interesting post eliezer!
i think there probably is a genuine norm for truth-telling in some contexts, and we punish people who don't tell the truth, but not in others.
so we throw someone in jail for perjury but we don't punish someone for lying about liking the dinner they were just served.
there's a value in deception and a value in truth, i suppose, and for our benefit, it makes sense to use both at times, i suspect.
knowing when lying and truth-telling are valuable does seem to require some commitment to looking into what is the truth of a matter.
i'm incl... (read more)
"The primary thing is to help others, whatever the means. So shut up and multiply!"
Would you submit to torture for 50 years to save countless people? I'm not sure I would, but I think I'm more comfortable with the idea of being self-interested and seeing all things through the prism of self interest.
Similar problem: if you had this choice--you can die peacefully and experience no afterlife, or literally experience hell for 100 years if one was rewarded with an eternity of heaven, would you choose the latter? Calculating which provides the greatest utility, the latter would be preferable, but I'm not sure I would choose it.
For me, the main point is incremental advancement towards perfection means expending resources and creating other consequences. The questions ultimately have to be 'how much is it worth to move closer to perfection? What other consequences probably will happen?' This question obviously depends on your context. It appears that some kinds of perfectionism, as far as I can tell, have negative effects on the holder of perfectionistic standards, in the view of psychologists, relevant experts on the matter, and that costs have to be considered when moving in... (read more)
I've just read a little on evolutionary psychology and processes, so forgive me if I make an obvious error--I am trying to figure out how one would separate individual selection--choosing for your own fitness, versus selection for the fitness of a group of individuals.
I presumably am trying to bring into the world as many children that can survive and thrive, if I understand right, and this might, and does with humans, imply I am concerned for their well-being, since not being concerend for my infant child's wellbeing hurts my own fitness.
But could it be I... (read more)
Kaj, looking into it more, I think you're closer to the mark than me overall.
That said, I'm unclear if Eliezer's attitude is healthy or not by these standards. "All-or-nothing-thinking" associated with perfectionism seems to be considered negative, if one can trust the wikipedia article.
Kaj, I'm not asking him to reply to psychologists. Do you believe psychologists generally approve of perfectionism, or are indifferent to it?
What do you know about psychology that makes you superior to psychologists in general? Chances are experts know more about their field than you do.
Eliezer, I think most psychologists would probably say perfectionism is a bad thing. What would your response to them be?
I loved the Tao is Silent too. You seem like you're on the same page as Smullyan to me! Recall the chapter in which three people talk about making an effort--one everything is easy for, one person everythign is hard for, and another is in the middle, IIRC. I took it as different people have different natures, and trying to change those natures is a bit like being the Horse Trainer who harms the horses in his effort to make them 'better'. Edison was an inefficient workhorse perhaps, whereas Tesla was a more efficient type. But they both achieved great things.
I do wonder if Rand was a sort of an evangelist in a sense for a more reasoned-out philosophy than what existed and maybe she thought something like, "Okay, this is good enough for now--now I'm going to go out and spread the word of this particular philosophy." Certainty does have a certain rhetorical use, and if it persuades people away form a less reasonable approach, maybe it's worthwhile. If we all sat around waiting for perfect knowledge before we started talking about our ideas, we'd never speak.
Not to say I necessarily endorse Rand's app... (read more)
There isn't any right answer. Answers to what is good or bad is a matter of taste, to borrow from Nietzsche.
To me the example has messianic quality. One person suffers immensely to save others from suffering. Does the sense that there is a 'right' answer come from a Judeo-Christian sense of what is appropriate. Is this a sort of bias in line with biases towards expecting facts to conform to a story?
Also, this example suggests to me that the value pluralism of Cowen makes much more sense than some reductive approach that seeks to create one objective me... (read more)
Perhaps the Internet could be of assistance in getting some benefits from radical honesty. You could keep a blog anonymously and write down what you really think about people. You could change names and places to avoid hurting yourself or others, but the substance would be, hopefully, unchanged. Then people could give you feedback (even anonymously if they don't like being known as someone who hurt someone).
I think there's a website out there that allows you to query people about something and people who don't know you can write what they think. People are sometimes mean for the sake of being mean, rather than being honest, though, which is problematic.