Created Already In Motion

  • Minds must implement some kind of basic logic in order for persuasion based upon logic to work
  • A dynamic is something that happens inside a cognitive system, not in the data that the system manipulates
  • There is no argument that is universally persuasive – no matter how persuasive your argument is, you won’t be able to convince a rock

The Bedrock of Fairness

  • Is fairness a concept in the world, or is it a concept in our minds?
  • Is fairness that which crosses the gap between people and convinces someone else that one is being moral, and someone else is not?
  • There is no procedure that is so inherently fair that everyone will automatically agree to it
  • We are often more sure of the outcome of a fair procedure than we are of the procedure itself

Moral Complexities

  • Questions for those who believe that morality is a preference
    • Why do people act as if they mean different things by, “I want X,” and “It is right that I should have X?”
    • When and why do people change their terminal values? Is it meaningful to talk about “moral progress” and “moral error”?
    • Why and how do people do things that they “know they shouldn’t” or things they “know are wrong”?
  • Questions for those who believe that morality is given
    • Is it possible for everyone to be wrong about morality, and also be wrong about how to update their moral beliefs?
    • How would you know that you were in such a world?
    • How does a world in which a moral proposition is true differ from a world in which a moral proposition is false?
    • What prevents an alien mind from viewing morality very differently from us?
    • Why does morality look so much like the output of natural selection?

Is Morality Preference?

  • Subhan: No reason to talk about morality as being distinct from what people want
  • Obert: Morality is distinct from desire
  • Is there a basic difference between “desire” and “duty”?
  • Somehow society went from Old Testament attitudes, where certain actions needed no moral justification, to a more modern conception of morality, where actions do need justification
  • When we talk of moral progress, are we engaging in anachronism? Are we judging the past by the standards of the present and finding it wanting?

Is Morality Given?

  • Continuation of “Is Morality Preference?”
  • If we encountered a carnivorous alien species who thought it was morally right to kill, and morally wrong not to kill, would they be morally wrong in killing a human? By whose morality?
  • Is it possible for humans, or even all humanity, to be irretrievably morally wrong?
  • Is there any difference between saying, “I choose to do X because it is moral,” and “I choose to do X because God wills it?”
  • There are no preferences that are inherently more moral or right in a world that consists solely of elementary particles interacting accroding to the laws of physics
  • But, it might be better if we acted as if morality were given

Where Recursive Justification Hits Bottom

  • In the end, we adopt beliefs because they work, not because they will convince a hypothetical philosopher who has no priors
  • We trust things like Occam’s Razor not out of any deep philosophical reason, but “merely” because it’s worked well for us in the past
  • We must always put forth our best effort, knowing the entire time that we are flawed reasoners
  • Your beliefs don’t change the capabilities of your mind – they only change the sorts of problems that you apply your mind to
  • Rationalists are not out to win debates with hypothetical philosophers, they are out to form correct beliefs about the world
  • The point isn’t to be reflectively self-consistent, the point is to win
  • Reflective self-consistency is a means to that end
  • The important thing is to not exclude anything from question, even if the answer ends up being a recursive loop