with Spencer Greenberg
the podcast about ideas that matter

Episode 065: Utopia on earth and morality without guilt (with Joe Carlsmith)

August 12, 2021

What are some of the challenges of defining utopia? What should a utopia look like? What are concrete versus sublime utopias? What are some of the failure modes related to various conceptions of utopia? Is it really that hard to create a shared, positive vision of the future? What is the value (or disvalue) of creating new people, especially in relation to the utopic or dystopic state of the world? What is "whole-hearted morality" versus "morality-as-taxes"? How can we encourage people to be more moral without harming them psychologically (e.g., by loading them down with guilt)? Which sorts of worldview changes are reversible? Where does clinging fit into the constellation of concepts like valuing, caring, envying, etc.? How does non-attachment differ from indifference? Is clinging always bad? Is philosophy making tangible progress as a field? Is philosophy's primary function to show us how our questions are confused rather than to give us direct answers to our questions? Has philosophy given us a clearer picture of what consciousness is or isn't?

Joe Carlsmith is a research analyst at Open Philanthropy and a doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Oxford. His research focuses on risks to humanity's long-term future. He has a BPhil from Oxford and a BA from Yale, both in philosophy. His website is, his blog is, and his Twitter handle is @jkcarlsmith.

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Host / Director
Spencer Greenberg

Josh Castle

Audio Engineer
Ryan Kessler

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Lee Rosevere
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