'Collective Volition' ripped to pieces

From: Marc Geddes (marc_geddes@yahoo.co.nz)
Date: Wed Aug 10 2005 - 21:27:31 MDT

*Geddes's guns continue to blaze away at the bullet
riddled corpse of 'Collective Volition'

Sl4 er's should oberve my past few posts - I scarcely
had to think much at all for my final hurrah you know
- but note that Eliezer's current 'Collective
Volition' model has been ripped to pieces.

The relevant key points are summarized here:

Firstly, note the clear difference between 'Collective
Volition' and 'Universal Volition'.

My definitions:

Collective Volition:

Something defined by reference to all
*currently* existing sentients in some context

Universal Volition:

Something deifned by reference to all
*logically possible* sentients.

Note that I showed that neither individual, nor
collective volition could be at the foundation of

"Is ‘Volition’ (indivudual or collective) the
foundation of mind? No, because one
can ask what is it about mind that allows us to reason

and think about ‘Volition’ in the first place?
Clearly there are fundamental laws of cognition that
determine how thought is correlated with the physical
substrate (i.e. brain) on which thought is enacted.
But these ‘functional laws’ (which determine how
thought maps to physical processes) must be the same
for all sentients and are hence objective. This shows
that there is an objective core to cognition which
goes beyond mere volition. Further, the *process of
cognition itself* must be of more importance than
volition, because we couldn’t reason about volition or

act upon volition without it. For instance: when
helping someone fulfill their desires (altruism), it
is not only the desires of others that we value (or
place utility on), but also *the cognitive process by
which we reason and take action* - because without
this cognitive process we would not be able to reason
about or act on volition in the first place.

This shows that the real foundation of value judgments

is not volition, but *self actualization*, the ability

to reason about (be aware of) and act upon our true
nature (‘true nature’ being the fundamental laws of
cognition that determine how thoughts map to the
physical substrate of our brains). But these
fundamental laws of cognitive science which determine
how thoughts map to brain state are objective in

For establishing that "Self-Actualization" (Learning
about and acting on our 'true nature') are the *real*
foundation for values, I elaborated on what was meant
by our 'true nature':

"Again, ignore all the kludges and hodge-potch
of your mind. These are not part of your true nature
as I have defined it here.

Which parts of your mind enable you to be self-aware,
to reason and to be altruistic? *These* are your true
nature. All the other evolutionary kludges are just

In the next thread, I explained why 'true nature' in
the sense of 'the cognitive principles required for
self-awareness and reasoning' are UNIVERSAL goods:

" I pointed out a mind which cannot reason
cannot reason about ethics. Therefore the ability to
reason is a prequiste to ethics. I pointed out that
reasoning depends on Induction and Deduction, for
which there are well-defined theories with UNIVERSAL
applicability. Since reasoning is needed for ethics,
and since the cognitive processes needed for ethics
are objective, it follows that the cognitive processes

needed for reasoning must be *universally good*.

Similarly, with consciousness. A mind which is not
conscious is not a moral subject. Therefore the
ability to be conscious is a prequiste to being a
moral subject. But there's an *objective* theory of
consciousness - by John Taylor - consciousness is
caused by the interaction of current experience with
past memories. Since consciousness is neeeded to be
an ethical subject and since the cognitive processes
needed for consciousness are objective, it follows
that cognitive processes needed for consciousness must

be *universally good*

ALL sentients everywhere, in order to be consistent,
must conclude that the cognitive proccesses resulting
in reasoning and consciousness are good. If any
sentient tried to say that these cognitive proccesses
were bad, they would be contradicting themslves, since

without these cognitive proccesses the sentient would
be unable to reason about ethics in the first place."

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THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,  
  For, put them side by side,  
The one the other will include  
  With ease, and you beside. 
-Emily Dickinson
'The brain is wider than the sky'
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