Graduate of Newmarket High School
My real name is Ryan Stoughton; my friends call me Stoughton. I don't hang out anywhere online. I am a graduate of the University of Waterloo's Philosophy program, and am now a risk analyst for a major Canadian bank.
My main interests and areas of expertise on Wikipedia are in philosophy, roleplaying games, and 20th century literature. I think cognitive bias is the most important modern discovery and R Scott Bakker a tremendous author. I have a good deal of work experience in the financial sector, but try not to spend my spare time in those articles.
My favourite short story author is Franz Kafka.
My favourite fantasy author is R. Scott Bakker.
Salient Philosophical Issues
- All material things are transient, as is life (that is, for all intents and purposes with respect to human morality). Relatedly, I am made of meat, toxins, and passions. I don't know the ramifications of this realization.
- Human rationality cannot be a foundation for a moral system; humans are not consistently rational, and it appears that the human psyche is riddled with peculiar and largely unavoidable irrationalities (as we see from many results coming from social psychology). Just as importantly, there is evidence to suggest that cognition does not penetrate to our true motivations; in many situations, our cognition follows from our emotions when we believe the emotions follow from the cognition. These observations are most problematic for systems such as economics and contractarian ethics, which assume humans are essentially rational agents.
- Suffering is to be avoided; obviously, we do this ourselves, but a moral person must also avoid causing suffering in others. In essence, I believe that doing no harm is a moral obligation, which can only be waived in the face of an overwhelmingly more pressing moral obligation. Still, not everything boils down to moral obligations; some acts, particularly charitable ones, are virtuous without being obligatory. Virtuous behaviour is quite correctly praised, and it is not merely utile to do so - virtuous acts are morally good.
- A morally whole (and therefore compassionate) person will suffer when he causes or perceives suffering in others. In this latter respect the Internet has great potential as a catalyst for moral reformation as well as moral degradation.
- I still have not seen evidence for intelligent design; the idea that evolution produces humanity as an ideal design seems to be on one hand incredibly egotistical, and on the other hand highly dubious given the frailties and indignities that are inimical to the human condition.
- Evolution isn't so much about being more ideal than your competitors; it's about not being so disastrously bad at surviving that your species is wiped out. This is a much leaner criterion, and understanding it is key to grasping how random - and really, how stupid - evolution really is.
- Pure impulse is a kind of trancendence.
- I cannot accept karma to the degree where all causes of suffering are internal to, or originate in, the sufferer.
Things On My Reading List
Other projects outside Wikipedia
E6, a d20 Roleplaying Game (more of a hack) Raising the Stakes (another d20 hack) TRAPs: Threats, Rewards, Assets, and Problems (preparation method for roleplaying games) The Great Hundred, an open conworld
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