Comment by tdb on Against Street Epistemology · 2019-06-30T23:27:11.152Z · LW · GW

I love it when someone asks me a question that gets me to teach myself something. This happens on Facebook once in a while, often by accident. If someone seriously tries to help me find the basis of or implications of or flaws in my thinking, I appreciate it. This may be a personal problem. I love answering certain questions, even when they don’t teach me anything. I am not always good at looking at things from a different perspective. Sometimes even a really ignorant question can spark off a new realization for me.

Comment by tdb on Are ethical asymmetries from property rights? · 2018-08-02T19:32:23.367Z · LW · GW

Oops, I misinterpreted "create", didn't I?

My quibble still works. I couldn't know for sure while trying to conceive a child that my situation would necessarily continue to be sufficient to care for that child (shit can happen to anyone). Even if my circumstances continue as expected my children may develop physical or mental problems that could make them miserable. It's not a yes/no question, it's a "how much rusk" question. Where do we draw the line between too much risk and a reasonable risk?

Comment by tdb on Are ethical asymmetries from property rights? · 2018-08-02T19:09:53.378Z · LW · GW

It is not even a norm.

If I marry my true love, someone else who loves my spouse may feel miserable as a result. No one is obligated to avoid creating this sort of misery in another person. We might quibble that such a person is immature and taking the wrong attitude, but the "norm" does not make exceptions where the victims are complicit in their own misery, it just prohibits anyone from causing it.

We might be able to construct a similar thought experiment for "dire situations". If I invent a new process that puts you out of business by attracting all your customers, your situation may become dire, due to your sudden loss of income. Am I obligated in any way to avoid this? I think not.

Those two norms (don't cause misery or dire situations) only work as local norms, within your local sphere of intimate knowledge. In a large-scale society, there is no way to assure that a particular decision won't change something that someone depends upon emotionally or economically. This is just a challenge of cosmopolitan life, that I have the ultimate responsibility for my emotional and economic dependencies, in the literal sense that I am the one who will suffer if I make an unwise or unlucky choice. I can't count on the system (any system) to rectify my errors (though different systems may make my job harder or easier).

Comment by tdb on Terminal Values and Instrumental Values · 2017-08-07T20:34:21.996Z · LW · GW

"cognitive archaeology", tee hee. I thought he was making it up, it turns out he's just misapplying it.

Comment by tdb on Crony Beliefs · 2016-12-15T17:39:03.195Z · LW · GW

Yeah. How many groups in the distant past had core beliefs that are false? Pretty large percent. Even if the trend is going in the right direction, it seems unlikely we are out of the woods yet.

Comment by tdb on Policy Debates Should Not Appear One-Sided · 2016-11-04T01:14:46.183Z · LW · GW

Maybe we need a banned products store and a tort-proof banned products store, both.

Some libertarians might say that if you go into a "banned products shop", passing clear warning labels that say "THINGS IN THIS STORE MAY KILL YOU", and buy something that kills you, then it's your own fault and you deserve it. If that were a moral truth, there would be no downside to having shops that sell banned products. It wouldn't just be a net benefit, it would be a one-sided tradeoff with no drawbacks.

I don't quite follow. Even when people "deserve" what they get, if what they "deserve" is death, their loved ones see that as a negative. Does this mean there are no moral truths, since every choice has a downside? Or am I overgeneralizing when I interpret it as "moral truths have no downside."

Comment by tdb on Politics is the Mind-Killer · 2016-11-04T00:33:28.157Z · LW · GW

I would also hold that political ideologies are mostly wrong.

Atheists don't hold that religions are mostly wrong. They hold that religious believers depend on untestable hypotheses and shield their beliefs from criticisms instead of engaging them.

What could we use as a political analog of atheism? Anarchists don't deny the existence of the state, just its benevolence.

For most issues it's makes a lot more sense to study the issue in detail than try to have an opinion based on precached ideology.

This sounds like an ideology wearing a fig leaf. When we study the issue, do we start with a blank slate, or do we have prior beliefs about facts, values and goals? Maybe you have a different interpretation of the word "ideology" than I do, but that sounds like ideology to me, and irreducible.

Comment by tdb on Is arguing worth it? If so, when and when not? Also, how do I become less arrogant? · 2014-11-28T20:09:44.725Z · LW · GW

This advice has more to do with serious written criticism, but I like spreading it around.

You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way."
You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Me quoting Judith Curry quoting Daniel Dennett quoting Anatol Rapaport.

I only ran across this fairly recently, but it makes explicit some vague intuitions I had had before. The few times I consciously have put it into practice so far, I have found it rather time consuming but beneficial. I'm not sure whether I have learned to back away from pointless controversy or how to make points more persuasively, but it has helped me get away from looking at arguments as soldiers in an army kind of thinking.