Comment by Torgamous on Beyond the Reach of God · 2011-11-21T20:06:04.575Z · LW · GW

Ah, I see. That makes sense now; your previous example had led me to believe that the difference was much greater than it is. I had been using "vague" to mean that it didn't sharply limit the number of anticipated experiences; there are lots of things that are harmful that cover a range of experiences, and so saying that something will "cause harm" is vague. For the disease question, "vague" would be saying "he has a virus"; while that term is very clearly defined, it doesn't tell you if the person has a month to live or just has this year's flu, so the worlds in which the statement is true can vary greatly and you can't plan a whole lot based on it. Ironically, my definition seems a lot vaguer than yours now that they've both been defined.

And now I can happily say the matter's resolved.

Comment by Torgamous on Beyond the Reach of God · 2011-11-21T16:10:38.444Z · LW · GW

I'm sorry, I want this conversation to be over too, and I don't mean to be rude, but this has been bugging me all week: where did you get that definition from, and where do you live? Literally everyone I have interacted with or read stuff from before you, including published authors, used the same definitions of "specific" and "vague" that I do, and in ways obvious enough that your confusion confuses me.

Comment by Torgamous on Beyond the Reach of God · 2011-11-16T20:32:07.723Z · LW · GW

I take issue with Y. "Harm", though it does have a definition, is a very, very broad term, encompassing every negative eventuality imaginable. Saying "X will cause stuff" only doubles the number of applicable outcomes. That does not meet my definition of "specific".

Comment by Torgamous on Beyond the Reach of God · 2011-11-16T19:45:33.071Z · LW · GW

And now we're disputing definitions. I was using argument to mean what you've defined as propositions; it was a mistake in labeling, but the category is the same. Regardless, the falseness of his proposition is not an issue. The issue I have is that his initial proposition, though it may possibly be true, has a wide range of possible truenesses, no indication which trueness the poster was aiming for, and may very possibly have been made without a particular value of potential truth in mind. If that's soundness, then yeah, I took issue with the soundness of his proposition.

Comment by Torgamous on Beyond the Reach of God · 2011-11-16T18:50:36.324Z · LW · GW

The age of the proposition and the ease with which it can be applied to a variety of situations is an indication that, when such a proposition is made, it should be examined and justified in more detail before being declared a valid argument. Causing harm, given the subject matter, could mean a variety of things from wasted funds to the death of the firstborn children of every family in Egypt. Lacking anything else in the post to help determine what kind and degree of harm was meant or even where the idea that failed attempts will be harmful came from, the original assertion comes across, to me, as a vague claim meant to inspire a negative reaction. It may be true or false, but the boundaries of "true" are not very clearly defined.

I understand that it is probably wrong, and I understand that you know that too. I'm discussing this because I want to know if I'm doing something wrong when determining the validity of an argument. We also seem to be using different definitions of "argument"; I merely see it as a better-sounding synonym of proposition. No negative connotations were meant to be invoked.

Comment by Torgamous on Beyond the Reach of God · 2011-11-16T17:31:22.295Z · LW · GW

How so? "No good will come of this" is an incredibly old argument that's been applied to all kinds of things, and as far as I know rarely has a specific basis. What aspect of his argument am I missing?

Comment by Torgamous on Beyond the Reach of God · 2011-11-16T16:59:30.956Z · LW · GW

The concept of "should" is not one the universe recognizes; it exists only in the human mind. So yes, his ideas do determine what should be.

Besides, "life sucks, let's fix it" and "God doesn't exist, let's build one" are far more productive viewpoints than "life sucks, deal with it" and "God doesn't exist, how terrible", even if they never amount to as much as they hope to. The idea that they "will only cause harm" is incredibly nebulous, and sounds more like an excuse to accept the status quo than a valid argument.

Comment by Torgamous on Stranger Than History · 2011-11-15T14:52:56.877Z · LW · GW

Yes, if given a choice to believe one or the other, we'd all probably choose the speed one. But the person in 1901 is not being given the color option as a counterpoint, they're just being told "if you go really, really fast, reality turns into an Escher painting." I don't know about you, but had I been born in 1901, I'm pretty sure I'd sooner believe in Scientology.

Comment by Torgamous on Stranger Than History · 2011-11-15T14:39:40.331Z · LW · GW

Statement 2 is more plausible than you think. Given the stated sizes of the spheres, it's highly unlikely that they exist solely as prostitute storage units. I'd suggest that they're aerial habitats, and prostitutes are just one of their many exports to the surface. They also offer really awesome bungee rides.

Alternatively, they could be organism production facilities, and the prostitutes are produced on site upon being ordered. They also offer pet velociraptors and colorful ponies.