Sophronius

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The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli”

Yeah, I'm willing to entertain the idea that there's a tradeof to be made between the short term and the long term or something like that... but to be honest, I don't think the people who push these ideas are even thinking along those lines. I think a rational discussion would just be a net plus for everyone involved, but people are unwilling to do that either because it's not in their interest to do so (lobby groups, media agencies) or because they don't understand why they should.

Don't get me wrong, I do think there are some left-wing groups who have had discussions on how to best change things. But mostly I think that people are just unwilling to criticize their own side, allowing the craziest voices to rise to the top. 

The closest thing I've seen to anyone seriously discussing these ideas was when Bill Maher suggested that the US needs a "tea party of the left", full of people so batshit crazy that they make people like him look like the reasonable ones. So maybe I'm not giving progressives enough credit and they did actually did do a calculation along those lines at one point, and decided that people being temporarily miserable was a worthwhile sacrifice. But for the most part, I think it's just been reflexive partisanship, and little else.

The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli”

Here are a few examples of the sort of thing I have in mind; if you think they're badly unrepresentative, could you explain why?

Representative of the current culture war clashes? Sort of, I guess. But it's weird to me that you're reading e.g. Jordan Peterson asking people to please not attack him or make him say words that he doesn't want to as "evil conservatives attack trans people for no reason." Is your model of Peterson that he is only pretending to feel threatened, or that he just feels threatened by trans people in general? If so, that seems amazingly uncharitable.

But to be fair to your position, there really are a lot of conservative politicians right now who very much play the victim while actively picking culture war fights. But those people are politicians. It seems to me that a lot of progressives are either unable or unwilling to tell principled conservatives apart from concern trolls. For example, Peterson has now apparently been cast as The Red Skull in the latest Marvel comics (yes, really). Of all the right-wingers they could have chosen to portray as a super-Nazi, they picked a nice Canadian professor who tells young men how to behave themselves. It just seems... really lazy, and dumb. :/

Trans people commonly have (to put it as neutrally and weakly as possible) a strong preference for being referred to using pronouns that match their own gender identity. The cases I've encountered where people flatly refuse to do this have almost all been (at least according to my memory, which may be unreliable) social conservatives.

Well, if you want to spread the message that it's important to be polite and respectful with ones words, it'd make sense to not also use phrases like "TERFS" and "CIS SCUM". Meanwhile, JP has said that he calls people by their preferred pronouns as long as they ask politely. What's wrong with that?

I can't help thinking that maybe you've already got "... and therefore progressives are bad" written on your bottom line. (More specifically, my guess is that what you're really upset about is that progressives keep saying that conservatives are making things worse for trans people, and you've got a whole batch of different arguments for why that might be a bad thing and haven't entirely noticed that e.g. if saying "conservatives hate you" 

I strongly encourage you to at least entertain the idea that I mean exactly what I say, no more and no less. That voice in your head that tells you that I have a secret agenda and that I'm really saying something else... that's the culture war speaking.

Cast in point: I started this essay by saying that cultural conservatives were being a bunch of angry shouty people and that I was frustrated by their refusal to actually explain their arguments, and so I'd try to do it for them.

Evangelical Christians have also always said that New Atheists sound "angry" and "shrill". I don't think Dawkins sounds angry at all. I think it just sounds that way because he speaks with great clarity, doesn't hedge or use weasel words, and says exactly what he means. Since people are accustomed to having to "read between the lines", they figure that if he's willing to be that bold on paper his real opinions must be ten times as strong. But in reality that's not the case. He just means exactly what he says. 

And so do I. :)

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

I'm still not certain if I managed to get what I think is the issue across. To clarify, here's an example of the failure mode I often encounter:

Philosopher: Morality is subjective, because it depends on individual preferences.
Sophronius: Sure, but it's objective in the sense that those preferences are material facts of the world which can be analyzed objectively like any other part of the universe.
Philosopher: But that does not get us a universal system of morality, because preferences still differ.
Sophronius: But if someone in cambodia gets acid thrown in her face by her husband, that's wrong, right?
Philosopher: No, we cannot criticize other cultures, because morality is subjective.

The mistake that the Philosopher makes here is conflating two different uses of subjectivity: He is switching between there being no universal system of morality in practice ("morality is subjective") and it not being possible to make moral claims in principle ("Morality is subjective"). We agree that Morality is subjective in the sense that moral preferences differ, but that should not preclude you from making object-level moral judgements (which are objectively true or false).

I think it's actually very similar to the error people make when it comes to discussing "free will". Someone argues that there is no (magical non-deterministic) free will, and then concludes from that that we can't punish criminals because they have no free will (in the sense of their preferences affecting their actions).

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

That makes no sense to me.

I am making a distinction here between subjectivity as you define it, and subjectivity as it is commonly used, i.e. "just a matter of opinion". I think (though could be mistaken) that the test described subjectivism as it just being a matter of opinion, which I would not agree with: Morality depends on individual preferences, but only in the sense that healthcare depends on an individual's health. It does not preclude a science of morality.

However, as far as I know, he never gave an actual argument for why such a thing could be extrapolated

Unfortunate, but understandable as that's a lot harder to prove than the philosophical argument.

I can definitely imagine that we find out that humans terminally value other's utility functions such that U(Sophronius) = X(U(DanArmak) + ..., and U(danArmak) = U(otherguy) + ... , and so everyone values everybody else's utility in a roundabout way which could yield something like a human utility function. But I don't know if it's actually true in practice.

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

Everything you say is correct, except that I'm not sure Subjectivism is the right term to describe the meta-ethical philosophy Eliezer lays out. The wikipedia definition, which is the one I've always heard used, says that subjectivism holds that it is merely subjective opinion while realism states the opposite. If I take that literally, then moral realism would hold the correct answer, as everything regarding morality concerns empirical fact (As the article you link to tried to explain).

All this is disregarding the empirical question of to what extend our preferences actually overlap - and to what extend we value each other's utility functions an sich. If the overlap/altruism is large enough, we could still end up with de facto objective morality, depending. Has Eliezer ever tried answering this? Would be interesting.

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

I had a similar issue: None of the options seems right to me. Subjectivism seems to imply that one person's judgment is no better than another's (which is false), but constructivism seems to imply that ethics are purely a matter of convenience (also false). I voted the latter in the end, but am curious how others see this.

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

RE: The survey: I have taken it.

I assume the salary question was meant to be filled in as Bruto, not netto. However that could result in some big differences depending on the country's tax code...

Btw, I liked the professional format of the test itself. Looked very neat.

Political Debiasing and the Political Bias Test

No, it's total accuracy on factual questions, not the bias part...

More importantly, don't be a jerk for no reason.

Political Debiasing and the Political Bias Test

Cool! I've been desperate to see a rationality test and so make improvements in rationality measurable (I think the Less Wrong movement really really needs this) so it's fantastic to see people working on this. I haven't checked the methodology yet but the basic principle of measuring bias seems sound.

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