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Comment author: Salemicus 03 March 2014 05:45:04PM 5 points [-]

Not exactly. You want people to be able to irrevocably bind their future selves.

Not so, and this is an outrageous reading of what I have said. People will still be able to get divorces, just they will have to pay compensation if they are the party at fault. I didn't irrevocably bind my future self when I rented my house, but if I break the lease I'll have to pay compensation to the landlord.

Your comments above suggest that perhaps you don't understand the state of law, at least in the UK.

This is generally currently possible subject to the normal limits on contracts that the society imposes... (e.g. you can't contract to be a slave)...

No it isn't, at least in the UK. All I want is for marriage to be subject to normal limits on contracts, not the special limits on contracts that apply only in the case of marriage. I say "damages in the case of breach" and I am confronted with people suggesting I mean specific performance, dragging people off in chains, or slavery. It's so strange.

I would like to see some supporting evidence for that claim.

Look at the following graph of divorce over time.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/jan/28/divorce-rates-marriage-ons

Note the sharp discontinuity after 1969. What happened then? Oh yes, the Divorce Reform Act of 1969, meaning you no longer had to prove fault to get a divorce (and divorce settlements were also not based on fault).

Now look at the marriage rate:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/resources/gmr_tcm77-258471.png

Again, note the collapsing marriage rate from the early 1970s. Once people realised that marriage wasn't enforceable, the marriage rate collapsed.

Comment author: Multiheaded 26 June 2014 02:59:54PM -2 points [-]

I say "damages in the case of breach" and I am confronted with people suggesting I mean specific performance, dragging people off in chains, or slavery. It's so strange.

Pattern-matching is often rational in politics just because it's so cheap, as long as the pattern makes sense in the first place. I'm sorry, but the pattern of reactionary rhetoric about marriage has these very deliberate connotations. People who discuss this tend to discuss punishing sinners (vicariously so), not holding rational economic actors accountable for damages on underrecognized-but-valid contracts.

Comment author: Salemicus 03 March 2014 05:45:04PM 5 points [-]

Not exactly. You want people to be able to irrevocably bind their future selves.

Not so, and this is an outrageous reading of what I have said. People will still be able to get divorces, just they will have to pay compensation if they are the party at fault. I didn't irrevocably bind my future self when I rented my house, but if I break the lease I'll have to pay compensation to the landlord.

Your comments above suggest that perhaps you don't understand the state of law, at least in the UK.

This is generally currently possible subject to the normal limits on contracts that the society imposes... (e.g. you can't contract to be a slave)...

No it isn't, at least in the UK. All I want is for marriage to be subject to normal limits on contracts, not the special limits on contracts that apply only in the case of marriage. I say "damages in the case of breach" and I am confronted with people suggesting I mean specific performance, dragging people off in chains, or slavery. It's so strange.

I would like to see some supporting evidence for that claim.

Look at the following graph of divorce over time.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/jan/28/divorce-rates-marriage-ons

Note the sharp discontinuity after 1969. What happened then? Oh yes, the Divorce Reform Act of 1969, meaning you no longer had to prove fault to get a divorce (and divorce settlements were also not based on fault).

Now look at the marriage rate:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/resources/gmr_tcm77-258471.png

Again, note the collapsing marriage rate from the early 1970s. Once people realised that marriage wasn't enforceable, the marriage rate collapsed.

Comment author: Multiheaded 26 June 2014 02:46:39PM *  -1 points [-]

Once people realised that marriage wasn't enforceable, the marriage rate collapsed.

Would social conservatives and social liberals please both attempt to explain and steelman/criticize this assertion? Because it has always been among my biggest gripes with the conservative account of why divorce is so bad. It just doesn't seem plausible, especially given how over-optimistic most people are about the prospects of their marriage! And frankly, I'd be creeped out by people who start a marriage for affection or companionship and already think about enforcing loyalty. It might be rational in the abstract, but signals many troubling things about the individual, such as low trust and an instinctively transactional view of relationships. (Marriages for economic reasons probably need a whole different set of norms, such as a historically seen unspoken tolerance for adultery.)

I always understood falling marriage as being primarily linked to the rise in women's education and economic independence. Now, reasonable people who think those are great things can disagree whether the decline of traditional marriage is a cost or a neutral consequence, but I've never had time for people who seek to pin the blame on deliberate and direct political subversion.

Sure, I don't like how some liberals attempt to be contrarian and claim that all the changes in this sphere have actually been unreservedly wonderful and a worthwhile goal from the start.... but that's a general problem of people wanting policies to have no downsides, and the other side's logical leap from calling out the downside to denying the problem is always baffling. Liberals cheering for something as a triumph for the Wonderful Nice Liberal Agenda might be less evidence that it's a triumph for the Degenerate Corrupt Liberal Agenda and more evidence that liberals like cheering. This should not inform one's analysis of the material/economic factors.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 24 June 2014 12:22:50PM 1 point [-]

Using Dark Arts for a good cause: Let's invent an urband legend about a psychopathic killer who murdered five kids who pointed at him laser pointers. Then spread the legend to make sure most of the kids in your environment (and their parents) know it.

Yeah, technically there always is a risk that this story could inspire a real mentally unstable person, but... torture versus laser pointers... I say let's do it.

Comment author: Multiheaded 24 June 2014 08:04:14PM -1 points [-]

...stand back and look at what you've written. I don't know whether to laugh or cringe. What connection could this... "Rationalist"-fanfic-thinking possibly have to the real fucking world?! This is not how urban legends work, how teenagers work, how speading disinformation works... not to mention the ethics of it (which would not come into play in practice, as you'd just get called out on your bullshit).

This sort of utter fucking idiocy comes from a long-time and highly-upvoted LW user! No wonder LW is already seen as a fucking joke in some circles, and not for the transhumanist/singularity stuff either.

Comment author: Multiheaded 16 June 2014 09:10:27AM 3 points [-]

But cheating on spouses in general undermines the trust that spouses should have in each other, and the cumulative impact of even 1% of spouses cheating on the institution of marriage as a whole could be quite negative.

In the comments on Scott's blog, I've recently seen the claim that this is the opposite of how traditional marriage actually worked; there used to be a lot more adultery in old times, and it acted as a pressure valve for people who would've divorced nowdays, but naturally it was all swept under the rug.

Comment author: JenniferRM 13 December 2010 07:21:27PM 28 points [-]

I think the major issue House Elves create has to do not with (1) first order reasoning over ethical behavior with other people, nor (2) second order character development aimed at other people (binding pre-commitments to do momentarily irrational things to create certain game theoretic incentive systems with pleasing global properties) but something like (3) "third order moral reasoning" over political processes that include people pre-committed to various irrational character regimes being subject to political speech exhorting people to make similar pre-commitments based on shared traits.

Suppose humans meet "radically different aliens". First contact stories are a staple of science fiction and they can play out in various ways. Some of the pleasant outcomes involve humans and aliens changing their mind about some stuff so as to recognize each other as "people" and get along.

Now imagine that humans create house elves to be capable of speech and eye contact and geometric verbal reasoning and laughter and so on. Only then does this two-species composite meet "radically different aliens".

From the alien's perspective, humans and house elves are nearly identical except for a small fudge, right? Since the humans were OK creating the house elves they must endorse that state as "theoretically acceptable". Therefore it wouldn't seem like that large of an imposition to ask the humans to modify themselves that way, right? Maybe the house elves are actually happier? And they're certainly cheaper to feed!

Suppose the aliens earnestly and naively explained that they would be horrified to have created "house aliens" but they don't want to judge us, and would like to participate in our culture to some degree. Since "alien shaped slaves" make them queasy, and house elves are too small to do useful jobs on their space ships they want some humans to explain how to modify full human brains to make them good servants. And could be maybe show them how this technology works and give them some prototype volunteer slave humans? Pretty please? What could possibly go wrong? And they pinky-to-tentacle promise not to abuse the technology... not that humans can yet read the way their mandibles and multi-facted eyes squirm around to distinguish between delight at the opportunity to make new friends or gleeful appreciation of having found a new already-half-tamed slave species to upgrade a little and then sell on the galactic market...

And then the people who have been complaining about house elves all this time freak out about the creation of more "intrinsically oppressed" sentient beings. And the people who insisted that house elves weren't problematic at all don't want to give those dumb liberals "I told you so" credits so they agree with the aliens that maybe some weird humans can be found somewhere to volunteer so that humans can get some pretty glass beads from the aliens.

And six different philosophers/priests/politicians come up with subtly different takes on the issue and argue amongst each other to make a name for themselves, creating bickering factions of supporters... which makes the jobs of the people currently negotiating with the aliens that much harder, because it obviously gives the aliens a BATNA to try waiting for a regime change and seeing if they can get cooperation from one of the currently-out-of-power factions who are squabbling in favor of full cooperation so that humans can get some of those pretty beads the aliens wear!

Maybe there will never be such aliens? Maybe the general sanity waterline is high enough that no one should worry about this stuff? But if you're unsure of the answers to those issues, do you really want to fudge the brightline definition of "human" that we got for free from evolution? If you've going to fudge it, do you really want to fudge it down instead of up? Maybe keeping the universe of "moral atoms" simple enough for 12 year old kids to understand is helpful to making sure everyone acts morally in the long run?

I think that when bioconservatives talk about disgust and purity in the context of transhumanism, these are some of the pragmatic political issues that are lurking behind their moral sentiments. I don't generally "side" with the bioconservatives, but this is a reasonably good zombie argument that I've been able to reconstruct from their position.

Comment author: Multiheaded 18 April 2014 11:36:38AM 1 point [-]

This is among the best political comments on LW.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 07:55:05PM 5 points [-]

How is lying like this ethical under it?

Consequentialism has no problems with lying at all.

Comment author: Multiheaded 17 April 2014 07:59:12PM *  0 points [-]

Many internet libertarians aren't very consequentialist, though. And really, just the basic application of rule-utilitarianism would expose many, many problems with that post. But really, though: while the "Non-Aggression Principle" appears just laughably unworkable to me... given that many libertarians do subscribe to it, is lying to voters not an act of aggression?

Comment author: bramflakes 06 January 2014 02:33:03AM 12 points [-]

Continuing the argument though, I just don't think including actual people on the receiving end into the debate would help determine true beliefs about the best way to solve whatever problem it is. It'd fall prey to the usual suspects like scope insensitivity, emotional pleading, and the like. Someone joins the debate and says "Your plan to wipe out malaria diverted funding away from charities that research the cure to my cute puppy's rare illness, how could you do that?" - how do you respond to that truthfully while maintaining basic social standards of politeness?

Someone affected by the issue might bring up something that nobody else had thought of, something that the science and statistics and studies missed - but other than that, what marginal value are they adding to the discussion?

Comment author: Multiheaded 09 January 2014 10:36:08AM *  4 points [-]

Someone affected by the issue might bring up something that nobody else had thought of, something that the science and statistics and studies missed - but other than that, what marginal value are they adding to the discussion?

Thinkers - including such naive, starry-eyed liberal idealists as Friedrich Hayek or Niccolo Machiavelli - have long touched on the utter indispensability of subjective, individual knowledge and its advantages over the authoritarian dictates of an ostensibly all-seing "pure reason". Then along comes a brave young LW user and suggests that enlightened technocrats like him should tell people what's really important in their lives.

I'm grateful to David for pointing out this comment, it's really a good summary of what's wrong with the typical LW approach to policy.

(I'm a repentant ex/authoritarian myself, BTW.)

Comment author: kalium 11 October 2013 06:07:25AM 5 points [-]

There's only a certain amount of emphasis to go around. The more things you italicize, the less important each italicized word seems, and then when something's really important it doesn't stand out. It's like swearing---if I swear every time I spill a glass of water, then it loses its effect and when I drop a hammer on my toe there is nothing I can think of that will express the strength of my feelings.

In comics, the difference in weight between bold and standard is much less than in typical fonts. I think it works well in comics but here it makes me read things out of order in a distracting way.

Comment author: Multiheaded 11 October 2013 12:13:40PM 1 point [-]

There's only a certain amount of emphasis to go around. The more things you italicize, the less important each italicized word seems, and then when something's really important it doesn't stand out.

I keep trying to tell my mom exactly this, every time we need to design some kind of print materials for the family business. She just doesn't get that emphasis is about the relative share of a reader's attention to different parts within a text, a positional good of sorts.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 11 October 2013 10:32:39AM *  2 points [-]

Give me a reasonable definition, and I'll give you my opinion. Without at least an approximate definition I try not to have opinion on things.

(Not that I couldn't imagine some definition myself, but what's the point if your definition may be something very different? I think rape is a bad thing, should be punished, and should not be made fun of. That includes also rape in prisons, or when a woman rapes a man, et cetera. On the other hand, I consider rape to be in average less serious crime than murder. Please note that this answer does not include the "culture" part, because that's the part I don't have a reasonable definition for.)

Comment author: Multiheaded 11 October 2013 11:12:35AM *  1 point [-]

Please note that this answer does not include the "culture" part, because that's the part I don't have a reasonable definition for.

Oh! It's ok, it sounds like you've simply never heard it explained. In a nutshell, my analogy here is that women in grown-up society who suffer some kind of sexual violation or threat are overwhelmingly likely to meet the same blind/wilfully ignorant/worse-than-useless response that is typical of adults overlooking bullying. (It sounds like you and me both have suffered from the latter.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture

So yes, this is not all of what feminists usually mean by these words - but they often do bring up such attitudes in the same vein as your description of bullying here. Given that you've previously decried some stereotypical "social justice" issues, including anti-sexist activism, as pointless/dishonest/hypocritical (IIRC), I wanted to point out how, this time around, you've independently echoed a popular feminist talking point.[1]

Here's another analogy, with a widely used contrast of robbery vs. sexual assault:

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/01/03/the-rape-of-mr-smith/#comment-80958

“So you’d been drinking. Are you sure you didn’t tell him he could take the money? You know, maybe you were feeling sorry for him, feeling bad about telling him you weren’t going to lend him money any more… Are you sure you didn’t give him one last bundle of cash, out of sympathy, but maybe you’re feeling bad about it today?”
“Hey-”
“Maybe you’d had a few too many and it’s all a bit hazy? Are you sure you didn’t tell him he could have the money, but you can’t remember it?”
“No! He stole it from me-”
“What were you wearing at the time, Mr. Smith?”
“Let’s see. A suit. Yes, a suit.”
“An expensive suit?”
“Well–yes.”
“In other words, Mr. Smith, you were alone and drunk late at night with someone you had previously given money to in a suit that practically advertised the fact that you had money, isn’t that so?”

Etc, etc. Disturbingly familiar in some regards, isn't it?

[1] Sure, a bit passive-aggressive of me... but at least I'm trying to achieve something rationalist here by pointing out that your beliefs appear not to be at reflective equilibrium.

Politics Discussion Thread September 2012

-1 Multiheaded 05 September 2012 11:27AM

The last thread didn't fare too badly, I think; let's make it a monthly tradition. (Me, I'm more interested in thinking about real-world policies or philosophies, actual and possible, rather than AI design or physics, and I suspect that many fine, non-mind-killed folks reading LW also are - but might be ashamed to admit it!)

Quoth OrphanWilde:

  1. Top-level comments should introduce arguments; responses should be responses to those arguments. 
  2. Upvote and downvote based on whether or not you find an argument convincing in the context in which it was raised.  This means if it's a good argument against the argument it is responding to, not whether or not there's a good/obvious counterargument to it; if you have a good counterargument, raise it.  If it's a convincing argument, and the counterargument is also convincing, upvote both.  If both arguments are unconvincing, downvote both. 
  3. A single argument per comment would be ideal; as MixedNuts points out here, it's otherwise hard to distinguish between one good and one bad argument, which makes the upvoting/downvoting difficult to evaluate. 
  4. In general try to avoid color politics; try to discuss political issues, rather than political parties, wherever possible.

Let's try to stick to those rules - and maybe make some more if sorely needed.

Oh, and I think that the "Personal is Political" stuff like gender relations, etc also belongs here.

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