Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Davorak comments on Strategic ignorance and plausible deniability - Less Wrong

36 Post author: Kaj_Sotala 10 August 2011 09:30AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (55)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: Davorak 11 August 2011 04:25:52PM 1 point [-]

I disagree. In the least convenient world where the STD test imposes no costs on Alex, he would still be instrumentally rational to not take it. This is because Alex knows the plausibility of his claims that he does not have an STD will be sabotaged if the test comes out positive, because he is not a perfect liar.

In a world were STD tests cost absolutely nothing, including time, effort, thought, there would be no excuse to not have taken a test and I do not see a method for generating plausible deniability by not knowing.

Some situation at a college where they'll give you a cookie if you take an STD test seems quite likely

You situation does not really count as no cost though. In a world in which you must spend effort to avoid getting a STD test it seems unlikely that plausible deniability can be generated in the first place.

You are correct "Avoiding the evidence would be irrational." does seem to be incorrect in general and I generalized too strongly from the example I was working on.

Though this does not seem to answer my original question. Is there a by definition conflict between "Whatever can be destroyed by the truth, should be." and generating plausible deniability. The answer I still come up with is no conflict. Some truths should be destroyed before others and this allows for some plausible deniability for untruths low in priority.

Comment author: Desrtopa 13 August 2011 10:44:08PM 2 points [-]

In a world were STD tests cost absolutely nothing, including time, effort, thought, there would be no excuse to not have taken a test and I do not see a method for generating plausible deniability by not knowing.

That's not really the least convenient possible world though, is it? The least convenient possible world is one where STD tests impose no additional cost on him, but other people don't know this, so he still has plausible deniability. Let's say that he's taking a sexuality course where the students are assigned to take STD tests, or if they have some objection, are forced to do a make up assignment which imposes equivalent inconvenience. Nobody he wants to have sex with is aware that he's in this class or that it imposes this assignment.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 11 August 2011 06:36:39PM *  1 point [-]

Some situation at a college where they'll give you a cookie if you take an STD test seems quite likely

You situation does not really count as no cost though. In a world in which you must spend effort to avoid getting a STD test it seems unlikely that plausible deniability can be generated in the first place.

I don't see how the situation is meaningfully different from no cost. "I couldn't be bothered to get it done" is hardly an acceptable excuse on the face of it, but despite that people will judge you more harshly when you harm knowingly rather than when you harm through avoidable ignorance, even though that ignorance is your own fault. I don't think they do so because they perceive a justifying cost.

I think the point that others have been trying to make is that gaining the evidence isn't merely of lower importance to the agent than some other pursuits, it's that gaining the evidence appears to be actually harmful to what the agent wants.

Comment author: Davorak 11 August 2011 10:08:24PM -1 points [-]

I think the point that others have been trying to make is that gaining the evidence isn't merely of lower importance to the agent than some other pursuits, it's that gaining the evidence appears to be actually harmful to what the agent wants.

Yes I was proposed the alternative situation where the evidence is just considered as lower value as an alternative that produces the same result.

I don't see how the situation is meaningfully different from no cost. "I couldn't be bothered to get it done" is hardly an acceptable excuse on the face of it

At zero cost(in the economic sense not in the monetary sense) you can not say it was a bother to get it done because a bother would be a cost.