Le 15-déc.-06, à 02:04, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :

> Who says the Nazis are wrong when they assert they are good?

I was not saying that they were wrong. I was saying that they were bad.

Who says this?  All self-referentially correct machine sufficnetly rich 
to prove elementary theorems in arithmetic.

For showing this it is just enough to accept that the notion of 
"goodness" is of a type having greater or equal complexity that the 
notion of consistency or truth (which is intuitively reasonable).

To sum up: a lobian machine saying "I am true" is false. (note that 
saying "I am provable" makes it true by ... Lob's theorem itself!).
A lobian machine asserting "I am consistent" is inconsistent (Godel)
A lobian machine asserting "I am intelligent" is stupid,
A lobian machine asserting "I am stupid" is ... stupid too (beginners 
are often wrong on this).
A lobian machine asserting "I am good" is bad,
A lobian machine asserting "I am bad" is bad (too!)
A lobian machine asserting "I am virtuous" provably lacks virtue. 
(provably, not probably)

Apparently self-referentially correct lobian machine are enough wise 
for never attributing to themselves any "moral" quality. They cannot 
judge their own defect in the matter.

> We could look at a particular incident where capital punishment was 
> proposed, let's say
> for murder. Everyone might agree on the facts of the crime and the 
> effects of executing
> the perpetrator, but still strongly disagree about whether it is right 
> or wrong. So of course
> the capital punishment debate does involve rational discussion and 
> maybe some people will
> switch sides if appropriate evidence is presented, but in the end you 
> will have a situation
> where there is just disagreement on an axiom.

Again this shows that good/bad is not different from true/false, even 
just in arithmetic.

Recall the admittedly counterintuitive truth (admitting the consistency 
of Peano Arithmetic): the new theory obtained by adding to Peano 
arithmetic the statement that Peano arithmetic is inconsistent, is a 
consistent theory (albeit probably not "reasonable", but what does that 

The elementary atoms of good and bad are related to what we have 
"learned" since life begun, like drinking water is good, self-burning 
is bad, or any elementary pleasure/pain qualia in company of some 
amount of self-referential correctness.

>>  But of course democracy does not
>> *necessarily* lead to the good.
> Just in that last sentence is the assumption that there is some other 
> basis for
> the good than what the majority decides to say it is.

Yes, precisely. But because good/bad cannot be normative or even 
defined, democracy works well in giving to the majority a way to revise 
opinions after four years. "majority" by itself has nothing per se 
related to "good".
(BTW I do not favors any form of direct democracy, because by 
controlling media you can make any majority decide what you want).
Majority is wrong in general, but through democracy the majority can be 
less and less wrong (a little bit like science).

> For example, if 51% of the
> population decided to kill the other 49% and take all their 
> possessions, presumably
> you would not think that was good.

That is a sort  of civil war.

> This means that your idea of what is good is
> somehow better than the decisision of the majority, and you only 
> favour democracy
> because you think it is more likely to come up with laws in accordance 
> with your
> ethical principles than most other forms of government. Isn't that a 
> little arrogant?

Not at all. Democracy has just a better chance to *converge* on 
solutions acceptable by a majority, notably by making it possible to 
take into account opinion of minorities, but also to take account 
people's changes of mind. Democracy per se is not ethical, it is 
meta-ethical. I am not saying that this or that is good or bad, just 
that such things are hard to decide and that the advantage of democracy 
is that, whatever is good or bad, working democratic systems can give a 
way for changing your mind (after 4 years, say) on difficult social or 
ethical questions.
In a tyranny someone thinks at your place, and if you don't belong to 
the right club, you have not even any hope for a change.  When you feel 
something is bad for you, it is arguable that the mere possibility of 
change is a good.

You say (to Brent):

> But is head-eating a good thing? A group of male mantids might get 
> together to form
> an anti-head-eating movement, arguing that it is barbaric and no 
> longer necessary even
> though it has always been the way and is probably genetically 
> programmed. The pro-
> -head-eating majority would probably vehemently disagree. Everyone 
> agrees on the facts,
> everyone is able to reason, but there are still two conflincting views 
> on what is "good".

Like they are still many conflicting views on what is "true", "real" 
This does not mean we cannot progress on such notions. We can can have 
less and less conflicting view of what is true. I can expect the same 
for "good".
Both with "true" and "good" I don't expect we can converge on a final 
complete theory capable of deciding all assertions, quite the contrary: 
theories like bodies are vehicle of thought. Democratic system are more 
efficient to explore the political landscape and thus more efficient in 
probability to satisfy "soul's natural attraction" toward the "good".



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