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"ISTM" stands for "it seems to me". It is the title of this page because it is four letters long, and to emphasize the tentativeness of what follows. This is a list of my most controversial and interesting philosophical opinions. Many of these I consider obvious, so obvious that their lack of universal adoption is an indictment of worldwide epistemic standards. Some, however, I am in great doubt of, and those merit inclusion on this list because I do not instinctively absolutely reject them as hypotheses, the way most do. I do not distinguish between these kinds. This is not where I defend my ideas. Here I only enumerate some of them.

Objective Correctitude

It seems to me that every well-posed question has a correct answer. "Is Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door a good game?" is not well-posed. A better question is "Does Grognor enjoy playing Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door?" and the answer to this question is yes. To pose the question perfectly well would entail delimiting exactly what "Grognor" and "enjoy" and "Paper Mario" and "playing" actually are, to infinite levels of detail. This is impossible. But notice we did not have to do this; the question was good enough. Incorrect questions that posit subjective elements can be transformed and translated into questions that don't. If you find a question to which this is demonstrably impossible, it seems to me that what you have found is nonsense, not a question. In these and similar cases, the "answer" to a wrong question is ruthlessly tearing it apart, exposing its guts. The guts are made of meaninglessness.

People are deeply, even fundamentally confused about morality. But this does not mean it is "subjective". It means it's confusing. People give different answers to questions, and don't even know what the right questions to ask are. This doesn't mean you can ask whatever questions you want and get whatever answers you want and be just as justified as anyone else. It means it's a hard problem. The problem may be too hard for humans to solve. But that does not mean every solution is just as good as any other.

People mean different things by the word "subjective". One of these things is that you can choose the nature of the object of the adjective. You can argue yourself into liking or disliking a television show; I've even done this by accident, on occasion. But this does not mean that the well-posed question, "Do I like this show?" does not have a correct answer. Have you perceived the pattern, motherfucker?

Another thing that people mean by "subjective" is differing from time to time, or from place to place. This is easy to dissolve: just pose the question so that it regards a specific slice of spacetime. "Is George Washington alive?" is false in 1942 but true in 1725; does that make his aliveness a subjective property? No, fuck you it doesn't.

Pursuing this line of thought leads to foundational epistemological questions. Agents with common priors and common knowledge of each other's priors cannot rationally disagree, but agents can have different priors. Whence your prior? Don't you know you're stuck with your prior and can't unwind past it? How do you respond when your axioms and rules of inference are challenged? Gee, I guess it's all subjective after all. No. Objectivity Does Not Work Like That. It seems to me that there will end up being a correct answer regarding which prior is better: it is the one that better matches reality, which is actually, objectively outside your mind.

I have not defended this position here; I have only made assertions. But perhaps I have convinced you of it anyway. It is the objectively correct position, after all.


It seems to me that suffering is bad, and in some sense the only bad thing. Furthermore it seems to me that in practice, suffering outweighs its psychological complement, which has no standard name, but may be said to be all subjective states that are good. Unlike Benatar-style antinatalists, I do not believe this is necessary; I do believe that it is possible to engineer beings that do not suffer and that do experience worthy emotions and lives, and that it is in principle possible for the good to outweigh the bad. It just doesn't, in the world we live in. I do not believe that life or experience has any intrinsic value. As a consequence of these beliefs, I believe it is immoral to produce offspring, in general. These beliefs are based on a mess of intuitions, introspections, phenomenologizing, taking ideas seriously, applying the reversal test, and in general just not being biased against the idea, like any evolved species would be expected to be, in aggregate. I have not read the antinatalist literature, nor have I any desire to codify my true reasons into a coherent structure, because that would only entrench me into the position, and I don't want to be less able to change my mind. Nevertheless, there is a vast corpus of material, which you may find if you are curious, but the only slice of which I've been able to tolerate is Sister Y.

The Price of Leisure

It seems to me that it is morally wrong to pay money for entertainment such as movies, video games, books, shows, etc. Note that these are all made of information. I'm not even going to bother trying to explain this one, but if you are curious you may wish to peruse gwern's essay Culture Is Not About Aesthetics. Much of the relevant cause of my belief is from elsewhere, but it's the only relevant "source" I can point to.