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g 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: g 16 November 2007 07:36:40AM 0 points [-]

Adirian, I have done post-doctoral research in pure mathematics; I don't need a course in the foundations of mathematics. But thanks for the suggestion. And I've read plenty of philosophy, and so far as I can judge I've understood it well. Of course none of that means that I'm not the idiot you clearly take me for, but as it happens I don't think I am :-).

I didn't say "eluding", I said "eliding". "Denying" is fine, too. I understand why you think the distinction is unreal. I disagree, not because I imagine that there's some fundamental discontinuity between thought and action, but (ironically, in view of the other stuff going on in this discussion) because our thoughts are logically (and often not quite so logically) connected to one another in ways that our actions and feelings aren't. If on one occasion my visceral response when thinking about guns is "eww, killing and violence and stuff" and on another it's "ooo, power and freedom and stuff" then I'm not guilty of any inconsistency, whereas anything that seriously purports to be a moral system rather than just a vague fog of preferences needs to choose, or at least to assign consistent weights to those considerations.

"Somewhat rational" does not mean "irrational". There are three different ways in which something can be said to be rational. (1) That reason can be applied to it. Duh, reason can be applied to *everything*. (2) That it's prosecuted by means of reason. Ethical thought sometimes proceeds by means of reason, and sometimes not. Hence, "somewhat rational". (3) That applying reason to it doesn't show up inconsistencies. Perhaps some people have (near enough) perfectly consistent ethical positions. Certainly most people don't. It's not unheard of for philosophers to advocate embracing that inconsistency. But generally there's some degree of consistency, and sufficiently gross inconsistencies can prompt revision. Hence, again, "somewhat rational".

I haven't suggested that looking for logical expressions of morality is "ridiculous", and once again I have literally no idea where you get thate idea from. You have repeatedly made claims about what I think and why, and you've been consistently wrong. You might want to reconsider whatever methods you're using for guessing. (I apologize if I've done likewise to you, though I don't think I have.)