When I first set up this page, I wrote, "Anything I really want to know the answer to, I'll go and look up... But there are some things that I'm curious about, but not curious enough to bother to track down an answer." Since I never updated any of my pages, I never updated this one either, and it occurs to me now that anything I'm too lazy to look up, I'm probably also too lazy to add to this page, and the odds are pretty slim that some non-lazy (or just smart) person will wander by and tell me the answer to any question I post here anyway.

I also said at the time that my Answers page wasn't the answers to the questions on this page, but on further reflection, I decided that the two should be related after all... So this page is now where I muse about issues where I don't yet have answers that I'm entirely happy with, whereas the other is more for things where I'm pretty confident in my answers. Like my Thoughts page, I have a mix of links to actual questions I've written about, and placeholders for things I want to write about some day.

I'm intrigued by the nurture vs nature question. For most of my life, I've been a pro-nurture person, believing that most of the differences between people are the result of upbringing rather than genetics -- including what we think of as racial differences, gender differences, and so on. I've become gradually less certain of this, and wonder nowadays whether some of the differences between groups of people are in fact more biological in origin. I find this philosophically uanppealing, though: If it's objectively true that women are biologically better suited to a caregiver role than men, for example, that plays a lot of havoc with many of my deeply-held ideas about gender equality. I want to think about this some more, and see whether I can come up with some consistent principles that accomodate biological differences without leading to pigeonholing and stereotyping.

As a specific example of that, I'm interested in the origin of sexual orientation. For a while, I described myself as "philosophically bi", by which I meant that I had no MM sexual experience, but wasn't opposed to the idea, and thought it could conceivably happen some day. Over time, I realized that I really wasn't attracted to men in any sort of emotional way, so it seemed wrong to refer to myself as any sort of "bi". My thinking at this point is that my own orientation is more of an accident of upbringing than anything biological: I grew up thinking that MM sex was weird and gross, that calling someone a fag was a huge insult, and while I don't believe any of that stuff any more, I still have very little experience with MM sex as a normal thing. It seems to me quite likely that if I spent some time in a culture where MM sex was perfectly normal, that I'd become more interested in men, but it's a little hard to tell... And it's also not necessarily the case that my own experience is universal for all people either.

I'm interested in issues relating to children, in particular the boundary between childhood (when they're not considered legally responsible for their actions, or legally free to do what they want) and adulthood. When should a free society consider children to be full adult members, with all the liberties and responsibilities thereunto appertaining? Should it be a matter of reaching a certain age, or a passing a test, or getting permission from their parents, or what?

Along similar lines, I'm interested in questions of interference with other people's parenting. I'm generally of the opinion that people should be free to do whatever they want with their own stuff, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. The question is, who's a legitimate "anyone else" in this context? If you're another adult, it's not ok for me to hit you, or to prohibit you from leaving your house, or to force you to participate in particular activities that I think are worthwhile, even if I think it's for your own good, even if most of society would agree it's for your own good. It is ok for me to do any of those things to an inanimate object, like my computer. What about a non-adult person, like my child? Most people would say that it's ok to make your kids go to school, to ground them if they misbehave, and maybe even to spank them. Furthermore, I think most people would say that it's up to each parent to decide how to raise their kids, whether to be lenient or stern, etc. But I think most people would also say that there's a line that parents can cross, and that there are some things parents should never do to their children, even if the parent honestly and sincerely believes that it's in the child's best interest. Who should be deciding that?

Finally, on a lighter note: On the earlier version of this page, I asked "Why is the sky blue? Something to do with the atmosphere, but what exactly? And why blue, and not red, or green, or hot pink, or whatever?" Someone sent me an answer at the time, but now there's actually a whole site about it, which includes this answer and a few related ones.

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Last updated on 2003-06-02 (Mon) at 17:48 PDT