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michael_e_sullivan comments on 31 Laws of Fun - Less Wrong

34 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 January 2009 10:13AM

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Comment author: michael_e_sullivan 26 January 2009 06:35:32PM 1 point [-]

How do we know that it's improved? Isn't it equally plausible that Franklin would be horrified because some things in our world are horrifying, and his own moral thinking was more rational than our own? Does moral thought gets more rational all on its own? It seems as though it might be difficult for moderns to know if moral thought were less rational than it used to be.

The point of the exercise (somewhat more clear in the full post) is not that every moral decision on which we differ with Ben Franklin represents a moral improvement, but that at least some do and there are many. So, there are many things about our world today that are, in fact, better than the world of the 1700s, and at least *some* of them would nonetheless shock or horrify someone like Ben Franklin, at least at first, even if he could ultimately be convinced wholly that they are an improvement.

So in designing any real utopia, we have to include things that are different enough to horrify us at first glance. We have to widen our scope of acceptable outcomes to include things with an argument to be better that would horrify us. And that will, in fact, potentially include outcomes that hearken back to previous times, and things that Ben Franklin (or any other rational person of the past) might consider more comforting than we would.