Nicholas Dummer

Student , Earth
Boulder, CO, United States

About Nicholas

Bio

I am an environmental engineering and philosophy student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I believe in a form of Kantian ecocentrism; a duty-based holism. I also believe that the educated, fortunate persons of the world have an ethical obligation to better the lives of those who haven't been given the chances that we have. I feel privileged in my station and I plan to educate myself so that I may be a useful member of our collective biosphere. The world is very complex and I will do my part to unravel some of the mystery.

Languages

English, Spanish

Areas of Expertise

Environmental Engineering, Philosophy, Chemistry, Mathematics

An idea worth spreading

Better yourself through constant self-improvement, education, and study so that one day you may contribute to the good.

I'm passionate about

Chemistry. Mathematics. Philosophy. Learning. Reading. Constructive debate. Humanitarianism. Ecological systems. Theoretical physics. Astronomy. Biogeochemistry. Games of wit. Problem solving. Love.

Talk to me about

Anything that you know well. I love to talk about peoples' passions. If you can teach me something new or make me laugh, you will be my new friend.

People don't know I'm good at

Juggling. Tae Kwon Do. Bicycling.

My TED story

I'm just a viewer. Maybe one day I will learn something valuable to teach the world.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

131397
Nicholas Dummer
Posted over 3 years ago
Daniel Wolpert: The real reason for brains
If my brain performs functions to optimize future movement for higher reproductive success, then why has my brain evolved to not want to reproduce? There seems to be an issue here that needs further investigation for those, like myself, who have no desire to have children.
131397
Nicholas Dummer
Posted over 3 years ago
Should we allow animals to have rights?
You list some unique human attributes but you make no attempt to show why those ought to be valued above other traits. Furthermore, not all humans have those traits, what can we say about them? Do we leave them behind based on this narrowly defined view of moral considerability? My views are of a form of holism wherein each individual is a member of a number of different communities. You are a member of a family, a town, a state, a nation, a species, an environment, etc. There are responsibilities for each member between each member in each community. What we are failing to realize is our duty to those in our various communities. I think the foremost duty is of non-interference (a negative duty). I believe we have stronger positive duties to those in our closer moral communities, such as our positive duties to help humans in need. Maybe we don't have positive duties to those outside of our species. Maybe we do. I am not putting animals on the same level as humans, but they need to be taken into consideration due to their membership in one or more of our communities. Once again, the most important thing is the non-restriction and protection of autonomy of 'animals.' This of course begs the question about where you draw the line for animals. Technically algae are animals, but do they deserve moral consideration? I would contemplate this question further with another appeal to the algae's membership in one of my communities and my particular duties to that community. E.g. I have a duty to my city and state and nation to vote on what I believe in. Or I have a duty to algae because I believe they are an important part in an environment that has intrinsic worth.
131397
Nicholas Dummer
Posted over 3 years ago
For the first time I find a talk in TED lacking scientific basis and elemental logic.
You may be right. I don't think something as large and intricate as 'human morality' is entirely reducible to a particular chemical compound. There is certainly evidence that oxytocin manipulates behavior and mood, but 'human morality' is one of the most complicated and intricate social / psychological / neurological systems on the planet. These chemistry experiments are just another piece of a much larger puzzle.
131397
Nicholas Dummer
Posted over 3 years ago
Should we allow animals to have rights?
Animals have intrinsic rights of autonomy, i.e. non-interference from humans. These rights are independent of human subjective consideration. I believe we ought to extend moral consideration to animals to protect these intrinsic rights. This moral consideration includes but is not limited to legal representation on the behalf of those communities/individuals harmed by human actions, vegetarianism, and required sustainable design for all future human projects. The time of ignorance and dis-compassionate behavior is over. Humans won the race. We are dominant. It is time to stop sacrificing the losers. If another dominant species arose from the abyss and took over the world, everyone would pray that the new winners adopt a similar moral code as I described above. How would you like to have zero moral considerability with regard to your master? How would you like to be farmed as a commodity? I doubt very you would like it very much. Why do people think this is OK? It is one thing to be impoverished and behave out of necessity, but there is little excuse for the rest of us to perpetuate these evils.
131397
Nicholas Dummer
Posted over 3 years ago
What's one thing you wish you had learned in school?
I wish that the focus of my early education was on asking questions and not simply on producing answers. Being able to question myself and what is around me is my most valued skill. I believe it has made me a better person. I wish that I could have learned it when I was younger. Teaching the young to value answers --correct answers-- stifles creativity and teaches rigidity, i.e. non-malleability. Learning one's own ignorance is a wonderful gift, but we teach children that they must know the right answer, the answers of the elders, or else be punished. How silly...
131397
Nicholas Dummer
Posted over 3 years ago
Jay Bradner: Open-source cancer research
There is a difference between a simple economic profit model and a profit model in an open source system. An economic profit model only cares about the financial gain. Profit in an open source model would be something like was described in this talk. Profit in this talk is not measured with money, but is measured as a benefit to humans. Economic profit is a part of a big game. Economic profit is 'winning the game.' Money is worthless outside of the game. Human life is non-quantifiable. Human life is intrinsically valuable. Open source profit is 'winning at life/love/compassion/empathy/progress/etc.' Profit of this kind is good for all, not only for the few as in the standard economic model. As for your comment on greed... Tragedy of the commons? Prisoners' Dilemma? We need to shift our focus from self-interest to communal-interest.
131397
Nicholas Dummer
Posted over 3 years ago
Pamela Meyer: How to spot a liar
This is an extremely important subject and I appreciate great minds like Meyer devoting time to it. Honesty and trust are required for most of our social institutions to function ideally. Lying moves us from the theoretical world (ideal) to our actual world (non-ideal). It seems fantastical to imagine our world where we can trust everyone because there is only truth. In that world, our theoretically ideal social institutions may actually function properly. I have studied a good deal of ethical theory and I think Kant said it best. Kant was a huge proponent of telling the truth all of the time. He said that when we lie, we rob someone of the truth and alter their perception of the world to something that is false. People think it is harmless, but it I believe that it is ethically unacceptable because everyone should experience the full truth of the world. The falsification of someone's experience is wrong. And further, truth yields trust. So why lie?