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Dacyn comments on The "Intuitions" Behind "Utilitarianism" - Less Wrong

31 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 January 2008 04:29PM

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Comment author: g_pepper 12 December 2017 02:39:34PM 0 points [-]

On the other hand, maybe you should force them to endure the guilt, because maybe then they will be motivated to research why the agent who made the decision chose TORTURE, and so the end result will be some people learning some decision theory / critical thinking...

The argument that 50 years of torture of one person is preferable to 3^^^3 people suffering dust specs presumes utilitarianism. A non-utilitarian will not necessarily prefer torture to dust specs even if his/her critical thinking skills are up to par.

Comment author: Dacyn 15 December 2017 01:49:28AM 0 points [-]

I'm not a utilitarian. The argument that 50 years of torture is preferable to 3^^^3 people suffering dust specks only presumes that preferences are transitive, and that there exists a sequence of gradations between torture and dust specks with the properties that (A) N people suffering one level of the spectrum is always preferable to N*(a googol) people suffering the next level, and (B) the spectrum has at most a googol levels. I think it's pretty hard to consistently deny these assumptions, and I'm not aware of any serious argument put forth to deny them.

It's true that a deontologist might refrain from torturing someone even if he believes it would result in the better outcome. I was assuming a scenario where either way you are not torturing someone, just refraining from preventing them from being tortured by someone else.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 15 December 2017 02:04:35PM 0 points [-]

Right. Utilitarianism is false, but Eliezer was still right about torture and dust specks.