All of Richard2's Comments + Replies


Eliezer's one-place function is exactly infallible, because he defines "right" as its output.

I misunderstood some of Eliezer's notation. I now take his function to be an extrapolation of his volition rather than anyone else's. I don't think this weakens my point: if there were a rock somewhere with a lookup table for this function written on it, Eliezer should always follow the rock rather than his own insights (and according to Eliezer everyone else should too), and this remains true even if there is no such rock.

Furthermore, the morality... (read more)

MTraven - They might have a common structural/functional role. It would be plenty interesting if computing a certain algorithm strictly entailed a certain phenomenal quality (or 'feel').

Dan - I assume that science is essentially limited to third-personal investigation of public, measurable phenomena. It follows that we can expect to learn more and more about the public, measurable aspects of neural functioning. But it would be a remarkable surprise if such inquiry sufficed to establish conclusions about first-personal phenomenology. (In this respect, the e... (read more)

There seems to be an unexamined assumption here.

Why should the moral weight of applying a specified harm to someone be independent of who it is?
When making moral decisions, I tend to weight effects on my friends and family most heavily, then acquaintences, then fellow Americans, and so on. I value random strangers to some extent, but this is based more on arguments about the small size of the planet than true concern for their welfare.

I claim that moral obligations must be reciprocal in order to exist. Altruism is never mandatory.

None of Eliezer's 3^^... (read more)

Substitute the word "unicorn" or "aliens" for "God" in the above and you will understand why we do not find it compelling. That which can be asserted without evidence... can be dismissed without evidence.

(Let me just add that the first chapter of my thesis addresses Constant's concerns, and my previously linked post 'why do you think you're conscious?' speaks to Eliezer's worries about epiphenomenalism -- what is sometimes called 'the paradox of phenomenal judgment.' Some general advice: philosophers aren't idiots, so it's rarely warranted to attribute their disagreement to a mere "failure to realize" some obvious fact.)

g - No, by 'conceptually possible' I mean ideally conceptually possible, i.e. a priori coherent, or free of internal contradiction. (Feel free to substitute 'logical possibility' if you are more familiar with that term.) Contingent failures of imagination on our part don't count. So it's open to you to argue that zombies aren't conceptually possible after all, i.e. that further reflection would reveal a hidden contradiction in the concept. But there seems little reason, besides a dogmatic prior commitment to materialism, to think such a thing. Most (but ad... (read more)

Constant - Sure, there's something to be said for epistemic externalism. But I thought Eliezer had higher ambitions than merely distinguishing rationality and reliability? He seems to be attacking the very notion of the a priori, claiming that philosophers lazily treat it as a semantic stopsign or 'truce' (a curious claim, since many philosophers take themselves to be more or less exclusively concerned with the a priori domain, and yet have been known to disagree with one other on occasion), and dismissively joking "it makes you wonder why a thirsty h... (read more)