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Comment by lawrence-hg257 on The Argument from Common Usage · 2015-03-22T07:07:05.304Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think most of the conflict escalates from the dichotomy that arises when two conflicting definitions are lumped together. It wouldn't be so hard to argue about trees in a forest and sound if the arguers made up their own words and associated definitions. E.g. "When a tree falls in a forest it makes a WASAD" and "When a tree falls in a forest it does not make a FORFAN". No contradiction there.

I find it strange why humans find it difficult to accept that words have no absolute meaning. Furthermore, why is it that when both parties are already aware that the other has a different definiton, they instead choose to start a political argument on who "has the right definition" rather than change the word and continue the original topic?

Comment by lawrence-hg257 on Lonely Dissent · 2015-03-06T14:02:46.370Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But the question is, is the expected utility and the probability of success of dissenting high enough to outweigh the risks? A true dissenter would face the risk of being ostracised and potentially losing their grounds to be paid attention to - in which case only the dissenter would experience any change: that of the quality of their life experience drastically dropping. Furthermore, what if dissenting actually causes a decrease in expected utility? (e.g. It would be better to conform now and dissent later when one has gained a high enough status to be listened to.)

When does the benefit outweigh the cost? When is it better to outright dissent rather than to introduce a shift in thinking from inside the pack?

Comment by lawrence-hg257 on The Bedrock of Fairness · 2015-02-25T17:17:16.960Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. As far as I can tell, the moral is that most definitions in an argument are supplied such that the arguer gets their way, instead of being a solid fact that can be followed in a logical sequence in order to deduce the correct course of action.

But I think it would using the rationalists' Taboo would benefit the three, as the word "fair" is defined differently by each of them: Xannon defines fairness as a compromise between the involved parties. Yancy defines fairness as an objective equality wherein everyone receives the same treatment. Zaire either defines fairness as accounting for the needs of each of the involved parties, or as whatever gets him half the pie. Define "fairness" first before agreeing to divide the pie "fairly", or shut up and compromise.

In this situation, I think it would just be easier to split the pie while the other two are arguing and ask, "Do you guys want to eat the pie or continue arguing?" while holding a piece. Arguing about the definition of fairness while starving in a forest in the middle of who-knows-where is generally not a good idea. An argument that leads nowhere is a waste of time, and not useful.