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siodine comments on [Link] Reddit, help me find some peace I'm dying young - Less Wrong

22 Post author: Konkvistador 18 August 2012 03:17PM

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Comment author: siodine 19 August 2012 08:17:57PM *  -1 points [-]

So, that was a long winded way of saying, "okay, if this community taboos buying fuzzies rather than optimal philantropy [note: there's a lot to unpack in that], then what's to stop this community from sliding down the undesirable slope towards ultimately tabooing any nonessential personal spending?"

The answer is simple. While completely avoiding nonessential personal spending is suboptimal in the most obvious sense it's, as you alluded to, unmaintainable. I.e., a society like that is likely to die from emigration and stagnation.

Here's an example of tabooing and how it works in realistic terms: Large SUVs, especially in certain areas, have become taboo for their environmental impact. Now, you could say, "if we're going to taboo large SUVs for their negative environmental impact, why then don't we all ride bicycles, because that's obviously where this is leading, isn't it?" But, no; that isn't where it leads at all. The taboo is an communal awareness of an obviously bad thing.

On lesswrong, and in this context, we could start with tabooing pet charities, and quickly move towards your example, but I'm doubtful that we would find that we'd want to take that to dystopic levels. And this reminds me of a common criticism of consequentialism in yvain's faq:

7.1: Wouldn't consequentialism lead to [obviously horrible outcome]?

Probably not. After all, consequentialism says to make the world a better place. So if an outcome is obviously horrible, consequentialists wouldn't want it, would they?

(also, personal objections are irrelevant in the context of a community taboo; "but I drive a hummer because I want a warmer climate!")

Comment author: Konkvistador 19 August 2012 08:46:12PM *  1 point [-]

"okay, if this community taboos buying fuzzies rather than optimal philantropy [note: there's a lot to unpack in that], then what's to stop this community from sliding down the undesirable slope towards ultimately tabooing any nonessential personal spending?"

Just for reference it should be pointed out that people have already attacked people spending money on medicine or buying cryonics based on this reasoning on LW.

Comment author: siodine 19 August 2012 09:08:33PM *  -3 points [-]

To be clear, you mean people have attacked others for investing in cryonics for themselves rather than, e.g., a GiveWell charity. All I have to say regarding that is that it's been, as you say, attacked rather than tabooed, and that I think it should be attacked (or without the negative connotation of attack, 'questioned').

The issue of cryonics being a worthwhile expenditure is currently somewhat unclear, and I don't see it being tabooed soon. Knowingly buying fuzzies (in the context of charity) over more optimal charity is clear.

To put in within my previous analogy, cryonics is on the slope towards driving a prius rather than a bike, and you're more towards driving a hummer than a prius.