Tyrrell_McAllister

Tyrrell_McAllister's Comments

Coherent decisions imply consistent utilities

Typo: "And that's why the thingies you multiply probabilities by—the thingies that you use to weight uncertain outcomes in your imagination,"

Here, "probabilities" should be "utilities".

Some Thoughts on My Psychiatry Practice

Trying the pill still makes you the kind of person who tries pills. Not trying really does avoid that.

Good arguments against "cultural appropriation"

You may be interpreting "signalling" in a more specific way than I intended. You might be thinking of the kind of signalling that is largely restricted to status jockeying in zero-sum status games.

But I was using "signaling tool" in a very general sense. I just mean that you can use the signaling tool to convey information, and that you and your intended recipients have common knowledge about what your signal means. In that way, it's basically just a piece of language.

As with any piece of language, the fact that it signals something does place restrictions on what you can do.

For example, you can't yell "FIRE!" unless you are prepared to deal with certain consequences. But if the utterance "FIRE!" had no meaning, you would be freer, in a sense, to say it. If the mood struck you, you could burst out with a loud shout of "FIRE!" without causing a big commotion and making a bunch of people really angry at you.

But you would also lack a convenient tool that reliably brings help when you need it. This is a case where I think that the value of the signal heavily outweighs the restrictions that the signal's existence places on your actions.

Good arguments against "cultural appropriation"
I'm having a hard time separating this from the 'offense' argument that you're not including.

I agree that part of offense is just "what it feels like on the inside to anticipate diminished status".

Analogously, part of the pain of getting hit by a hammer is just "what it feels like on the inside to get hit by a hammer."

However, in both cases, neither the pain nor the offense is just passive internal information about an objective external state of affairs. They include such information, but they are more than that. In particular, in both cases, they are also what it feels like to execute a program designed by evolution to change the situation.

Pain, for example, is an inducement to stop any additional hammer blows and to see to the wounds already inflicted. More generally, pain is part of an active program that is interacting with the world, planning responses, anticipating reactions to those responses, and so on. And likewise with offense.

The premise of my distinction between "offense" and "diminished status" is this. I maintain that we can conceptually separate the initial and unavoidable diminished status from the potential future diminished status.

The potential future diminished status depends on how the offendee responds. The emotion of offense is heavily wrapped up in this potential future and in what kinds of responses will influence that future. For that reason, offense necessarily involves the kinds of recursive issues that Katja explores.

In the end, these recursive issues will have to be considered. (They are real, so they should be reflected in our theory in the end.) But it seems like it should be possible to see what initial harm, if any, occurs before the recursion kicks in.

Good arguments against "cultural appropriation"

In the examples that occur to me, both sides agree that mocking the culture in question would be bad. They just disagree about whether the person accused of CA is doing that.

Do you have in mind a case in which the accused party defended themselves by saying that the appropriated culture should be mocked?

That seems like a different kind of dispute that follows a different rhetorical script, on both sides. For example, critics of Islam will be accused of Islamophobia, not cultural appropriation. And people accused of CA are more likely to defend themselves by saying that they're honoring the culture. They will not embrace the claim that they are mocking it.

I'm not contesting the claim that mockery can be good in some cases. But that point isn't at the crux of the arguments over cultural appropriation that I've seen. Disputes where the goodness of mockery is at the crux will not be of the kind that I'm considering here.

Moving Factward

I am not asserting that those aspects of "westward" apply to "factward".

Analogies typically assert a similarity between only some, not all, aspects of the two analogous situations. But maybe those aspects of "westward" are so salient that they interfere with the analogy.

Sam Harris and the Is–Ought Gap
suppose that I agree with Sam Harris that ~all humans find the same set of objective facts to be morally motivating. But then it turns out that we disagree on just which facts those are! How do we resolve this disagreement? We can hardly appeal to objective facts, to do so…

I don't follow. Sam would say (and I would agree) that which facts which humans find motivating (in the limit of ideal reflection, etc.) is an empirical question. With regard to each human, it is a scientific question about that human's motivational architecture.

Sam Harris and the Is–Ought Gap

It's true that a moral realist could always bridge the is–ought gap by the simple expedient of converting every statement of the form "I ought to X" to "Objectively and factually, X is what I ought to do".

But that is not enough for Sam's purposes. It's not enough for him that every moral claim is or is not the case. It's not enough that moral claims are matters of fact. He wants them to be matters of scientific fact.

On my reading, what he means by that is the following: When you are pursuing a moral inquiry, you are already a moral agent who finds certain objective and scientifically determinable facts to be motivating (inducing of pursuit or avoidance). You are, as Eliezer puts it, "created already in motion". Your inquiry, therefore, is properly restricted just to determining which scientific "is" statements are true and which are false. In that sense, moral inquiry reduces entirely to matters of scientific fact. This is the dialectical-argumentation point of view.

But his interlocutors misread him to be saying that every scientifically competent agent should find the same objective facts to be motivating. In other words, all such agents should feel compelled to act according to the same moral axioms. This is what "bridging the is–ought gap" would mean if you confined yourself to the logical-argumentation framework. But it's not what Sam is claiming to have shown.

Sam Harris and the Is–Ought Gap

If you're trying to convince me to do some thing X, then you must want me to do X, too. So we must be at least that aligned.

We don't have to be aligned in every regard. And you needn't yourself value every consequence of X that you hold up to me to entice me to X. But you do have to understand me well enough to know that I find that consequence enticing.

But that seems to me to be both plausible and enough to support the kind of dialectical moral argumentation that I'm talking about.

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