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Comment author: Viliam_Bur 16 May 2013 08:15:14AM 2 points [-]

Is it a good idea to give a financial incentive to a big company to make your life shorter?

If after the moment you buy your insurance you make some changes that increase your expected life span (e.g. give up smoking), can you be sued for insurance fraud?

Comment author: prase 16 May 2013 10:09:39PM 1 point [-]

This depends partly on the terms of the insurance and partly on the laws. I work as an actuary and at the moment our company's rules are:

  • if the price of the insurance depends on your occupation, you are obliged to report if your occupation has changed and your premiums may be reset to new values (higher or lower)
  • if the price depends on whether you smoke, you aren't obliged to report when you start, but we reserve the right to ask you and then you must truthfully answer (and then the premiums may change)
  • if the price depends on you weight, only your weight at the insurance start date is important, no need to report later changes (and even if you do - e.g. in case you sign another insurance - your old premiums remain intact)
  • if you lie or violate your obligations to report, your benefits may be cut in the ratio of your actually paid premiums and the premiums you would counterfactually pay if you hadn't lied (this is, more or less, specified by the law)

We don't sell any policies which are more expensive for people who are less likely to die (such as pure endowments), but even if we did, I find it hard to imagine that we'd offer lower price for smokers. That would be pretty bad marketing - "insurance company XY motivates their clients to smoke" makes for a pretty diappointing headline. Suing a client for quitting smoking? Unthinkable.

By the way, if I decide to invest in my retirement, I'd want to buy pure annuity without any guarantee or death insurace; I'll need the money if I survive to old age. Unfortunately I don't even know whether such products are ever sold, people clearly prefer to have a guaranteed 10 year annuity or fund transfer to their heirs in case of death or whatever similar, since they are now certain that the insurance company doesn't consume their savings if they die. But it makes the insurance significantly more expensive and most of the advantage the insurance has over bank savings is lost.

Comment author: diegocaleiro 16 May 2013 08:52:35PM 0 points [-]

This is Brazil. I've checked now, and indeed: A aposentadoria pode variar de R$ 678,00 (salário mínimo) até R$ 4.159,00 (valor máximo corrigido anualmente). 10 Brazil reais = 4.93754 U.S. dollars

Is this not like this elsewhere?
Is anyone open to negotiating a formal marriage by the way? message me. I generally fear that maybe states will pay for longevity stuff, and my citizenship will put me out of play. Also, I want to live in Berkeley or Oxford.

Comment author: prase 16 May 2013 09:01:58PM 1 point [-]

I suppose the cap limits the pensions provided by the state and you can in principle buy a private life insurance to increase the payoff, right?

Comment author: buybuydandavis 15 May 2013 09:21:55AM 1 point [-]

I had always been under impression that the value of life "qua man" is derived from the value of life in general,

Not life in general, but your life, to you. As Rand would say, value is not a conceptual primary - it presupposes value to whom for what.

I believe her transition from life to "life qua man" is untenable. What you describe would have been more consistent in my eye, if your life is what makes the concept of right and wrong possible, it should be the objective standards for your life that matters, not the life of Man, Mammal, Biped, or Bowler. But the requirements of life wouldn't have taken her where she wanted to go.

Playing the essentialism card allowed her to smuggle in a boatload of values masquerading as implicit in the choice between life and death. The requirements for your concrete life get subordinated to the standards of Man's life qua Man. And then it's "Man can't live as this, Man can't live as that", no matter how many men have managed to do so.

I think she's wrong on the basic question - life isn't what provides a standard of right and wrong, it's preference. Her example of the immortal, indestructible robot undermines her case. The robot would still make choices, and could stlll have preferences, even if immortal and indestructible. '“Value” is that which one acts to gain and/or keep.' The robot can still act to gain or keep things - it can still have values.

Indeed, it would be perverse, even from an Objectivist perspective, for values in life to be impossible without the possibility of death.

I think she fails, like all do, in demonstrating an objective code of values. But I found the sense of life in the novels liberating and moving, and the criticisms of altruism empowering.

Comment author: prase 15 May 2013 06:58:42PM 0 points [-]

Not life in general, but your life, to you.

By "value of life in general" I meant value of one's own life for oneself (the "in general" qualifier was there to mark the absence of "qua man").

Playing the essentialism card allowed her to smuggle in a boatload of values masquerading as implicit in the choice between life and death. The requirements for your concrete life get subordinated to the standards of Man's life qua Man. And then it's "Man can't live as this, Man can't live as that", no matter how many men have managed to do so.

That's what I find most annoying and in the same time bizarre with Objectivism. On the one hand, it asserts that my life belongs to me and nobody else, on the other hand it prescribes what I am entitled to do with my life and what not, lest be considered a looter. Among other freedoms, I want my freedom to be altruistic if I choose to.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 15 May 2013 04:49:59AM 0 points [-]

The only terminal value is survival.

Not true. Last I heard the debate was between life "qua man" and a flourishing life.

All above could be derived step by step by mere logic from the first axiom, no observational data needed.

I believe that's mistaken as well. She was not a rationalist in that sense. Concept formation came from observational data.

Comment author: prase 15 May 2013 06:37:25AM 0 points [-]

I had always been under impression that the value of life "qua man" is derived from the value of life in general, because human life which is not "qua man" is actually equivalent to death, as living "qua man", whatever it means, makes one human. Am I mistaken?

I think you are right in your second objection, there is some limited role for observation in Objectivist philosophy.

Comment author: Zaine 14 May 2013 09:16:11PM *  3 points [-]

I don't understand why objectivists seem to be held in low regard here. My exposure is limited to browsing a forum of objectivists[1] - they were indistinguishable from those here, though much more focussed on personal instrumental rationality in their topics.

I know they are formally a closed loop belief system limited by the writings of Ayn Rand (which I've not read), and have heard this belief system is flawed in some way. That sounds like a straw man.

I'm only interested in the steel man. What is the difference between rationality and objectivism?
The only one that comes to mind: Objectivism implies there is only one true way of some things, while rationality allows for individual variety in thinking processes (resulting from different information, experiences, terminal values, etc.)

However, if for one person their most desired thing is happiness - which can only be achieved through quasi-altruistic deeds - then I cannot see it as anything but objective and rational to carry out those deeds. Objectivism applied to the fulfilment of one's desires appears indistinguishable from rationality to me. Where am I wrong on this - or am I playing semantics?

[1] Knowing what to look for, I discovered the site again. They indeed are very skilled at applying instrumental rationality to various areas of their lives (exempli gratia what type of plastic surgery yields the most natural results?) - however in the Philosophy and Ethics sections, Ayn Rand philosophy abounds. They are describing the intent of an Important Figure (scary), without doing so for the purposes of then breaking it down; those that try the latter attack straw-man versions and are refuted.

Comment author: prase 14 May 2013 11:46:03PM *  17 points [-]

What is the difference between rationality and objectivism?

I have had few discussions with Objectivists and read few other discussions where Objectivists took part and I haven't seen particularly high level of rationality there. Objectivism as actually practiced is a political ideology with all downsides - fallacious arguments of all kinds, tight connection between beliefs and personal identity, regarding any opposition as a threat to morality by default and so on.

Objectivism as philosophy is a mix of beliefs often mutually incompatible, connected by vague net of equivocations. You may have been mislead by the etymology of "Objectivism" to thinking that belief in objective reality and morality is the distinguishing characteristic belief of Objectivists. But it is not so. To be an Objectivist, you ideally have to agree that

  • For all X, X=X
  • The only terminal value is survival.
  • There are natural human rights to life, property and liberty, and no other rights.
  • Selfishness is a virtue and altruism is a vice.
  • Laissez-faire capitalism with minimal to non-existent state is the only moral political system.
  • All above could be derived step by step by mere logic from the first axiom, no observational data needed.
  • Ayn Rand was one of the greatest thinkers of 20th century (and perhaps of all history of mankind).

That "there is only one true way of some things" is not a steelman version of Rand's Objectivism, it's a vague nearly tautological statement which almost everyone is bound to agree with, Objectivist or not.

Comment author: Caerbannog 23 April 2013 08:39:15PM *  6 points [-]

I don't agree with this.

Your thought experiment with the dumbbell is an incorrect way of thinking about ambient pressure. Ambient pressure pushes against an object from every direction. It does not work to deform or break, only compress from all sides.

Picture this: You have a hand-sized water balloon on a table. You place the two dumbbells on it; it breaks. You have another water balloon. You take this one, tie it to a dumbbell, and drop it into deep water. Do you expect it to break when descends to 3 feet (i.e. 10% increase in pressure)?

I would not expect it to break at all. When water and other non-gases are put under pressure, the bonds and repulsive forces within push back.

Don't quote me on this part, but I would guess that to break a bone with just ambient pressure, you'd have to raise the pressure to about the compressive strength of the bone, around 100 megapascals. For reference, standard atmospheric pressure is around 100 kilopascals.

edit: changed 3 meters to 3 feet, per prase's comment.

Comment author: prase 23 April 2013 09:19:48PM 5 points [-]

3 meters underwater is about 30% of atmospheric pressure added, not mere 10%.

Comment author: Stabilizer 23 April 2013 12:47:47AM *  25 points [-]

Things that have made me sit up:

  1. Japan has a population of 130 million. It is the largest (by population) non-western developed nation. Edit: It is also the second-largest developed nation in the world.

  2. Areas of countries, especially African nations. For example, Mali is larger than France, Germany and Italy combined.

  3. My idea of real-world violence changed dramatically after reading Randall Collins. In short, it is far rarer than you think, everybody involved is extremely fearful of it, nobody is very good at it and it really is nothing like the movies. For example, they are usually very short: O.K. Corral was 30 seconds long.

  4. Chile is in the same time zone as the East Coast of the US.

Comment author: prase 23 April 2013 09:16:30PM 2 points [-]

Just out of curiosity, what population did you expect Japan to have?

Comment author: [deleted] 14 April 2013 09:03:03AM *  2 points [-]

The Czech Republic isn't any further east than central and southern Italy. And certain people (not me) are surprised that certain parts of Ireland are further west than mainland Portugal. (Generally speaking, it's like people's mental map of the world is rotated around 20° clockwise.)

Comment author: prase 15 April 2013 10:19:11PM *  1 point [-]

As for the Portugal/Ireland thing, one could easily blame the conically projected maps which conventionally have the 15th (or so) eastern meridian vertical, making Portugal's 5th western meridian slanted and pushing poor Portugal more to the left than the more northern Ireland.

And it is easy to underestimate the east-west dimensions of Italy. We tend to assume that it is hanging freely from below the Alps, right down as a pendulum in equilibrium should, while actually it is tilted almost 45 degrees to the right. The region commonly refered to as "south Italy" could be as easily be described as "east Italy", although that strangely never happens.

Similar thing happens to Norway. Northern Norway can be as far east as Cairo or Kiev, which only few people realise.

Comment author: [deleted] 14 April 2013 09:01:24AM 10 points [-]

The map of languages of Europe (as most such maps I've seen) has some very weird things. Why the hell would “Toscan” [sic] be considered a separate language from Italian and Neapolitan wouldn't? Describing most of Ireland as a “bilinguism [sic] situation” sounds like wishful thinking -- Irish might be official but very few people speak it regularly (not counting school classes and the like) except on the west coast.

Comment author: prase 15 April 2013 09:58:44PM 1 point [-]

Most Irishmen at least know a little Gaelic as they have to learn it at school. The map has worse inaccuracies. Occitan and Low German aren't even official and are spoken by tiny minorities, contrary to the impression one could easily get from the map. Ingrian is effectively dead with 500 speakers according to Wikipedia. The Czech-German bilingual area in western Bohemia is completely made up (it even doesn't correspond to the pre-WWII German speaking area). The Hungarian speaking area in Romania should be centered a bit more to the north-west. Breton isn't and never wasn't spoken in the pink-dotted locations. There is a German minority in Polish Silesia, but again the area should be smaller.

Not speaking about the language names and their spelling which reveal French origins of the map.

Comment author: wedrifid 09 April 2013 05:11:35PM 1 point [-]

That means whether you ever had a full-time job or a part-time job related to the school system; whether you were a teacher or a director of a school, an employee of a Department of Education, a school inspector, or an employee of a company working for education as much as the author of this article

I'm a school system insider by this standard. This makes the survey rather broken because I know very little about schools in your country. I recommend correcting your language.

Comment author: prase 09 April 2013 11:34:47PM 1 point [-]

I know very little about schools in your country

Whose country? Viliam_Bur's country is most probably not the same country as the OP author's.

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