I knew I'd already written a number of explanations on the topic, so I decided to reread them for preparation. While reading them I decided that the topic is hard and it'd be very hard to write a single essay which is good enough for someone to understand it. Maybe if they already had a lot of relevant background knowledge, like knowing Popper, Deutsch or TCS, one essay could work OK. But for an Objectivist audience, or most audiences, I think it'd be really hard.
So I had a different idea I think will work better: gather together multiple essays. This lets people learn about the subject from a bunch of different angles. I think this way will be the most helpful to someone who is interested in understanding this philosophy.
Each link below was chosen selectively. I reread all of them as well as other things that I decided not to include. It may look like a lot, but I don't think you should expect an important new idea in epistemology to be really easy and short to learn. I've put the links in the order I recommend reading them, and included some explanations below.
Instead of one perfect essay – which is impossible – I present instead some variations on a theme.
Update 2017: Buy my Yes or No Philosophy to learn a ton more about this stuff. It has over 6 hours of video and 75 pages of writing. See also this free essay giving a short argument for it.
Update Oct 2016: Read my new Rejecting Gradations of Certainty.
Popper's critical preferences idea is incorrect. It's similar to standard epistemology, but better, but still shares some incorrectness with rival epistemologies. My criticisms of it can be made of any other standard epistemology (including Objectivism) with minor modifications. I explained a related criticism of Objectivism in my prior essay.
Critical Preferences and Strong Arguments
The next one helps clarify a relevant epistemology point:
Regress problems are a major issue in epistemology. Understanding the method of rationally resolving conflicts between ideas to get a single idea with no outstanding criticism helps deal with regresses.
Confused about anything? Maybe these summary pieces will help:
Conflict, Criticism, Learning, Reason
All Problems are Soluble
We Can Always Act on Non-Criticized Ideas
This next piece clarifies an important point:
Criticism is Contextual
Coercion is an important idea to understand. It comes from Taking Children Seriously (TCS), the Popperian educational and parenting philosophy by David Deutsch. TCS's concept of "coercion" is somewhat different than the dictionary, keep in mind that it's our own terminology. TCS also has a concept of a "common preference" (CP). A CP is any way of resolving a problem between people which they all prefer. It is not a compromise; it's only a CP if everyone fully prefers it. The idea of a CP is that it's a preference which everyone shares in common, rather than disagreeing.
CPs are the only way to solve problems. And any non-coercive solution is a CP. CPs turn out to be equivalent to non-coercion. One of my innovations is to understand that these concepts can be extended. It's not just about conflicts between people. It's really about conflicts between ideas, including ideas within the same mind. Thus coercion and CPs are both major ideas in epistemology.
TCS's "most distinctive feature is the idea that it is both possible and desirable to bring up children entirely without doing things to them against their will, or making them do things against their will, and that they are entitled to the same rights, respect and control over their lives as adults." In other words, achieving common preferences, rather than coercion, is possible and desirable.
Don't understand what I'm talking about? Don't worry. Explanations follow:
Taking Children Seriously
The next essay explains the method of creating a single idea with no outstanding criticisms to solve problems and how that is always possible and avoids coercion.
Avoiding Coercion Clarification
This email clarifies some important points about two different types of problems (I call them "human" and "abstract"). It also provides some historical context by commenting on a 2001 David Deutsch email.
Human Problems and Abstract Problems
The next two help clarify a couple things:
Multiple Incompatible Unrefuted Conjectures
Handling Information Overload
Now that you know what coercion is, here's an early explanation of the topic:
Coercion and Critical Preferences
This is an earlier piece covering some of the same ideas in a different way:
Resolving Conflicts of Interest
These pieces have some general introductory overview about how I approach philosophy. They will help put things in context:
Philosophy: What For?
Update: This new piece (July 2017) talks about equivocations and criticizes the evidential continuum: Don't Equivocate
Want to understand more?
Read these essays and dialogs. Read Fallible Ideas. Join my discussion group and actually ask questions.