On 10/21/2011 8:24 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:
On 20 Oct 2011, at 20:46, meekerdb wrote:
On 10/20/2011 11:23 AM, nihil0 wrote:
Here is the abstract of Bostrom's "Infinitarian Challenge to
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.
Wow! Good news for those who take pleasure in torturing other people.
Modern cosmology teaches that the world might
well contain an infinite number of happy and sad people and other
candidate value‐bearing locations.
*Speculative* modern cosmology *hypostesizes* that the world *might*...
Good point. To base ethics on cosmology is a sort of category error,
of the super-aristotelian kind.
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.
But the part you can affect is the part most likely to affect you.
Right. What counts in ethics is you and the people you care about. If
you want to make all creature happy, you will make them all unhappy. I
tend to agree with Ayn Rand (and Lewis Carroll) on this. If you want
to make all creature the less unhappy as possible, just mind your own
business. With comp, ethical value are protegorean: you cannot put
them in theories, you can only apply them in your everyday life, and
with some luck some other will get the "lesson". They obey, like PA
self-consistency: Bx -> ~x.
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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