Sorted by New

Wiki Contributions


"Fuzzle" = "Morally right."

Hm... As described, "fuzzle" = "chosen course of action", or, "I choose". Things labelled "fuzzle" are sent to the action system - this is all we're told about "fuzzle". But anything and everything that a system decides, chooses, sets out, to do, are sent to the action system. Not just moral things.

If we want to distinguish moral things from actions in general, we need to say more.

All I'm saying is that I believe that what morality actually is for each of us in our daily lives is a result of what worked for our ancestors, and that is all it is.

But if I understand you, you are saying that human morality is human and does not apply to all sentient beings. However, as long as all we are talking about and all we really deal with is humans, then there is no difference in practice between a morality that is specific to humans and a universal morality applicable to all sentient beings, and so the argument about universality seems academic, of no import at least until First Contact is achieved. In particular, a lot of moral non-realists are wrong. For example, those who think it is merely a matter of personal opinion are wrong. Those who think that it is relative to culture are wrong (at least for large chunks of it). Nihilists are wrong (insofar as they deny even the human-specific morality which you acknowledge). Those who think that democratic majorities define 'morality' are wrong. And so on.

As far as whether there are philosophical traditions which acknowledge or at least are compatible with the specificity of human morality to humans, I think there are. The natural law tradition ties law to morality and identifies a natural morality - a natural right and wrong. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes it:

The precepts of the natural law are binding by nature: no beings could share our human nature yet fail to be bound by the precepts of the natural law.

This leaves open the possibility that alien intelligences do not share our human nature and so are not bound by the precepts of (human) natural law.

I would emphasize that what you end up with is not a "moral system" in anything like the traditional sense, since it is fundamental to traditional notions of morality that THE ONE TRUE WAY does not depend on human beings and the quirks of our evolutionary history

Are you sure about the traditional notions? I don't see how you can base that on how we have actually behaved visavis morality. We've been partially put to the test of whether we consider morality universally applicable, and the result so far is that we apply our moral judgments to other humans and leave nonhuman animals out of it. Maybe on occasion people have found certain nonhuman animals to be "immoral", but my sense is that people simply do not judge nonhuman animals on a moral scale. Conceivably, if we met a sufficiently intelligent alien species we might apply morality to them, but this is a portion of the test that we have not been put to yet.

Suppose you learned, suddenly and definitively, that nothing is moral and nothing is right; that everything is permissible and nothing is forbidden.

There are different ways of understanding that. To clarify, let's transplant the thought experiment. Suppose you learned that there are no elephants. This could mean various things. Two things it might mean:

1) That there are no big mammals with trunks. If you see what you once thought was an elephant stampeding in your direction, if you stay still nothing will happen to you because it is not really there. If you offer a seeming elephant peanuts, the peanuts will pass through the trunk which is not there and will fall to the ground.

2) That big mammals with trunks are not elephants. If you see what you once thought was an elephant stampeding in your direction, if you stay still you will be trampled. If you offer a seeming elephant peanuts, the animal will accept and enjoy the peanuts.

Among those who would be persuaded that there is no morality, those who interpret the 'no morality' claim as analogous to (1) will change their behavior. Those who interpret the 'no morality' claim as analogous to (2) will not change their behavior.

(1) is a substantial claim about the world. (2) is a claim about language, about what how things should be labeled.

Those who claim that they would change nothing in their activity are treating the no-morality hypothetical as if it were merely a claim about how things should be labeled. Those who claim that they would change their behavior are treating the no-morality hypothetical as if it were a substantial claim about the world.

Hopefully - it sure sounds like you're seriously misunderstanding me. Economics is a theory and therefore is a map. I'm not saying anything directly about the territory. I'm saying that major economic maps use the concept of choice the way all of AAA's road maps use ink. Removing the choice is like removing the ink. There's no map left if you do that.

So anyway, no, there's no territory/map confusion, except possibly in your interpretation of me.

Is this substantially correct?

I would say not, because you write:

and determining that the phenomenon is reachable.

This uses the word "reachable" in a sentence, without quotes, and therefore makes use of its meaning. But that was merely an infelicitous choice of label. Eliezer has since asked you to substitute labels, so that you not be confused by the meaning of "reachable":

Knecht, for "able to be reached" substitute "labeled fizzbin". I have told you when to label something fizzbin.

If you were to substitute this in, your description would end up being:

Thesis: regarding some phenomenon as possible is nothing other than the inner perception a person experiences (and probably also the memory of such a perception in the past) after mentally running something like the search algorithm and labeling the phenomenon "fizzbin".

I am not, by the way, sure that this quite captures Eliezer's thesis either, since an algorithm could attach many labels, and the above does not pick out which label corresponds to possibility. You may need to start from scratch.

Hopefully Anonymous writes: I don't think "choice" is a central concept to economics. It seems pretty easy to me to reimagine every major economic theory of which I'm aware without "choosing" occuring.

Well, okay. Let me see what you mean. Let's start with revealed preference:

If a person chooses a certain bundle of goods (ex. 2 apples, 3 bananas) while another bundle of goods is affordable (ex. 3 apples, 2 bananas), then we say that the first bundle is revealed preferred to the second.

What do you propose doing about that? Keep in mind that I agree with Eliezer - my disagreement is with Knecht. So if your answer is to play Rationalist's taboo against the word 'choice', then you're not disagreeing with what I intended to say.

This should urge caution in keeping concepts that seem to give rise to much confusion.

Well, I'll give you that. Though I am not ready to drop the concept of choice, I do admit that, among some people, it can lead to confusion. However, it does not seem to confuse all that many, and the concept of choice appears to be a central component of what I would consider a highly successful subject and one which I'm nowhere near ready to toss into the trash - economics.


I think Eliezer recognizes the the vagueness of "world" but sees it as a problem for single-worlders. This is what he seems to be saying here:

We have specific reasons to be highly suspicious of the notion of only one world. The notion of "one world" exists on a higher level of organization, like the location of Earth in space; on the quantum level there are no firm boundaries (though brains that differ by entire neurons firing are certainly decoherent). How would a fundamental physical law identify one high-level world?

Remember, that-which-exists at any moment does not just consist of a set of worlds, but a set of worlds each with a complex number attached. And that-which-exists in the next moment is - the same set of worlds, but now with different complex numbers attached.

You seem to be talking about the wavefunction, which is a complex function defined over the configuration space (a set of configurations each with a complex number attached). But in that case you seem to be confusing a world with a configuration. A configuration defines only position. (Assuming we're talking about positional configuration space.)

It seems I can save myself some trouble explaining by quoting Eliezer:

A point mass of amplitude, concentrated into a single exact position in configuration space, does not correspond to a precisely known state of the universe. It is physical nonsense. It's like asking, in Conway's Game of Life: "What is the future state of this one cell, regardless of the cells around it?" The immediate future of the cell depends on its immediate neighbors; its distant future may depend on distant neighbors.

If Conway's Game of Life managed to support a multiverse, then a single universe in this multiverse would not correspond to a cell. It would correspond to some section of the whole pattern quite a bit larger than a single cell - a section which was for the most part causally separated from the rest of the pattern. And this section might move around over Conway's gameboard (or whatever it's called), just as a glider can move across Conway's gameboard.

Load More