curi: Yay! The camera's on! Look at me!
Others: -_-o
Isyn: I just read this. Help!
Elliot: Morality is knowledge about making choices.
Isyn: Uh huh.
Elliot: So what does that have to do with God?
Isyn: If God didn't decree which choices are better and worse, then who did?
curi: Me.
Elliot: No one did. Just like no one decreed that there is a keyboard in my lap. But it is there.
Isyn: So how do we know which choices are right?
Elliot: Well, ummmm, the thing is we don't really know that explicitly and fully.
Isyn: If you don't know what is right and wrong, how do you know right and wrong exist?
Elliot: Kill Lia.
Isyn: What? No!
Elliot: Why not?
Isyn: I don't want to.
Elliot: Why don't you want to?
Isyn: I don't know that explicitly.
Elliot: You prefer some things to others.
Isyn: Yes.
Elliot: So you act *as if* morality exists.
Isyn: What?
Elliot: If some choices (ie not killing Lia) are better than others, then morality exists.
Isyn: Oh. But isn't that just my self-interest?
Elliot: What does self-interest have to do with anything?
Isyn: Well, isn't it different from morality?
Elliot: They aren't mutually exclusive.
Isyn: I mean, what if I follow my self-interest instead of morality?
Elliot: Then, I'd say you have a moral theory along the lines of: whatever is in my self interest is morally right. But you don't have that theory.
Isyn: Where do you get off telling me what theories I hold?
Elliot: It's just interesting that a number of people *claim* to hold a self-interest based morality, but do not.
curi: You need a thesis.
Elliot: What?
curi: Just saying a bunch of random true things is confusing. And you don't expand them very much.
Elliot: How should I expand them?
curi: Like, explain them more clearly..?
Elliot: They are clear to me.
curi: Not to everyone.
Elliot: But I don't know what points others will miss.
curi: Oh.
Elliot: Yep. Not gonna spend my time slaying random false theories. Need good reason to think someone actually holds it and is listening. Or for it to come up in explanation of something true.
Elliot: Am gonna spend my time sleeping. Bye.
Lia: Sleep well.
curi: She finally said something.
Isyn: Shut up.
curi: Make me, bitch.
Elliot: shhhhh
curi: Are you trying to tell me what to do?
Elliot: Turn off the camera, now.
curi: *turns camera off*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
The importance of morality in every day life is striking. For example, in team games of Warcraft 3. Players will be paired with people they don't know, and required to coordinate their forces and share their resources for victory. Teams that bitch at each other, and refuse to defend each other's bases, tend to lose badly. Teams that get along, prosper.

Or, compare these two scenarios:

I need 5 more gold to buy an item. I ask my partners for the money, and wait a while, and eventually they tell me they "need the money" because they are saving for something they'll get later. I explain I'll pay them back soon. After a long delay, and wasted time, I give up. I go kill stuff and get 5gp, walk back to town, and finally get my item.

Alternatively, a partner gives me 5gp right away. I get the item, use it to kill stuff faster, and then pay my partner back, and need not return to town.

(Not that paying each other back should be important, everyone should just give all their money to whoever happens to be at a store ... but that's just too much to expect of random people.)

Another way morality helps, is over the course of many games, moral people improve more. They are accustomed to solving problems, and when something goes wrong, they figure out how to do better next time. Alternatively, some people, upon failure, get mad and resentful.

Like, some people think advice is an insult, as if they aren't good enough. Well, truth is, they are not perfect, and their arrogance only makes them stay bad.

The effect of all this is so great, that simply by figuring out what to do, sharing gold, and coordinating our efforts, my friends and I can easily win with 2 or 3 players vs 5 players on certain maps.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)
Some people expect lots of collateral damage in the war on Iraq. They are wrong, but let's ignore that a moment. Would this actually be any reason to oppose the war?

Well, if the dead civilians come from immoral leaders ordering schools bombed .... yes, that's something to oppose.

But if it comes as part of the fight, as part of the unavoidable cost to defeating evil, then of course it is no reason to oppose war.

So, what we discover is, this "reason" has no substance. It depends on another claim. And it adds no useful information: we already know to oppose wars by murderous folk, and support wars by the righteous.

So, opposing the war based on too much collateral damage, is just judging the US to be morally bad, combined with hiding one's meaning behind a smokescreen.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)
Anti Theory

Morality is more important than any other concerns. It should come first in our thinking. It should come last in our thinking. And it should dominate over our thinking.

(To avoid confusion, for many issues, like doing science, morality usually just says to use true epistemology and do a good job, or something rather minimal.)

Many people oppose the war. And virtually all of them do not temper this opposition with morality. First, the war is wrong and will be opposed. Then maybe later we can talk about little detailed bits of morality that pale in comparison to The Cause. This leads to the anti-war folk saying anything they can to oppose war, moral or not. And thus they say false things. And dishonest things. And meaningless things. And things that sound catchy. And things they don't understand. And demonstrate no intellectual integrity.

Of course, most of them deny morality exists, and few value anything. Many would claim morality is a matter of opinion, or that it's just a religious idea (as if the source of an idea could make it wrong). Why do I say they value nothing? Well, we know they don't value peace, happiness, liberty, non-violence, or getting their facts right. (Those tortures taking place in Iraq right now sure are peaceful...) They defend the unsuccessful, but I don't think they actually value failure. It's just an easy way to pretend.

Morality first applies to perfectly good people to, in realistically useful ways. Like I want hits. And if that was primary, I might be tempted to lie, or spam, or ... well I don't know, but if I was a bad person I'm sure I'd think of something. And throwing these out because of self-interest (well, if I spam, maybe that will annoy people and I'll get less hits) is not the way to go. Even if that calculation, in the limit, gets the same answers, it'd be wrong to waste that much computing resources on it.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

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The non-aggression principle (NAP) is one which many libertarians accept, but few can defend. It states that it is wrong to initiate force or threat of force. This is, for situations where it applies, meant to replace a moral analysis.

Morality is knowledge about making choices. It tells us which are right and wrong to make. It tends to be quite complex, and we certainly don't know everything about it.

Now, to assert the NAP requires some argument that, in all situations, the right choice is not to initiate force. Regardless of the details. I've never heard such an argument. Does anyone know it?

(I know some people like the spirit of the NAP, and don't actually pay attention to what it says. I don't think they should support it, but acknowledge they don't need the argument I request.)

And don't tell me the NAP is right because it's self-evident, or I will have to WRITE BIG CAPITAL LETTERS AT YOU. mwahahaha!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
The concept of minimum necessary force (MNF) is one which many libertarians accept, but few can defend. There is a right amount of force for a situation. In the limit, the minimum right amount, maximum right amount, and right amount are all the same. Not in the limit, MNF means erring on the side of using too little force. But why do that? Why not err on the side of too much force, to be sure we get the job done? Or better yet, not err either way.

And don't tell me MNF is right because it's self-evident, or I will have to WRITE BIG CAPITAL LETTERS AT YOU. mwahahaha!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)
Watch this about the peace protests.

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Article about the Nobel Peace Prize

Peace experts say that Americans like Ryan, Nunn or Lugar can probably forget 2003 because Carter won in 2002. The committee increasingly aims for an international scope.

"Two Americans in a row would be too much," said Irwin Abrams, an expert on the prize and professor emeritus at Antioch University, Ohio.


Fucking racists. (among other things)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)
There are a number of words I don't use in the standard way. For example, I use 'theory' very broadly. In general, I hope my meaning will become clear from my writing in general. But I use a very precise definition for 'coerce', so I'll give that now. It's from the TCS Glossary. The entry gives:

The psychological state of enacting one idea or impulse while a conflicting impulse is still active in one's mind.

In general, when one has conflicting theories, one adopts some temporary theory to avoid coercion. For example, one might stop and think about it. Or do one thing, while keeping the ability to switch choices open. However, people have limited creativity and this sometimes fails. Also, certain external circumstances can facilitate failure. Like being shot. (Conflicting theories along the lines of "I don't want to die" and "I haven't got a choice, so the other theory is wrong".)

Oh, and if you get robbed, you'll probably be coerced because you'll want to not be robbed, and also know that's pointless of you. However, if you get taxed, you probably won't be coerced, because it's easier to see taxes have some purpose and/or aren't worth the effort to fight, and thus reject the "I don't want to be taxed" theory causing the coercion.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)
Rachel Lucas wrote a poem for me :-)

A Poem for Elliot:

Faulkner wrote a book I like
About sadness and August and light
My favorite phrase
The question I raised
Elliot got it right

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
I want to respond to Perry de Havilland's Samizdata piece, found here. It's in italics with comments interspersed.

Many of the anti-war protesters has been carrying placards with the slogan 'Not In My Name'. Well if you voted in the UK, regardless of whether it was for Labour or Conservative or LibDem, then you gave your consent to the system which taxes me without my consent,

Voting for someone does not make one responsible for what s/he does. Voting at all does not make one responsible for any injustices of the State. A vote for a candidate only means that the voter would prefer that candidate to the others.

so I suppose I am robbed in 'your' name.

One difference between taxes and robbery, is that reasonable people generally are coerced by robbery, and generally are not coerced by taxes.

I was disarmed (by a Tory government) and forbidden to effectively defend myself in 'your' name. My rights to own property and control my own labour and capital are abridged into meaninglessness in 'your' name.

There is no system under which knowing better is sufficient for a wise one's ideas to be implemented -- save a tyranny with that wise one in charge.

A libertarian utopia is not the natural state of affairs which government came along and destroyed. Rights are not self-evident. And it is folly to expect the same people who support policies to take away rights, [thinking they are not rights at all] to in the absence of government, respect those same rights.

So when you say say about a war against the Ba'athist socialists of Iraq "Not In My Name", please forgive me if I really do not give a damn if something gets done by the state that you do not like.

Suppose they were responsible for various bad things. Would that make them wrong about the war, or be reason to disregard their view of the war? No.

I do not think George Bush and Tony Blair want to topple Saddam Hussain due to an abiding concern for the Iraqi people, but frankly I really do not care why the statists who tax me are going to do it,

This retreat from explanation speaks volumes.

just that they do it.

So, if the war was done for utterly immoral reasons, Perry would support it just as much as if it was done for moral reasons.

Provided there is a net gain in liberty in Iraq, and it is hard to see how that could not be the case post-Saddam, then I am in favour of the violent and hopefully fatal removal of the Ba'athist thugs.

Thus Perry declares the total amount of liberty in the world the ultimate good, and prior to morality. I imagine some troops explaining to the Iraqi soldiers that their death will bring about a net gain in liberty, and is thus good. And also explaining that fighting back will reduce the total liberty in the world, as compared to dying peacefully, and is thus wrong of them.

Do it for 'Freedom for Iraq', do it 'because Saddam is a threat', do it 'because of links to Al-Qaeda', do it 'because the voices in my head told me to'... I do not care. Just do it!

You can even do it in my name if you like.


I imagine some troops carrying a banner that reads, "In the name of Perry de Havilland, on account of the voices our insane leader hears, death to Iraqis!"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
curi: Write about me some more.
Elliot: What?
curi: I said I want attention, bitch!
Elliot: That's lovely.
curi: People pay attention to cursing, right?
Elliot: I dunno.
curi: Fuck you.
Elliot: -_-o [That's a sweatdrop. So is ^_^;]
Lia: Hey, I was just reading, and I found out people in Israel are killed like all the time. That's awful.
Elliot: You mean murdered.
Lia: Yes, you're right. That's an important distinction.
Isyn: This other piece says the Israelis are oppressive murderers, and their only casualties come from freedom fighters.
curi: Blood Libel!
Isyn: What?
curi: Not only are the Jews oppressive murderers, but they steal children in the night, because they need the blood of gentile children for their best pastry recipes.
Isyn: Really?
curi: -_-o No.
Isyn: Do you think baby blood tastes good?
Elliot, curi, Lia: *anime fall*
Isyn: I was just asking...
Elliot: One point of note is that, if Israelis are often murdered, then whatever force Israel is using to fight terrorists and murderers is insufficient.
curi: Only hippies don't like Israel, and they don't like self defense either, so that's a pointless point.
Lia: curi!
curi: What?
Lia: Just because hippies smell doesn't mean you should slander them all the time.
curi: It's not like they will defend themselves ;-p
Elliot: Yes they will. They aren't really pacifists. They just say that when it suits them. They don't seem to have any problem supporting mass murdering tyrants, when that suits them.
curi: If they defended themselves, and won, they would no longer be able to play the victim. And as they support the unsuccessful, they would have to take my side after beating me up.
Isyn: *goofy grin*
curi: What?
Isyn: I was just imagining you getting beat up by a couple of hippies.
curi: *whining* Hippies would not be able to beat me up! I would kick their asses.
Isyn: Sure ya would.
curi: Don't make me come over there.
Isyn: Are you saying you don't even have free will?
curi: That's it...
Elliot: -_-o Hey, Lia, hit that switch.
Lia: *flips switch*
Camera: *fades out as curi jumps Isyn*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
Read this. IMAO is great! It's humour with a significant amount of truth in it, that expresses an important and generally ignored point.

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