This is dePonySum, a blog about assorted topics in the humanities and social sciences- with the broad idea being to focus on writing that might be useful to someone who wants to make a difference. It’s best to read dePonySum selectively because, unwisely. I’ve made it both a blog and a conceptual sketchpad, so there are plenty of posts which probably shouldn’t have been published. It’s not just the quality that is varied. Content ranges from primary school level material, to graduate school level material. Although the goal is almost always to make it accessible to anyone, I sin and fall short. The proof reading is atrocious!
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What follows is an index of posts on here with a short description. I will add to it over time as I add new posts. Posts that I ended up being deeply unhappy with are not included here, as are link posts, and posts which, while fine, are very much of their time. Posts I ended up being somewhat unhappy with, or regard as deeply unfinished, are marked [U]. Posts that may be too technical for the average college educated reader, or require background knowledge not in the post are marked [T]. I have a bad habit of being really inconsistent with capitalizing titles, sometimes changing convention midway through a title, so again I must ask your pardon.
Posts here are in reverse chronological order, newest to oldest. If you would prefer to browse by category instead that’s available on the sidebar.
I haven’t yet finished adding in all our back catalogue or even half of it.
In The how and why of writing a heartfelt pro Corbyn or Bernie Facebook post I give my take on why you should make a big pitch on Facebook about these guys, and how best to do it.
In I want to live in a boring economy and I’m proud of it I express my profound disgust with the fact that people who want economic security over economic ‘excitement’ are marginalised.
In Why we can’t (usefully) dismiss concern about the income of others as envious I argue that if people’s concern for income inequality makes them unhappy then we need to consider this in deciding the optimal income distribution. We can’t simply dismiss such preferences as “envious” and therefore, not worth factoring in.
[T] In Extending the veil of ignorance argument for utilitarianism into an argument for ‘egalitarian’ interpersonal utility comparison I argue that it is possible to use an old argument for the veil of utilitarianism to overcome one of the major objections to utilitarianism- the interpersonal utility comparision problem
The end of Neoliberalism and the beginning of the venal age is a guest post of a sort, by Tim Scriven abou Neoliberalism- how best to understand it, and whether it is dead, and if so, what has replaced it.
In Agnotphantasia I describe an unusual psychological quirk of mine- I am unsure whether or not I am capable of visualising things.
In Against Kaldor-Hicks I go through the usual arguments against the Kaldor-Hicks criteria. You should not merely oppose KH, I argue, you should be angry that economists and policy makers dare use it.
In CEOs don’t work especially hard I review some data from an executive time use survey suggesting exactly that.
In GDP undervalues government services I show what it says on the tin.
[U] In Informal musings on the self-organisation of authoritarianism I argue that authoritarianism is organised and defended as much by people trying to anticipate the desires of elites, as by elites actually giving orders.
In The Culture Novels and the deaestheticisation of politics I argue that the Culture Novels offer an implicit push back against th tendency to aestheticise politics by equating the good polity with the heroic and ‘noble’ polity.
[U] In The paradox of high expectations I show that under certain mathematically defined circumstances, demanding more from candidates can actually result in getting less.
In An ethical & political homily on Peter Abelard I argue that Peter Abelard’s discussion of the hypothetical case of a slave forced to murder his master shows a profound transformation of our ethical values.
?[T] In Yet another case in which minimum wage increases can raise employment I argue that given backwards bending labour supply curves, minimum wage increases can reduce the inequality in hours worked between workers, reducing unemployment.
In On critical social-technological points I argue that there are a number of technological developments coming up soon that could greatly entrench whatever the social power structure is at the time of their discovery. Hence it is important that we try to advance egalitariani politics rapidly.
In Over half the items in the generic conspiracist scale are literally true I show that many of the items in a popular measure of conspiratorial thinking are literally true.
In The problems with “no interrupting” as a categorical social norm I do what is promised in the title.
[U] In The dilemma of accountability I talk about the problems inherent in both holding certain types of vulnerable people accountable for their actions, and in not holding them accountable.
In Technological unemployment isn’t the point I argue that many of the outcomes people fear as a result of technological unemployment might still happen as a result of advancing automation, even if technological unemployment itself doesn’t eventuate.
In The Joyous Hypocrite I muse on the possibility that some people might get an evil thrill out of being a hypocrite, as it reinforces their sense that they have a power to decieve and subvert.
In The feeling of disgust in depression I muse on the fact that feeling disgusted with the world is an important symptom of depression that is rarely talked about.
In The paranoid style in Petit-Bourgeois politics I explore why the Petit-Bourgeois (small business owners, landlords etc.) might be specially attracted to the crazier forms of conspiracy theories.
In Jeff Beezos absolutely could afford to pay his employees much better I do the maths on how much better Jeff Beezos could afford to pay his employees.
In Epstein death: Sanity notes I keep my notes on the (un)timely demise of a very bad man.
In Jones’ Island and Property Rights I give a cute little argument that I came up with as a younger man explaining why I don’t buy the usual arguments for deontic property rights. I later found out that Gerry Cohen gives much the same argument in Why Not Socialism?
In A Few Theses About “Identity Politics” and its false oppositions I give a broadly Marxist critique of both identity politics, and many of the supposed opponents of identity politics- left and right.
In Explaining the non-effect of the minimum wage on employment: Could bosses screwing even themselves over by setting wages irrationally low be part of the explanation? I argue that there might be a couple of reasons to think bosses set wages low than the profit maximizing level.
In Yvne: The forgotten opposite of envy I argue that a concept, which has no exact translation in English- but it is the opposite of Envy- drives many social dynamics.
In The three organizing myths of centrist establishment Democrats and what’s wrong with them I lay out a brief case against a sort of stock-standard. hack central, rational choice approach to politics.
In The Catholic Church is Dangerously Mistaken About Intersex People I review the basic evidence for why what we know about human biology does not permit the view that human sex can be classified as either male or female in every single case.
[U] In The Economic Ideology: What it is and how it Reproduces Itself I argue that we need to distinguish between “The economic ideology”- e.g. “commonsense” understandings of what “economics tells us” (which is terrible) and the practice of mainstream economics (which is only sometimes terrible).
In Share market growth isn’t the same as economic growth, in fact they go the opposite way, I correct a common misconception that growth in share prices has anything positive to do with GDP growth.
THIS LIST IS NOT COMPLETE- SCROLL BACK THROUGH OUR ARCHIVES FOR MORE.