Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: Raemon 01 April 2017 08:37:31PM 2 points [-]

I agree that enforced prosociality can be oppressive, and plan to discuss it in an upcoming post.

(I'll respond to each comment separately for easier threading).

Comment author: blacktrance 01 April 2017 09:42:07PM *  0 points [-]

Upon further consideration, it seems to me that while it being enforced can make it worse, much of the prosociality cluster (e.g. guess culture) is oppressive in itself.

Comment author: tristanm 01 April 2017 08:50:50PM 5 points [-]

Can you explain more about what you consider to be the current barriers to entry and how they work? The things that seem to turn off people to the rationality community are more like cultural issues, then things deliberately put in place to filter out unwanted members. I'm not necessarily against barriers in general as long as they are well engineered, but this post seems to be more about reducing the problems with the things that have emerged somewhat organically within the original rationality groups.

Comment author: blacktrance 01 April 2017 09:00:31PM *  5 points [-]

The maintenance of already existing cultural traits that are off-putting to outsiders may be more effective than intentionally designing filters, because the former are already part of the community, so by keeping them we're not diluting the culture, and the process of designing filters is likely to cause contestation within the community.about which of its traits are essential and which are peripheral.

It's hard to explicitly describe what the current barriers to entry are, but they include familiarity with LW ideas (and agreement with a lot of them), enjoying the analytical style of discussion and thought, etc. I occasionally see someone come across rationalistsphere and respond with something like "Ugh, a community of robots/autists started by essays written for aliens" - I want to keep whatever it is that repulses them.

Comment author: blacktrance 01 April 2017 08:08:55PM *  2 points [-]

I'm a peripheral member of the Berkeley rationalist community, and some of this sounds highly concerning to me. Specifically, in practice, trying to aim at prosociality tends to produce oppressive environments, and I think we need more of people making nonconforming choices that are good for them and taking care of their own needs. I'm also generally opposed to reducing barriers to entry because I want to maintain our culture and not become more absorbed into the mainstream (which I think has happened too much already).

Comment author: ChristianKl 16 May 2016 09:25:55PM -1 points [-]

I think you mean ethics and not morals.

There are many ways to persuade people. You can control information flow. You can nudge people and optimize the nudging.

There are physical changes that affect moral behavior. A lot of variables from temperature to diet have effects on moral decision making in certain instances.

You can convince people through arguments.

Comment author: blacktrance 17 May 2016 07:11:50AM 1 point [-]

I think you mean ethics and not morals.

Those terms are synonymous under standard usage.

Comment author: blacktrance 03 May 2016 08:19:19PM 0 points [-]

Moral responsibility is related to but not the same thing as moral obligation, and it's completely possible for a utilitarian to say one is morally forbidden to be a bystander and let a murder happen while admitting that doing so doesn't make you responsible for it. This is because responsibility is about causation and obligation is about what one ought to do. Murderers cause murders and are therefore responsible for them, while bystanders are innocent. The utilitarian should say not that the bystander is as morally responsible as the murderer (because they aren't), but that moral responsibility isn't what ultimately matters.

Comment author: DanArmak 26 March 2016 06:34:54PM 8 points [-]

As before, I found the question on metaethics (31) to be a tossup because I agree with several of the options given. I'd be interested in hearing from people who agree with some but not all of these answers:

  • Non-cognitivism: Moral statements don't express propositions and can neither be true nor false. "Murder is wrong" means something like "Boo murder!".
  • Error theory: Moral statements have a truth-value, but attempt to describe features of the world that don't exist. "Murder is wrong" and "Murder is right" are both false statements because moral rightness and wrongness aren't features that exist.
  • Subjectivism: Some moral statements are true, but not universally, and the truth of a moral statement is determined by non-universal opinions or prescriptions, and there is no non-attitudinal determinant of rightness and wrongness. "Murder is wrong" means something like "My culture has judged murder to be wrong" or "I've judged murder to be wrong".

I'm a subjectivist: I understand that when someone says "murder is wrong", she's expressing a personal judgement - others can judge differently. But I also know that most people are moral realists, so they wrongly think they are describing features of the world that don't in fact exist; thus, I believe in error theory. And what does it mean to proclaim that something "is wrong", other than to boo it, i.e. to call for people not to do it and to shun those who do? Thus, I also agree with non-cognitivism.

Comment author: blacktrance 28 March 2016 12:20:41AM 4 points [-]

I don't agree with any of these options, but I proposed the question back in 2014, so I hope I can shed some light. The difference between non-cognitivism and error theory is that the error theory supposes that people attempt to describe some feature of the world when they make moral statements, and that feature doesn't exist, while non-cognitivism holds that moral statements only express emotional attitudes ("Yay for X!") or commands ("Don't X!"), which can neither be true nor false. The difference between error theory and subjectivism is that subjectivists believe that some moral statements are true, but that they are made true by something mind-dependent (but what counts as mind-dependent turns out to be quite complicated).

Comment author: blacktrance 28 March 2016 12:00:49AM 3 points [-]

The least answered question on the last survey was - “what is your favourite lw post, provide a link”.

IIRC, that question was added to the survey later.

Comment author: Huluk 26 March 2016 12:55:37AM *  26 points [-]

[Survey Taken Thread]

By ancient tradition, if you take the survey you may comment saying you have done so here, and people will upvote you and you will get karma.

Let's make these comments a reply to this post. That way we continue the tradition, but keep the discussion a bit cleaner.

Comment author: blacktrance 26 March 2016 03:43:14AM 40 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: gothgirl420666 05 January 2015 03:44:03PM 13 points [-]

This isn't strictly related, but I was thinking about polyamory today and I was wondering something.

I've never experienced polyamory in real life, and while aspects of it seem cool, there's a major concern I would have with it. I feel like I would deplore a situation in which I have only one partner who in turn has multiple partners. I wouldn't be able to shake the feeling that I was getting the raw end of the deal, like I had been duped into becoming a willing participant in a sort of public systematic cuckoldry.

Given that fact, I feel like any polyamorous relationship with a "primary" would be a constant battle of sorts to ensure that I have a greater than or equal to number of dating prospects as my partner. But as a man (the username is a dumb joke), I feel like this battle would be stacked against me, as women tend to have an easier time finding dates. I imagine that this is doubly true in a rationalist community where the men probably outnumber the women by a significant amount.

I'm not sure if feeling this way says more about polyamory, or my own selfishness and insecurities. Anyway, I would be interested in hearing from polyamorous people if this is an issue that ever comes up, and if so, how it's dealt with.

Comment author: blacktrance 07 January 2015 07:27:04AM 8 points [-]

I'm a guy in a polyamorous relationship with one girlfriend, who is in several relationships simultaneously. It's not a problem - the only occasional issue is that of limited time, and that's not unique to polyamory, it would be necessary to make those tradeoffs for friendships as well. On the plus side, compersion is a great feeling, and another benefit that I get in particular is that my girlfriend dating other people expands my social circle and introduces me to cool people, whom I would have greater difficulty meeting otherwise, because I'm normally not very social with people I don't know.

Comment author: gjm 06 January 2015 02:36:31AM *  4 points [-]

How do you know?

I mean, we have (at least) two hypotheses. 1: lefties classify people on a scale from "oppressor" to "oppressed" and favour the oppressed. 2: lefties are interested in helping people in bad situations, and there are some categories of people who are systematically much more likely to be in bad situations. It looks as if lefties themselves tend to say #2, whereas various non-lefties say #1.

One explanation, indeed, is that #1 is correct and #2 is what the poor self-deluded lefties think they're doing. Another is that #2 is correct and that #1 is what the poor deluded non-lefties mistakenly see it as. Why should we favour the second of these over the first?

(I'm mostly a leftie. It looks to me as if there's some truth in both #1 and #2, but it seems to me that #1 is a consequence of #2, a special case, more than it's a fundamental motivation that gets rationalized as #2. I expect there are people for whom #1 is primary but don't see any reason to think that's the usual case. It seems like the obvious way for someone to feel #1 but need to deceive themselves that #2 is their real motivation would be if they are themselves in an "oppressed" group, so that #1 is a matter of self-interest. I think a majority of the lefties I know -- and for that matter of the non-lefties -- are fairly "privileged" and for those the "#1 primary, #2 is rationalization" account seems awfully implausible.)

[EDITED to add: 1. I would be interested to hear from either of the people who downvoted me why they thought this comment merited a downvote. It looks OK to me. 2. In the 8 hours since it was posted, I am down 31 karma points. I wonder what account name The Artist Formerly Known As Eugine_Nier is using now.]

In response to comment by gjm on 2014 Survey Results
Comment author: blacktrance 07 January 2015 03:51:07AM 2 points [-]

I'm not a progressive, but I don't see 1 and 2 as mutually exclusive. 1 is just a different way of stating 2 - leftists classify people on an oppressor-oppressed axis, where the oppressed are people perceived to be in bad situations.

View more: Next