What about the idea that the choices you make are likely to reflect those of
an infinite number of "similar" individuals? It's sort of like the issue of
voting or trying to minimize your energy usage to help the environment, even
if your individual choice makes very little difference, if everyone decides
their choices don't matter and choose the less beneficial option, then this
does significantly change the outcome for the worse. It makes me think of
Douglas Hofstadter's notion of "superrationality" which he discusses in an
essay in "Metamagical Themas":
Hofstadter's idea here seems like a variation on Kant's idea that the moral
choice is the one that it would make sense for *everyone* to adopt (see
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/#ForUniLawNat )--I just skimmed
Bostrom's paper but I didn't see any detailed discussion of this sort of
ethical theory, which is odd since Bostrom is a philosopher and this has
been a pretty influential idea in ethics.
Physicist (and many-worlds advocate) David Deutsch also makes a somewhat
similar point about morality in a quantum multiverse in this article:
“By making good choices, doing the right thing, we thicken the stack of
universes in which versions of us live reasonable lives,” he says. “When you
succeed, all the copies of you who made the same decision succeed too. What
you do for the better increases the portion of the multiverse where good
On Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 2:23 PM, nihil0 <jonathan.wol...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Here is the abstract of Bostrom's "Infinitarian Challenge to
> Aggregative Ethics"
> Aggregative consequentialism and several other popular moral theories
> are threatened with paralysis: when coupled with some plausible
> assumptions, they seem to imply that it is always ethically
> indifferent what you do. Modern cosmology teaches that the world might
> well contain an infinite number of happy and sad people and other
> candidate value‐bearing locations. Aggregative ethics implies that
> such a world contains an infinite amount of positive value and an
> infinite amount of negative value. You can affect only a finite amount
> of good or bad. In standard cardinal arithmetic, an infinite quantity
> is unchanged by the addition or subtraction of any finite quantity. So
> it appears you cannot change the value of the world. Modifications of
> aggregationism aimed at resolving the paralysis are only partially
> effective and cause severe side effects, including problems of
> “fanaticism”, “distortion”, and erosion of the intuitions that
> originally motivated the theory. Is the infinitarian challenge fatal?
> Bostrom's argument seems pretty solid to me. But I am not a
> mathematician. What do you guys think?
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