Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 6: Your Health vs. My Liberty (COVID-19 Research Paper)

Welcome to the latest episode of Upon Reflection. This time, I read my paper with Michał Białek, “Your health vs. my liberty: Philosophical beliefs dominated reflection and identifiable victim effects when predicting public health recommendation compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic” (Total N = 998).

As the title suggests we found that complying with public health recommendations didn’t depend on whether people received messaging about identifiable COVID-19 victims or statistical victims in flatten the curve graphs. Rather compliance increased the more that people endorsed an effective altruist principle about reducing harm and the more that they endorsed the truth of scientific theories, but compliance decreased as people valued liberty more than equality. Importantly, we also found that people were less likely to prevent the spread of disease by wearing masks and staying at home if the pandemic was equally deadly, but labeled as a “flu” pandemic—-mostly because they perceived this as less threatening to society. We think this suggests that people’s life-threatening decisions to flout public health recommendations like mask-wearing and staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic was not just about ineffective messaging, but also about their prior philosophical commitments.

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8 Sources Of Morality

What is the source of morality? There are many proposed sources of morality. Here are eight, with links to peer-reviewed resources where you can find out more about each proposed source of morality.

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Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 3: Causal Network Accounts of Ill-being: Depression & Digital Well-being

Welcome to the third episode of Upon Reflection, a podcast about what we think as well as how and why we think it.

In this podcast, I read my chapter, “Causal Network Accounts of Ill-being: Depression & Digital Well-being” from Ethics of Digital Well-being: A Multidisciplinary Approach. In this chapter, I review how well-being and ill-being can be understood in terms of the causal networks studied by economists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and other scientists. As with all of my writing, the free preprint can be found on my CV at byrdnick.com/cv under “Publications“.

If you want to hear more, you can subscribe wherever you find podcasts. You can also find out more about me and my research on Twitter via @byrd_nick, or on Facebook via @byrdnick. If you end up enjoying the Upon Reflection podcast, then feel free to tell people about it, online, in person, or in your ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review.

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New Paper — Causal Network Accounts of Ill-being: Depression & Digital Well-being

Philosophers are stereotyped as studying things like, “What is a good life?” To break this stereotype, I’ve spent some time studying a different question, “What is a bad life?” More seriously, I have applied causal network accounts of well-being to ill-being, particularly depression and digital ill-being. My latest paper on this has now been accepted for publication in The Ethics of Digital Well-being (2020). So now I can share it. You you check out the abstract and acknowledgments (below), listen to the free audiopaper, and/or read the free preprint.

Continue reading New Paper — Causal Network Accounts of Ill-being: Depression & Digital Well-being

Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 2: Not All Who Ponder Count Costs – Reflection & Moral Dilemmas

In this podcast episode , I’ll be reading Paul Conway’s and my recent paper about moral dilemmas entitled, “Not all who ponder count costs: Arithmetic reflection predicts utilitarian tendencies, but logical reflection predicts both deontological and utilitarian tendencies“. In this paper we find that—contrary to some dual process theories’ claims—consequentialist responses to moral dilemmas may not be more reflective per se, but rather more influenced by mathematical information. As with all of my papers, the free preprint of the paper can be found on my CV at byrdnick.com/cv under “Publications“.

A screen shot of Nick Byrd and Paul Conway's 2019 paper "Not All Who Ponder Count Costs"

If this sounds like the kind of research that you want to hear more about, you can subscribe to Upon Reflection wherever you find podcasts. You can also find out more about me and my research on Twitter via @byrd_nick, or on Facebook via @byrdnick. If you end up enjoying the Upon Reflection podcast, then feel free to tell people about it, online, in person, or in your ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review.

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Introduction to Philosophy: A Free Course


Below are the syllabus and materials for my Introduction to Philosophy course. You are welcome to use any of the material as a student or as an instructor. The usual creative commons license applies to my portion of this—i.e., only the stuff to which I would have a copyright. (If you are my student, remember that you can be quizzed on the contents of the syllabus.)

I. Introduction to Philosophy

Did you know that people who study philosophy make significantly fewer reasoning errors than others? (See Livengood et al 2010 and Byrd 2014). And did you know that philosophy majors outperform basically everyone else on the GRE? And did you know that the median mid-career salary for people who major in philosophy is $81,000? And did you know that philosophy majors were projected to be the top-paid humanities major in 2016? Find out more about philosophy majors here. And if you’ve never taken a philosophy class, you might want to read this 3-4 page intro. Continue reading Introduction to Philosophy: A Free Course

The Anti-natalism Comparison: Contradiction, Equivocation, & Incommensurability


To be or not to be. That is the question. (Seriously.) David Benatar’s chapter “Why Coming Into Existence is Always a Harm” from his book Better Never To Have Been (2006) and follow-up paper “Still Better Never to Have Been: A Reply to (More of) My Critics” argues in favor of the latter: it’s better not to be. This comparative claim seemed intuitively plausible at first.1 However, upon reflection, I find myself puzzled by it. I worry that this anti-natalism comparison involves contradiction, equivocation, or a false sense of commensurability. In this post, I’ll explain.

Continue reading The Anti-natalism Comparison: Contradiction, Equivocation, & Incommensurability