Bound unhappiness below (was Re: What if there's an expiration date?)

From: Stuart Armstrong (
Date: Mon May 05 2008 - 09:14:51 MDT

> >... a sharp cutoff is Not The Way. Even exponential discounting would
> >be superior, even though it has very implausible normative
> >implications:
> >

The problem with discount rates (or the lack thereof) is that they all
imply very negative consequences, such as killing/torturing two
hundred people to save one. Instead of trying to fiddle with discount
rates to solve this issue, why not get face it directly?

I'd suggest setting up utility so that pain caused to someone counts
more than equivalent benefits provided to another. As the quantity of
pain increases, the negative utility would increase much faster. Make
the limit huge (or maybe even infinite), and this should solve the
problems with most discount rates directly.

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