This isn’t a post, I’m trying something

This is some other stuff.


 

 

This is the intro

This says stuff

  1. this says stuff
  2. and is also a list
  • This says stuff
  • and is also bullet points
This is some more text

Yes it is.

 


This stuff goes at the end.

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Some things on morality systems

So ever since I learned about the three ethical systems thing (consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics – I don’t think I did have an article that lists them just from the top but the consequentianalist one does mention the other two near the top, so, here), (‘ever since’ here is a few months or so, I think), I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit in.

I read an article on consequentialism that was persuasive to me (it didn’t actually fully persuade me, for some reasons I’ll mention later*, but as in it had objective qualities (that I would not be able to lay out at the moment, but clearly they’re there) that with respect to me gave it the subjective quality of persuasiveness), and that had a weight. I was generally if not fully concretely aware that I differed from it in some ways. I kind of thought about that as maybe putting me then somewhat toward deontology (if probably still closer to consequentialism), even as I find deontology strange/not-right-feeling/something like that (more on that later too). I kind of felt like the lines between were more blurred than it seemed people were talking as. I also kind of felt like it seemed like I was actually something else different from actually all of them. I didn’t feel like I understood what virtue ethics actually was (possibly influenced by the fact that the person where iirc I ran into the three systems thing, and then at least one other person (though I saw that like a few days ago, so not likely an influence) noted that they didn’t feel they did).

Then today I read these two posts from Unequally Yoked (Ethics Case Study #2: Senior Gift and Case Study in my Ethics/Metaphysics), (the second of which also linked to the post “Here I Am, Dressing up as Christ”, which I’d read earlier without it giving me these ideas/understandings, but now that I’ve read these two and it’s been sparked by them, its contents contribute). As a result, I feel like I have a much better grasp on virtue ethics. And, in turn, some things re: me.

  • Having been thinking that  I ‘do some consequentialism’ and ‘do some deontology’, in that sense I also ‘do some’ virtue ethics (I think about more than deontology but less than consequentialism).
  • My feeling that I am actually something else different from all of them is in fact :entirely correct: {by “:entirely correct:” I mean something like, often I experience things as not-quite-concrete/not-quite-in-the-place-in-my-mind-where-I-can-think-about-things. That thought was like that before. Now it has turned into the kind-of-thing-I-can-think-about, and also I see that it is correct/true/accurate}.
  • So thinking about the lines-feeling-blurred thing, I’d ended up with something like, it seems all the of them are saying ‘some things are Bad (and some things are Good)’ and they differ on what those things are – in consequentialism bad consequences are bad (and good consequences are good), in deontology breaking rules is bad (and obeying rules is good) and in virtue ethics ‘personal badness’ is bad (and virtue is good). Well, this is in fact a very useful formulation for me, since it allows me to get at where I actually am.
  • Where I actually am is that I also have ‘some things are Good and some things are Bad’.  But, they doesn’t fit exactly onto *any* of the other frameworks. (I think for me, the best/most covering description of those things is more like states. Like, it is Good when such-and-such things are the case, and it is Bad when such-and-such things are the case. But haven’t actually thought it all through yet.) Some of the things are pretty well expressed by consequentianalist things. Some of them are pretty well expressed by virtue ethics things. (I think expressing them as deontology things generally feels weird, but when they’re not quite consequentianalist they feel more like rules in the way that they are different from consequentianalist things, which is why I think I had the feeling about it how I did). But, this is like how I can have ideas/thoughts/feelings etc, and some of them are well expressed as bullet pointed lists and some of them are well expressed as art, etc. That’s a thing about how they’re well expressed, but bullet pointed lists/art isn’t actually what they *are*.
  • Back when I was reading the Consequentialist FAQ, I was thinking something like ‘well, I feel like our systems are going to come to the same conclusions a large amount of the time, but I also do :believe: in a morality-in-the-metaphysical-realm kind of thing and for me this all connects to that’ (even as there are many moralities-like-that that the author discusses that I strongly disagree with and think do badthings). Well, this (as in, the above) is what that comes out of, for me.

[1] And because I said I would mention the reasons I differ from consequentialism:

So, first, back when I read the FAQ (which was Jan 8 2015), I had response-thoughts that I was composing into a post. I didn’t end up writing that post, and now forget most of what I was going to say. But, one of the things was about this quote:

Searching for moral rules means searching for principles that correctly describe and justify enough of our existing moral intuition that we feel confident applying them to decide edge cases.

The thing is that !! this definition is awesome and great and I’m very glad I ran into it.

Now, the big appeal of consequentialism to me is that consequentialism gives results that are also super-important things to me, that being things about ‘it is bad to hurt people/when people are hurt and it is good when people flourish etc’.

When I was thinking of the three systems, it occurred to me that the advantage consequentialism has over the other two (and an appeal I think it has for many people) is that you can get stuff externally/’empirically’. As noted, all the systems say ‘some things are Good and some things are Bad’, but then you have to actually have which things are which, and the answer to how is generally something like ‘thinking/feeling about it’. In consequentialism, meanwhile, you get to get them by ‘asking people’. (Or more accurately by obtaining information about people, with asking actually just being a possible method of obtaining some information).

Well, the reason that I break from consequentialism is that it doesn’t ‘give me’ enough of the things that my moral intuitions do.

The major way this happens is something I described as ‘not protecting against having bad people’, but that’s longer than I’m going to get into right now.

A simpler-to-describe way is there are things I care about that you don’t get this way. A pretty easy one is existence of non-person-etc things. Another thing I read today was this post involving moral relevance of nature so to speak. A thing it said was

The trees do not feel pain, they do not suffer, it may be a bad idea to burn them but that is entirely because doing that will hurt humans and other great apes (and if you consider insects and rodents and whatnot relevant it will hurt those too)

Well, while I do agree that people are so, so much more morally relevant than plants that in general “[no]thing I do to a plant which I purchase could be considered evil” (well, it’s somewhat more complicated for me, but not getting into that either), I don’t think plants are entirely morally irrelevant. I think there is an *additional reason* there not to burn the trees down. Or, for a more :clear: test case/whatever these are called – if there was some planet that only had plants, and about which it was definitely true that no ‘higher life forms’ would ever evolve on it and people would never get there, see it, or experience it in any way, and there were no people who had (or had ever had or would ever have) any kind of preferences or feelings or etc about it, and that planet could either be destroyed or not, I think it would be more Bad if it was and more Good if it wasn’t.

And, now, a reason I was confused about blurred lines is that totally sounds consequentialist. If you destroy the planet, it will not be there anymore; that is a bad consequence so. (And this led to blurred lines, because similarly I can think ‘well, if you break a rule a rule will have been broken and that is a bad consequence). But, [now I see] that the thing about this is that it goes back to ‘you figure out what is bad by thinking/feeling about it’ and the way consequentialism gives itself lines is by not doing that (or at least by not doing that right away, but again not getting into that right now). ‘Obtaining information from people’ will not give it to you. (And in case someone shows up saying that if you collect information about the plants, you will also conclude they should not be destroyed, since they do defend themselves, do things to preserve their lives, etc – OK, well, I will have the same option about a planet with rock formations). And I’m not willing to give it up, so a morality system that does not give it to me does not work for me. But it does work out fine coming from my kind of morality system, so, 👍.

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Things that don’t make sense to me about ‘Guaranteed Basic Income will lead to crime’

I’m currently in the middle of reading a thread where some people are coming out with the  ‘guaranteed basic income will lead to crime’ idea.

The one that tipped me over into going and writing about this has two branches: 1) people will be idle, and thus turn to crime, and 2) people will want more money than GBI, and thus turn to crime.

The second one I just can’t make heads or tails of at all. ‘People wanting more money’ is a situation that clearly exists in our society right now. Let’s say that X% of people deal with this by trying to make money legally, and Y% deal with it by trying to make money through crime. For 2 to make sense, you have to accept ‘if we give people some money to start with, Y will increase’. I can see no reason to assume that would be the case.

The first one is also weird. Let’s say my idea is ‘right now people’s job’s are keeping them occupied, but if they had GBI they would stop doing those jobs, be bored, and commit crimes’. Well, why wouldn’t they just go and do those same jobs? Again, we’re coming from assuming that without GBI, those people are working jobs rather than committing crimes. Thus they presumably have some reason for that, whether it be ‘morals’ or ‘committing crimes is risky’ or ‘normalization’, etc. Introducing GBI shouldn’t change any of that. The only thing GBI changes is that these people have more money to begin with. So concluding that they would then start preferring crime only makes sense if we believe that people’s current reasons for working jobs rather than committing crimes are financial ones. In other words, people are thinking ‘I’d actually rather go be a criminal, but my job makes me more money, so I’ll do that instead’. Given that a pretty common moral take about crime is ‘yes, you could secure yourself personal advantage by committing crimes, but don’t‘, it really doesn’t seem to me that this is the case.

There are two possible responses to this I can think of. One is that people won’t go do the same jobs because they won’t want to. However, since we’ve established that people prefer doing the job to doing crime, if they prefer something else to doing the job then they transitively also prefer it to crime, so there is no problem on that end.

The other is that GBI comes with those jobs not being available anymore, probably due to the various links between GBI and automation (either ‘we need GBI because of automation’ or ‘people on GBI will be able to demand more from employers, which will lead to automation being preferred’). (Now, for whatever reason, a lot of people just seem to take for granted the GBI->can’t have old job connection without discussing the automation angle, but since the angle is there I’ll just go ahead and bring it in myself).

This, I think, is in fact the good point hidden all this – the point being that opportunity to do things is also important to people and we can’t focus entirely on income and ignore this factor. And, I agree with this entirely! However, in my opinion the rather clear answer to this is ‘opportunities to do things being available (and facilitation thereof) is also important to deal with’ not ‘coerce people into doing things through resource control’.

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Unstoppable forces, omniscience, and the morality of the universe

So I was reading one of the morality posts on lesswrong [warning for anti-religion stuff, *sigh*], which at one point asks the question, ‘if you believe in a morality of the universe, what if it tells you to do something horrible’.

If you do happen to think that there is a source of morality beyond human beings… and I hear from quite a lot of people who are happy to rhapsodize on how Their-Favorite-Morality is built into the very fabric of the universe… then what if that morality tells you to kill people?

If you believe that there is any kind of stone tablet in the fabric of the universe, in the nature of reality, in the structure of logic—anywhere you care to put it—then what if you get a chance to read that stone tablet, and it turns out to say “Pain Is Good”?  What then?

Maybe you should hope that morality isn’t written into the structure of the universe.  What if the structure of the universe says to do something horrible?

[Note, I took out a link from the above quote, if you want to see it click through to the original.]

This was one of the things I had to think through a bit to figure out how it worked. But once I did what I come to is that it’s either not a problem or it doesn’t make sense.

If I believe there’s a morality of the universe, and I also believe there are elements of that morality I am aware of, then if I run into something making some claim to revealing/embodying/etc said morality, and it says something that contradicts something I already believe to be an element of morality – then either I end up thinking I’m wrong, or I end up thinking that the thing in question does not actually reveal/embody the morality.

If I believe that the morality of the universe includes ‘killing people is bad’, and this thing I run into says ‘whoever kills the most people is the best person so go kill lots of people’, then either I then believe I’ve been wrong about ‘killing people is bad’ (in which case I do not have a moral problem, because I don’t think the thing told me to do something horrible, since I’ve changed my mind about what’s horrible), or I believe that the thing is not actually telling me true things about the morality of the universe (in which case I also do not have a moral problem because the thing that told me to do horrible things is not telling me morality things). I can’t have both ‘it’s right’ and ‘killing people is bad’, because they’re incompatible. (I can also be uncertain, but again, I’m uncertain between these two options).

Like – say I instead get a chance to consult an omniscient truthful oracle, and it tells me I speak Finnish. Either I’m going to believe that I speak Finnish, and I was previously wrong about me not speaking Finnish, or I’m going to believe that this is not actually an omniscient truthful oracle.

(If I believe the option that involves changing my mind but I continue to experience the same evidence I used to, I’m probably going to want some explanation for how this works, which is to say, why whatever led me to believe that killing people is bad/that I don’t speak Finnish is actually incorrect. Say ‘your species is not advanced enough to have a sense for true morality’ or ‘you have abnormality in the area of your brain that perceives you speaking Finnish, such that you are not aware of doing it’. And again, which way I go depends on whether I accept this account over ‘the thing is not accurate’).

It’s like the ‘what if an unstoppable force meets an immovable object’ question. That doesn’t work, because you can’t have a universe that includes both those things, they are mutually exclusive.

(Now if I run across something *very powerful* that tells me to do things I find immoral, that is, well, a problem. But it’s an entirely separate moral question (which is, rather, the one I thought of when reading about the Left Behind books!)).

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Divorce and trust

One of those times when a bit in something I’m reading that isn’t actually the point of the thing gives me thoughts.

I’m reading this anti-gay marriage (and anti no-fault divorce) thing (to be very clear, I am very much pro both equal marriage and no fault divorce), and in a quote of someone named Professor Anthony Esolen ran across the line

Divorce begins by undermining trust in marriage

I find this idea very strange.

I very strongly believe that if a person wants to not be in a relationship anymore, they should be in every way able to stop being in that relationship. Obviously, that means supporting divorce.

I believe the point the person who said the above quote was attempting to make was ‘with divorce, you can’t trust that your partner won’t at some point decide to leave you and do so, because they can do that’.

The part where I find this strange is – so, I said “if a person wants to not be in a relationship anymore, they should be in every way able to stop being in that relationship”. If divorce is not permitted, then the second part of that sentence stops being the case. But, that doesn’t do anything to the first part. At that point, what you have is ‘a person wants to not be in a relationship anymore, but they have to stay anyway’.

…Is that something you want for your relationship? Does knowing ‘my partner wants to not be with me, but they have to be with me anyway, so they’re still here’ seem like a good or desirable thing to you? Does that actually make you feel more secure?

It seems to me that the thing you would actually want to be able to trust is ‘my partner will keep wanting to be in a relationship with me’. But forbidding divorce won’t give you that. Legally requiring them to stay when they don’t want to won’t give you that.

Nothing will give you that. It won’t. And, even with all issues of consent and everyone’s right to themselves and self determination aside, I think we’re better off dealing with that than trying to avoid it by using legal fake-security as a coping mechanism.

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Systems: What is a System

[So, Systems are a major key concept for how I think about a lot of things. I tend to not write about my key concepts because of a lot of ‘I can’t do it well enough right now, I need to wait until I can’ kinds of feelings. However, this is really not a good approach, and a better approach would be to set things down as I can right now, and if I get to that future-where-I-can-do-it-better, I can then write better versions, while also having had something in the meanwhile. So.]

Intro

When I say System, I’m talking about the kind of thing people mean when they say The System, and with features like ‘bad/harmful’ and ‘working in the background and making things bad’.

A prior concept

The first thing I’m going to introduce is not a System, but it ties in in important ways so it goes here. I don’t have a word for it, so for the moment I’m going to call it systemish.

Systemish is when a bad thing plus human psychological coping systems for living with bad things lead to things being worse than they would otherwise be [and can provide a cover for badness {‘badness’ here means something like ‘getting something positive out of hurt-as-in-violation to other people}].

(Important note – coping mechanisms are usually subconscious, rather than something people are doing on purpose).

For instance, let’s say there’s a particular society with a particular non-infectious illness that strikes people at random and causes great suffering. Living with ‘I might at any point get this illness and suffer’ is very difficult. So, as a coming mechanism, the just world fallacy comes into effect, and people come up with the idea that those struck by the illness are actually secret evil-doers who are being punished. Because of this, people with the illness are often treated badly – derided, shunned, etc. This makes the people with the illness considerably worse off than they would otherwise be, and, if this is a potentially curable illness will likely impede the finding of a cure, so future generations will have to keep living with this illness or the threat of it.
[This can also provide a cover for people who get some kind of kick out of getting to deride, shun, etc other people without suffering social backlash.]

As another example, let’s say in a particular place in order to enter a copper mine you have to be go through a process that has the effect of an agony beam, otherwise you will die upon coming near the copper ore. Living with ‘people have to endure horrible agony for no good reason’ is very difficult. So, as a coping mechanism, people end up coming up with reasons why this is actually a good thing. For instance, it makes people value copper more, it leads people to a mindset of dedication in their copper mining, etc. Now let’s say the process stops being necessary (someone comes up with a painless alternative, or whatever reason the process was needed stops being the case, or in any other way). However, people are reluctant to abandon the process, because what about value and dedication and such, and thus people keep being subjected to it.
[This can provide cover for feelings like ‘I suffered, so they should have to’.]

Systems

A System is when things are set up and running in such a way that mostly benefits fortunate bad people {‘bad people’ here means something like ‘people who are OK with getting something positive for themselves out of hurt-as-in-violation to other people}, but everyone else is trapped in it.

Systemish become Systems if the badness is driving. So, if ‘getting a kick out of treating a group of people badly’ or ‘I suffered so they should have to’ (/people with those motivations) is a significant reason why the bad state of things is still happening and being perpetuated.

An example that really helped me get/form the idea of Systems comes from the Bartimaeus Trilogy. [Note, I only read the first two books of this trilogy and I read them years ago. It’s very possible that the setup I’m about to describe is not exactly the one in the books. I don’t see this as a problem; if it is the case, I’m perfectly alright with having my example inspired by the books rather than coming from them.]

Society in the Bartimaeus Trilogy has three groups of beings: magicians, commoners, and demons. In the human world, magicians are the group in power. They’re generally the wealthy and the government. A magician who feels like hurting a commoner can do so and the commoner can’t do anything about it. If they try to take it to court it will only make things worse for them. Demons are enslaved by magicians, generally in ways involving torture. Magicians have a dog-eats-dog world among themselves, if they don’t get their demon controlling spells exactly right the demons might destroy them in turn, and a major risk factor for this is a demon knowing their birth name, so they have to avoid use of it.

So at first glance this seems like a society in which on a social level literally everyone is miserable. But in fact, the society is pretty good for bad people magicians. They’re totally fine or even actively happy with benefiting from exploiting demons and commoners and hurting other magicians, and not being able to have things like caring human connections is not a problem for them. Meanwhile, everyone else would be better off without the System, but is trapped in it by the forces in play.

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Defining things

Words are important to me. They’re pretty critical in enabling me to think about things. Understanding is also very important to me, both understanding what I myself am thinking/saying, and understanding in dealing with other people.

A problem that comes up a lot is that people dealing with each other are using a word to mean different things, thinking different things when they see a word, etc, and this causes a lot of confusion and other things that are really detrimental to discussion.

Because of this it’s often important to me to explain what I’m actually meaning by words I use. (A relevant link here is Taboo Your Words. It differs in that it’s saying “not to define your problematic terms, but to see whether you can think without using those terms at all“, but there’s still the same idea of ‘here’s what I’m talking about’ – I’m just dealing with this in terms of definitions because the reason I was using words in the first place is that that’s really useful often to a critical degree in both thinking and communication, and I want to keep using them for that. [Additional important note, the linked article also briefly gets into antitheism, which I really don’t like and have serious issue with]).

Well, a problem I keep running into is that there are a lot of things I can’t define in the dictionary way. This was a very serious issue for me, but I recently realized something that helps a lot with it.

There is, in fact, no reason why I should feel obligated to define things that way.

The goal I have is to clarify/explain/etc ‘here’s what I’m talking about’. So if things other than dictionary-type definitions help me achieve that goal, clearly it is entirely fine for me to use them.

In fact, if I had a way to ‘define’ a word/concept that was *closer* to how I thought about it than a dictionary-type definition would be, then converting to a dictionary definition would be suboptimal even if I could do it, because it would end up farther from what I was actually trying to get at.

(Since my go-to example of things that are hard to define in dictionary ways are colors, I went and looked up “blue”. Google’s dictionary says “of a color intermediate between green and violet, as of the sky or sea on a sunny day”. And, while I am quite impressed with whoever wrote that, I promptly noticed that the words this definition uses (‘green’, ‘violet’, ‘sky’, ‘sea’) are not actually very useful as words. They’re useful as the images I have associated with them. If I didn’t have such images, those words would be entirely not useful in helping me understand what blue was. Conversely, the thing that would be most concisely useful in understanding what blue is would be images of blue).

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