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

Tyrrell_McAllister2 comments on Inseparably Right; or, Joy in the Merely Good - Less Wrong

22 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 09 August 2008 01:00AM

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

Comments (29)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister2 09 August 2008 05:14:03AM 1 point [-]

Eliezer, you write, "Most goods don't depend justificationally on your state of mind, even though that very judgment is implemented computationally by your state of mind. A personal preference depends justificationally on your state of mind."

Could you elaborate on this distinction? (IIRC, most of what you've written explicitly on the difference between preference and morality was in your dialogues, and you've warned against attributing any views in those dialogues to you.)

In particular, in what sense do "personal preferences depend justificationally on your state of mind"? If I want to convince someone to prefer rocky road ice cream over almond praline, I would most likely proceed by telling them about the ingredients in rocky road that I believe that they like more than the ingredients in almond praline. Suppose that I know that you prefer walnuts over almonds. Then my argument would include lines like "rocky road contains walnuts, and almond praline contains almonds." These would not be followed by something like "... and you prefer walnuts over almonds." Yes, I wouldn't have offered the comparison if I didn't believe that that was the case, but, so far as the structure of the argument is concerned, such references to your preferences would be superfluous. Rather, as you've explained with morality, I would be attempting to convince you that rocky road has certain properties. These properties are indeed the ones that I think will make the system of preferences within you prefer rocky road over almond praline. And, as with morality, that system of preferences is a determinate computational property of your mind as it is at the moment. But, just as in your account of moral justification as I understand it, I don't need to refer to that computational property to make my case. I will just try to convince you that the facts are such that certain things are to be found in rocky road. These are things that happen to be preferred by your preference system, but I won't bother to try to convince you of that part.

Actually, the more I think about this ice cream example, the more I wonder whether you wouldn't consider it to be an example of moral justification. So, I'm curious to know an example of what you would consider to be a personal preference but not a moral preference.