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Eliezer_Yudkowsky comments on Devil's Offers - Less Wrong

21 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 December 2008 05:00PM

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Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 December 2008 10:23:51PM 3 points [-]

@James Miller:

What justifies the right of your past self to exert coercive control over your future self? Their may be overlap of interests, which is one of the typical de facto criteria for coercive intervention; but can your past self have an epistemic vantage point over your future self?

Can you write a contract saying that if your future self ever converts away from Christianity, the Church has the right to convert you back? Can you write a contract saying that your mind is to be overwritten with an approximation of Richard Dawkins who will then be tortured in hell forever for his sins?

If you constrain the contracts that can be written, then clearly you have an idea of good or bad mindstates apart from the raw contract law, and someone is bound to ask why you don't outlaw the bad mindstates directly.

If children under 75 don't need Werewolf Contracts, why should children under 750?

Phaethon, in the story, refuses to sign a Werewolf Contract out of pride, just like his father. You could laugh and call him an idiot. Personally, I think that (a) many people are at least that stupid, at least right now and (b) it's cruel to inflict horrific punishments on people for no greater idiocy than that. But at any rate, why force Phaethon to sacrifice his pride, by putting him in that environment? Why make him give up on his dream of adulthood? Why force everyone to take a cautious non-heroic approach to life or else risk a fate worse than death? Phaethon is being harmed by the extra options offered him, one way or another.