Re: Memetics: The 10 Suggestions

From: Dana Hedberg (
Date: Fri Jan 07 2000 - 11:28:21 MST

John Clark wrote:
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> On January 03, 2000 Wrote:
> >Nobody *ever* "deserves" pain, not even Adolf Hitler. Now,
> >if *someone* has to be hurt, it might as well be Saddam Hussein; a
> >murderer is certainly "targetable" for life imprisonment if that makes
> >innocents safer. But pain itself is a moral negative, and nothing we or
> >anyone else can do will flip that sign to positive.
> That is wise, true, and very well said! In fact, if that is not a fundamental axiom
> of morality then I would have absolutely no use for morality. But it is and I do.
> John K Clark

I've always viewed pain as a sensation that is interpreted like any
other. And for some, I would argue they have apparently flipped the sign
to positive, and indeed pain gives them great "pleasure". As a default
however, I would say that you should try to not cause pain to anyone,
unless: 1) they explicitly ask for it; 2) you honestly believe this is
what they want; and 3) there is a communicated, long-standing level of
trust between the parties in question so that pain does not give way to
permanent injury.

Given this, I'm not sure how pain itself can be ascribed an objective
valence (at least in self-aware, subjective interpreters of reality).
Whether it is part of a moral arena might also be questioned. However, I
certainly don't feel qualified to make that particular assessment.


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