Moral Beliefs as Prices

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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Mowk » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:08 pm

Carleas, you may think you can equate it to a dollar valuation, but you'd just be making that up too. If that works for you great. Knock yourself out. But to insist it is universal is, in my opinion, silly.

Followup: Would You Rather a random person die and you be given a billion dollars, or neither of those things happen?


Random people are dying all the time and I'm not getting a billion dollars. What mechanism is the cause of this random persons death, and where does the billion dollars come from?

The economic system from within which you ask the question just doesn't make up a billion dollars so the question seems rather silly.

It would also be silly to say, or neither of those things happen, because all people die whether they are a random person or not. I would not intend to eliminate death, as so far, it appears a much greater reality then the economic system we have contrived.

*edit*
and for the love of it, please extend the timeout value this site uses to disconnect a logged in user. One could argue it encourages responses that can't be well thought out because of a lack of time before disconnection.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Carleas » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:09 pm

Mowk wrote:[Y]ou may think you can equate it to a dollar valuation, but you'd just be making that up too.

Sure, dollars are in a sense "made up". And you can refuse to trade anything for dollars. That doesn't mean they don't have a dollar value.

The reason you can turn 'anything with which you might play Would You Rather' into dollars is that dollars are something with which you might play Would You Rather. If, in theory, you can answer the questions, "Would You Rather: X or Y", and "...Y or Z" and "...Z or $10", and you just repeat the game over and over again with a bunch of Ys and Zs and dollar values, you can find the line where X goes for dollars. If you would rather the dollars than the X, X is worth less than the dollars. If you would rather the X than the dollars, X is worth more than the dollars. Narrow down the dollars and you find the price of X, the minimum number of dollars you would prefer over X.

Same game for bad things, but where X is bad you do "...X+$10 or Z", modulate the dollar value, and boom.

The thing is, choosing not to play, not wanting that chain of reasoning to be true, doesn't stop it from being true. If you value absolutely anything in dollars, and you are able to express preferences between the things you value, then all your values can be expressed as prices, whether you decide to play along or not. That's what money is: money mediates value.

Mowk wrote:Random people are dying all the time and I'm not getting a billion dollars. What mechanism is the cause of this random persons death, and where does the billion dollars come from?

The economic system from within which you ask the question just doesn't make up a billion dollars so the question seems rather silly.

I think this is a distraction, but to move things along:
- The random person is one additional person who would not otherwise die, and who we can otherwise expect to have a normal human lifespan.
- They die of magic. God is asking the question, so god will kill the person with magic.
- The billion dollars is created by every national bank together, distributed so as to be minimally disruptive to any particularly economy. Gross world product is >$100 trillion, so another $1 billion is .001% of the GWP, so it effectively decreases the cash value of all currency on earth by .001%.

But the reason this is a distraction is this: fill in the blanks however you want, you can't escape the vicarious Would You Rathering that leads back to a dollar value on the moral wrong of killing an innocent.

Mowk wrote:and for the love of it, please extend the timeout value this site uses to disconnect a logged in user. One could argue it encourages responses that can't be well thought out because of a lack of time before disconnection.

This has come up a few times. I don't know why some users experience this, but my strong suspicion is that it has to do with user-side settings rather than server-side settings.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:37 pm

Carleas wrote:The thing is, choosing not to play, not wanting that chain of reasoning to be true, doesn't stop it from being true. If you value absolutely anything in dollars, and you are able to express preferences between the things you value, then all your values can be expressed as prices, whether you decide to play along or not. That's what money is: money mediates value.
What you are saying here is that if I say 'I will not let you rape my wife for a 10 billion dollars' I must be lying. Feel free to increase the number. I openly admit I would run naked down the street for much less. But you cannot pay me enough to rape my wife. Am I incorrect about myself?

The set of things that money mediates is a limited set. Limited not because there is only so much I am capable of, but limited also to a subset of things I am physically or behaviorally capable of, it is not the whole set.

KT, I'm not proposing a policy, I'm proposing a thought experiment: put dollar values on your moral beliefs. You promised you'd try.
I don't think I did, but let's ask you....

How much money would you require to rape a random woman`?
The price for killing a random person?

I think it is important that you actually make a clear statement here of amounts of money.

Early in this thread you expressed doubt that I would refuse any sum of money to kill a random person. Do you really think Phyllo and I are incorrect that there are such people and that we are in fact a couple of them?
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:08 pm

Carleas wrote:
Mowk wrote:[Y]ou may think you can equate it to a dollar valuation, but you'd just be making that up too.

Sure, dollars are in a sense "made up". And you can refuse to trade anything for dollars. That doesn't mean they don't have a dollar value.

The reason you can turn 'anything with which you might play Would You Rather' into dollars is that dollars are something with which you might play Would You Rather. If, in theory, you can answer the questions, "Would You Rather: X or Y", and "...Y or Z" and "...Z or $10", and you just repeat the game over and over again with a bunch of Ys and Zs and dollar values, you can find the line where X goes for dollars. If you would rather the dollars than the X, X is worth less than the dollars. If you would rather the X than the dollars, X is worth more than the dollars. Narrow down the dollars and you find the price of X, the minimum number of dollars you would prefer over X.

Same game for bad things, but where X is bad you do "...X+$10 or Z", modulate the dollar value, and boom.

The thing is, choosing not to play, not wanting that chain of reasoning to be true, doesn't stop it from being true. If you value absolutely anything in dollars, and you are able to express preferences between the things you value, then all your values can be expressed as prices, whether you decide to play along or not. That's what money is: money mediates value.

I think you are making another kind of category error here. I'll give it my best shot.
I will pay for ice cream. I will pay more for a massage. In both cases that monetary value is contingent and another day the values would be different. All sorts of factors - my health, my diet, my desire in the moment, the economy, my mood, previous experiences of both, my weight, the stress in my life, my financial situation, etc. - shift those numbers around. The numbers do not represent the value of the purchased object, but rather fit in with a complicated set of evaluations and impulses in the moment. I can't put a number on what I would pay to have you not rape or kill my wife. It does not fluctuate. i would pay everything i had. I would not accept any amount. it is not in the same category.

So one error in your 'proof' is that you seem to see the money value as my sense of what something is worth in some timeless way. What vanilla Hagen Daz is worth to me. And so we can start putting things in some hierarchy. The second error is that everything must be like this. Just because I am willing to join the market for some things, means that all things therefore must be marketable.

That is not justified by your argument. It is assumed. Because money can make up for certain kinds of experiences or acts does not entail that it can for all of them. I realize some people will do nearly everything for money, but even those guys will not let me ass rape them with a live cattle prod for 10 years in exchange for some sum. If one of them would, I am sure I can come up with some other scenario for just that psychopath. I say psychopath just to show the reason I now focused on them instead of the random killing or the rape of their wife.

There are things we will not accept money in exchange for, ALL OF US. I suppose some confused people might sign with the devil, but I guarantee they also will regret it and consider that they valued the NOT HAVING THIS EXPERIENCE more than the money they are going to get and made an error.

Your argument seems founded on the idea that there are no possible qualitative differences between things we value, just quantitative.

I like ice cream. I love my wife. I spend 3 bucks on the ice cream. My wife's value is a real number in dollars, some multiple of ice cream and less than infinity. The father who pulls his kid out of a burning car should at least spend a moment considering how much he can sue the other driver's insurance company for, before pulling the kid out. And if lawsuit judgments were fair, fathers would have a real conundrum in those situation, knowing the courts were going to truly compensate him for the full value of his child.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Mowk » Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:56 am

Carleas, it sounds as If you have stated the GWP of the population of the planet is say a 100 trillion dollars, that if we divide that by the population total, as an average, one human life is worth $12,500.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Carleas » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:37 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:Am I incorrect about myself?

I hope that this is at least a live possibility for you. Psychological research suggests we aren't very good at predicting how we'll act or feel, or even at recognizing our own motivations for doing what we do. You could be incorrect about yourself.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I think it is important that you actually make a clear statement here of amounts of money.

I disagree. I also think the Hoover Dam has a dollar value, I have no idea what it is, and I don't need to float an estimate for us to have a productive discussion about whether that value exists.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:So one error in your 'proof' is that you seem to see the money value as my sense of what something is worth in some timeless way.

If I've given this impression, I apologize. Substitute \(X_t\) for any time I used X, to signify X-at-time-t. The fact that X can change over time does not affect my argument.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:There are things we will not accept money in exchange for

This is probably the crux of our disagreement. People do not need to accept money in a direct exchange for something in order to price that thing. It's illegal in the US to buy a human life. Nonetheless, we can and people do calculate the value of human lives all the time. People implicitly price their own lives when they accept dangerous work, or when they buy or don't buy safety precautions. People implicitly price the lives of others in much the same way.

Similarly, earlier I referenced the Gross World Product, which is calculated and includes infrastructure, resources, human capital, and many other things that aren't bought or sold directly. Indeed, GWP can't coherently be directly bought or sold. And yet, we have a reasonable estimate of what Earth's GWP is.

And it's incoherent to argue otherwise, in the sense that it leads to absurdities. Above, I made an argument for Ecmandu that the value of a human life cannot be infinity, because it leads to absurd conclusions like him having to send me all his money all the time. The same can be said about very large finite values: if you really would not accept several billion dollars for something, you should be willing to spend x% on something that will reduce the risk of that thing happening by x%. When you don't, we know that either you are wrong not to, or you are wrong when you say you wouldn't accept less than several billion dollars for that thing. Your actions are inconsistent with your stated beliefs.

Mowk wrote:Carleas, it sounds as If you have stated the GWP of the population of the planet is say a 100 trillion dollars, that if we divide that by the population total, as an average, one human life is worth $12,500.

Probably less, since GWP includes natural resources and buildings and the like. But that kind of calculation tells us what the world loses when someone dies, if that's the price at which we should be willing to kill someone, does that make the price of the moral dimension zero?
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Ecmandu » Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:34 pm

Carleas, I don't know why you've referenced this post twice now.

I responded to it by saying that your life also has infinite value, assuming we all live forever (making the point that if we all die forever, life equals zero)

If everyone is giving everyone an infinite amount, we're all in heaven forever.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Meno_ » Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:51 pm

Sure, Ec, with the condition that we know who we are. Since very few to one really know themselves, , it oddly leads to the contrary assumption: that this IS the heaven we are searching for.

Paradoxically, the more we know who we are, the further we move away from heaven. That's because, quite the contrary again, heaven is other people, he'll is none.

The price similarly diminishes, as we move away from heaven: there, no one can buy.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:38 pm

Carleas wrote:
Karpel Tunnel wrote:Am I incorrect about myself?

I hope that this is at least a live possibility for you. Psychological research suggests we aren't very good at predicting how we'll act or feel, or even at recognizing our own motivations for doing what we do. You could be incorrect about yourself.
Sure, in the abstract, of course. But then you seemed to doubt it was possible I was correct.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I think it is important that you actually make a clear statement here of amounts of money.

I disagree. I also think the Hoover Dam has a dollar value, I have no idea what it is, and I don't need to float an estimate for us to have a productive discussion about whether that value exists.
Buit you wanted other people to do this. Further, you are presenting this as a moral choice. IOW if we disagree you think we are either being immoral or not good or both. I think that is a fair conclusion from how you have argued. Since I think this is an implicit judgment on those who would not kill a random person for money, I think it is honorable to take a stand and weigh in yourself.

Would you kill a random person for a billion dollars?

If I've given this impression, I apologize. Substitute \(X_t\) for any time I used X, to signify X-at-time-t. The fact that X can change over time does not affect my argument.
It does in context, since it shows that there is a contrast with other types of value, like the not being raped state of my wife. This does not fluctuate with my mood or finances. Even I am really pissed at her and have lost my job, it does not change.

This is probably the crux of our disagreement. People do not need to accept money in a direct exchange for something in order to price that thing. It's illegal in the US to buy a human life. Nonetheless, we can and people do calculate the value of human lives all the time. People implicitly price their own lives when they accept dangerous work, or when they buy or don't buy safety precautions. People implicitly price the lives of others in much the same way.
I think most of that is wrong. Here I am in a system that works like that. But mainly - there is a difference between my taking dangerous work and my agreeing to be killed or kill for money. Such an agreement is a social interaction with another person or persons. It is an express choice to be paid to kill. It is a choice to satisfy the needs of the other person whose express intent is to kill this random person. It is a direct going along with a pernicious entity that is not hiding or complicating its perniciousness.

Only God can tell me that the consequences of this interaction are contained to me getting money, what I do with that and the dead random person. This is one of the misleading aspects of thought experiments like this one - as opposed to, say, thought experiments in physics.

And it's incoherent to argue otherwise, in the sense that it leads to absurdities. Above, I made an argument for Ecmandu that the value of a human life cannot be infinity, because it leads to absurd conclusions like him having to send me all his money all the time.
aWhich is part of the same thought experiment fallacy. This like this are never contained, not in real life. There are always consequences sliding around and away from the simple exchange of fee for murder. I would not want to live in a society where everyone agreed with you that it is rational and good to accept large sums of money for murder. Hard to track the effects of everyone accepting this way of thinking about others and a willingness to be, as it were, always on call to be murderers. But those effects will be there.

I am also not arguing that a human life is worth infinity. This is really confused.

Money means absolutely nothing above some really quite finite number. A 100 million dollars or a billion. Both those numbers are more than I will ever want or need. My wife's non-raped state is not worth an infinity. I don't know what that means. I am a specific person, in a specific life, and you can't give me money to rape her. It's a kind of category error. I wouldn't want people who would take those large sums of money to set of a rape of their spouses to be near me, at my workplace, teaching my kids. There is something missing from their brains. They are not quite social mammals anymore. Even if this seems to indicate contradictions.

The consequences of accepting that this could be a moral acts are disastrous for human relations. And sure, there is a lot already in place that is disastrous. This would simply be a further step in a sick direction.

I cannot solve all the problems created by capitalist society and I muddle through it as well as a I can. This does not mean I must accept the next supposedly logical step.

These kinds of thought experiments assume a God's eye view of consequences. I think sometimes we assume that one part of the evolved human brain is the only one that is necessary: the higher brain, deduction using, verbal part of the brain. But we evolved our brains with a mixture of intuitive and rational, consequentialist and deontological. (not argueing this all falls neatly into brain modules).

There are good reasons to resist what seems logical to you, Carleas. Let's remember that according to your own argument evolution selected for moralities and emotions. Well, it did this also for rationality, those portions of the brain. And what we are is a mix of ways of determining what to do. Both rationality and emotions are fallible. In fact, according to neuroscience, rationality is fallible without emotions, precisely in functioning with others. People cannot function or make decisions without their emotions. See, Damasio. What you have here is one part of the brain telling another part of the brain, you do not contribute anything. You are irrational. The limbic system is not necessary - since it makes mistakes - and thus all reactions based on this system and all individuals who still give weight to it are irrational/bad.

But I tend to think the way we evolved is more adaptive than the suppressed limbic system version of humanity you are advocating for. The one where decisions are made just by the pfc or whatever.

Like some corporation trying to patent the Neem tree.

Like Monsanto seeing us as purely modular machines that they have the intellect to tweak, since they too denigrate the limbic system when it reacts to their hubris when assuming they can track variables.

Here it's with money.

There is enough of this irrational idea about what values are and should be all around me.

I actually, now, appreciate getting it presented here, in such a pure and condescening form.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Mowk » Sat Jun 30, 2018 6:41 am

Hello Carleas,

I don't consider it having a moral dimension or perhaps I confuse it with ethics. I'm no philosopher, I studied esthetics. Maybe my ethics would be worth more.

Probably less, since GWP includes natural resources and buildings and the like. But that kind of calculation tells us what the world loses when someone dies, if that's the price at which we should be willing to kill someone, does that make the price of the moral dimension zero?


Wow. That gets complicated. Would it be easier to back out the value of human life from the equation to determine how much the resources are worth or would it be easier to back out the price of the resources to determine the net human value? Sorry I didn't ask the question with a's, q's, z's and a few subscripts. LOL all those variables aren't my strong suit. Or were they expressions of hypothetical constants? The only certainty is change.

And while we are at it, I'm sort of curious what a breath of air is worth. That's all that separates that random human life from a random human death, it's not magic, and many other species of life from death, just one breath and then another and another. A question, that is the least bit rhetorical.

I'm just saying, we didn't create the resources, or water or the air for that matter. I don't think it's ours to put a price on. Values are similar. We end up with them, but I observe there is a fairly wide range in how we "wear" them and they aren't always logical or rational or reasonable. Take love, for instance, man that thought just tosses me to the floor every time I learn a little more about it. It really can be a love/hate relationship with love if you scratch that sort of itch and are afflicted with that rash.

If it matters, I can appreciate the way you think.

If this whole monetary thing was meant as a means of exchange, what do you think my values are worth? And if I were willing to sell them what would you pay for them? You have to have an interested buyer and a willing seller before the value is even a consideration. Just how would one go about completing the transaction? What's the value of putting a value on something that isn't a commodity that can be bought or sold?

I'm also curious what you think of the notion that putting a price on things actually devalues them. Turns them into to objects of ownership. And what it seems to mean to own something comes with it's own fairly screwed up sense of responsibility. Isn't that somehow all wrapped up into this as well?
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Carleas » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:16 pm

Ecmandu wrote:Carleas, I don't know why you've referenced this post twice now.

I responded to it by saying that your life also has infinite value

I've referenced the post because the argument I make there has plugged into later parts of the conversation, and pointing back to it is efficient.

To you response, I asked for the math. It's insufficient to say that everyone's value is infinite. Any fraction of infinity is also infinity, so should we spend exactly as much to prevent a 10% chance of death as we spend to prevent certain death? I'm open to seeing an explicit formulation of your position that avoids absurd outcomes, but just throwing in more infinities doesn't seem to do it.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:Sure, in the abstract, of course. But then you seemed to doubt it was possible I was correct.

I doubt that you are correct, and I don't think it's a coherent position. But this seems like another way of expressing our disagreement here.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:But you wanted other people to do this [give prices for their moral beliefs].

Ah, so I did! My intent was to present the idea that it's possible, and I guess I used the direct question because I recognize that the prospect is uncomfortable. But it does undermine the view-from-nowhere line I've been claiming for myself.

Still, I'd like to keep the conversation in the view from nowhere. I don't think any engagement in this question, whether to accept or reject it, reflects on the morality of those engaging. Even if we can show my position to be definitely correct (which I think we agree has not been shown), I'm not sure that it follows that we must have explicit dollar values assigned to everything we care about.

In any case, I don't think making this about us is useful to exploring the ideas. I don't think you're evil for disagreeing with me, and I hope you don't think I'm evil for making this case. If anything, I think people who engage in moral debate are behaving morally by necessity, because what could be more moral than spending time figuring out what one should do?

Karpel Tunnel wrote:It does [affect Carleas' argument] in context, since it shows that there is a contrast with other types of value, like the not being raped state of my wife. This does not fluctuate with my mood or finances. Even I am really pissed at her and have lost my job, it does not change.

But surely there was a difference in value between \(t_1\) (sometime before you met her) and \(t_2\) sometime after you met her? Do you treat all rapes equally, or do you place particular value on your wife not being raped?

Or maybe you mean that there is some abstract concept 'my wife' and that the value you place on things that happen to whoever stands in that place is constant, even if people move in and out of it. But then, we can do that with other things too: I value 'my new car' a certain amount, and as it ages it is no longer 'my new car', it becomes 'my old car' which I value less.

I also, again, would caution self-skepticism. There is a rich history of e.g. parents selling their children into slavery during lean times. I have a strong belief that I would die before doing that, but I wonder if those parents also felt that way before they were faced with the choice of all their children starving or selling one to feed the others.

I am begging the question a bit here, because I'm trying to show that those values are just like dollar values, and then just assuming they behave like dollar values to show it. But assume for a moment that 'selling your children' has a very very high but finite dollar value. Would you notice if it changed by a few dollars based on your mood? Probably not. So introspection here could be a poor way to gauge how dollar-like those values are. Ultimately, though, we can't introspect each other directly, so I don't know if this line will be fruitful in resolving our disagreement.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:there is a difference between my taking dangerous work and my agreeing to be killed or kill for money.

I don't think that so, at least not where "dangerous work" can be quantified as "work where there is an X% chance you will die". If we know the different odds of dying doing some work A and some other work B, and we also know the price premium you place on work A, then we know what additional pay you require for some additional risk of death.

Here, it's a thought experiment, but it's also a common real life scenario. Many people really do make that exact choice. And for others, the choice is implicit in many other choices. When you choose to buy a cheaper but less-safe care, you make that choice implicitly. The value of various peoples lives are necessarily implicit in choices about health insurance, life insurance, safety precautions, occupations, and hobbies. They don't need to be contained or pure in order for the value of lives to be implicitly included in them.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I would not want to live in a society where everyone agreed [...] that it is rational and good to accept large sums of money for murder.

Neither would I! But there's no inconsistency in saying that people do in fact value murdering someone else at $X, and also that we should make it illegal for people to accept money for murder.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:Money means absolutely nothing above some really quite finite number.

I think I understand what you mean here (similar to what I said above about fluctuations of a few dollars on top of some very very large finite amount). But there is another sense in which $100m and $1b are perfectly meaningful amounts, right? We can't intuitively grasp the difference, because our brains aren't built to, but that's part of why we have math: to make sense of numbers we can't grasp intuitively.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I tend to think the way we evolved is more adaptive than the suppressed limbic system version of humanity you are advocating for.

I have not and am not advocating any such thing.

Mowk wrote:And while we are at it, I'm sort of curious what a breath of air is worth.

See, I don't see anything rhetorical in this question. You can literally buy canned oxygen. You can pay someone to fill your scuba tanks.

Air isn't usually excludable, which makes buying selling your average breath of air impossible, but that doesn't make the dollar value non-existent.

Mowk wrote:what do you think my values are worth?

This is another part of my question in this thread. One is what compensation one needs for the violation of ones own morals; another is what compensation one needs for the violation of someone else's morals. Seems like a lot less, right? If I see someone who keeps halal about to unknowingly eat ham, how much do I need to be paid not to say anything? It seems like roughly zero, although I would take on non-zero costs to avoid serving someone halal, even without their knowledge.

Mowk wrote:I'm also curious what you think of the notion that putting a price on things actually devalues them.

I think we need to be clear about what we mean by "putting a price on things". I think the price is there, whether or not we think about it. My understanding is that what tends to devalue things is making the price explicit, and that makes sense. For coalition building, a strong signal that someone is irrationally committed to the coalition above all else is quite valuable. If someone does the hard introspection and determines that their commitment to the coalition actually stops at $10m, the value to the coalition decreases. That $10m limit was there anyway, but making it common knowledge changes the social dynamics.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Ecmandu » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:34 pm

My point that brought me to infinity, is, that, if we knew for a fact that life is finite, oblivion forever, nothingness... than neither good or bad acts calculate. If someone wants to complain, they can just suicide... there is no moral calculus for mortality.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby WendyDarling » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:47 pm

EC,

Why don't short termed objects have value?
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Ecmandu » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:13 pm

WendyDarling wrote:EC,

Why don't short termed objects have value?


Because it becomes zero by definition, continuity of consciousness ceases forever, when it ceases, it never even existed for the subject even once. Since it does exist for the subject, we can assert that continuity of consciousness remains ... either in bliss or torment - and in this instance, it matters
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Meno_ » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:26 pm

Ecmandu wrote:
WendyDarling wrote:EC,

Why don't short termed objects have value?


Because it becomes zero by definition, continuity of consciousness ceases forever, when it ceases, it never even existed for the subject even once. Since it does exist for the subject, we can assert that continuity of consciousness remains ... either in bliss or torment - and in this instance, it matters


If the above is true a short term consciousness is contradictory by not only definition but by contradiction. It still retains a value in the basis of the widely accepted usage that supposes no minimal absolute between them.

It's just been reduced to that continuity of consciousness=lack of short term memory. Can not remember something that in the absolute sense still has meaning.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:53 pm

Carleas wrote:I doubt that you are correct, and I don't think it's a coherent position. But this seems like another way of expressing our disagreement here.
You don't think I am correct. IOW you know better what my reaction would be to the offer than I do. I presume you are not claiming to be a mind reader, given the implicit metaphysics in your positions, so this must mean you think nearly all humans would accept the deal - some very large sum would convince nearly all of them (100 million, 1 billion, something). I think that is very strange. People have refused to kill others, even when they would be killed if they refused. No longer living, according to your 'everything has a dollar value' should be right up there in the highest possible values, since ONE CANNOT SPEND MONEY WHEN DEAD. I wish I could claim I would refuse to kill some person I have no reason to kill if it protected my life. (not in a self defense situation where I would, but in told I will die if I do not kill some person I do not know.) But I don't know that. But killing for money, wouldn't happen. I won't even put up with shit for money, good money.

It's also kinda rude to say you doubt my own self-estimation. Whatever problems I have knowing my motives, yours are greater given the problem of other minds. Perhaps you should consider that you are projecting, not that I can be sure that is a factor in your doubting I am correct.

Ah, so I did! My intent was to present the idea that it's possible, and I guess I used the direct question because I recognize that the prospect is uncomfortable. But it does undermine the view-from-nowhere line I've been claiming for myself.

Still, I'd like to keep the conversation in the view from nowhere. I don't think any engagement in this question, whether to accept or reject it, reflects on the morality of those engaging. Even if we can show my position to be definitely correct (which I think we agree has not been shown), I'm not sure that it follows that we must have explicit dollar values assigned to everything we care about.
No, it doesn't necessarily mean that. However I think some of the large amounts that have been tossed around cover most possible potential satisfactions and comforts. Further it seems to me implicit in your argument that one is 'therefore being immoral' in some other aspect of one's life - IOW hypocritical - if one would not kill for money. Once that judgment is in place then it seems like you should also take a stand and be judged.

It seems hypocritical to use it is as litmus test for what you consider moral, while not allowing it to be a litmus test - in relation to you - for what others might think is moral.

In any case, when you start aiming consequentialist 'you could save 1000 starving African' type arguments, it seems implicit if not explicit that you are judging morally.

And there is no view from nowhere. Not in any human.

In any case, I don't think making this about us is useful to exploring the ideas. I don't think you're evil for disagreeing with me, and I hope you don't think I'm evil for making this case. If anything, I think people who engage in moral debate are behaving morally by necessity, because what could be more moral than spending time figuring out what one should do?
The thread begins with the question 'How much money would you need to be paid to kill a random person?'
When I respond with my personal answer (a view from nowhere answer would not have answered that question or been in my repetoire to provide) you tell me you doubt this is the case?
Now you think the thread should not be 'about us'.

I provide an answer to the question, which was personal. I am told that I am incorrect about what I would - which implies a few possible things, all of them about me personally.

I think it is hypocritical to then not put your assessment of yourself on the line of judgment. I will probably accept your answer. Not because I am sure you can't be self-deluded, but given your incredulity around my answer, it seems clear that a finite number would be enough for you, and given that you are a smart person, I think that number will not be so high as the gross national product of France. IOW I figure you know that there is a limit to how much good stuff you can get to, and bad stuff avoid, after a certain threshhold has been passed.

So I'll keep the question in the air.

I don't think you are evil. I do think there is something anti-life in this way of thinking. I don't really believe in objective morals.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:It does [affect Carleas' argument] in context, since it shows that there is a contrast with other types of value, like the not being raped state of my wife. This does not fluctuate with my mood or finances. Even I am really pissed at her and have lost my job, it does not change.

But surely there was a difference in value between \(t_1\) (sometime before you met her) and \(t_2\) sometime after you met her? Do you treat all rapes equally, or do you place particular value on your wife not being raped?
I would not accept money to somehow enable the rape of anyone. But I would risk my life to stop my wife being raped. I am not sure I would do that in relation to other potential rape victims.

Or maybe you mean that there is some abstract concept 'my wife' and that the value you place on things that happen to whoever stands in that place is constant, even if people move in and out of it. But then, we can do that with other things too: I value 'my new car' a certain amount, and as it ages it is no longer 'my new car', it becomes 'my old car' which I value less.
Again, there are categories of value and I don't think they mix, at least not fully. I may not value some women the way I did before. IOW I don't travel to see them. Perhaps I would even walk across the street to avoid some of them. I would not take any sum to have them raped. It's a category error for me. Hell, I don't like being used by people much around neutral things. Some person or organisation come to me and wants me to rape or kill or enable a rape...no way.

I am begging the question a bit here, because I'm trying to show that those values are just like dollar values, and then just assuming they behave like dollar values to show it. But assume for a moment that 'selling your children' has a very very high but finite dollar value. Would you notice if it changed by a few dollars based on your mood? Probably not. So introspection here could be a poor way to gauge how dollar-like those values are. Ultimately, though, we can't introspect each other directly, so I don't know if this line will be fruitful in resolving our disagreement.
Sure, once I get into the bargaining phase, my dollar amounts could go all over the place and I might not know the factors. Because in the category of things I will bargain around, that category, those factors come into play.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:there is a difference between my taking dangerous work and my agreeing to be killed or kill for money.

I don't think that so, at least not where "dangerous work" can be quantified as "work where there is an X% chance you will die". If we know the different odds of dying doing some work A and some other work B, and we also know the price premium you place on work A, then we know what additional pay you require for some additional risk of death.
One huge difference is that the idea is that a person will die. No employer can absolutely guarantee the survival of its works, even a librarian can get crushed by a ventilation duct. That's different from my assenting to the desire of someone else to have me kill or die. That is what they want. I certainly can get angry and hate, from say a labor perspective, the lack of interest of capital in the lives of its workers. IOW indifference can reach levels I consider equivalent to intent. But not caring as much as I or we do is not the same as MY BOSS WANTS ME TO DIE.

Neither would I! But there's no inconsistency in saying that people do in fact value murdering someone else at $X, and also that we should make it illegal for people to accept money for murder.
I would not want to live near people whose primary reason or only reason for not murdering people for money is incarceration or the death penalty. Now I do suspect that many more people are capable of this than realize. But note this is at the abstract level, not such that I think I can tell person X that they are wrong about themselves. In fact I think many people would refuse any sum of money. Not nearly as many as I would like but many.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:Money means absolutely nothing above some really quite finite number.

I think I understand what you mean here (similar to what I said above about fluctuations of a few dollars on top of some very very large finite amount). But there is another sense in which $100m and $1b are perfectly meaningful amounts, right? We can't intuitively grasp the difference, because our brains aren't built to, but that's part of why we have math: to make sense of numbers we can't grasp intuitively.
I think I said this in a context of either my own sense that there are two kinds of value category or I it was part of trying to get you to take a stand.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I tend to think the way we evolved is more adaptive than the suppressed limbic system version of humanity you are advocating for.

I have not and am not advocating any such thing.
I know. And I certainly know it is not explicit. It was an intuitive reaction.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Silhouette » Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:42 am

I wonder if this thread is more about prices than moral beliefs...

What if the question were "how many clouds would you need to be paid to kill a random person?". Unless you were inclined to kill random people anyway, I would suspect that no amount of clouds would be enough to make you want to do this. So why isn't it just the same for money?

The assumption is that you value money, and not only that: that you value money linearly the more and more you get. It's fairly well established that more money only makes you happier to a certain amount such that you can basically do what you want whenever you want, within contemporary normality. People who strive for more are in it to win it and end up with "mo problems", rather than just being content with normality - they're after something else. To each their own, the question doesn't apply to people uniformly.

Interestingly, putting a monetary value on something can often make people less likely to do something than if no trade were posited in the first place. The rationale to the findings of such experiments that show this goes that when no money is involved it's a moral decision, but as soon as any amount of money is involved people start to think of things as a business decision.

Value and money are not proportional to one another.
So why would an extra dollar be enough to kill someone?

What are we trading as the price to incentivise you to kill someone? People have brought up trading numbers of other lives, perceptions of these other lives etc. and it immediately becomes uncomfortable. Letting people die without having to do anything to cause it is a lot less uncomfortable - for better or worse. Perhaps you are so desperate for money that you would accept a price to kill someone when previously when things were okay you'd balk at the thought. It depends. Values are not linearly correlated, if anything they peak at subjective points and then drop off.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Mowk » Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:47 am

Carleas,

I understand your position. You are being presented with a barrage.

You have to pick and choose what you respond to. From the garden that is here, It is most interesting to get a taste for your preferences. Sample a smidgen here and there of new food, but a good old scoop of what ever is Ma's home cookin' always is of comfort.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Mowk » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:14 am

The questions are uncomfortable, but there isn't anything irrational in using a universal medium of exchange to exchange moral value for other forms of value.


Wow.

Irrational, like the assessment of it as a universal.

A mild over statement? As long as a very small subset is exclusively applied to something that has to the best of our awareness only been a "practice" by one species ,for say 12,000 years, that accounts for less then a really really small percentage of all the life that has lived on this planet? That's got to have even less of an impact on what is considered a universal, then 1 billion dollars has on what we consider the value of GWP.

Essentially the wold can be divided into two classes. What exists as natural resources before we were even around, and what resources we have moved around with our efforts. That would distinguish the value of the resources from what is a human added "value". Let's consider, just for the sake of the argument, that what existed as natural resources couldn't have had a value that could be priced as the practice of economics hadn't even come into existence yet. The "resources" had an existence without an assessed price and that did not affect their existence. No value that could be compared to a monetary unit of exchange.

No one is providing anything in exchange for the resources. It's pretty much a flat out take without exchange. To whom would the exchange be made? So our current economic system does not place a value on the resources and can only place a value on what we consider we've added. When I buy a can of green beans I am not actually buying the green beans. I am buying a human process of cultivation, harvest, canning, distribution, and all the human time that involves. The beans are free. They are a product of the natural resource that were here way before we were. If all the beans in the world went extinct, our human species in general would feel no loss of value. We would just shift our attention to squash.

I see no indication that our species values the existence of green beans, If green beans were to go extinct it doesn't affect the GWP. No species that was here before us and goes extinct because of us, factors into the GWP. No I don't think the cost of natural resources is factored into GWP. "Buildings and the like", well those are just natural resources no longer in their natural state.

So when I asked how much is a breadth of air worth? You seem to have missed the obvious.

Water was fresh and clean where it was available. It was free. It was a natural resource that didn't require processing. It isn't any longer. Now it's something that is collected processed and sold. There aren't any wells that tap into ground water anymore in metropolitan areas. Even in rural areas it has become unfit to consume. So now we have to have it processed, piped and delivered to our faucets, funneled into plastic bottles and placed on shelves for purchase. There is no end to what water will cost us. All the while it remains free, but the processing, now that's going to have a continually rising cost as we foul it more and more. And sure we pay for oxygen to be pumped into pressure tanks now for our amusement. And some people have to pay to have it pumped into tanks just so they can breath at all, as their lungs have been damaged due to long term exposure to asbestos. Another of those natural resources that we have been moving into unnatural places, and I'm pretty sure someone realized it would end up in peoples lungs too. That is a fairly unnatural place for it to be found.

Ask any owner of a company that has had work related fatalities what those deaths of their random employees was worth. Not what it cost the company, but what they were worth? Would they be able to tell you they profited "X" number of dollars for every shortcut in safety they took that cost a life?

At the rate we are headed with our human contrived value system I don't imagine it will be long before we are all flat our working for the money just to pay for our next breath. No the air still won't cost you a thing but the air filter you will require, is going to set you back a bit. Tell me those face masks worn by all those people in polluted cities grows on trees. They are already paying for each breath now. It is possible everyone will need to soon.
Our human added values.

Money isn't a universal, it doesn't have a stable worth and it's value is tied to human greed. Talk about more human pollution.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:42 pm

Mowk wrote:The questions are uncomfortable, but there isn't anything irrational in using a universal medium of exchange to exchange moral value for other forms of value.
Since the commons is disappearing in pretty much every other way, it can now be in the conceptual (and emotional, ha) realms also. Pretty soon someone will patent snide anger.


Ask any owner of a company that has had work related fatalities what those deaths of their random employees was worth. Not what it cost the company, but what they were worth? Would they be able to tell you they profited "X" number of dollars for every shortcut in safety they took that cost a life?
I am pretty sure the car companies at least used to work this out in numbers.

At the rate we are headed with our human contrived value system I don't imagine it will be long before we are all flat our working for the money just to pay for our next breath. No the air still won't cost you a thing
There have been attempts to privatize water, I see no reason why companies will hold off on air. It might be filters, but I would guess they will 'clean the air moving over your town using nanotech fog boundaries' for some incredible fee, rather than masks. One hand polluting the other hand getting paid to help you with that. Like doctors running around town spraying viruses and they putting up billboards on buses for where to go for help.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Carleas » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:08 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:you think nearly all humans would accept the deal

Not necessarily. I think that there is a price in theory for nearly all humans.

Let me take a step back here. We can say with certainty that some people's stated prices are irrational, right? Experiments on loss aversion and framing that show that people evaluate prices differently depending on how they're presented, e.g. being given a larger amount of money from which some is taken away vs. being given a smaller amount of money to which more is added; paying a single fee vs. a sum of several fees; a single fee at one time vs. many fees in installments. People's subjective choices in these situations are internally logically inconsistent.

Similarly here: very few people may accept an explicit deal of $X for committing murder, but most would accept Y% of $X to commit an act with a Z% chance of killing someone, and even more would only be willing to pay a finite amount to avoid killing someone. But logically, those are the same choice.

A car designer that sells enough units is guaranteed -- literally guaranteed -- to have someone die in one of their cars due to some lack of safety precaution or test. Even if they're operating at a six-sigma fault tolerance, once someone sells 34 million units there's going to be a defect, and for some product that means a death. That's inescapable, and it logically entails exchanging someone else's death for money.

So it isn't a matter of reading minds. A position that says "no amount, ever" for explicit murder, but also makes decisions about health insurance, auto safety, and other similar choices, is almost certainly logically inconsistent: those various claims, if taken as premises, lead to some \(a\) and \(b\) where both \(a=b\) and \(a \neq b\).

The argument that it's a category error doesn't work, because in practice we plug the same values into considerations we make all the time. It can't be the case that \([life]=$X\) is category error, but \(Z\% * [life] = Y\% * $X\) isn't. And the latter is implicit in day to day decision making.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:One huge difference [between killing and e.g. dangerous work] is that the idea is that a person will die.

This seems like deontology, right? In consequentialist terms, it doesn't seem like there should be a moral difference between "definitely kill one person" and "do something 34 million times and as a result definitely kill at least one person". It's not even a difference of intention, since you can know going into a non-zero risk venture that a death will inevitably result, and so that outcome is intentional.

Deontologically, I think this difference makes sense. For many, this may be an argument for deontology. But I am OK with the bitter pills of consequentialism.

Silhouette wrote:I wonder if this thread is more about prices than moral beliefs...

I think this is right. I assumed coming into this thread a certain philosophy of prices that, it turns out, is anything but accepted. I do think that my approach to prices is right, and consistent with decreasing marginal utility, changes in behavior in the presence of monetary priming, etc.

I think it's notable that no one is suggesting that e.g. Microsoft's acquisition of Github for $7.5 billion is nonsensical, and doesn't Microsoft realize that it will just lead to mo' problems? It seems like we're generally fine with the idea that things that sell all the time for incomprehensible amounts of money can really be worth those amounts. It seems like special pleading to reject large prices here, where we're also tempted to reject the whole premise that the thing can be sold at all.

Mowk wrote:Essentially the wold can be divided into two classes. What exists as natural resources before we were even around, and what resources we have moved around with our efforts.

I think this is a good distinction, but I don't think this is exhaustive. Take something like math: the fact that only humans do math, and have only been doing math for a few thousand years, doesn't seem to tell us very much about the ontological status of math. One way of expressing this category is, if we meet self-aware aliens who evolved elsewhere, are they likely to be aware of math? I think the answer is clearly yes. Basic math developed independently in multiple human cultures, it seems to have an existence independent of humans even though it didn't exist before humans developed it.

I would categorize certain parts of economics into that same class. If we meet self-aware aliens (that are biologically independent etc.), they are very likely to have something like money. Like math, money developed independently in multiple human cultures, it's a generalization of barter. We should expect any society where strangers interact and exchange goods to also have a concept of a liquid medium of exchange, a.k.a. money.

Mowk wrote:Ask any owner of a company that has had work related fatalities what those deaths of their random employees was worth. Not what it cost the company, but what they were worth? Would they be able to tell you they profited "X" number of dollars for every shortcut in safety they took that cost a life?

They would probably be able to tell you how much they saved from the lack of safety precautions, that's just a math problem. And they may hate the question, but they would know if it was worth it.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:38 pm

Carleas wrote:
Karpel Tunnel wrote:One huge difference [between killing and e.g. dangerous work] is that the idea is that a person will die.

This seems like deontology, right? In consequentialist terms, it doesn't seem like there should be a moral difference between "definitely kill one person" and "do something 34 million times and as a result definitely kill at least one person". It's not even a difference of intention, since you can know going into a non-zero risk venture that a death will inevitably result, and so that outcome is intentional.

Deontologically, I think this difference makes sense. For many, this may be an argument for deontology. But I am OK with the bitter pills of consequentialism.
People tend to see consequentialism and deontology as immaculate categories, I do not. I think deontology often fills a gap where there are consequences but they hard to track. (there's another way I think they overlap and we're fussing with elsewhere) In a situation where an employer - the rich guy who will pay me to kill a random person - my going along with this has consquences, I would argue, that are not present when I work for a contruction company that takes significant steps to protect workers and the employers dislike it when a worker dies. Let's say on average each employer leads to a single death per decade. The consequences for the dead person are very similar, the consequences for society, even the family of the dead person are different. In the first scenerio as the killer, I have contributed to the ends of a sociopathic entity. In the second, if I am an employee, I have not. People know that the employers in the second took steps to protect their workers, and they will likely, at least make noises they are disappointed by the death. In this assasination this is not present. How do we track these effects? that is very hard. I think to pretend they are nothing, is confused and in error. Attitudes and intentions have effects. To the extent they are known they do things like increase trust and community feeling or reduce them. (plus any effects of 'aiding the intentions and plans of people who intend to kill as opposed to people who do not do all they can to prevent all deaths. These are two very different types of people and they will interact with people differently and they will feel different to people. Now, I do know that these are not immaculate categories either. Indifference can be to such a degree - certainly some mine owners over a hundred years ago - where it is very similar to intent to kill. But there is still a real spectrum and the ends are quite different and have all sorts of different aftereffects)

I think on a gut leve we know this set of effects that are hard to track and, fallibly of course, create deontological rules where we sense their will be consequences that are hard to track.

Further - what are the effects of saying that the effects are different? What are the effects of my taking a stand and saying here I would not take the money (let alone the effects of not doing it)?

The more that people value intent, the more this creates a culture with specific effects. Perhaps it reduces the number of people who are comfortable with their sociopathy. Perhaps it will actually reduce sociopathy since people will grow up where other people look to intent, judge it, react to it. And not just at consequences. The hirer of assassins does not hire assassins and then this option has no effects on their interactoins with humans in general. It is a kind of full permission to not feel guilty of denying the existence of another. This implies permission in all sorts of other ways. The taint is removed from them.

I do nto think it is the same with the employer who tries to eliminate all possible danger - an impossible task.

So the very act of having the public opinion that one will not kill for money, that there is a difference between an employer who wants me to kill a random person for money and another employer who does not prevent all deaths, leads to attitudes, disapprovals, guilts, social pressures
that all have effects.

Effects that are hard to track, but again, I think it is silly to pretend they are not there and

to a consequentialist - who often conflates this with being simply a realist - those should still exist, even if it is hard to measure them. I think that is a lot of the role deontology has played and I think it is also something that should make consequentialists concerned about stripping away deontology. The frontal lobe's hubris is just that...hubris.

Every time I get in my car and drive I am risking my life and those of others. But I do not go out to kill. God, I hope I run someone over. The driver who decides he will try to kill one person, while remaining within the law. IOW not braking as fast as he might when someone jaywalks. That's very different from the person who does get into a traffic accident where there is a death.

If we as a society conflate those two people, we are conflating two people who WILL very differently relate to others during their lifetimes.

And if we tell people those acts are the same, we are telling people that intending to kill is the same as not trying to eliminate all possible ways one might accidently kill. Which would eliminate driving, voting and not voting, buying pretty much any product - given that producing these entails risks, etc.

And further if we tell people those acts are the same, we are depathologizing sociopathy. And this will have all sorts of effects.

The social human world is not a lab and not very Newtonian - as far as tracking effects. Stuff slides and subtly shifts. This slip into the depths and reappear later. Things seep into the next generation. In the mind it can seem like we can contain variables and vectors, dominoes and billiard balls- 'those are the effects'- but in the world.....
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Xunzian » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:57 am

Under capitalism, everything is commodified , so it is only rational to apply prices to moral beliefs. MacIntyre's After Virtue opens up by talking about how, post-Enlightenment, we don't really talk about moral beliefs good anymore because shit got all fucked up.

Hegelian sunderings of modernity mean that we don't really even know what we mean when we talk about moral beliefs anymore. That's why a question like this can be posed. It makes sense to the modern mind that morals can be quantified, then commodified and then (naturally) bought and sold through various means.

That's a little uncharitable, I suppose. My google-fu is weak right now, but I think that after Gilgamesh, the second thing humans wrote down and kept (unlike various tax records and transactions) is a riff on the Faust myth and like Gilgamesh, it was a popular epic poem well before that.

Maybe we've always understood that poor soil makes for poor plants. Poverty corrupts. I get that. If you are materially suffering, you don't have time to worry about principles. Counter intuitively, you can use principles to control the materially suffering.

Somewhere between that, there is an actual good . . . maybe?

For me, that's the lifelong struggle of philosophy.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Xunzian » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:36 am

The real trick, I think, is to take a couple of steps back, and ask yourself what tiny steps are involved in a good, thriving life?

The mustache twirling villain with the lady on the train tracks doesn't exist ex nihilo. But they do very much exist, tons of innocent people are killed every day by real life super villains. Many more suffer. So . . . how do we get there? What makes a monster? What makes the people who enable monsters?

And where do you fit into all that? I'm pretty tired, so I'll let you fill in the rest. Blah blah blah coltan blah blah blah textiles blah blah blah modernity blah blah blah original sin as the "is" of is/ought blah blah blah bourgeois marxism something something with chinese characteristics yada yada mass line.
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Re: Moral Beliefs as Prices

Postby Fixed Cross » Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:13 pm

"I see someone who keeps halal about to unknowingly eat ham, how much do I need to be paid not to say anything? It seems like roughly zero, although I would take on non-zero costs to avoid serving someone halal, even without their knowledge."

That happened in front of me once. A Moroccan guy ordered a "frikandel" (a stave of butchery-garbage) in a snackbar and as he was chomping it, one of his friends mentioned that there is pork in there, whereupon the eater spat out the contents of his mouth, and threw the rest of what he had in his hand in the snackbar owners face.

I don't know what the values of the morals here were worth in dollars but the whole thing was priceless.
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Fixed Cross
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