From: Tennessee Leeuwenburg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Mar 17 2005 - 23:30:12 MST
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| My system of reasoning about morality is not meant to be any less
| formal than the system reasoning about physics. I think the
| non-linear inductive mode is totally formalisable as well. My
| values/physics split is NOT a split between intuition and formal
In some sense, this is a controversial claim. Most people, I think,
would separate conscious and subconscious reasoning. Emotional content
seems to come from the subconscious, rather than be arrived at through
reasoning, even though we may have an emotional reaction to a reasoned
As such, people tend to call conscious thought processes
"rationality", which is not far away from "logical". Trusting your
intuition ahead of your conscious reasoning is often called "irrational".
Unconscious thought - where our emotional reactions and the feeling of
moral imperative come from - is usually regarded as "black box". Our
rational systems *do not* properly comprehend the subconscious
emotional processing. There is no good naive understanding of our
emotional systems. While I don't claim that those systems in-principle
can't be captured by a formal system, this is not a claim that
reflects our common understanding.
The kinds of beliefs and ideas we get from our subconsious are often
called our intuition, although in my system I have defined a specific
mode of thought which is not precisely the common understanding of
Let's assume that induction means "The process of deriving general
principles from particular facts or instances". Deduction is going the
other way - from principles to facts. Now, if all you are saying is
that when we are thinking, we do some induction and some deduction,
that's not terribly interesting. If you say, however, that you can
split mental processing into two different kinds on the basis of which
kind of thinking is being done, that's more interesting. If you say
that morals/values are dominated by induction, with relatively little
deduction, then I am not sure I can agree. Ditto for the converse.
I understood you to mean that our morals and values were determined by
a largely un-refined process of induction, while our rational beliefs
were more thoroughly refined through testing the validity of our
deductions on those grounds. As such, I suppose I put the
morals/values "non-linear inductive" process in the "subconscious /
irrational" box, and the "linear deductive" mode in the "conscious /
I'll move onto the difference between the rationale of physics and the
rationale of morality/values later.
|> | The mind as a whole is a complex system which can be |
|> decomposed into sub-system ?Rationality? (lower | sub-level) and
|> sub-system ?Morality? (higher | sub-level). The key is the
|> interaction between the | two, which is *the ability of the mind
|> to form | metaphors which enables it to understand models of |
|> physical processes in terms of models of it?s own | internal
|> value systems*! (Bridging the physical and | mental worlds
|> through metaphors ? similarities between | moral laws and
|> physical laws).
|> This seems to me to be very similar to a dialectic process
|> between the two kinds of thinking in my model.
| Nope. See above. I was NOT suggesting an intuition/formal
| reasoning split. Both my system of reasoning about morals/values
| and my system of reasoning about physics are meant to be totally
| rational and formalisable.
| I have pairs of functions which are synergistic, NOT pairs of
| functions which are opposites (dialectic).
My use of the term dialectic was meant to express not so much the
opposition of point of view between the intuitive and the deductive,
but the opposition in kind. The two may sometimes agree, and but will
not always. However, when making a decision that is difficult, there
is a dialectic. When making a decision that is easy, the two system
happen not to conflict, and thus there is no process of resolution.
Your comments about the creations of metaphors through the interaction
of induction and deduction suggested a structural similarity with my
idea of making decisions through the interaction of intuition / formal
Additionally, I would not claim absolutely that the intuitive system I
describe is unable to be described / approximated formally, but that
it is not itself reasoning formally. In the same way that a neural
network can be formally described, but the meaning of its output is
not a formal analysis of its input.
|> You clearly regard moral laws as the exclusive domain on the
|> non-linear mode you identify,
| Not at all! Don't forget the recursive nature of my idea! I had
| meant for there to be many different *kinds* (levels) of inductive.
| Only from the point of view of the highest level of coarse graining
| is moral reasoning inductive. I am talking about many different
| levels of organization here O.K? I think only high level reasoning
| about morality is inductive. Lower levels of reasoning about
| morality involve linear deduction as well.
Sorry, I was being imprecise / wrong. You clearly regard moral laws as
being dominated by the non-linear inductive mode you identify,
although when taken in detail, elements of both can still be identified.
|> The same logic that we use in regards to physics (laws of
|> non-contradiction, implication, transitive and intransitive
|> relations etc) applies to moral ideas also.
| Well, kind of. But be careful! I think reasoning about morality
| is a higher level form of reasoning. I do not believe that the
| logic used for physics can be directly used for morality as well.
| That is the mistake being made by the Yudkowksy's and Goertezel's
| of this world. They are trying to squeeze all of moral reasoning
| into the strait jacket of current probability theory. But I
| strongly suspect that current probability theory is not up to task!
| I suspect some kind of major generalization of probability theory
| will be needed to properly handle moral reasoning.
I think we often introduce metaphors from physics into our moral
thinking. I agree with you that the logic used for physics shouldn't
be applied to morality, but I think that it *is*.
For example, people will often create an ethical system based on
logical inference. They will "ground" their ideas using certain
intuitive axioms - i.e. that personal freedom is valuable, that we
should respect one another, that pain should be avoided etc etc. They
will then formalise that in mathematics, respecting such logical
ideals such as the law of the excluded middle etc.
A good example of that is when people are sometimes unable to see that
someone both loves you and dislikes you at the same time - that many
emotional properties have a dual nature, and are not simply
summarised. "Joe is a nice person" is another example. Subjectivity
aside, there is no consistent property "niceness" which can be
properly ascribed to someone. It is possible to argue this is just
because of granularity - that if you went into more detail the
problems might resolve themselves, but it is my belief that in fact
such dualities are present at every level.
This is why I liked your recursive definition - it allows you to
classify something, while at the same time not ascribing it a
simplistic logical category.
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