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@ Wei. Thanks for the response. I will look at the refs but haven't yet done so. I'm skeptical about whether they'll change my mind on the subject, but I'll take a look.

It seems to me that the belief in pure determinism is axiomatic (I'm not even sure what it means to be a Bayesian in a purely deterministic system!), so most of this discussion appears to be pure conjecture. I'm not sure that it has any meaningful application.


@Roko. You mention "maximizing the greater good" as if that is not part of a deontological ethic.


@Zuban. I'm familiar with the contrivances used to force the responder into a binary choice. I just think that the contrivances are where the real questions are. Why am I in that situation? Was my behavior beyond reproach up to that point? Could I have averted this earlier? Is it someone else's evil action that is a threat? I think in most situations, the moral answer is rather clear, because there are always more choices. E.g., ask the fat man to jump. or do nothing and let him make his own choice, as I could only have averted it by committing murder. or even jump with him.

With the lever: who has put me in the position of having a lever? did they tie up the five people?

Someone tells me that if I shoot my wife, they will spare my daughter, otherwise he'll shoot both of them. What's the right choice? I won't murder, thus I have only one (moral) choice (if I believe him, and if I can think of a reductionist reason to have any morality, which I can't). The other man's choice is his own.


I've always thought the "moral" answer to the question was "I wouldn't push the innocent in front of the train; I'd jump in front of the train myself."


"Easy enough if you're not a Christian, " .

Eliezer, you've really begun to go far afield from your desire to "overcome bias". An atheist can have a neutral reading of the Bible? A Jew? A Muslim?

"Superior literary work" is itself an opinion. How can opinions be separated from bias? It's their very definition. Or, do you think some opinions are "more equal" than others. How do you choose paint colors for your bathroom?

I've lost a great deal of respect for you in this post, because you're expressing your opinions in the guise of rationality.


"Not "might" but would be considered condescending."

By whom?

I considered not using that example but decided to anyway. Whether it would be considered condescending depends on the audience. You feel that way for instance, but I know women who would not consider it so.

How the meeting got started is not particularly relevant (IMHO). Suppose three males were assigned the task, for instance. In any case, I'm willing to go on record by suggesting that there are real differences in the way that women and men approach certain topics, based in part on physiology, and in part on different cultural experiences (see "Black like Me").

The primary point being that the inviters were not looking for "a female perspective" but "a perspective from a female---who may in all expectation see things differently than we do".


"What I would find patronizing is someone thrusting a painting at me and saying "Say something mathematical!" I think it is equally patronizing to ask an artist to saying something artistic about the Singularity or a poet to say something poetic about math."

It seems to me that the original invitation was for artists to participate in the discussion. To me this isn't absurd at all. No one was asking them (as far as I can tell) to "say something artistic." Rather, there was a recognition that those who self-identify as artists may have a different perspective, whether that perspective itself can be considered "artistic" in its own right or not.

It's not unlike a group of male advertisers sitting around a table considering whether they should solicit a female colleague's perspective on a particular ad campaign. That might be considered condescending, but its equally likely that her opinion may be of value, if not uniquely "feminine" in some way.

Nonetheless, as you suggest, a vague invitation to "participate" won't necessarily generate anything useful.


Tom Breton---very good discussion.

It reminds me of a panel in which I participated. The panel was celebrating diversity of one sort or another at my institution, and one speaker was a contemporary of MLK. He discussed the need to engage "the other side" in one's debates.

A student from the audience asked, "But what if the other side won't listen?"

"Keep talking!" was the response.

Well, here I really felt like I should jump in, but it would have been rude. In any case, everything I've learned about communication I learned from being married. When we think someone "won't listen" (which is probably not accurate---this seems to occur whenever we think that we're right and the other person is wrong; it has nothing to do with their listening), then we ourselves probably need to do less talking and more listening.

To do this successfully, it requires humility, and, of course, the desire to overcome one's own bias.

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