Re: SOC: Tractatus Theopoliticus (was: Is vs. Ought)

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Tue, 30 Nov 1999 01:50:19 -0600 wrote:
> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> wrote:
> > Damien Broderick wrote:
> > > >the more I think
> > > >about it, the more I wonder if I'm asking the right questions.
> > > Not before time, Grasshopper.
> >
> > ...but rest assured that I still know, as I've known for the last five
> > years, that everyone else's views on this subject are shot through with
> > logical flaws. I can't ever recall someone saying to me: "You know, I
> > don't claim to know the ultimate answers on this subject, but your
> > answers are obviously wrong because..." Everyone who says I'm wrong
> > claims to know all they need to know about morality. Even you, Damien.
> Non-sequitur in the paragraph. What are the logical flaws?

It wasn't supposed to sequit. The response was simply a parry to "Grasshopper"; just because I'm considering replacing my current theories (which, having lasted for upwards of two years, are overdue) doesn't imply that I've finally given in to Broderick's grandfatherly wisdom. Moving on, not back.

The possibility of being wrong is something I always take into account. I haven't _started_ to wonder if I'm asking the right questions, it's just that the wondering crossed the line between vague uneasiness and specific problems. But that's just fiddling with the decimal places, like the transition between Newtonian and Einsteinian gravitation. Aristotelian gravitation still remains incorrect.

> A lot of liberal thought, at least the version I got from Hayek, is not about
> acting on the Right Answer but about trying to cope with the probability that
> you don't have the Right Answer, not to mention the probability that there
> isn't one.

You cope with both possibilities using standard quantitative and algebraic reasoning, multiplying out the probabilities and the costs and the benefits, or at least establishing inequalities that will tell you "better" or "worse" if not precise numerical relationships, and finding the action with the best distribution of probable outcomes and probable values in those outcomes.

> > Where's the courage to build a philosophy based on discovering morality,
> > instead of claiming to have it? Where is the spirit of science? Where
> > is the quest for truth?
> Where's the humility of a 21 or 22 year old who admits he only cares about AI
> stuff? Where's the curiosity to find out what might be hiding in writings on
> law and economics and philosophy of which you seem to have no clue?

20 year old, and it's presently reading _The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich_. Does the phrase "time constraints" mean anything to you? I make no apology for dismissing Scientology as complete balderash without bothering to study their tissue of rationalizations in detail, and neither do you.

As for humility, it sounds to me like what you're asking for is modesty, and on this of all lists I refuse to bother with that. Yes, I'm smart enough to see when other people are wrong. Those who don't like this are free to not be wrong.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way