Comment by blacktrance on Defending the non-central fallacy · 2021-03-10T20:13:15.007Z · LW · GW

The noncentral fallacy is about inappropriately treating a noncentral member of a category as if it were a central member. But your argument is that taxation isn't a member of the category "theft" at all. "Taxation is theft, but that's okay, because it's not the common, bad kind of theft" would be more in line with Scott's responses.

Comment by blacktrance on Is death bad? · 2018-01-16T21:08:58.093Z · LW · GW

I think the person-affecting view shouldn't be dismissed so quickly. For example, when we talk about poverty-alleviation or health interventions in EA, we talk about how that's good because it makes actual people better off. Similarly, when something is bad, we point to people for whom it's bad, e.g. those who suffer as a consequence of an action. Saving a life isn't consequentially equivalent to creating one, because the conterfactuals are different: in the former, a life would've been nonconsensually terminated, which is bad for that person, but in the latter, there's no one for whom it would be bad. Nor does the person-affecting view endorse human extinction, though it evaluates it less negatively than total utilitarianism does.

So even if, from a total or average utilitarian view, it would be better if you were eventually replaced by new lives, they wouldn't miss out on anything if they weren't created, so they shouldn't count for anything if deciding not to create them, but those who already exist would count either way.

Comment by blacktrance on Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag · 2017-04-01T21:42:07.403Z · LW · GW

Upon further consideration, it seems to me that while it being enforced can make it worse, much of the prosociality cluster (e.g. guess culture) is oppressive in itself.

Comment by blacktrance on Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag · 2017-04-01T21:00:31.481Z · LW · GW

The maintenance of already existing cultural traits that are off-putting to outsiders may be more effective than intentionally designing filters, because the former are already part of the community, so by keeping them we're not diluting the culture, and the process of designing filters is likely to cause contestation within the community.about which of its traits are essential and which are peripheral.

It's hard to explicitly describe what the current barriers to entry are, but they include familiarity with LW ideas (and agreement with a lot of them), enjoying the analytical style of discussion and thought, etc. I occasionally see someone come across rationalistsphere and respond with something like "Ugh, a community of robots/autists started by essays written for aliens" - I want to keep whatever it is that repulses them.

Comment by blacktrance on Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag · 2017-04-01T20:08:55.338Z · LW · GW

I'm a peripheral member of the Berkeley rationalist community, and some of this sounds highly concerning to me. Specifically, in practice, trying to aim at prosociality tends to produce oppressive environments, and I think we need more of people making nonconforming choices that are good for them and taking care of their own needs. I'm also generally opposed to reducing barriers to entry because I want to maintain our culture and not become more absorbed into the mainstream (which I think has happened too much already).

Comment by blacktrance on Open Thread May 16 - May 22, 2016 · 2016-05-17T07:11:50.982Z · LW · GW

I think you mean ethics and not morals.

Those terms are synonymous under standard usage.

Comment by blacktrance on My Kind of Moral Responsibility · 2016-05-03T20:19:19.241Z · LW · GW

Moral responsibility is related to but not the same thing as moral obligation, and it's completely possible for a utilitarian to say one is morally forbidden to be a bystander and let a murder happen while admitting that doing so doesn't make you responsible for it. This is because responsibility is about causation and obligation is about what one ought to do. Murderers cause murders and are therefore responsible for them, while bystanders are innocent. The utilitarian should say not that the bystander is as morally responsible as the murderer (because they aren't), but that moral responsibility isn't what ultimately matters.

Comment by blacktrance on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-03-28T00:20:41.070Z · LW · GW

I don't agree with any of these options, but I proposed the question back in 2014, so I hope I can shed some light. The difference between non-cognitivism and error theory is that the error theory supposes that people attempt to describe some feature of the world when they make moral statements, and that feature doesn't exist, while non-cognitivism holds that moral statements only express emotional attitudes ("Yay for X!") or commands ("Don't X!"), which can neither be true nor false. The difference between error theory and subjectivism is that subjectivists believe that some moral statements are true, but that they are made true by something mind-dependent (but what counts as mind-dependent turns out to be quite complicated).

Comment by blacktrance on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-03-28T00:00:49.925Z · LW · GW

The least answered question on the last survey was - “what is your favourite lw post, provide a link”.

IIRC, that question was added to the survey later.

Comment by blacktrance on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-03-26T03:43:14.434Z · LW · GW

I have taken the survey.

Comment by blacktrance on Negative polyamory outcomes? · 2015-01-07T07:27:04.581Z · LW · GW

I'm a guy in a polyamorous relationship with one girlfriend, who is in several relationships simultaneously. It's not a problem - the only occasional issue is that of limited time, and that's not unique to polyamory, it would be necessary to make those tradeoffs for friendships as well. On the plus side, compersion is a great feeling, and another benefit that I get in particular is that my girlfriend dating other people expands my social circle and introduces me to cool people, whom I would have greater difficulty meeting otherwise, because I'm normally not very social with people I don't know.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-07T03:51:07.948Z · LW · GW

I'm not a progressive, but I don't see 1 and 2 as mutually exclusive. 1 is just a different way of stating 2 - leftists classify people on an oppressor-oppressed axis, where the oppressed are people perceived to be in bad situations.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-07T03:45:36.117Z · LW · GW

I think he meant that Kling, being a libertarian, failed the Turing Test when describing the framework behind the progressive and conservative viewpoints.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-05T20:54:39.433Z · LW · GW

Clearly, we haven't been doing enough to increase other risks. We can't let pandemic stay in the lead.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-04T19:58:15.722Z · LW · GW

As Arnold Kling suggests, progressives think of issues on an oppressor-oppressed axis. Women, poor people, and immigrants are all seen as oppressed, which is why feminism, raising the minimum wage, and support for more immigration are positions that are often found together.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-04T10:30:34.191Z · LW · GW

Support for a higher minimum wage, increased immigration, and feminism are all typically left-wing positions, so it's not surprising that they're found together.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-04T07:43:56.575Z · LW · GW

Thank you for doing this survey.

I would be interested to see the correlations between political identification and moral views, and between moral views and meta-ethics.

(Also, looking at my responses to the survey, I think I unintentionally marked "Please do not use my data for formal research".)

Comment by blacktrance on Does utilitarianism "require" extreme self sacrifice? If not why do people commonly say it does? · 2014-12-10T06:06:07.434Z · LW · GW

Utilitarianism is a normative ethical theory. Normative ethical theories tell you what to do (or, in the case of virtue ethics, tell you what kind of person to be). In the specific case of utilitarianism, it holds that the right thing to do (i.e. what you ought to do) is maximize world utility. In the current world, there are many people who could sacrifice a lot to generate even more world utility. Utilitarianism holds that they should do so, therefore it is demanding.

Comment by blacktrance on Open thread, Dec. 1 - Dec. 7, 2014 · 2014-12-03T05:41:56.864Z · LW · GW

If I tell my friend that I am visiting him on egoistic grounds, it suggests that being around him and/or promoting his well-being gives me pleasure or something like that, which doesn't sound off - it sounds correct. I should hope that my friends enjoy spending time around me and take pleasure in my well-being.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-12-01T06:36:51.676Z · LW · GW

I mean that pleasure, by its nature, feels utility-satisfying. I don't know what you mean by "path" in "utility-maximizing path".

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-29T10:50:41.802Z · LW · GW

Regarding inconsistent preferences, yes, that is what I'm referring to.

Ordinal utility doesn't by itself necessitate wireheading, such as if you are incapable of experiencing pleasure, but if you can experience it, then you should wirehead, because pleasure has the quale of desirability (pleasure feels desirable).

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-27T01:09:35.764Z · LW · GW

But presumably you don't get utility from switching as such, you get utility from having A, B, or C, so if you complete a cycle for free (without me charging you), you have exactly the same utility as when you started, and if I charge you, then when you're back to A, you have lower utility.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-26T19:56:19.377Z · LW · GW

What empirical claims do you consider yourself to be making about the jumble of interacting systems that is the human cognitive architecture when you say that the sole 'actual' terminal value of a human is pleasure?

That upon ideal rational deliberation and when having all the relevant information, a person will choose to pursue pleasure as a terminal value.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-26T19:53:27.649Z · LW · GW

I might be perfectly happy with the expenditure per utility shift.

That's exactly the problem - you'd be happy with the expenditure per shift, but every time a fill cycle would be made, you'd be worse off. If you start out with A and $10, pay me a dollar to switch to B, another dollar to switch to C, and a third dollar to switch to A, you'd end up with A and $7, worse off than you started, despite being satisfied with each transaction. That's the cost of inconsistency.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-26T05:43:08.035Z · LW · GW

Dutch booking has nothing to do with preferences; it refers entirely to doxastic probabilities.

You can be Dutch booked with preferences too. If you prefer A to B, B to C, and C to A, I can make money off of you by offering a circular trade to you.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-26T04:37:12.911Z · LW · GW

(Note: Being continuously downvoted is making me reluctant to continue this discussion.)

One reason to be internally consistent is that it prevents you from being Dutch booked. Another reason is that it enables you to coherently be able to get the most of what you want, without your preferences contradicting each other.

Why should the way things are be the way things are?

As far as preferences and motivation are concerned, however things should be must appeal to them as they are, or at least as they would be if they were internally consistent.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-26T03:44:40.461Z · LW · GW

It's not a matter of what you should desire, it's a matter of what you'd desire if you were internally consistent. Theoretically, you could have values that weren't pleasure, such as if you couldn't experience pleasure.

Also, the naturalistic fallacy isn't a fallacy, because "is" and "ought" are bound together.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-26T03:42:01.005Z · LW · GW

Terminal values are what are sought for their own sake, as opposed to instrumental values, which are sought because they ultimately produce terminal values.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-26T01:43:33.542Z · LW · GW

Fundamentally, because pleasure feels good and preferable, and it doesn't need anything additional (such as conditioning through social norms) to make it desirable.

Comment by blacktrance on Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary? · 2014-11-22T02:06:34.272Z · LW · GW

Supporting neo-reaction because SJWs are bad is a severe case of false dichotomy.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-16T20:00:05.313Z · LW · GW

My position is in line with that - people are wrong about what their terminal values are, and they should realize that their actual terminal value is pleasure.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-11-15T22:53:37.715Z · LW · GW

Why? We do this all the time, when we advise people to do something different from what they're currently doing.

Comment by blacktrance on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-05T22:34:37.423Z · LW · GW

I hardly ever post (somewhere between one post per month and one post per year), but I read my feed almost daily.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-29T21:29:53.859Z · LW · GW

"None" is presumably included in "Other", though next year it should probably be a separate option.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-29T21:27:11.243Z · LW · GW

I suggested the metaethics question, and I'm sorry for any inadequacies in my descriptions. I used emotivism as the example for non-cognitivism because it's the form of it with which I'm most familiar, and because it would've been difficult to come up with a general example that would encompass all forms of non-cognitivism.

It was similarly difficult to come up with a general example for constructivism - my example is along the lines of Hobbesian constructivism, with which other constructivists may disagree.

Comment by blacktrance on Stupid Questions (10/27/2014) · 2014-10-28T16:24:42.875Z · LW · GW

Whether this feeling is irrational depends on what causes it. It makes sense to worry about a community you like becoming popular, since it means that an increasing number of people would join it, potentially reducing its quality.

Comment by blacktrance on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-25T01:05:56.233Z · LW · GW

Left-wing market anarchism is anarcho-capitalism that is left-wing in its orientation. They typically support the same policies as other anarcho-capitalists, but in non-policy areas, they have notable differences. They're opposed to hierarchical labor relations (though they don't want to make them illegal), with which they associate the term "capitalism", and which is why they like to call themselves free-market anti-capitalists. They have a favorable view of labor unions, strikes, and worker cooperatives. They tend to believe that the current political and economic system favors large corporations and the wealthy to such a degree that there would be much less inequality under market anarchy. Finally, they support feminism, anti-racism, and related ideologies in their cultural goals, though, being libertarians, they oppose the state being involved.

Essentially, they're libertarians who believe that many (sometimes radical) left-wing goals are desirable and achievable in a free market.

Comment by blacktrance on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-24T19:13:28.958Z · LW · GW

Maybe it's straightforward to discover when the fetus can feel pain, but it's not straightforward that being able to feel pain should be the cutoff point.

Comment by blacktrance on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-24T18:41:29.740Z · LW · GW

I'm pro-infanticide, but there's also a consistent position of "the line between not having and having a right to not be killed is crossed while in the womb". Another plausible position is evictionism - "Regardless of whether you have the right to kill a fetus, you aren't obligated to support it and are free to expel it if you wish".

Comment by blacktrance on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-24T18:37:55.037Z · LW · GW

Not sure if this counts, but though my views can roughly be described as "libertarian", I have a mix of moderate and radical positions that I rarely see found together. On the moderate side, I favor a carbon tax, think intellectual property protection is justified in principle, want a government-managed fiat currency (and don't want to abolish or audit the Fed), and probably other positions that I'm missing here. On the radical side, I want to abolish the welfare state, open the borders, and greatly reduce the military budget and only use the military for defensive wars.

Comment by blacktrance on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-24T17:25:27.440Z · LW · GW

I usually see "left-libertarianism" used to refer to left-wing market anarchism, not to something between progressivism and libertarianism.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-24T02:02:41.684Z · LW · GW

Finished the survey. Didn't answer the SSC question even though I read it regularly because I plan to take the edited version when it's posted there, and I also didn't answer the digit ratio question.

Comment by blacktrance on On Caring · 2014-10-20T00:14:57.944Z · LW · GW

Regarding scope sensitivity and the oily bird test, one man's modus ponens is another's modus tollens. Maybe if you're willing to save one bird, you should be willing to donate to save many more birds. But maybe the reverse is true - you're not willing to save thousands and thousands of birds, so you shouldn't save one bird, either. You can shut up and multiply, but you can also shut up and divide.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions · 2014-10-14T23:21:05.836Z · LW · GW

Do nihilists think they have no goals (aka terminal values) or do nihilists think they don't have goals about fulfilling others' goals or is it something else?

I am not a nihilist, and I don't know if I'd be able to pass an Ideological Turing Test as one, but to give my best answer to this, the nihilist would say that there are no moral oughts. How they connect this to terminal goals varies depending on the nihilist.

Ok so would that be right to say this?: Utilitarianism is giving equal weight to everyone's utility function (including yours) in your "meta" utility function. Egoism means you don't consider others' utility function in your utility function.

The first part, kind of, the second part, no. The utilitarian holds that the right thing to do is determined by what maximizes world utility, which is produced by utility functions. All utility, including your own, is given equal weight in the "moral decision" function. As for egoism, it simply means that you consider others' utility functions to the degree that they're a part of your utility function. It doesn't mean that you disregard them altogether.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions · 2014-10-14T05:22:32.812Z · LW · GW

That is an inaccurate definition of nihilism because it doesn't match what nihilists actually believe. Not only do they reject intrinsic morality, they reject all forms of morality altogether. Someone who believes in any kind of moral normativity (e.g. a utilitarian) cannot be a nihilist.

Utilitarianism is used as "the normative ethical theory that one ought to maximize the utility of the world". This is in contrast to something like egoism ("the normative ethical theory that one ought to maximize one's own utility") and other forms of consequentialism.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions · 2014-10-12T18:04:07.611Z · LW · GW

If you want less fine-grained answers, there's the consequentialism/deontology/virtue ethics question in the earlier part of the survey.

Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions · 2014-10-12T03:45:37.293Z · LW · GW

For Super Extra Bonus Questions: (feel free to modify the answer choices)

With which of these metaethical positions do you most identify?

  • Non-cognitivism: Moral statements don't express propositions and can neither be true nor false. "Murder is wrong" means something like "Boo murder!".
  • Error theory: Moral statements have a truth-value, but attempt to describe features of the world that don't exist. "Murder is wrong" and "Murder is right" are both false statements because moral rightness and wrongness aren't features that exist.
  • Subjectivism: Some moral statements are true, but not universally, and the truth of a moral statement is determined by non-universal opinions or prescriptions, and there is no non-attitudinal determinant of rightness and wrongness. "Murder is wrong" means something like "My culture has judged murder to be wrong" or "I've judged murder to be wrong".
  • Substantive realism: Some moral statements are true, and the truth of a moral statement is determined by mind-independent moral properties. "Murder is wrong" means that murder has an objective mind-independent property of wrongness that we discover by empirical investigation, intuition, or some other method.
  • Constructivism: Some moral statements are true, and the truth of a moral statement is determined by whether an agent would accept it if they were undergoing a process of rational deliberation. "Murder is wrong" can mean something like "Societal agreement to the rule 'do not murder' is instrumentally rational".

With which ethical position do you most closely identify?

  • Utilitarianism
  • Egoism
  • Contractualism
  • Contractarianism
  • Other Consequentialism
  • Kantianism
  • Divine Command
  • Other Deontology
  • Natural Law
  • Aristotelian Virtue Ethics
  • Stoic Virtue Ethics
  • Epicurean Virtue Ethics
  • Other Virtue Ethics
  • Intuitionism

With which of these broad political groupings do you most closely identify?

  • Progressivism (Includes American progressives, European social democrats, socialists, communists, left-wing anarchists, the social justice movement, etc. Important values include economic and social equality, liberation of oppressed groups, and democracy.)
  • Liberalism (Includes European liberals, libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, etc. Important values include freedom of association, individual autonomy, and technological progress.)
  • Conservatism (Includes American conservatives, Christian democrats, nationalists, neoreactionaries, etc. Important values include tradition, bonds within communities, and patriotism.)
Comment by blacktrance on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions · 2014-10-12T02:53:05.670Z · LW · GW

For relationship status, a polyamorous person can be married and in a relationship at the same time, which is a problem. Similarly, someone can be living with their partner/spouse and additional roommates. Also, "Liberal" in the Political section should probably be renamed to "Progressive", to avoid collisions with how "liberal" is used in Europe and in political philosophy.

Comment by blacktrance on October 2014 Media Thread · 2014-10-02T00:35:26.477Z · LW · GW

If you liked Death Note, you'd probably like Code Geass.

Comment by blacktrance on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-09-26T03:30:16.861Z · LW · GW

I'm skeptical of that.