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Subject: Re: Venus

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From: Eric Watt Forste <>
Subject: Re: Venus
In-reply-to: Your message of "Mon, 27 Jan 1997 15:47:08 PST."
Date: Mon, 27 Jan 1997 16:57:54 -0800
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Robin Hanson writes:
>Given a value conflict, you do choose. But I suspect you couldn't
>know ahead of time which you would choose. If you knew which of your
>values you didn't value, and wanted to weaken, I'm not sure how you
>can say you value that value in the first place.

I can see that you'd want to take issue with the notion that one
can "engineer" one's values. But I think that if a brainwasher can,
given appropriate control over another person's environment, change
that person's values, then each of us can make deliberate changes
in our own values through self-conditioning. Wanting to have no
desire to smoke tobacco and having no desire to smoke tobacco are
two different things, and I think someone in the first state can,
through deliberate action, transform emself into the second state.
I think this would qualify as a small but deliberate transformation
of one's values. I think larger scale transformations are also

>Maybe committee in fighting is a useful analogy. Committee members
>might look forward to the time at which they can get rid of other
>members the continually fight with. But it could well be that they
>are the ones dumped. If everyone on the committee knew that someone
>is sure to be voted off of the committee when the vote comes up, it is
>hard to see how that person to be dumped can have much influence now.
>Crude committee voting rules might give them temporary power, but I'm
>not sure our minds are so crudely organized.

I'm sure they're not so crudely organized, and given the actual
complexity of human minds, it's not hard for me to see how I could
have a value which actually shapes my immediate actions now (i. e.
"has much influence"), and yet manage to dump that value through
longer-term changes in my own environment and my own behavior.

>Given meta-values, non-meta-values are really strategies and
>hueristics, to my way of thinking.

One of my points is that it's not just one level, nor even just
two levels. There are meta-meta-values above the meta-values. And
even here there's an implicit assumption that the system is
hierarchical, whereas the little bit we know about the brain might

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