Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Will_Sawin comments on Circular Altruism - Less Wrong

40 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 January 2008 06:00PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (300)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: Will_Sawin 09 January 2011 11:46:59PM 0 points [-]

In particular, VNM connects utility with probability, so we can use an argument based on probability.

One person gaining N utility should be equally good no matter who it is, if utility is properly calibrated person-to-person.

One person gaining N utility should be equally good as one randomly selected person out of N people gaining N utility.

Now we analyze it from each person's perspective. They each have a 1/N chance of gaining N utility. This is 1 unit of expected utility, so they find it as good as surely gaining one unit of utility.

If they're all indifferent between one person gaining N and everyone gaining 1, who's to disagree?