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  1. Dear Brandon,

    is there a hierarchy to your altruism?

    When I think about the effects of altruistic behavior on pain, suffering and death, my thoughts keep spinning around this question and the further questions it leads to.

    Maybe you did not confront yourself with this question and it will lead to some fresh thoughts.
    Although you seem to be under the impression to have thought every thought there is about “what should be” and which kind of (inter-)actions humans should engage in. After all, It is a long Journey from social darwinism to where you are now.

    Best regard
    Florian

    1. First of all, thank you very much for an excellent comment and taking the time to read any of what I write 🙂

      As you can probably tell I don’t do a lot a site maintenance, though I seemingly forever plan too. It’s just that I hate revisiting my own work. It feels like diminishing returns or redundancy. So there are a lot of pages scattered around like this one, statements of planning apparently abandoned.

      As to your questions etc.

      _”is there a hierarchy to your altruism?”_

      I’m not exactly clear on what is meant by that. The best I can respond with is to say that I have priorities, and that in every case triage of sorts should be applied. The first question anyone should ask themselves about a given action in the context of global improvement is if this is the best use of their time and resources.

      There are many many worthy problems and issues, but yes some are more worthy than others. However, people are extremely diverse, and as such working on the most important issue in the most efficient way will look different among different people.

      Still, I absolutely recommend trying to deal with root issues whenever possible to generate root solutions. By that I mean solutions which obviate whole other issues. I think it’s best to move from the general to the specific. But I could always be wrong. Maybe it’s better to nibble away at the tiny problems first. Or maybe as I said what’s “best” is different for everyone.

      Related links:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felicific_calculus (Another view on priorities.)
      http://www.senescence.info/physical_immortality_myths.html (Why treat the symptoms when you can cure the disease?)
      http://www.hedweb.com/hedab.htm (Let’s cure suffering generally while we’re at it.)
      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtTn3kMuxf1qB5x4ZZbTSi3d6gaX5Reg5 (How to power the future.)
      http://futurism.com/images/universal-basic-income-answer-automation/ (How to deal with the economy of the future.)

      _”Although you seem to be under the impression to have thought every thought there is about “what should be” and which kind of (inter-)actions humans should engage in.”_

      To me that kind of statement is a cheap way of attacking a position on social grounds when you can’t attack it on logical, factual, or meritorious ones.

      If you or history want to call me a “know it all” or arrogant, fine. Have no choice but to endure whatever labels humanity (or label engineers) stick on me.

      http://underlore.com/chapter-screw-your-manners/

      No, I am aware I don’t know everything. But I know a lot (grading on a curve) and I believe I know the bulk of my strengths and weaknesses.

      And I know very well that my tone could be seen as a weakness. I spent the bulk of my life being wrong about how to change the world. I thought facts and reason did it.I thought solutions were the solution.

      I was wrong.

      http://underlore.com/avoid-my-mistakes/

  2. I did not mean to attack you on social ground. I meant to attack you in a more general sense.

    You are saying that you came to the conclusion that reason can not change the world.
    Which you derive from your own experiences with reasoning and arguments.
    Which can only mean that you are generalizing your own experience. You are making it an imperative of causality.

    Which means either
    a) You are tired of using reason to provoke change. You have given up and turned to a sphere that seems to produce objective good (science). Which is wrong. Science can not do that.

    b) You think that there are no lines of reasoning that can change behavior, structures, systems.
    c) ? Please give me another perspective if there is something else to consider.

    B can only be thought under the impression that you know all reasonings in the matter of how the human kind should be(have) and therefore the world can not be changed based on reasoning because you could not change the world based on it.

    A means you are engaging in an impossible task.

    I have made different experiences. There might be some deep disagreements on how the world should be that can not be resolved through reason, but that it can not change the world? That is very total and you should think again, imho.

    I need to rephrase my first question. It was too vague and lead to an answer of a question I did not mean to ask.

    Is there a hierarchy to the subjects of your altruism?

    If there is:
    Are there explicit criteria or are the rules on which you base your altruistic actions implicit (you just feel a certain way for a person, for example.)?

    Where does thinking about this hierarchy (‘who’ is receiving my altruism and why) lead?

    Best regards
    Florian

    1. You are relying on inter-generational social change to achieve your goal. But this change is not a given. It is produced by opposing or revealing lines of reasoning in opposition to an existing set of rules, structures. By some of those who challenge the believes of their generation and produce relatable theories for generations to come. That is – in it’s essence – change through reasoning.

    2. My argument against reason as a primary agent of change (outside actual technology development) is based on history, not my experiences unless you wish to be pedantic and assert that my exploration of history is merely a personal experience.

      I’m still not understanding your question. Or I feel I’ve already answered it. The only criteria for who should receive altruism is extremity of need and expediency. The objective always is to do the most good for the most people as quickly and competently as possible. As I said, triage.

      I understand though how difficult it is to accept that reason has no impact on what people believe. It undermines a lot of what we take for granted about humanity and its cultures.

      But really the evidence is ubiquitous and overwhelming.

      Think of political positions as religions and you’ll have a much more accurate understanding of how people arrive at choices.

      Really the only people it’s possible to reason with are children. Ironic (or?) since they are the one group we more or less overtly refuse to treat rationally.

      http://underlore.com/the-final-underclass/

      Your picture of social change is an unfounded and flattering lie. It’s essentially hero worship.

      “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” ~Max Planck

      And that man was speaking as and about the world’s greatest rational minds. Drinkin what that implies for average humanity.

      This is basic default human nature we are talking about here.

      Fittingly, my evidence and logic will not be able to convince you. At best I could untangle your lines of reasoning to uncover that you already agreed with me before we even began speaking.

      1. I disagree with you.

        I agree with Max Planck though. But you seem to misunderstand him. Your picture of social change is missing a link. It is missing a concept of how new generations are able to be familiar with new concepts of values, scientific theories etc…

        For example: Let’s assume I am a social scientist who has hypothesized about two seemingly separate phenomena. Trust and corruption. Trust has not been used as an enabler or a predictor for corruption before, but there are a handful of other theories about corruption and how it can be explained and predicted. These theories are represented by leading social scientists whose power and influence in their fields rely on their expertise in knowing about and using these theories in case studies.
        I can not convince those experts of my theory, because certain parts of my theory about corruption contradict their advice on how to handle corruption. Accepting my theory would weaken their power, which would be against their -Interest- as the hegemonial instance.
        However. I can find colleagues in lesser positions of power who are willing to accept my theory because they do not have as much to lose. Some of these colleagues will eventually perpetuate my theory in seminars and lectures and students will learn about them. Which can – if my theory is fitting – lead to change.

        Of course. Only a new generation of scientists who are using my theory will lead to the ruling of my theory in the field (the old opposing scientists will have died), but this new generation woudl have never learned about or used my theory if I hadn’t convinced some of my colleagues through reasoning. AND THAT is what Max Planck is talking about. The hegemony of a scientific theory in a scientific field/community can (normally) not be brought down within one generation. BUT that is a statement about a STRUCTURE, not about individuals.

        And apart from this clear misunderstanding of Plancks Ideas, his whole life contradicts your interpretation. Planck engaged in discourse, reason, debate throughout his whole life. He never grew tired of it and even explored and debated continental philosophy and how it interacted with his physical theories.

        There is no evidence that reason can not lead to change. It is the exact opposite. Reason is the moderator of positive change. There can not be positive change without humans engaging in interactive reasoning.
        History is filled with ideas that lead to positive change. The whole transformation of the european continent was enabled by reason. Although this transformation brought unimaginable and still not ending suffering aswell. The explotation of labor, colonialism. Of course there are other catalysts then pure reasoning.

        France for example did not change because people debated themselves into being a republic. But it’s first revolution was started under the preposition of reason. There is no planned action without thought. And revolution can not be thought without a set of ideas to revolt for. These ideas are a product of reasoning. Not primarily reasoning with the ruling people, but reasoning with those who do not have power. Much like the example with a new scientific idea.

        “Your picture of social change is an unfounded and flattering lie. It’s essentially hero worship.”

        How? There is no enabling personality or individual trait for positive change. There are (most of the time) no outstanding individuals who provoke change. I understand that. Where did you get a different impression? On the other hand. Heroism seems to be somehting positive for you, since Piotr Malachowski is one of those you chose to call a hero.

        “Fittingly, my evidence and logic will not be able to convince you. At best I could untangle your lines of reasoning to uncover that you already agreed with me before we even began speaking.”

        First. Logic can not lead to right or wrong. It is merely a tool. Second. You have not presented and evidence. At all.
        Third. No. we disagree. Although I am not an agent of pain and death.

        Fourth
        Confirmatory bias. There are a few other reasons that come to mind.
        1. The reasons you present are bad.
        2. Our interests are not in line.
        3. … ?

        “This is basic default human nature we are talking about here.”
        Not a good base for your case. Each and every conclusion about the human nature is bound to fail when it comes to explain human behavior, cultures, societys, the systems we have created. These kind of conclusions have been dissected again and again and again.

        “Think of political positions as religions and you’ll have a much more accurate understanding of how people arrive at choices.”

        No. Absolutely not. You can only conclude this by reading and engaging in too much on-line debate. Or if you are accepting nihilistic reasoning. Which would be okay, I guess. But unlikely, since you seem to think that there are things that matter.

        “I understand though how difficult it is to accept that reason has no impact on what people believe. It undermines a lot of what we take for granted about humanity and its cultures.

        But really the evidence is ubiquitous and overwhelming.”

        This is a contradiction. How can there be ubiquitous and overwhelming evidence, when reason has no impact on what people believe. I mean. How can you determine what evidence is reasonable (ubiquitous and overwhelming) when you are part of “the people”? Wo are we? I am not part of your cultural sphere at all. My “we” does not take anything about humantity for granted. Which is why we do not claim to talk about “basic default human nature”.

        “I’m still not understanding your question. Or I feel I’ve already answered it. The only criteria for who should receive altruism is extremity of need and expediency. The objective always is to do the most good for the most people as quickly and competently as possible. As I said, triage.”

        This is where the puddle is showing it’s face.
        I can not accurately state my question in your language.

        Maybe this will be sufficient:
        Are there people or actions/believes held or acted by people who are in need who disqualify these persons to be the target of your altruism. Or at least do these criteria (believe, action, characteristics) lead to different priorities in your altruistic actions?

        Please excuse me. I am passive-agressive. There is some non-related stuff that is stressing me out and you are the target in some of the above sentences. I hope you can overread the passive-agressiveness or at least try to not give it too much weight.
        I deeply respect your approach and I would probably prefer to be around you then around about 3+ standard deviations of the rest of the human kind.
        Although I think your engagement in the world is fallacious and based on a bipolar interpretation of humankind, the world, events and meaning in general.

        1. I appreciate you taking the time to write this but I feel like I’ve already made my case in it’s entirety.

          If anything I feel like you’ve simply provided more evidence.

          If you genuinely think debate and reason are the drivers of social change, then I envy your comfort.

          As to your question, no, there are no exceptions to my ethics. That fact probably explains the most extreme aspects of my world view.

          For example, I think prisons should be abolished on the grounds that crime is either or both desperation or mental illness, neither of which are ethically punishable. And I think there should be no age limits on voting. I reject exceptionalism.

          http://underlore.com/the-final-underclass/

          Indeed I extend much of my ethics to animals as well, and even AI. I oppose The Blue Brain project on the grounds that digital brains can genuinely suffer.

          I hope that answers your questions.

          1. It does, thank you! 🙂 Are there people who are dear to you? Like a boyfriend, for example? Children? Your family?

            Is there a difference in your behavior towards them and your behavior towards strangers in the sense that they are your favorited human beings?

            “If you genuinely think debate and reason are the drivers of social change, then I envy your comfort.”

            There is not a single driver to most social changes except maybe catastrophe. There are many prerequisites. Reason and debate are two of them. My comfort is none.

            1. I have friends and family. Ethically I would prefer to treat everyone like them. But of course as a human being every action I take has an opportunity cost which includes risk.

              So yes my behavior is different to each group but not in any way that is inconsistent with my ethics. This refusal to make exceptions and find a groups of people that “deserve” being exploited by me is imo the primary reason for my poverty.

              Catastrophe would fall under environment. As I said, there are two drivers of change in this context. Environment and technology. And really you could argue that technology is an extension of environment since it depends on the laws of physics which are environmental in nature, but I find the distinction useful.

              I’m sorry your are uncomfortable. :/

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