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World view

What is it?

Each person has a "world view" [^1], that is how he sees, represents and understand himself and the world. [^2]

  • a world view evolves as the person learns, unlearns and questions his views
  • beliefs are a subset of the world view the person holds to be "likely" to be true (that too can change over time)

What's the most important part of this world view? The "theory of knowledge" part, that is how one forms knowledge and opinions. That's because everything else in the worldview should derive from this. For example, if you say "I believe in such and such god", it probably means that you believe humans can obtain knowledge outside the realm of science.

My current beliefs

Explanation of the world (life, universe, …)

  • modern science is on the right track and provides the best knowledge so far of how the universe (at least this one) started and developed
  • the universe was not created by a deity
  • biological evolution by natural selection explains the variety of life on earth
  • human-level intelligence is an emergent property of subtle biology
  • humans will be able to reproduce the mechanisms of the human brain to bring about strong artificial intelligence; they will do so for the first time before 2030.

Ethics (morality, politics)

Personal morality

  • leading principle
    • pain/suffering (physical and moral) is real for sentient beings (which means not only humans)
    • it is generally wrong to inflict pain or not work to reduce pain (on others) (see also the golden rule)
  • morality does not come from a deity (or deities)
    • it is, and should be, secular (secular morality)
    • if one does not believe in a deity's existence, it follows that one's morals cannot come from that non-existent deity anyway
  • a person's morality will not be judged by a deity
  • crime: it's not a crime if "nobody" was hurt (example: smoking weed)
    • NOTE: humans are not the only entities to consider in this statement: animals, "nature", can be victims
  • torture: is immoral and doesn't work (it would still be immoral if it worked!)
  • war: is overused as a way to solve issues
  • animal rights: more are needed

Politics

Education
  • Good quality free education is a key for a stable society. This implies that societies must train and pay teachers well. Consequently, teachers will be respectable and respected.
  • The primary purpose of education is not to make more people employable. While, as of 2014, this is still a very important purpose of education, this is going to be less and less needed as more jobs, including higher-paid knowledge jobs, are taken over by automation. The primary purpose of education is to enable a functioning democracy: as voters elect representatives and (with direct democracy as practiced for example in California and in Switzerland) decide on major issues, understanding what the issues are and thinking properly about them is key. [^roosevelt-education]
Financial industry ("Wall Street")
  • I consider the financial industry to be mostly parasitic.
  • "Innovation" in the financial industry has not yielded growth or common good.
  • Wall Street no longer works as an institution optimizing the allocation of capital.
  • Therefore the financial industry must be regulated and remain "boring". [^krugman-boring]
Health care
  • Basic health care should be a human right.
  • It should be universal and follow a single-payer system, or possibly the Swiss model (multiple well-regulated private insurance companies which a required to provide the same standard basic insurance level).
Guns
  • sane people should be able to have some types of guns after checks, training and registration
  • more dangerous types must be prohibited for the common public
  • I don't consider the US 2nd amendment as very important compared to others
    • it is written in a terribly clumsy way
    • it is doubtful that it is "correctly" interpreted today
    • it was not written in a time of assault rifles and other massively deadly weapons
    • it is extremely doubtful that it is the ultimate solution against the rise of "tyranny" (unlike, say, lack of proper education of the people)
    • the above doesn't matter much anyway, because I don't think it falls into the same category of fundamental concept such as free speech, equality before the law, due process, and so on
    • if it has to be a fundamental right, it should be stated in a much clearer, and limited, way
Religion
  • must be kept absolutely separate from the state
  • no prayers in schools or government
  • it is nonsensical to talk about a young child's religion (see Richard Dawkins's Labelled from birth)
Other issues
  • gay marriage: should be legal
  • abortion: should be legal, like Swiss model
  • assisted suicide: should be legal, based on Swiss model
  • death penalty
    • no moral imperative against taking a human life
    • if allowed, should be reserved to extreme cases
    • preferably, never
  • prisons: should
    • protect the public
    • rehabilitate
    • protect the inmates
    • not be a business
  • soft drugs (like marijuana): legal and controlled
  • hard drugs: I don't know
  • taxes: moderate (US or Swiss style rather than French style)
  • government
    • should be efficient
    • must be transparent
    • but must be present
  • the homeless: public institution must be available to support them
  • it doesn't matter very much what the (US) founders thought
    • it can be useful to learn why they made such and such decision
    • what matters even more are the principles that the people of today want to adhere to

Futurology (what does the future hold for the world and humanity?)

  • more thinking ("computation") is the key to solving humanity's issues

Theory of action

Theory of knowledge / theory of belief (epistemology)

  • there is a reality separate from the "mind" (following Russell)
  • minds (most notably human ones, but that doesn't exclude others) can apprehend knowledge directly in some cases (from the senses or memory)
  • minds can build further knowledge using induction and deduction
  • there is a whole range of certainty of knowledge
  • critical thinking is the most important skill of all, because it is the tool that allows forming other opinions. [^3]
  • the scientific method is the best tool humans have to understand the world at this point
  • knowledge is both hierarchical and connected (Kurzweil)
  • thinking properly is hard for humans (due to how we evolved) but possible
  • education systems don't seem to care about teaching any of this
  • history is important

[^1]: Also "conception du monde", "Weltanschauung".

[^2]: As a starting point, this from Wikipedia and this (messy) paper:

> According to Apostel, a worldview is an ontology, or a descriptive model of the world. It should comprise these six elements:

Here is my own remix of these elements into 5 parts:

1. Explanation of the world ("What is the nature of our world? How is it structured and how does it function? How did it come to be?")
2. Futurology ("Where are we heading?")
3. Ethics ("What should we do?")
4. Theory of action ("How should we attain our goals?")
5. Theory of knowledge ("What is true or false?" and "How do we know about the world so we can answer the questions above?")

[^3]: "Vous dites qu'il faut philosopher ? disait Aristote dans un dilemme célèbre. Alors il faut en effet philosopher. Vous dites qu'il ne faut pas philosopher ? Alors il faut encore philosopher. De toute manière il est nécessaire de philosopher." (Éthique à Nicomaque? Protrepticus? Or something else?)

[^roosevelt-education]: "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education." -Franklin D. Roosevelt

[^krugman-boring]: See Paul Krugman's Making Banking Boring and John Quiggin's Wall Street Isn’t Worth It.