Programming, philosophy, pedaling.

Fragments, 1

Jun 25, 2017

Tags: philosophy

I’m going to pull a George Santayana and copy over a bunch of incomplete platitudes and thoughts from my notes.

These are mostly copied word for word, emphasis retained. Things in italics were added in this post.

Most of these aren’t complete, as written. They’re here for record keeping (I tend to lose notebooks) and to provoke thought.

“Who Owns The Land?”

Note at the bottom: “Organ transplant lists as example of Lockean prov. becoming inapplicable”

“Ethics in CS”

Notes from a proposal for an undergraduate CS ethics class.

Case studies:

  1. Open Source
  2. “Hacking”
  3. Inclusion and education
  4. Machine learning and bias

Questions, general:

“What are our obligations to users?”

“What are our obligations to the general public?”

“Diumvirates do not make good democracies”

“Addressing hate”

Potentially inspired by Popper’s “tolerating intolerance” argument.

Some hard-to-read notes on existence.

If I did not exist, then I could not say that anything is the case.

The basis: It would not make sense for me to definitively say that others exist or that, even if they do exist, that they would be the case without me.

Thus, any statement that I make about what is the case is predicated upon my own existence.

But this proposition is not falsifiable, since I exist.

“the gravitational constant is 9.81…”

“I exist and the gravitational constant is 9.81…”

An expansion of the previous notes, probably from the same day.

  1. Scientific things are necessarily falsifiable.

  2. “I exist” is not falsifiable.

  3. The fact that I exist is not scientific.

Notes at the bottom: (1) might not be correct — are axioms scientific? If so, is “I exist” an axiom? Surely propositions are not supposed to be falsifiable, as evidence by boolean expressions that only have one truth value per assignment.


At a certain age, we stop playing tic-tac-toe.

Tic-tac-toe might not be fun anymore, after a certain age. One reason why it might not be fun anymore is because it is futile to play against anyone at least as old as you.

This is because it is trivial to force a draw in tic-tac-toe. Neither party can win without the other making a trivial mistake, which is not an interesting way to win.

At a certain age, we also stop asking “why?” repeatedly. This might also be a recognition of futility — the first two or so layers of explanation might be interesting, but beyond that a pattern becomes obvious.

Notes at the bottom: When do first recognize our own mortality, and when do we stop worrying about it? Worrying about mortality is also futile, and seems to stop happening at a young age as well (and then reemerges near death).

“Peaceful protesting and protesting peacefully”

Notes after a discussion about political violence

There should be a distinction between peaceful individuals protesting (“peaceful protestors”) and protesting peacefully.

Peaceful individuals protest peacefully by virtue of being peaceful, while violent individuals may protest peacefully as a way to legitimize their violence.

A peaceful individual who protests tacitly or explicitly protests for peace, while a violent individual who protests may do so peacefully but never for peace.

A violent individual protesting peacefully does not want to protest peacefully, or at least not more than they want to protest violently. This is not true for a peaceful protester.

Is it reasonable then, to call a violent person a peaceful protester?

Further: Why should violent individuals be given the privilege of being divorced from their violent opinions when they step into a parade?

Said to my roommate about prison-made furniture in use at the University.

“[These were] made by prisoners of the body for prisoners of the mind.”