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michael_vassar3 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: michael_vassar3 16 November 2007 02:17:17PM 0 points [-]

I think that part of the problem here is that humans are actually structured in a manner that leads to instrumental values fairly easily becoming terminal values, especially in the case of intense instrumental values. Furthermore, we place a terminal value on this fact about ourselves, at least with regard to positive instrumentalities becoming positive terminal values. A big part of liberalism is essentially the decision not to let negative instrumental values become negative terminal values.

I have difficulty interpreting the following paragraphs, could you expand on them? Are you equating sociopathy with differing terminal values?

"In moral arguments, some disputes are about instrumental consequences, and some disputes are about terminal values. If your debating opponent says that banning guns will lead to lower crime, and you say that banning guns lead to higher crime, then you agree about a superior instrumental value (crime is bad), but you disagree about which intermediate events lead to which consequences. But I do not think an argument about female circumcision is really a factual argument about how to best achieve a shared value of treating women fairly or making them happy.

This important distinction often gets flushed down the toilet in angry arguments. People with factual disagreements and shared values, each decide that their debating opponents must be sociopaths. As if your hated enemy, gun control / rights advocates, really wanted to kill people, which should be implausible as realistic psychology."