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Bruce_Britton comments on Tsuyoku vs. the Egalitarian Instinct - Less Wrong

26 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2007 05:49PM

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Comment author: Bruce_Britton 30 March 2007 03:12:59PM 0 points [-]

Richard and Robin: I wonder if it is possible to settle this disagreement between Richard and I. (I realize this is to change the subject from the disagreement itself to ways of settling it, but it does have some relevance to settling it.)

For it to be possible to settle it, we would have to both desire to settle it. Then we could take various routes.

The Scienceoid route would require us to formulate the question, definition of terms, etc, so that some set of operations could be agreed between us to settle it, and then we'd just have to do the operations.

Or we could take various routes that lead to concluding that solving it is impossible, such as referring to the fundamental privateness of mental life, such that even if I said that my policy was to make happiness be only a means to an end, and that I was successful in doing so, I might be lying or deluded or a robot, etc.

Or we could require unanimity, like the Polish Parliament at one time, with only 1 person being enough to sink the proposition.

Or we could take an 'ordinary language' philosophy route, asking 'what do we mean when we say...' etc.

I'd guess both of us know how to do each of these routes, but how do we choose which route(s) to take?

I'm now going to go into the Confessional Mode, which might be a route for this blog to take, that is, everyone focuses on their own biases, observed introspectively, instead of trying to identify other's biases.

My guess is that I would have a strong tendency to take the route that makes it most likely that I would win, just like a child, a myside bias.

My first impulse was to pick out parts of your comment that seem to favor my side, such as your 'in unrehearsed situations without enough cognitive resources for deliberation...' etc. or 'I will grant you that for almost all people, happiness is...' Then I would say that you really agree with me, and I would refer back to my caveat about 'scenario-making.'

I also considered doing my 'multiple selves' schtick, but rejected it because it didn't seem to 'fit', by which I think I meant it would sound silly.

I do think that using natural language to state and argue about this is making it less likely for us to be able to solve it, because we (I guess by 'we' I mean 'I') are likely to fiddle with the meanings of words, etc., but what is the alternative?

Out of Confessional mode, into Meta mode.

But none of these ways of resolving the dispute satisfies me. I'm wondering if disputes on this blog ever do get resolved. I do think they can sometimes get resolved in science.

But success for this blog seems dependent on being able to make progress, and this seems to require that we can settle things, so we can move on and build on the things we have settled.

Maybe the Confessional Mode is the way to go?