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Wei_Dai2 comments on Not for the Sake of Happiness (Alone) - Less Wrong

48 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 November 2007 03:19AM

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Comment author: Wei_Dai2 23 November 2007 01:29:28AM 2 points [-]

I agree with Eliezer here. Not all values can be reduced to desire for happiness. For some of us, the desire not to be wireheaded or drugged into happiness is at least as strong as the desire for happiness. This shouldn't be a surprise since there were and still are pyschoactive substances in our environment of evolutionary adaptation.

I think we also have a more general mechanism of aversion towards triviality, where any terminal value that becomes "too easy" loses its value (psychologically, not just over evolutionary time). I'm guessing this is probably because many of our terminal values (art, science, etc.) exist because they helped our ancestors attract mates by signaling genetic superiority. But you can't demonstrate genetic superiority by doing something easy.

Toby, I read your comment several times, but still can't figure out what distinction you are trying to draw between the two senses of value. Can you give an example or thought experiment, where valuing happiness in one sense would lead you to do one thing, and valuing it in the other sense would lead you to do something else?

Michael, do you have a more specific reference to something Parfit has written?