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Unknown comments on Circular Altruism - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: Unknown 22 January 2008 07:34:05PM 8 points [-]

One can easily make an argument like the torture vs. dust specks argument to show that the Repugnant Conclusion is not only not repugnant, but certainly true.

More intuitively, if it weren't true, we could find some population of 10,000 persons at some high standard of living, such that it would be morally praiseworthy to save their lives at the cost of a googolplex galaxies filled with intelligent beings. Most people would immediately say that this is false, and so the Repugnant Conclusion is true.

Comment author: AlexanderRM 27 March 2015 09:50:15PM 0 points [-]

Note here that the difference is between the deaths of currently-living people, and preventing the births of potential people. In hedonic utilitarian terms it's the same, but you can have other utilitarian schemes (ex. choice utilitarianism as I commented above) where death either has an inherent negative value, or violates the person's preferences against dying.

BTW note that even if you draw no distinction, your thought experiment doesn't necessarily prove the Repugnant Conclusion. The third option is to say that because the Repugnant Conclusion is false, it must be that the automatic response to your thought experiment is incorrect, i.e. that it's OK to wipe out a googolplex galaxies full of people with lives barely worth living to save 10,000 people. Although I feel like most people, if they rejected the killing/preventing birth distinction, would go with the Repugnant Conclusion over that.

Comment author: dxu 27 March 2015 09:57:48PM *  0 points [-]

Interestingly enough, I don't find the Repugnant Conclusion all that repugnant. Is there anyone else here who shares this intuition?