I'm still not certain if I managed to get what I think is the issue across. To clarify, here's an example of the failure mode I often encounter:

Philosopher: Morality is subjective, because it depends on individual preferences.
Sophronius: Sure, but it's objective in the sense that those preferences are material facts of the world which can be analyzed objectively like any other part of the universe.
Philosopher: But that does not get us a universal system of morality, because preferences still differ.
Sophronius: But if someone in cambodia gets acid thrown in her face by her husband, that's wrong, right?
Philosopher: No, we cannot criticize other cultures, because morality is subjective.

The mistake that the Philosopher makes here is conflating two different uses of subjectivity: He is switching between there being no universal system of morality in practice ("morality is subjective") and it not being possible to make moral claims in principle ("Morality is subjective"). We agree that Morality is subjective in the sense that moral preferences differ, but that should not preclude you from making object-level moral judgements (which are objectively true or false).

I think it's actually very similar to the error people make when it comes to discussing "free will". Someone argues that there is no (magical non-deterministic) free will, and then concludes from that that we can't punish criminals because they have no free will (in the sense of their preferences affecting their actions).

I understand now what you're referring to. I believe this is formally called normative moral relativism, which holds that:

because nobody is right or wrong, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others even when we disagree about the morality of it.

That is a minority opinion, though, and all of (non-normative) moral relativism shouldn't be implicated.

Here's what I would reply in the place of your philosopher:

Sophronius: But if someone in cambodia gets acid thrown in her face by her husband, that's wrong, right?

Philosopher: It's considered wrong by many... (read more)

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

by Elo 2 min read30th Mar 2016273 comments

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It’s time for a new survey!

Take the survey now


The details of the last survey can be found here.  And the results can be found here.

 

I posted a few weeks back asking for suggestions for questions to include on the survey.  As much as we’d like to include more of them, we all know what happens when we have too many questions. The following graph is from the last survey.


http://i.imgur.com/KFTn2Bt.png

KFTn2Bt.png

(Source: JD’s analysis of 2014 survey data)


Two factors seem to predict if a question will get an answer:

  1. The position

  2. Whether people want to answer it. (Obviously)


People answer fewer questions as we approach the end. They also skip tricky questions. The least answered question on the last survey was - “what is your favourite lw post, provide a link”.  Which I assume was mostly skipped for the amount of effort required either in generating a favourite or in finding a link to it.  The second most skipped questions were the digit-ratio questions which require more work, (get out a ruler and measure) compared to the others. This is unsurprising.


This year’s survey is almost the same size as the last one (though just a wee bit smaller).  Preliminary estimates suggest you should put aside 25 minutes to take the survey, however you can pause at any time and come back to the survey when you have more time.  If you’re interested in helping process the survey data please speak up either in a comment or a PM.


We’re focusing this year particularly on getting a glimpse of the size and shape of the LessWrong diaspora.  With that in mind; if possible - please make sure that your friends (who might be less connected but still hang around in associated circles) get a chance to see that the survey exists; and if you’re up to it - encourage them to fill out a copy of the survey.


The survey is hosted and managed by the team at FortForecast, you’ll be hearing more from them soon. The survey can be accessed through http://lesswrong.com/2016survey.


Survey responses are anonymous in that you’re not asked for your name. At the end we plan to do an opt-in public dump of the data. Before publication the row order will be scrambled, datestamps, IP addresses and any other non-survey question information will be stripped, and certain questions which are marked private such as the (optional) sign up for our mailing list will not be included. It helps the most if you say yes but we can understand if you don’t.  


Thanks to Namespace (JD) and the FortForecast team, the Slack, the #lesswrong IRC on freenode, and everyone else who offered help in putting the survey together, special thanks to Scott Alexander whose 2014 survey was the foundation for this one.


When answering the survey, I ask you be helpful with the format of your answers if you want them to be useful. For example if a question asks for an number, please reply with “4” not “four”.  Going by the last survey we may very well get thousands of responses and cleaning them all by hand will cost a fortune on mechanical turk. (And that’s for the ones we can put on mechanical turk!) Thanks for your consideration.

 

The survey will be open until the 1st of may 2016

 


Addendum from JD at FortForecast: During user testing we’ve encountered reports of an error some users get when they try to take the survey which erroneously reports that our database is down. We think we’ve finally stamped it out but this particular bug has proven resilient. If you get this error and still want to take the survey here are the steps to mitigate it:

 

  1. Refresh the survey, it will still be broken. You should see a screen with question titles but no questions.

  2. Press the “Exit and clear survey” button, this will reset your survey responses and allow you to try again fresh.

  3. Rinse and repeat until you manage to successfully answer the first two questions and move on. It usually doesn’t take more than one or two tries. We haven’t received reports of the bug occurring past this stage.


If you encounter this please mail jd@fortforecast.com with details. Screenshots would be appreciated but if you don’t have the time just copy and paste the error message you get into the email.

 

Take the survey now


Meta - this took 2 hours to write and was reviewed by the slack.


My Table of contents can be found here.

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