[SEQ RERUN] Self-deception: Hypocrisy or Akrasia?

by badger1 min read17th May 20118 comments


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Today's post, Self-deception: Hypocrisy or Akrasia? was originally published on March 26, 2007. A summary (from the LW wiki):

If part of a person—for example, the verbal module—says it wants to become more rational, we can ally with that part even when weakness of will makes the person's actions otherwise; hypocrisy need not be assumed.

This post is part of a series rerunning Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts so those interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was Chronophone Motivations, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.

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I submit that "inconsistent" is a better term than "hypocritical" for those cases when the person does not know they're doing it, or cannot reasonably be expected to know they're doing it (e.g., when told). With the caveat that "inconsistent" and "hypocritical" fade into each other. This is to avoid the connotations of knowing defecting associated with the term "hypocrite".

Thanks for rerunning this! I've been doing a lot of thinking around this particular issue and hadn't even realised there was a post on it. Evidence that the [SEQ RERUN] project is doing its job.

It is tempting to say "hypocrisy" when you really mean "akrasia", because you'll get more attention...

And because not very many people know what "akrasia" means.

[-][anonymous]10y 2

You can get at a similar meaning by using words like "laziness" or "lack of self-control".

That's a bit like saying that you should describe the colour of fire engines as 'blue' because some people won't understand 'crimson'. Surely 'weak-willed' is better than 'hypocrisy'.

Interesting as I thought this was the most powerful point of the post:

At the very least, it is a controversial step in moral reasoning to decide that people's emotional impulses and subconscious pressures, rather than their declarative moral reasoning processes and the words that issue from their lips, constitute their "real selves". We should then call akrasia, not weakness of will, but strength of will.

Should we comment on the original article or the rerun?

I can see pros and cons to both alternatives, but choosing one seems better than dividing our efforts.

If you need to hear votes to make a decision, I vote for commenting on the original article. I value consensus above winning the vote.

[-][anonymous]10y 1

You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, (...)