2015 in Nintil: Top posts

So here we are one more year. Right now I'm preparing an article for next year about aircraft engine chevrons(!), but I had to do first the traditional retrospective post. This year has been really good for the blog: More views than the rest of the years combined! This is mostly because (I think) I switched to writing in English, and I got more readers that way. Also, because of some RTs by very popular twitter accounts (Thanks to Pseudoerasmus and Marc Andreessen!). This year I wrote 61 posts, compared to …

Slaying Alexander's Moloch

Scott Alexander wrote some time ago a piece titled Meditations on Moloch. As far as I know, there are two or three replies to it, here and here. He replied to some critiques here. The theme of the essay, as we will see, is a reflection on the general human condition, and on our future. Still, Scott is too pessimistic, and I’ll proceed to give him reasons to believe that niceness, after all, can triumph. It basically takes one or two little things, like to relax his apparent assumption of 100% selfish behavi…

Why so many utilitarians?

In this post I try to give some reasons why there are so many utilitarians among smart people, from personal experience reading things on the net. The point of this post is not to criticise or defend utilitarianism, just offer a presentation of the reasons why some people, I think, tend to favour it. I begin with a quote from Loren Lomasky, defining what we are talking about. You can also go to the SEP. For present purposes, a theory is said to be (more or less) utilitarian to the extent it satisfies the f…

The antonymical fallacy

I think there's an informal  fallacy that doesn't have a name of its own. I tried looking and couldn't find it, so I named it the antonymical fallacy. Maybe it does already exist. If it does, please tell me! It is closely related to the False dilemma informal fallacy. So the idea is this: There is a difference between the negation and the antonym (or antonym-like word) of something. Some antonyms are indeed the logical negation of the original word, but not all! not-tall does not equal small (it can me medi…

The private/public distinction, a reply to Stringham and Powell

The October 2015 Cato Unbound issue discussed Private Governance. In one of the entries, Aaron Ross Powell raised a very interesting point that I've never seen properly addressed yet: What is the difference between private and public? Is there any difference between a State and a large club? Sticking to the tangible, we get chiefly two examples from Stringham: private police and gated/private communities. Focusing on those, then, is there a meaningful way to tell which police/communities are public and whi…

Mingardi contra Mazzucato

In the Fall 2015 issue of Cato Journal, Alberto Mingardi (Director General of the Bruno Leoni Institute, and blogger at EconLog) published an article titled 'A Critique of Mazzucato's Entrepreneurial State'. Here I will provide a summary of it. Just the introduction is a huge condemnation of the book: Though Mazzucato claims she is building on existing evidence of the effectiveness of government research and development spending, in actual fact her evidence is shaky. She adopts a very extensive definition …