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In response to comment by Jiro on Nonperson Predicates
Comment author: John_Mlynarski 15 May 2017 03:13:16AM 0 points [-]

I said no such thing.

There is a way in which people believe video game characters, tigers, and human beings to be conscious. That doesn't preclude believing in another way that any of them is conscious.

Tigers are obviously conscious in the no-nonsense sense. I don't think anything is conscious in the philosobabble sense, i.e. I don't believe in souls, even if they're not called souls; see my reply to arundelo. I'm not sure which sense you consider to be the "ordinary" one; "conscious" isn't exactly an everyday word, in my experience.

Video game characters may also be obviously conscious, but there's probably better reason to believe that that which is obvious is not correct, in that case. Tigers are far more similar to human beings than they are to video game characters.

But I do think that we shouldn't casually dismiss consciousnesses that we're aware of. We shouldn't assume that everything that we're aware of is real, but we should consider the possibility. Why are you so convinced that video game characters don't have subjective experiences? If it's just that it's easy to understand how they work, then we might be just as "non-conscious" to a sufficiently advanced mind as such simple programs are to us; that seems like a dubious standard.

Comment author: Jiro 17 May 2017 12:07:12PM *  0 points [-]

Why are you so convinced that video game characters don't have subjective experiences?

The default for 99.99% of people is to not believe that video game characters are conscious. It's so common a belief that I am justified in assuming it unless you specifically tell me that you don't share it. You haven't told me that.

In response to comment by Jiro on Nonperson Predicates
Comment author: John_Mlynarski 11 May 2017 10:50:06PM *  0 points [-]

It seems that you anticipate as if you believe in something that you don't believe you believe.

It's in that anticipatory, non-declarative sense that one believes in the awareness of tigers as well as video game characters, regardless of one's declarative beliefs, and even if one has no time for declarative beliefs.

Comment author: Jiro 12 May 2017 08:32:23AM *  1 point [-]

You first implied that tigers are conscious (because people react to them as if conscious.)

I pointed out that people react that way to video game characters.

You then said that tigers are conscious in the same way as video game characters, that is, they're not conscious in the ordinary sense, that is, you admitted you were wrong.

In response to Nonperson Predicates
Comment author: John_Mlynarski 27 April 2017 01:36:50AM *  1 point [-]

"Is a human mind the simplest possible mind that can be sentient?" Of course not. Plenty of creatures with simpler minds are plainly sentient. If a tiger suddenly leaps out at you, you don't operate on the assumption that the tiger lacks awareness; you assume that the tiger is aware of you. Nor do you think "This tiger may behave as if it has subjective experiences, but that doesn't mean that it actually possesses internal mental states meaningfully analogous to wwhhaaaa CRUNCH CRUNCH GULP." To borrow from one of your own earlier arguments.

If you are instead sitting comfortably in front of a keyboard and monitor with no tiger in front of you, it's easy to come up with lots of specious arguments that tigers aren't really conscious, but so what? It's also easy to come up with lots of specious arguments that other humans aren't really conscious. Using such arguments as a basis for actual ethical decision-making strikes me as a bad idea, to put it mildly. What you've written here seems disturbingly similar to a solipsist considering the possibility that he could, conceivably, produce an imaginary entity sophisticated enough to qualify as having a mind of its own. Technically, it's sort of making progress, but....

When I first read your early writing, the one thing that threw me was an assertion that "Animals are the moral equivalent of rocks." At least, I hope that I'm not falsely attributing that to you; I can't track down the source, so I apologize if I'm making a mistake. But my recollection is of its standing out from your otherwise highly persuasive arguments as such blatant unsupported personal prejudice. No was evidence given in favor of this idea and it was followed by a parenthetical that clearly indicated that it was just wishful thinking; it really only made any sense in light of a different assertion that spotting glaring holes in other people's arguments isn't really indicative of any sort of exceptional competence except when dealing with politically and morally neutral subject matter.

Your post and comments here seem to conflate, under the label of "personhood," having moral worth and having a mind somehow closely approximating that of an adult human being. Equating these seems phenomenally morally dubious for any number of reasons; it's hard to see how it doesn't go directly against bedrock fairness, for example.

Comment author: Jiro 30 April 2017 07:20:24PM *  1 point [-]

Nor do you think "This tiger may behave as if it has subjective experiences, but that doesn't mean that it actually possesses internal mental states meaningfully analogous to wwhhaaaa CRUNCH CRUNCH GULP."

That's only true trivially. If I don't have tiime to think anything about the tiger's awareness at all, I don't have time to think of it negatively.

Also, I play video games all the time where I say things like "it wants to attack the more powerful character first, maybe I can trick it by luring it away using that character". By your reasoning, I must believe that video game characters have awareness. I don't go around saying "it may behave as if it wants to go after the most powerful character, but that doesn't mean that it actually possesses subjective experiences, and I want it to react in a way which corresponds to being tricked if only it had been an entity with subjective experiences".

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 30 August 2012 02:23:06PM 5 points [-]

So far as I know, the association of pink with girls and blue with boys is a western custom which only goes back a century or so.

Comment author: Jiro 20 April 2017 06:55:02PM 2 points [-]

Response to old post:

Appears to be an urban legend.

Summary: Checking Google Books shows lots of references to pink for girls/blue for boys, and no references to the opposite, going back to the 19th century.

Note: Wikipedia links to this article, but summarizes it in a way which makes it sound much weaker than it really is.

Comment author: Viliam 20 April 2017 09:55:16AM 0 points [-]

In similar situations I usually think about Dr. Semmelweis, whose theories were dismissed as incorrect (and yes, they were incorrect in some minor technical details), and not enough attention was paid to the fact that they saved lives anyway.

Analogically, religion may be doing some right things for the wrong reasons. We shouldn't copy its reasoning blindly, but we also shouldn't dismiss the whole area without exploring it.

Even if all the insights would turn out to be something unimpressive-in-hindsight like "singing together increases group cohesion", it is still a body of knowledge that is good to have. (Specifically for a community that is known by its "inability to cooperate".)

Comment author: Jiro 20 April 2017 06:30:56PM 0 points [-]

Analogically, religion may be doing some right things for the wrong reasons. We shouldn't copy its reasoning blindly, but we also shouldn't dismiss the whole area without exploring it.

Following newspaper horoscopes may also produce the right results for the wrong reasons. Listening to advice from a 5 year old may produce the right results for the wrong reasons. Opening an encyclopedia to a random page and reading whatever paragraph you point to as a solution to your problem may produce the right results for the wrong reasons.

Producing the right results for the wrong reasons is uninteresting unless it produces them often--at least more often than a nonreligious person using basic educated guesses.

Comment author: jwoodward48 03 March 2017 12:18:35AM 1 point [-]

Sounds meaninglessly deep to me.

Comment author: Jiro 05 March 2017 06:56:14AM 0 points [-]

It isn't. It's meant to point out that calling something a 'tax on stupidity" is itself meaninglessly deep-sounding. Intelligence is used for pretty much everything; calling something a tax on stupidity says nothing more about it than "it's part of the world".

Comment author: Jiro 20 February 2017 05:25:17PM 0 points [-]

It also assumes that people are taking the cost-per-life-saved numbers at face value, and if so, then GiveWell already thinks they’ve been misled.

This is absurd. There are such things as degrees of misleading. They could believe that the numbers are already somewhat misleading, but that using them this way is more misleading.

Comment author: korin43 19 February 2017 03:15:54AM 0 points [-]

I'm not insured if I break my own vases, so how does this argue against my point that you should pay other people to move your stuff? If you also want insurance then you should hire a fancier moving company than I do.

Regarding the truck, I always rent my own truck and pay other people to pack it.

Comment author: Jiro 20 February 2017 04:59:03PM 0 points [-]

If you move your own vases, since any loss is borne by you, you are motivated to take all necessary precautions. Someone who you pay is not so motivated, increasing the chance of loss, but the insurance then mitigates the risk. If you just pay $20 to someone on Craigslist, neither of those is the case.

Comment author: korin43 19 February 2017 03:08:22AM 0 points [-]

I think you're being too risk averse here. How do you know you hired a competent person? Can you really be sure that they didn't do something stupid? Are you sure you won't need the money you spend on them for something else? Obviously you should do a cost benefit analysis, but in the cases I mentioned, the costs are way too high for basically no benefit besides saving a small amount of time.

Comment author: Jiro 20 February 2017 04:55:03PM *  1 point [-]

You know that you hired a competent person because they

  • have a reputation to lose if they screw up
  • have a reputation for having done competent business in the past
  • are going to stick around such that you can take them to court if they screw up
  • have insurance
  • have licensing that requires demonstrating some level of competency
Comment author: korin43 18 February 2017 04:09:01PM 0 points [-]

We have the internet now. You can look up how to do these things.

And regarding renting from the hardware store: it seems to work out fine for most people, but I got a blower that didn't work right (since hardware stores don't maintain rarely used tools well) and that made it take a lot longer than it should have (mostly driving because I don't live anywhere near a hardware store or tool rental store). The worst case scenario if you make this mistake is that you return your (free) hardware store rental and go to a tool rental store anyway. I'm just trying to save other people time if they try this.

Comment author: Jiro 18 February 2017 04:46:27PM 1 point [-]

We have the internet now. You can look up how to do these things.

But where do you get the knowledge to know that you picked the right guide off the Internet and that it isn't going to violate housing codes that don't exist in the area of the person who made the guide? Or how do you know that it isn't going to have a long term chemical reaction with the floorboards because the guy writing the guide didn't have such floorboards and didn't bother to mention the possibility? Or any of many things that could go wrong? You need knowledge in the first place in order to know which source has knowledge you can trust.

And regarding renting from the hardware store: it seems to work out fine for most people

I didn't even know that there is such a thing as renting from the hardware store.

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