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byrnema comments on Belief in Belief - Less Wrong

66 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 29 July 2007 05:49PM

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Comment author: byrnema 08 February 2010 12:10:04AM *  1 point [-]

Just curious -- are you a moral realist?

If the "separate magisteria" hypothesis was tenable, we would have no reason to see so many people hold correlated beliefs about the non-physical magisterium.

The correlation of beliefs (discounting bible literalists, etc.) is mainly over value judgements rather than empirical facts. For example, if you disagree with the Pope, you probably disagree with his ethics rather than any scientific statements he is making.

Yikes! NYtimes

Pope Benedict XVI has every right to express his opposition to the use of condoms on moral grounds, in accordance with the official stance of the Roman Catholic Church. But he deserves no credence when he distorts scientific findings about the value of condoms in slowing the spread of the AIDS virus.

Comment author: Morendil 08 February 2010 12:34:56AM 0 points [-]

are you a moral realist?

I have no idea. My meta-ethics are in flux as a result of my readings here.

I have described myself as a "Rawlsian", if that will help. It seems to me that most of our intuitions about ethics are intutions about how people's claims against each other are to be settled, when a conflict arises.

I believe that there are discoverable regularities in what agreements we can converge on, under a range of processes for convergence, humanity's checkered history being one such process. What convinced me of this was Axelrod's book on cooperation and other readings in game theory, plus Rawls. The veil of ignorance is a brilliant abstraction of the processes for coming to agreements.

I think the Pope is being an ass when he says that condoms would worsen the AIDS epidemic rather than mitigate it. I don't know much about his personal ethics. I don't pay much attention to Popes in general.

I most emphatically do not believe that the Pope has "every right to express his opposition to the use of condoms on moral grounds". Perhaps he has a right to a private opinion on the matter.

But when he makes such a claim, given his influence as pontiff, it is a fact that large numbers of people will act in accordance, and will suffer needlessly as a result - either by contracting the disease or by remaining celibate for no good reason. They are not acting under their own judgement: if the Pope said it was OK to wear rubber, they would gladly wear rubber.