Murder as a victimless crime

post by Eneasz · 2011-06-13T19:47:42.087Z · score: -3 (15 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 4 comments

SMBC often does great rationalism jokes, Zach Weiner is definitely our people (anyone know if he frequents Less Wrong?). Today's comic rephrases the old Torture-vs-Dust-Specks debate. I realize some people posit that death has infinite disutility and thus is inapplicable. Still, an example of the sort of problem one often encounters when trying to promote a shut-up-and-multiply rule in morality.

V = K / x

4 comments

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comment by ata · 2011-06-13T22:27:02.014Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This has nothing to do with the torture vs. specks debate, it's just a person with a weird utility function (a term for "percentage of people involved who died" rather than "number of people who died").

comment by gjm · 2011-06-13T20:00:04.533Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

most people posit that death has infinite disutility

[citation needed]

an example of the sort of problem one often encounters when trying to promote a shut-up-and-multiply rule in morality

If you mean "the sort of misunderstanding people might come to" then I suppose this might be right. But if you mean an actual problem, one that makes shut-up-and-multiply problematic, then I think you're taking ZW's joke too much at face value. (Why should anyone who's signed up for "shut up and multiply" think that the amount of murder per guilty party, or the fraction of people involved who are victims, is what matters?)

(I think the comic is funny. I just don't see what you're trying to do with it here.)

comment by Eneasz · 2011-06-13T20:13:15.690Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you mean "the sort of misunderstanding people might come to" then I suppose this might be right.

That is what I meant. This sort of "but if enough people are ok with it then that makes it moral!" counter-argument is often one of the first I encounter.

[citation needed]

Specifically I was thinking of many of the pro-torture comments in the original torture-vs-dust-specks thread. You're right, that's not in any way evidence for "most people", I chose my words poorly. Edited to correct.

comment by AndHisHorse · 2013-11-17T15:43:26.340Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If death has infinite disutility, why do we do anything other than attempt to maximize our lifespans? Why would anyone so much as cross a street, much less go skydiving or on any kind of adventure, if there were an alternative which entailed sitting at home eating bland but healthful nutrient paste?