comment by buybuydandavis ·
2012-08-21T19:53:42.961Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
But Harry just shook his head. "That's not the responsible thing to do, Hermione. It's what someone playing the role of a responsible girl would do."
I don't know that Harry or Eliezer make this distinction, but I'd say that it's important to recognize a difference between judgments about yourself, and judgments about others.
When Harry talks about heroic responsibility, he's speaking from the first person perspective (at least). He has his values, and he wants them achieved regardless of the good/bad behavior of others.
The usual responsibility we talk about is second/third person - your fault/his fault. It's about negotiation with and judgment of others. This is where someone judges someone as "fulfilling a role" - it's a thumbs down or a thumbs up on another person, according to the rules of interpersonal behavior you approve of.
We can treat ourselves as objects, and apply that thumbs up or thumbs down to ourselves as well. That is useful in understanding the reactions of other people to you, in negotiating and otherwise interacting with others, and asserting your values in terms of that negotiating and interacting, but it's a category error to confuse that interpersonal thumbs up/thumbs down applied to yourself as the proper way to choose your actions. I'm pretty far down the path of just considering it a neurosis.
Choose your actions to achieve your values, don't choose them to achieve good boy status.
However, it seems to me that what Harry has described as heroic responsibility is a conflation of the 1st and 3rd person perspective. He still judges his own good boy status in the 3rd person, but he does it from the perspective of behaving properly from a 1st person perspective. He is a good boy if he chooses the best actions to achieve his values, and a bad boy besides. Actually, he seems a little worse than this, in that any failure makes him a bad boy, which is an impossible standard.
(EDIT: jimrandomh makes a similar point)
Replies from: Decius, RobbBB
↑ comment by Decius ·
2012-08-22T14:02:08.291Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
He is maximizing his utility part-function: people should not be harmed. If I know of a situation such that: Someone will be harmed if I do nothing; They will be harmed equally if I tell the authorities; If I intercede with my allies, they will be harmed less.
The first two actions are equal. The third one is better.
The ability to determine the actual consequences of future actions is magical. Fortunately for Harry, he has access to magic. I expect Harry to develop a procedure where he makes several plans, checks for a note indicating which plan he should use and any changes he should make, executes the plan, and then time-turns a note back to himself indicating which plan worked and any retroactive changes to it, then assists himself if needed.
Replies from: PlacidPlatypus
↑ comment by PlacidPlatypus ·
2012-08-25T05:10:15.412Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Something tells me that the note would be more likely to say something like "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME".
Replies from: Decius
↑ comment by Decius ·
2012-08-25T21:34:41.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Really? Is that what happened just before he got the time-turner?
As I recall, he was trying to demonstrate a way to solve any problem in C time, where C is the time required to falsify a proposed solution. That's different than realizing that you have a higher chance of destroying Azkaban in an hour if you help yourself eight times.
↑ comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) ·
2012-11-23T07:08:14.133Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
It sounds like you're assuming that all Morality-speak is a ploy to get others to follow our will, and a way of taking stock of others' comparable attempts to influence us. I'd like to suggest that there are other ways to construe Morality-speak like 'hero' and 'virtue:'
One could simply treat one's values and Morality-speak as interchangeable. Why use one language for the second- and third-person, and a totally different language for the first-person? It's confusing, makes generalizations of your desires difficult, and greatly weakens your rhetorical power (since you seem to be subscribing to a double standard, if only terminologically). If your values are such that you don't actually give a privileged status to your own welfare as opposed to others, then this linguistic shift conceals an important symmetry.
Morality-speak might be an idealization of one's optimized values, one's values once they've been brought into optimal reflective equilibrium. What you currently care about might not be what you think you ought care about, even if you ultimately define 'oughtness' in terms of the aforementioned preferences. Otherwise it would be incoherent to lament how much one presently likes something, to wish for a reform to one's secondary concerns that would bring them into greater internal harmony.
Actually, he seems a little worse than this, in that any failure makes him a bad boy, which is an impossible standard.
Two issues: First, he's probably exaggerating at least a little. Second, it's clear that he's adopting the standard in question for utilitarian reasons; he happens to be especially motivated by falling short of some lofty ideal. For most people an at least somewhat less exacting standard would probably be desirable; but since standards are just heuristics for winning, the question of how demanding to be is one for empirical psychology.