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. So now I can share it. While I prepare the audiopaper, you can check out the abstract and acknowledgments (below) or the free preprint.

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

Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 3: Not All Who Ponder Count Costs – Reflection & Moral Dilemmas

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

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

In this podcast, I’ll be reading my 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“.

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

5 Thoughts About “Liberal Hypocrites”


Liberals prize inclusivity and tolerance. But liberals also criticize certain things — e.g., certain things that conservatives do. So liberals aren’t inclusive after all! Liberal hypocrites! Boo liberals! …or so the story goes.

Should liberals be inclusive and tolerant of everything? Are they hypocritical if they’re not? No. Of course not. For an explanation and context, here are five thoughts about liberals, hypocrisy, and tolerance. (Spoiler: I make multiple concessions to conservatives.)

Continue reading 5 Thoughts About “Liberal Hypocrites”

3 Obstacles For Research About Cheating & Morality


What if traveling abroad were somehow bad for you? Well, a series of studies seem to find that “[traveling abroad] can lead to [lying and cheating] by increasing moral relativism” (Lu et al 2017, 1, 3). This finding has just the right combination of intuitive plausibility and surprise for us to want to share it uncritically. So, instead, let’s take a look at the methods, measures, and philosophical nuances of the topic. As usual, a bit of reflection makes the finding a bit less exciting and it reveals a need for follow-up research.

Continue reading 3 Obstacles For Research About Cheating & Morality

The Moral Argument Against Footnotes and PDF


Once upon a time, I loved footnotes and PDF documents. Now I don’t. I prefer eBook format and endnotes. I admit that footnotes are handy sometimes. For example, when I read visually, it’s nice to have the notes on the same page as the body text. However, footnotes are not so handy for auditory reading. Neither are PDF documents. For instance, footnotes wreak havoc on auditory reading. They interrupt the audio stream of the main body of text — sometimes mid-sentence. And since many people have to rely on auditory reading to consume academic research, this means that PDF documents and footnotes decrease the accessibility of research. That’s bad. If we can avoid this bad, we should. And we can avoid it. So we should.

1.  Books vs. Articles

Sometimes academic books are available in an eBook version that is amenable to auditory reading — e.g., Amazon’s Kindle format and Apple’s iBook format. And some academic books have a proper audiobook version — e..g, Amazon’s audiobooks. This is great, but… Continue reading The Moral Argument Against Footnotes and PDF