Bradley Rettler is an Associate Professor of Philosophy, and a member of the Resistance Money, a philosophy research collective focused on Bitcoin. In this interview, we discuss the potential ethical implications of AI, philosophical reflections on money creation and governance, the importance of financial literacy, and combating misinformation about Bitcoin.
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Over the past few years, one of the important groups to emerge within the Bitcoin community has been the philosophers studying Bitcoin, led by members of the Resistance Money collective: Andrew Bailey, Bradley Rettle and Craig Warmke (with Troy Cross as an honorary member). They have added academic weight to the consideration of the importance of Bitcoin in the context of fundamental questions regarding money’s role in society.
The Resistance Money collective has been examining Bitcoin from various angles. In the episode, Bradley discusses moral dilemmas posed by a material global transition to this new form of money: the transfer of wealth, energy consumption impacts, the acceptance of privacy for bad and good, and usage by enemies. In addition, considerations about the benefits provided by fiat currency that could be lost: e.g. is there a useful societal function provided by money printing?
But this is where philosophical tools are extremely useful. In a previous episode, Craig Warmke explained the usefulness of the ‘veil of ignorance’ thought experiment, where one assumes they have no knowledge of what position in society they would have, and, from this position, they then determine what monetary system would best serve society for the great good. It is this perspective that is used to establish the Resistence Money thesis on Bitcoin.
In a scenario where you could fall into any position in society, it would obviously be better that Bitcoin existed. It is the philosophical equivalent of checking your privilege. Whilst Bitcoin’s potential impact on society is complex and uneven, it is far easier to understand how Bitcoin acts to mitigate global inequality and inequity when assuming a scenario where you need it, and it doesn’t exist.