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Richard4 comments on No License To Be Human - Less Wrong

16 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 August 2008 11:18PM

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Comment author: Richard4 21 August 2008 09:19:52PM 0 points [-]

"asking how is it that the word 'right' came to refer to rightness is like asking why 'green' means green"

Yeah, that's not exactly what I meant. As I see it there are two stages: there's the question how the symbols 'right' (or 'green') get attached to the concept that they do, and then there's the more interesting question of how this broad sense of the term determines -- in combination with the actual facts -- what the term actually refers to, i.e. what property the concept denotes. So I should have asked how it is that our sense of the concept 'right', as we hold it in our minds, determines what external property is ultimately denoted by the term. (Compare how the concept 'water' ultimately denotes the property of being H2O.) It is this step of Eliezer's account, I think, which looks to some to be suspiciously relativistic, and in conflict with the sense of the term as they understand it. Maybe he's picking out the right property (hard to tell when he's said so little about it, as you say). But the meta-properties, the concept, the procedure by which what we have in mind picks out a particular thing in the word, that just seems all wrong.