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thomblake comments on Don't Believe You'll Self-Deceive - Less Wrong

15 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 09 March 2009 08:03AM

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Comment author: thomblake 09 March 2009 03:14:05PM 1 point [-]

No, in ordinary English, 'believe' means believe - but it also means 'accept' or 'endorse' or various other sorts of things. If we're going to be entrusted with eradicating a common usage (ha) then I say let 'believe' only mean believe. Thus, here, the assertion "I believe X" should be taken to be equivalent to the assertion "X".

Comment author: Annoyance 09 March 2009 04:03:41PM 0 points [-]

"Thus, here, the assertion "I believe X" should be taken to be equivalent to the assertion "X"."

We can believe something without asserting it to be true. "I assert X to be true", likewise, doesn't require that we believe X to be true. All sorts of arguments involve assertions of truth that we don't necessarily extend beyond the argument.

It's something like the empty set: when the null symbol is bracketed, the result doesn't mean "the empty set". Empty brackets, or the null by itself, means that.

Comment author: thomblake 10 March 2009 04:05:48PM 1 point [-]

Asserting something one does not believe is lying. By the principle of charity we should assume our fellows are not lying, in which case "X" implies "I believe X". Obviously, that's only halfway to equivalence.

If I were to say, "I believe that the president is John McCain", and you responded by disputing my claim that the president is John McCain, I would be out of line to respond that I had never asserted that the president is John McCain. Similarly for the exchange "I believe that Annoyance is Caledonian" "But I'm not Caledonian" "I didn't say you were".

And so they are equivalent, unless you deny the principle of charity or have a counterexample for my second point.