On 8/19/2013 7:37 AM, Telmo Menzies wrote:
Hi Terren,

Hypocrisy allows us to overcome tragedy of the commons type situations. Purely rational and selfish agents recognize the prisoner dilemma and act accordingly. How to force cooperation? One way is to limit the rationality of animals, but then we get stuck with things like social insects. To get higher intelligence + cooperation, something else is needed. That is the role of hypocrisy. One obvious example is the hell myth. If you believe in hell you will cooperate without otherwise compromising your rationality. The people who invented the hell myth bootstrapped new levels of civilization by being Hypocrites -- if you go back far enough you are bound to find people who endorse the idea without truly believing in it.

Life is full of more subtle examples. One of my favorites: how most people claim they value innovation and creativity when secretly they oppose these things -- they are dangerous to the status quo.


Or as Bertrand Russell put it, "Ethics is, at bottom, the art of recommending to others the self-sacrifice necessary to cooperate with ourselves."


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