What is Bitcoin?

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (2021)
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Many want to know what bitcoin is and how it works. But bitcoin is as complex as it is controversial, and relatively few have the technical background to understand it. In this paper, I offer an accessible on-ramp for understanding bitcoin in the form of a model. My model reveals both what bitcoin is and how it works. More specifically, it reveals that bitcoin is a fictional substance in a massively coauthored story on a network that automates and distributes jobs normally entrusted to centralized publishing institutions. My model therefore falsifies a popular view according to which each bitcoin is a chunk of code.



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Craig Warmke
Northern Illinois University

Citations of this work

Metaphysics.Peter Van Inwagen, Meghan Sullivan & Sara Bernstein - 2023 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Money Without State.Andrew M. Bailey, Bradley Rettler & Craig Warmke - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (11):1-15.
On Bitcoin: A Study in Applied Metaphysics.Martin A. Lipman - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (3):783-802.

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Critica 17 (49):69-71.
Nonexistent Objects.Terence Parsons - 1980 - Yale University Press.

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