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matteyas comments on The Least Convenient Possible World - Less Wrong

167 Post author: Yvain 14 March 2009 02:11AM

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Comment author: Nebu 16 March 2009 09:37:15PM 17 points [-]

I voted up on your post, Yvain, as you've presented some really good ideas here. Although it may seem like I'm totally missing your point by my response to your 3 scenarios, I assure you that I am well aware that my responses are of the "dodging the question" type which you are advocating against. I simply cannot resist to explore these 3 scenarios on their own.

Pascal's Wager

In all 3 scenarios, I would ask Omega further questions. But these being "least convenient world" scenarios, I suspect it'd be all "Sorry, can't answer that" and then fly away. And I'd call it a big jerk.

For Pascal Wager's specific scenario, I'd probably ask Omega "Really? Either God doesn't exist or everything the Catholics say is correct? Even the self-contradicting stuff?" And of course, he'd decline to answer and fly away.

So then I'd be stuck trying to decide whether God doesn't exist, or logic is incorrect (i.e. reality can be logically self inconsistent). I'm tempted to adopt Catholicism (for the same reason I would one-box on Newcomb: I want the rewards), but I'm not sure how my brain could handle a non-logical reality. So I really don't know what would happen here.

But let's say Omega additionally tells me that Catholicism is actually self-consistent, and I just misunderstood something about it, before flying away. In that case, I guess I'd start to study Catholicism. If my revised view of Catholicism has me believe that it does some rather cruel stuff (stone people for minor offenses, etc.) then I'd have to weight that against my desire to not suffer eternal torture.

I mean, eternal torture is pretty frickin' bad. I think in the end, I'd convert. And I'd also try to convert as many other people as possible, because I suspect I'd need to be cruel to fewer people if fewer people went against Christianity.

The God-Shaped Hole

To clarify your scenario, I'm guessing Omega explicitly tells me that I will be happier if I believe something untrue (i.e. God). I would probably reject God in this case, as Omega is implicitly confirming that God does not exist, and I do care about truth more than happiness. I've already experience this in other manners, so this is a much easier scenario for me to imagine.

Extreme Altruism

I don't think I can overcome this challenge. No matter how much I think about it, I find myself putting up semantic stop signs. In my "least convenient world", Omega tells me that Africa is so poverty stricken, and that my contribution would be so helpful, that I would be improving the lives of billions of people, in exchange for giving up all my wealth. While I might not donate all my money to save 10, I think I value billions of lives more than my own life. Do I value it more than my own happiness? This is an extremely painful question for me to think about, so I stop thinking about it.

"Okay", I say to Omega, "what if I only donate X percent of my money, and keep the rest for myself?" In one possible "least convenient world", Omega tells me that the charity is run by some nutcase whom, for whatever reason, will only accept an all-or-nothing deal. Well, when I phrase it like that, I feel like not donating anything, and blaming it on the nutcase. So suppose instead Omega tells me "There's some sort of principles of economy of scale which is too complicated for me to explain to you which basically means that your contribution will be wasted unless you contribute at least Y amount of dollars, which coincidentally just happens to be your total net worth." Again, I'm torn and find it difficult to come to a conclusion.

Alternative, I say to Omega "I'll just donate X percent of my money." Omega tells me "that's good, but it's not optimum." And I reply "Okay, but I don't have to do the optimum." but then Omega convinces me that actually, yes, I really should be doing the optimum somehow. Perhaps something along the line of how my current "ignore Africa altogether" behaviour is better than the behaviour of going to Africa and killing, torturing, raping everyone there. That doesn't mean that the "ignore Africa" strategy is moral.

Comment author: matteyas 18 July 2017 11:02:05AM 0 points [-]

For Pascal Wager's specific scenario, I'd probably ask Omega "Really? Either God doesn't exist or everything the Catholics say is correct? Even the self-contradicting stuff?" And of course, he'd decline to answer and fly away.

The point is that in the least convenient world for you, Omega would say whatever it is that you would need to hear to not slip away. I don't know what that is. Nobody but you do. If it is about eternal damnation for you, then you've hopefully found your holy grail, and as some other poster pointed out, why this is the holy grail for you can be quite interesting to dig into as well.

The point raised, as I see it, is just to make your stance on Pascal's wager contend against the strongest possible ideas.

Comment author: Jiro 24 July 2017 06:25:47PM 0 points [-]

The point is that in the least convenient world for you, Omega would say whatever it is that you would need to hear to not slip away.

The least convenient world is one where Omega answers his objections. The least convenient possible world is one where Omega answers his objections in a way that's actually possible. And it may not be possible for Omega to answer some objections.