[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Fri Jan 21 00:01:50 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Matthew Mihaly wrote:
> On Wed, 19 Jan 2000, Ola Fosheim [iso-8859-1] Gr=F8stad wrote:
> > You will never reach it, but you can still act and believe that what =
> > do will get you there ("there" is ill-defined). That said, it isn't
> Just because you will never reach it doesn't make it an invalid goal. I=
> makes it an impossible goal (for you at least).

If it is ill-defined then it is invalid I think? You may still pursuit
it, but you will never find it, because "it" is meaningless,
ill-defined. In semi abstract terms: you put yourself somewhere in a
state space and then you walk and walk and walk based upon some
"randomly chosen" heuristics. Or maybe you do an exhaustive search. (The
basic thing is, if you didn't believe you had a goal you wouldn't start,
but as your goal is ill-defined, your computation is ill-defined and
thus you either go on for infinity or you will return with "failure"
(bottom, does not compute). If the goal didn't exist then maybe you
would return with "false" (goal not found). ;-). This is a _very_
pedantic discussion.

> That
> would be true if we all started with the same basic assumptions, upon
> which we then built our systems.

There are cross cultural consistencies, so basically yes there are some
basic assumptions that are very common. If you think otherwise, then it
is mostly a matter of convenience?  You are (hopefully) a human, so when
you try to refer to yourself as if you were not a human referring to
yourself I think you make a basic mistake. Even that interpretation is
bounded by some very human definitions (you call them assumptions). It's
kinda like a microprocessor that tries to deny the mechanics it uses to
compute with.

(When I wrote "sound" in my previous message I didn't mean sound and
complete in the mathematical sense, I think that ought to be obvious.
Basically, I suspect you are giving the applicability of strict logic
more credit than it deserves?  Most discussions between humans *must* be
based on a common reference which is not entirely well-defined, but it
works because humans have many similar experiences.)

> generally viewed isn't important, at least to me. My ethical beliefs, a=
> least, are not based on popular consensus. (sorry if that sounds holier
> than though. It's not meant to.)

And you basically ignore the global situation that would arise if
everybody ignored all cultural and=20
religious mores and acted in a local opportunistic fashion at every
corner. So, what IS your life about?

Popular consensus matters, even if it is completely screwed. That is the
basic reference. In a MUD that means "expectations" regarding

> Because responsibility is a fiction, that's why. It doesn't exist excep=
> in your mind.

All that exist is my mind, as far as I am concerned, so what you say is
that nothing exists (as far as I am concerned).  Whatever is "in my
mind" is the most real thing there is.   Is it not?

> I have no problem at all with
> infanticide, or just leaving a baby outside to die of the elements, for
> instance, providing it is your baby.

So basically, you have managed to defeat your instincts on that issue.=20
What do you mean by "your baby"? What would make it "your baby"? Why do
you have problem with say, the greater community killing the baby. I
think that is what happens in cultures where this was a survival

(I define a human as human the moment it has a sufficient amount of
personal experiences to form concepts and a unique world of it's own, so
I can agree with you on the infanticide issue on a very abstract plane,
but birth is a convenient transition and it convenient for me to ignore
that position in this discussion ;)

> Yes, by right I mean what is legally possible.

So why don't you just define it as "what you can get away with which
yield higher profit than costs"? Why bother with the legal bit? With
your attitude I would've become a mass murderer. It is "easy" to get
away with it if you know what you are doing.

Of course, your position makes any discussion mostly useless. You
would've become as happy in a lawless society as in a society with laws?

> I don't believe in
> "rights" because they don't exist. From where do rights derive? A right=
> like a responsibility, is a fiction.

Define fiction.
Define real.
Define exists.
Define believe.
Define true.
Define false.
Define ill-defined.
Define invalid.

What do YOU suggest as a common reference? We don't live in a deducted
world of concepts. Concepts are constructed by common human experience
(which puts limits on what can be effectively communicated).

> If someone who can make you do
> something, or stop others from doing things to you, claims you have a
> responsibility or a right, and is willing to use force to back that up,
> then those words have some semblance of reality.=20

Define reality.

> Otherwise, they are just words.=20

Well, if concepts are the most real thing there is then you can erase
the "just" part.

> I'm not a Christian, and I don't believe in God.

I think you do.

Define God.

I don't know what a Christian is, a short explanation would be nice.
Currently I view your sentence as inherently ill-defined even if I
assume the most liberal interpretation of "defined".

Maybe I am a Christian, maybe not. I believe in God, which I define as
anything that may have use of whatever information being aggregated in
this universe. I basically believe in God for utilitarian reasons. I
think your entire belief system very quickly will become ill-defined if
you try not to. The concept of God is handy because it is beyond reach
and thus is a solid irrefutable definition. I arrived at this after some
basic risk assessment.  I prefer to have a stable reference over
floating around in a shallow and populist ocean (and I suspect that you
are in it). I also want a reference that assigns value to whatever
happens to go on in the universe in terms of information (which involves
concepts).  So rather than defining what has value, I define that
something has value, and lock that up in the concept of God. From this
basis you can derive a lot. And basically, anyone that actually discuss
these issues at all are either inherently religious or brain damaged. I
also happen to think that Jesus was a great philosopher. And of course
there is a lot more to my religion, but I try to make it consistent with
the basis. So you tell me, am I a Christian?  I think I am?  Maybe?

If you are going to assume anything, then you may as well assume God. If
you try to not assume anything then you may of course just commit
suicide, and that could be a decision, so maybe you have to assume
something to commit suicide. If you assume something, how can you then
be sure that that isn't basically what God in the most abstract sense
covers? So how can you really know whether you believe in God or not?

> I think the entire concept of natural rights is a joke.

They have indeed evolved. I most likely do not share your sense of
humour, so they are probably not a joke.

Define joke.

Maybe you just should state that the concept of concepts is a joke? I
could agree on that. But then I would say that the concept of real,
physical etc is a joke as well. When everything has become funny then
there isn't much to laugh at.

> So where do these rights derive from?

Whatever the origin of the universe is, the physical universe, human
genes, the environment, the nature of human reasoning, centuries of
struggling with the concepts of "life", ethical dilemmas, my mind, and
of course culture, which is as valid and important as anything physical,
etc etc.

On of the most beautiful aspects of the human mind is it's ability to
make abstractions, without that we would not be able to reason about
ethical issues at all, so you may say that it comes from that.

Of course, I don't think a concept has to be derived from axioms in
order to be meaningful and useful. I believe most of said rights can be
"derived" if you assume principles about generality (rules and
guidelines should apply to most instances) abstractions and such ("given
an unidentified human...") and the assumption that life has value.

> Your arguments, it seems to me, presuppose that the Christian
> ethical structure is right, and that is entirely as arbitrary as any ot=
> system of ethic=1A

I disagree that it is arbitrary. Evolution isn't (necessarily)
arbitrary, certainly not if it actually moves in a particular direction.
If it was, then it wouldn't be used for optimization in computer
science. It might not be deterministic (as far as we can tell, maybe if
you had a perfect model), but that is a different issue. Even a system
with a major random component can converge.

While I am often surprised by the great variety in human beliefs, I am
also equally surprised by what is common.


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