigate non-human intelligence? The image above raises difficult questions. The octopus is manipulating (tenticlating?) the Rubik's cube. But there are a raft of questions that are difficult to resolve on the basis of simple inductive observation. And some of those questions are as much conceptual as they are empirical. Is …

Rationality over the long term

image: Dietrich Bonhoeffer with his students Millions of words have been written on the topic of rationality in action. Life involves choices. How should we choose between available alternatives? Where should I go to college? Which job should I accept? Should I buy a house or rent an apartment? How much time should I give …

Value-free economics?

  A recent volume by Vivian Walsh and Hilary Putnam,  The End of Value-Free Economics, brings to a fine point a line of argument that has been brewing for fifteen years: is the logical positivist insistence on separating "fact-based" science from "value-based" ethics any longer a tenable one? Most particularly, are there now compelling reasons for declaring that …

Theories of the actor

I'm attracted to an approach to sociological thinking that can be described as "actor-centered."  The basic idea is that social phenomena are constituted by the actions of individuals, oriented by their own subjectivities and mental frameworks.  It is recognized, of course, that the subjectivity of the actor doesn't come full-blown into his or her mind …

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