# rwallace comments on Rationality is Systematized Winning - Less Wrong

48 03 April 2009 02:41PM

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Comment author: 03 April 2009 07:19:33PM 2 points [-]

Ah, thanks. I'm of the school of thought that says it is rational both to promise to pay the \$100, and to have a policy of keeping promises.

Comment author: 03 April 2009 08:22:58PM 1 point [-]

I think it is both right and expected-utility-maximizing to promise pay the \$100, right to pay the \$100, and not expected-utility-maximizing to pay the \$100 under standard assumptions of you'll never see the driver again or whatnot.

Comment author: 03 April 2009 08:31:48PM 1 point [-]

You're assuming it does no damage to oneself to break one's own promises. Virtue theorists would disagree.

Breaking one's promises damages one's integrity - whether you consider that a trait of character or merely a valuable fact about yourself, you will lose something by breaking your promise even if you never see the fellow again.

Comment author: 03 April 2009 08:39:51PM 1 point [-]

Your argument is equivalent to, "But what if your utility function rates keeping promises higher than a million orgasms, what then?"

The hypo is meant to be a very simple model, because simple models are useful. It includes two goods: getting home, and having \$100. Any other speculative values that a real person might or might not have are distractions.

Comment author: 03 April 2009 11:44:51PM 2 points [-]

Simple models are fine as long as we don't forget they are only approximations. Rationalists should win in the real world.

Comment author: 03 April 2009 08:43:00PM 2 points [-]

Except that you mention both persons and promises in the hypothetical example, so both things factor into the correct decision. If you said that it's not a person making the decision, or that there's no promising involved, then you could discount integrity.

Comment author: 03 April 2009 07:29:55PM 1 point [-]

Yes, this seems unimpeachable. The missing piece is, rational at what margin? Once you are home, it is not rational at the margin to pay the \$100 you promised.

Comment author: 03 April 2009 08:08:43PM 2 points [-]

This assumes no one can ever find out you didn't pay, as well. In general, though, it seems better to assume everything will eventually be found out by everyone. This seems like enough, by itself, to keep promises and avoid most lies.

Comment author: 03 April 2009 08:09:55PM 1 point [-]

Right. The question of course is, "better" for what purpose? Which model is better depends on what you're trying to figure out.