Much of what we hear, and which sets the terms for the debates that matter to us, comes from a few select voices. News channels, opinion columnists, prolific and well-followed social media commentators — these are the voices which dominate.

There’s an obvious problem with this: the loudest voices, plausibly, aren’t the best voices. Few would disagree, for example, that Fox News is on balance an epistemically bad phenomenon — it lowers the quality of discourse by lying in Racist. Its voice is heard, not because of the quality of its views, but because of the wealth of its owner…


A range of interesting arguments in philosophy are debunking arguments. Such arguments attempt to cause us to question our faith in what we believe or take ourselves to know by pointing out that our beliefs are the outcomes of processes that might not be truth-tracking. A paradigm such argument might, for example, point to a cherished moral belief of ours, which we take to be foundational, and suggest that its compellingness for us can only be the result of the fact that thinking in that way helped out ancestors navigate their environment. …


Here’s a puzzle. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is a disgusting dark body-comedy, covering — and this is non-exhaustive — sexual abuse, murder, drug addiction, serious injury, disease and much more. Little Britain is a British kinda disgusting body (kinda) comedy, which sought to make humour from disabled, poor, and gay people. Both featured white actors in black face; both started airing within two years of each other in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s.

Yet there’s a difference. Little Britain has been cancelled, both literally and in the sense that so many overpaid newspaper columnists and…


You might think the GameStop saga has run its course, and it’s time for a something new to mildly divert us from the everyday horror of reality. $GME has gone from ~$35 to ~$350 to ~$65, the villains have turned out not so villainous (Robinhood wasn’t conspiring with hedge-fundies in some sort of capitalist class solidarity); the heroes not so heroic (with much more money and sophistication than most of us); the think pieces, maybe, have all been thunk.

But I think there’s still things to be learned from GameStop, and from the pandemic retail options trading phenomenon in general…


Nihilism can seem self-stultifying. That fancy word means, roughly, making yourself stupid, and it is used to describe theories that fail on their own terms. A famous example is relativism of any stripe: one asks the relativist whether it’s only relatively true (true with regards to a particular culture, ideology, set of beliefs, etc.) that relativism is true. If it is, then why should we care about relativism, if we don’t inhabit the particular culture it’s true with regards to ? If it isn’t, then there’s at least one non-relatively-true truth.

Nihilism faces the same sort of problem. Provisionally defined…


(Note: I published, then deleted, this story realizing the data source was wrong. The nice folks at medium restored it for me after I thought I had resolved it, however I’m not entirely confident I have done so, so note well this might be wrong.)

If you follow the financial media, social, new, or legacy, you’ll probably have encountered stories about the influx of normal people into the stock market during the pandemic summer of 2020. …


Conceptual engineering is an approach to philosophy, which, according to one formulation, is founded on the ideas that: any language we care to imagine will be defective; that this defectiveness can be a source of epistemic, moral, and other sorts of harms; and that accordingly we should try to improve language to remove its defects. On of its recent popularizers, Herman Cappelen (whose master argument I have attempted to distill in my first sentence), nevertheless suggests reasons for pessimism about the prospects of conceptual engineering.

His pessimism is founded on the observation that changing language is hard, uncontrollable, and unpredictable…


In some previous work (here, here) I’ve tried to think of ways of making peer review less reliant on editors, roughly because they are centralizing sources of slowness and ignorance. The following is another possible way of doing so, that in addition has the benefit of making peer review more transparent.

Introduction: The Slowness And Opacity of Academia

It takes a maximum of a day’s work (~7 or so hours) to review an academic paper, and often quite less. It takes upwards of 2000 hours (three months), on average, to assess an academic paper: to have it submitted, initially vetted…


I made an app for (at present only) android phones, with the aim of helping people who lack the resources (time, money, institutions) to attend courses but who nevertheless want to learn about contemporary analytic philosophy.

It consists of an annotated version of Bertrand Russell’s 1912 classic introductory text Problems Of Philosophy, along with about 10,000 words of notes describing how Russell’s ideas have been developed or refuted in the course of the 20th century. …


How, if at all, does culture evolve? Why was Tarantino big in the 90s and Game Of Thrones big in the 2010s? What’s the difference between The Simpsons and The Good Place? Is pop culture just one damn thing after another or is there a pattern to its changes?

I aim to ask and propose an answer to these questions here. More specifically, I want to present a unified theory of (some) US pop culture from roughly the last thirty years, from 1990–2020. I will argue that despite the seeming difference between, say, the hip postmodernism of Pulp Fiction and…

Matthew McKeever

Novella "Coming From Nothing" at @zer0books (bitly.com/cfnextract). Academic philosophy at: http://mipmckeever.weebly.com/

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