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

michael_vassar comments on The Third Alternative - Less Wrong

55 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 06 May 2007 11:47PM

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

Comments (78)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: michael_vassar 07 May 2007 05:26:27PM 9 points [-]

Rob: In practice there is a HUGE difference. If you behave morally when no0one is watching you, new information doesn't threaten your moral foundations, as your morality is grounded in your preferences. If you believe that you are always being watched then your moral behavior will be grounded in supposed facts about the world. In this case, evidence that undermines your belief in those facts undermines your morality, leading in the direction of Nietzsche's "total eclipse of all values" as the inevitable consequence of the "twilight of the idols".

There are also important practical consequences to following orders as opposed to acting from one's own initiative. Psychologically, the former will create resentment and dissatisfaction while the latter will not. The latter will favor initiative, and active pursuit of the best satisfaction of one's (hopefully ethical) desires, while the former will focus only on satisfying some perceived standard of acceptability, which implies, among other things, not seeking out better third alternatives when presented with a false dilemma and evidence that one flawed alternative is considered to be permissible. Actions "above the call of duty" depend entirely upon self-driven internalized ethics.

Comment author: pnrjulius 27 May 2012 03:26:33AM 0 points [-]

See also Kohlberg.