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

InfernalHazelnut comments on Double Crux — A Strategy for Resolving Disagreement - Less Wrong

61 Post author: Duncan_Sabien 29 November 2016 09:23PM

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

Comments (102)

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

Comment author: InfernalHazelnut 30 November 2016 08:32:32AM 3 points [-]

Sorry if this is an obvious 101 question (I'm new here), but isn't there a difference between some of those examples?

I would also say that "how many grasshoppers are there?" has an answer that we simply don't know. But I can't think of "orange is superior to green" being true or false. I can think of ways that it could be better for a purpose (like if we're deciding what color the hunting vests should be), but not what the truth conditions of "orange is superior to green" would actually be.

If you're having an argument over school uniforms, presumably you're saying "Having a uniform will help this school fulfill its mission in X way" because you're trying to inform the other person's opinion on a particular policy. Is there a context where an argument over whether orange is superior to green is broader than "better for this specific purpose" but is about something other than subjective aesthetics, and is an attempt to convince one's interlocutor? (Nobody's going to say "You're right, I do find orange things nicer to look at than green things, although I thought it was the other way around until you pointed that out to me", are they?)

(This isn't meant to be an argument from personal incredulity -- I just can't think of a better way to word it. In fact, I'm not really trying to argue for anything, more like seeking clarification.)

Comment author: entirelyuseless 30 November 2016 02:40:23PM *  1 point [-]

Your comment is a response to Duncan's comment (I guess you haven't worked out how that works yet).

"Nobody's going to say "You're right, I do find orange things nicer to look at than green things, although I thought it was the other way around until you pointed that out to me", are they?"

Once I said, "food tastes better when you just eat without paying attention to the taste, and basically that happens because your body is telling you it is great, while if you pay attention, you figure out it wasn't as great as your body was saying." I was eating with someone and they responded by saying there was no way this could be true. A few minutes later, after noticing his experience while eating, he said, "You know, I think you were right."

Comment author: Duncan_Sabien 30 November 2016 07:20:13PM 0 points [-]

What I was gesturing at with the "orange superior to green?" example is something very large, very subjective, very fuzzy, with a lot of uncertainty in interpretation, but that nevertheless could be boiled down to something concrete.

Things that might make a color superior to another color: more people rate it more highly, it's more prevalent on buildings and clothes and in pictures, it produces greater levels of happiness when registered in the brain, it's cheaper to produce at the same price, it has more effective uses within a given society, people will pay more for an otherwise-identical version of a thing that's in that color, etc. etc. etc.

To get at what someone might "really mean" when they say something like orange is superior to green, I'd propose a whole bunch of these as hypotheses, and then try some form of pseudomath or other concrete weighting of the three or four most relevant categories. Once I had something like "Okay, so it's the subjective ratings of 7 billion people plus the results of brain scans when exposed, and if those come up 50/50 then we'll pull in, as a representative data point, how many different deliberate uses of each color there are in the continent of Europe," I'd feel like yes, there was in fact a true answer to the question (but not one we'd ever be able to find in practice).