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Adirian comments on Terminal Values and Instrumental Values - Less Wrong

54 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 15 November 2007 07:56AM

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Comment author: Adirian 15 November 2007 11:43:12PM 0 points [-]

Terminal values sound, essentially, like moral axioms - they are, after all, terminal. (If they had a basis in a specific future, it would be a question of what, specifically, about that future is appealing - and that quality would, in turn, become a new terminal value.) When treating morality as a logical system, it would simplify your language in explaining yourself somewhat, I think, to describe them as such - particularly since once you have done so, Godel's theorem goes a long way towards explaining why you can't rationalize a conceptual terminal value down any further. (They are very interesting axioms, since we can only consistently treat them conceptually and as variables, but nevertheless axiomatic in nature.)

Speaking of people coming to think of B as a good thing itself, many of those in favour of banning guns treat gun abolition as a terminal value in its own right - challenging those in favour of gun freedoms to prove that guns reduce crime, rather than asserting that they increase it. That is, they treat the abolition of guns as a positive thing in its own right, and only the improvement of another positive thing, say, by reducing crime, can balance the inherent evil of permitting people to own guns.