# DSimon comments on Not for the Sake of Happiness (Alone) - Less Wrong

35 22 November 2007 03:19AM

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Comment author: 06 May 2012 12:31:28AM 0 points [-]

Consider the following two world states:

1. A person important to you dies.
2. They don't die, but you are given a brain modification that makes it seem to you as though they had.

The hedonic scores for 1 and 2 are identical, but 2 has more utilons if you value your friend's life.

Comment author: 06 May 2012 01:19:02AM -1 points [-]

The hedonic scores are identical and, as far as I can tell, the outcomes are identical. The only difference is if I know about the difference - if, for instance, I'm given a choice between the two. At that point, my consideration of 2 has more hedons than my consideration of 1. Is that different from saying 2 has more utilons than 1?

Is the distinction perhaps that hedons are about now while utilons are overall?

Comment author: 06 May 2012 02:05:13AM 1 point [-]

Talking about "utilons" and "hedons" implies that there exists some X such that, by my standards, the world is better with more X in it, whether I am aware of X or not.

Given that assumption, it follows that if you add X to the world in such a way that I don't interact with it at all, it makes the world better by my standards, but it doesn't make me happier. One way of expressing that is that X produces utilons but not hedons.

Comment author: 06 May 2012 02:21:15AM 1 point [-]

I would not have considered utilons to have meaning without my ability to compare them in my utility function.

You're saying utilons can be generated without your knowledge, but hedons cannot? Does that mean utilons are a measure of reality's conformance to your utility function, while hedons are your reaction to your perception of reality's conformance to your utility function?

Comment author: 06 May 2012 03:20:32AM 0 points [-]

I'm saying that something can make the world better without affecting me, but nothing can make me happier without affecting me. That suggests to me that the set of things that can make the world better is different from the set of things that can make me happy, even if they overlap significantly.

Comment author: 06 May 2012 03:26:29AM 0 points [-]

That makes sense. I had only looked at the difference within "things that affect my choices", which is not a full representation of things. Could I reasonably say, then, that hedons are the intersection of "utilons" and "things of which I'm aware", or is there more to it?

Another way of phrasing what I think you're saying: "Utilons are where the utility function intersects with the territory, hedons are where the utility function intersects with the map."

Comment author: 06 May 2012 03:30:34AM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure how "hedons" interact with "utilons".
I'm not saying anything at all about how they interact.
I'm merely saying that they aren't the same thing.

Comment author: 06 May 2012 03:45:15AM 0 points [-]

Oh! I didn't catch that at all. I apologize.

You've made an excellent case for them not being the same. I agree.

Comment author: 06 May 2012 03:53:21AM 0 points [-]

Cool. I thought it was confusing you earlier, but perhaps I misunderstood.

Comment author: 06 May 2012 04:00:58AM 0 points [-]

It was confusing me, yes. I considered hedons exactly equivalent to utilons.

Then you made your excellent case, and now it no longer confuses me. I revised my definition of happiness from "reality matching the utility function" to "my perception of reality matching the utility function" - which it should have been from the beginning, in retrospect.

I'd still like to know if people see happiness as something other than my new definition, but you have helped me from confusion to non-confusion, at least regarding the presence of a distinction, if not the exact nature thereof.