14 episodes

In-depth conversations about science and philosophy from a utilitarian perspective. Website: utilitarianpodcast.com. Contact me: utilitarianpodcast@gmail.com.

Utilitarian Gus Docker

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

In-depth conversations about science and philosophy from a utilitarian perspective. Website: utilitarianpodcast.com. Contact me: utilitarianpodcast@gmail.com.

    Samo Burja on the War in Ukraine

    Samo Burja on the War in Ukraine

    In this shorter episode of the Utilitarian Podcast, I talk with Samo Burja about the war in Ukraine. Samo is the founder of the geopolitical analysis firm Bismarck Analysis.

    We talk about Western sanctions and their effects of Russias relationship to China, what a remilitarization of Europe will mean, whether Putin will be able to control Ukraine, avoiding nuclear war, possible tactics for winning the war, potential diplomatic solutions, the longer term implications of this war, and the importance of European energy independence.


    [00:00:47] Overview of the situation

    [00:04:14] Sanctions - Russia and China

    [00:06:33] A remilitarized Europe

    [00:10:42] Will Putin be able to control Ukraine?

    [00:14:33] Insurgencies in Ukraine

    [00:16:23] Tactics for winning the war

    [00:22:23] Potential diplomatic solutions

    [00:24:12] Longer term implications

    [00:28:18] Energy independence

    • 29 min
    Big Ideas - Bryan Caplan

    Big Ideas - Bryan Caplan

    On this episode of the Utilitarian Podcast, I talk with Bryan Caplan. Bryan is a professor of economics at George Mason University. His latest book is Labor Econ Versus the World: Essays on the World's Greatest Market.

    We talk about some of Bryan’s big ideas (like open borders and housing deregulation), whether incremental change is better than big ideas and why people disagree with Bryan.

    We also discuss economic policy in poor countries, and whether trying to improve such policy is more cost-effective than buying bed nets to prevent malaria.

    I also make Bryan give an estimate of how much richer the world could be with optimal economic policy.

    We discuss automation and universal basic income, whether a world government is a good idea, risks from AI and engineered pandemics, Bryan’s objections to utilitarianism and the labor economics of worker wellbeing improvements and marriage.

    This podcast has timestamp chapters in the description, which is supported on some podcast players. And as always, I can be contacted by email at utilitarianpodcast@gmail.com.


    [00:01:21] Elevator pitch: Open borders

    [00:04:39] Big ideas VS incremental change

    [00:06:27] Why people disagree with Bryan

    [00:09:08] A careful attitude?

    [00:11:55] Economic policy in poor countries

    [00:13:03] Bed nets or policy?

    [00:15:54] How much richer could the world be?

    [00:19:27] Automation and UBI

    [00:26:52] Totalitarianism VS other risks

    [00:31:00] Totalitarianism

    [00:33:43] Engineered pandemics

    [00:35:13] Fanciful scenarios

    [00:37:18] Prediction markers for disasters

    [00:40:05] Objections to utilitarianism

    [00:48:57] Predicting future morality

    [00:51:55] Economic thinking

    [00:58:48] Labor economics

    [01:02:40] Worker wellbeing improvements

    [01:05:02] Economics of marriage

    • 1 hr 10 min
    Ethics and World Government - Neil Sinhababu

    Ethics and World Government - Neil Sinhababu

    On this episode of the Utilitarian Podcast, I talk with Neil Sinhababu. Neil is a professor of philosophy at the University of Singapore.

    Our conversation has two broad topics: We talk about metaethics and we talk about world government as a way to prevent human extinction.

    We discuss consciousness as the basis for ethics, reductionism about ethics, whether morality can be a science and how to handle feeling alienated from your own values.

    We then discuss world government as a way to solve collective action problems and decrease extinction risk. I ask whether creating a world government is itself risky, because it might turn totalitarian.

    The sound quality on my side is not the best in this episode, but fortunately Neil has lots of interesting things to say, so he speaks the most.

    As always, you can reach me at utilitarianpodcast@gmail.com if you have questions or suggestions or criticism.

    • 2 hr 17 min
    How Can We Best Reduce Suffering? - Magnus Vinding

    How Can We Best Reduce Suffering? - Magnus Vinding

    On today’s episode of the Utilitarian Podcast, I talk with Magnus Vinding. Magnus is the co-founder of Center For Reducing Suffering and the author of the books Suffering-Focused Ethics and Reasoned Politics.

    We begin by talking about suffering-focused ethics, and the worldview that comes with focusing on suffering. We discuss the risk of causing suffering and the possibility of abolishing suffering.

    Then we discuss intelligence in humans and in AIs. We discuss why humanity has gained power over the Earth and what this tells us about how AIs will develop.

    Lastly, we discuss how humanity could improve our political systems, and whether it’s feasible to expect such improvements given human nature.

    As always, you can contact me at utilitarianpodcast@gmail.com. 

    Suffering-Focused Ethics:


    Reflections on Intelligence:


    Contra AI FOOM Reading List:


    On the analogy between chimps and humans:


    Some reasons not to expect a future growth explosion: 


    • 2 hr
    Moral Uncertainty - Krister Bykvist

    Moral Uncertainty - Krister Bykvist

    On today’s episode of the Utilitarian Podcast, I talk with Krister Bykvist. Krister is a Professor of Philosophy at Stockholm University and Institute for Futures Studies.

    We talk about the approach to moral uncertainty laid out by Krister and his co-authors in a recent book. We discuss whether we can gain evidence for moral theories, whether moral uncertainty leads to an infinite regress, the metaethical and practical implications of moral uncertainty and how to think about moral information.

    We briefly touch upon whether the philosophy and mathematics of moral uncertainty might be interesting for AI safety research.

    Then we move on to discussing future lives, impossibility theorems in population ethics and metaethics more generally.

    This is a nerdy philosophical discussion, so I do my best to introduce unfamiliar terms throughout the conversation.

    • 2 hr 42 min
    Creating Utopia - Joseph Carlsmith

    Creating Utopia - Joseph Carlsmith

    On this episode of the Utilitarian Podcast, I talk with Joseph Carlsmith. Joseph is a research analyst at Open Philanthropy and a doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Oxford. His views and opinions in this podcast are his own, and not necessarily those of Open Philanthropy.

    Our conversation has three main themes. We talk about the long-term future, including the possibility of actually creating utopia. We talk about Joseph’s work on the computational power of the brain. And we talk about meta-ethics and consciousness, including discussions of illusionism and the effects of meditation.

    The Utilitarian Podcast now has a dedicated website, at utilitarianpodcast.com. At the site, you’ll find full transcripts of selected episodes, including this one. These transcripts have been generously funded by James Evans. I’ve also set up an email, which is utilitarianpodcast@gmail.com where you can send criticism, questions, suggestions and so on.

    • 3 hr 15 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
1 Rating

1 Rating

Binod Rijal Jaishi ,

Great initiative

The podcast on meta ethics was very informative. I literally just finished reading Sharon’s book last week and this episode offered more clarity to my understanding. It made my day!!! Best wishes...

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