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Morality and International Humanitarian Law

The Allies won World War 2 largely by killing about 2 to 4 million civilians in Germany and Japan. Therefore, it isn't clear that the benefits of not killing civilians far outweigh the costs.

This will become more important as technology decreases the difficulty of building WMDs. Eventually, even a small nation like North Korea will be able to make nuclear missiles. By that time, the cost of allowing them to do as they please (and encouraging other nations to also do as they please) may be greater, in expected lives lost, than the cost of brutally killing a million North Korean civilians.

I would go on, but there's no point in going to the next shock level.

Fight Biases, or Route Around Them?

This is an interesting post, but...

Hating Hitler doesn't mean you're biased against Hitler. Likewise, having a belief about a particular ethnic group doesn't mean you're biased for or against them.

Then how do you know what score you should get on the IAT? I don't know what an unbiased score would be, but an equal-for-both-groups score is most likely biased.

In the Israel vs. Palestine case, your answer would depend more on some meta-level decisions than on ironing out another decimal point of bias. For instance: Should a settlement give equal benefits to both sides; should it compensate for historic injustices; should it maximize expected value for the participants; should it maximize expected value for the world?

If you want to maximize expected value for the world, you would end up calculating something like this:

  • Israelis have given us a hugely disproportionate number of the world's famous scientists, musicians, artists, writers, producers, bankers, doctors, and lawyers.
  • Palestinians have given us a hugely disproportionate number of the world's famous suicide bombers.

The answer you would then arrive at will be more different from the answer you would arrive at if "equitable outcome" is your goal, than the difference made by any bias. (Unless you really, really hate lawyers.)

So I don't think this approach gets at any of the hard problems.

Closet survey #1

I don't agree with it. You can't believe everything you read in Wired. The "information should be free" movement is just modern techno-geek Marxism, and it's only sillier the second time around.

People and companies exposing buggy software to untrusted parties deserve to have it exploited to their disadvantage. Maliciously attacking software systems by submitting data crafted to trigger security-critical bugs should not be illegal in any way.

All software is buggy. All parties are untrusted.

Soulless morality

In Virginia, until 2001, neither a lower court, nor any other court, could review new evidence after 21 days. In 2001, an exception was made for DNA evidence. In 2004, an exception was made for evidence that could not possibly have been discovered within 21 days, that would have led any "reasonable" person to a verdict of innocent, for people who pled innocent. See, .