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Mass_Driver comments on Tsuyoku Naritai! (I Want To Become Stronger) - Less Wrong

111 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 March 2007 05:49PM

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Comment author: Mass_Driver 04 April 2012 08:59:27AM 2 points [-]

I've always wondered what "communal responsibility" really means. It's one thing to ask people to encourage their friends to act morally, or to go on the record now and then as opposing a perceived injustice. But your community could be flawed despite your best efforts to fix it -- it doesn't really seem fair to expect someone with finite resources to answer for a hundred other people's behavior.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 04 April 2012 04:20:38PM 0 points [-]

I've always wondered what "communal responsibility" really means.

One possibility:

If you're a member of a group, and the way non-members will treat you individually is largely informed by their perception (stereotype) of that group, then you want that group to have a good reputation rather than a bad one. If anything that a group member does reflects on the group, then each person should (in their own best interests) do things that improve rather than worsen that reputation.

A moral symmetry (like the Prisoner's Dilemma or Stag Hunt games) exists, because everyone else in your group is in the same situation wrt you, that you are wrt them. If you do something that benefits you personally but harms the group's reputation, everyone else in the group suffers; the same is true if another group member does so.

This sort of reasoning is often applied to (and by) minority groups who suffer from others' stereotyping.

It is also a favorite of concern trolls.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 04 April 2012 04:28:25PM 3 points [-]

I'm not sure how fairness enters into it.

If there are N of us in a leaky rowboat, we have a communal responsibility to bail the water out. If there are N of us in an airtight container that only holds enough air to sustain (N-1) lives before the container opens, we have a communal responsibility to decide how many and which of us dies. If there are N of us and we have 2N yummy pies, we have a communal responsibility to distribute the pies in some fashion.

A communal responsibility is just like an individual responsibility, except it applies to a group.

Is that fair? Beats me. Mostly I don't think the question is well-formed.