“When one advances claims, one must first establish a standard of assessment. To make claims in the absence of such a standard is like trying to establish on the surface of a spinning potter’s wheel where the sun will rise and set. Without a fixed standard, one cannot clearly ascertain what is right and wrong, or what is beneficial and harmful.”

-Mozi, ‘A Condemnation of Fatalism’


I am constantly editing this framework, and it is tedious to keep it updated here as well. For the latest version, see here.

Confidence: “Firmly Tentative”

This is my attempt to “codify” the things I have learned from the Rationalist and Effective Altruism communities. I affectionately refer to it as “Neo-Mohism”, because Mohism resonates with me and it seems ripe to be given an update for the modern age.

High Concept (TL;DR)

Neo-Mohists aspire to be kind to both themselves and others (including all sentient beings), but also the type of person who spurs themselves and others to greater heights. They are financially prudent, including in their charitable giving and retirement. When they acquire influence they do not waver on their ideals, and they seek out dissenting opinions to make sure they are held accountable. They do not make an effort to be seen as special, nor do they resent taking a back seat and allowing others to take charge when appropriate, but they do wish to make the world a better place.

The 10 Neo-Mohist Tenets

The main tenets of Neo-Mohism are 5 couplets of intertwined concepts.

“The Void” and “Bayesian Rationality”

(inspired by the classical Mohist tenets of “Heaven’s Intent” and “Understanding Ghosts”)

This can rightly be called a “meta-tenet”, as it rules the formation and revision of all other tenets.

  1. “The Void” is a stand-in for “everything we are trying to accomplish with Neo-Mohism, and everything we would try to accomplish if we had more information and consistent values”. Never let Neo-Mohism get in the way of what Neo-Mohism is trying to accomplish.

  2. Bayesian Rationality is the epistemology of choice for Neo-Mohism. Neo-Mohism does not make certain proclamations of true/​false; all beliefs are required to have a confidence interval assigned to them (including all moral conclusions). As per Bayesian Rationality, the ultimate arbiter of Neo-Mohist tenets is the ability to make advance, falsifiable predictions, allowing the universe to judge between competing ideas. As such, a Cardinal Sin of Neo-Mohism is to assume a conclusion and work backwards to try and prove the conclusion is true. Additionally, argumentation and collaboration are Neo-Mohist virtues; no matter how rational an individual is, their map will always have gaps where someone else doesn’t..

“If X is true, I desire to believe that X is true. If X is not true, I desire to believe that X is not true. Let me not become attached to beliefs I may not want.”
-The Litany of Tarski

“Raising the Sanity Waterline” and “Tsuyoku Naritai!”

(inspired by the classical Mohist tenets of “Promoting the Worthy” and “Aspiring Upward”)

  1. We should be exhorting each other to always be a little bit stronger every day; a better thinker, a more effective human, in order to increase the average level of rationality and eudaimonia of the human race. This is the only way to truly impose order on a chaotic world and assure the continued prosperity of our species. It is foolish to think that a particular type of government or economic system is the key to this.

  2. Instead of appealing to government or ancient sages as a standard by which to judge yourself, Neo-Mohism points you to your future self, the best version of you that you can be.

“Sentientism” and “Wellbeing”

(inspired by the classical Mohist tenets of “Impartial Care” and “Condemning Aggression.”)

  1. Neo-Mohism takes the classical Mohist concept of “impartial care” and explicitly applies it to all sentient creatures (where “sentience” is defined as “anything that can suffer or reflect on the concept of suffering”.) as the promotion of well-being.

  2. Well-being is defined as “Suffering is bad (you are not well if you are suffering), and death is bad (you are not being if you are dead)”, and only applies to conscious creatures who exist or who we are confident will exist (creatures that neither exist nor will ever exist do not have a “being” in any meaningful sense). Aggression is to be heavily discouraged, and shall never be used in response to ideas or words. When we conclude aggression to be justified, we should treat that conclusion with skepticism, as we are often biased towards that answer.

“Effective Altruism” and “Minimalism”

(inspired by the classical Mohist tenets of “Moderation in Use”, “Moderation in Burial”, and “Condemning Music”).

  1. While Mohism does not decry hedonism or music, we should be mindful about how we spend our efforts and money. Everything we do has an opportunity cost, and that cost can all-too-often be measured in lives. Because of that cost, we should strive to maximize the good that we can do; not all good is created equal.

  2. Furthermore, consumerism is one of the great poisons of the modern age, and this poison will make it very difficult to Become Stronger or to Raise the Sanity Waterline. Be the master of your possessions, don’t let them become the master of you.

“Condemning Lies” and “Responsibility”

(the latter is inspired by the classical Mohist tenet of “Condemning Fatalism”)

  1. Deception is a hostile act that deprives people of the ability to have a relationship with you based on fully informed consent. As such, any deception (including lies of omission) are immoral acts (although sometimes immoral acts must be performed to avoid more immoral outcomes, similarly to aggression in self defense or in defense of others). The closer your relationship, the more important honesty is.

  2. Whether we live in a deterministic universe or not is irrelevant to the role of motivation and choices in our everyday lives. When we see injustice in the world, such as harm being inflicted on other sentient beings, it is our personal responsibility to fix it.

Neo-Mohist musings

A summary of ‘Cultivating the self’ from ‘The Mozi’

This named section of ‘The Mozi’ includes some claims about what Mohist Sage looks like. I summarize that section here, to hopefully glean some useful insights for Neo-Mohism.

  • In warfare, although there is strategy, courage is fundamental.

  • In office, although there is learning, integrity (right conduct) is fundamental.

  • If the root is not made secure, there is no way for the branches and leaves to flourish. In the same way, if one is not sympathetic to those who are near, one cannot induce those from afar to come. If one does not cherish one’s own family, one cannot devote oneself to outsiders.

  • If one does not have an end and a beginning in the conduct of affairs, one cannot complete many undertakings.

  • If one is obscure in raising something, one cannot be widely heard.

  • A gentleman (sage?) is one who examines the near and cultivates the self.

  • If a sage sees conduct that is not cultivated, or if they are vilified, they reflect on their own mistakes. In this way, resentment is minimized and right conduct is cultivated. If slanderous and vilifying words do not enter his ears, if critical and offensive sounds do not issue from his mouth, if thoughts of killing and maiming others are not harboured in his heart, then even if there are people who would slander and accuse him, they would have nothing to stand on.

  • One who is wise discriminates in his mind, but does not complicate his words.


“Truth” is defined as “that which comports with external reality”, or “that which exists regardless of what one believes”. There is an objective reality that we experience, and we can learn about this reality through Science and Rationality. Neo-Mohists desire to know what is true for its own sake, and want everyone to believe true things.


The word “morality” within Neo-Mohism is defined as “[X action] is that which ought to be done/​not done, given the goal of well-being.” As such, Neo-Mohism does not concern itself with any is/​ought problem, and uses Consequentialism as a meta-ethic. The only problem to solve is whether wellbeing is a shared goal. Neo-Mohists argue that most everyone cares about this, and that there are objective facts to be known in pursuit of this goal.


Everyone has the right to use technology to be whatever they wish to be, including *not dead*.

On Eudaimonia

Defined as “Hedonic Enjoyment” (the good feeling I get from drinking a glass of Boba Tea, the warmth I feel when I bask in the sun, the entertainment I get from watching a good movie, etc) and “Emotional Fulfillment” (having an intellectually-stimulating relationship, doing hard work aligned with one’s values, being mindful in the present moment, and self improvement). Neo-Mohists want themselves and everyone to achieve Eudaimonia. Especially, they do not want anyone to suffer, as suffering is a problematic barrier to happiness in a way that lesser pleasure is not.

Humor is good, and should be used generously.

Sentientism and Wellbeing

Neo-Mohism concerns itself primarily with how we interact with other sentient agents, where “sentience” is defined as “anything that can suffer or reflect on the concept of suffering”. Sentience provides meaning to an otherwise meaningless universe. All sentient creatures have moral weight (humans, animals, AI, aliens, etc), including ones far away from you (distance does not matter). Because all sentient beings have moral weight, it is immoral to subjugate, kill, or eat them.

In particular, “sapience” is of special concern; a word here which includes everything under “sentience”, as well as “the ability to be aware of one’s awareness, assign meaning to things, and make moral judgments (which also requires something like a Theory of Mind)”. Humanity is the only known species to have sapience, and therefore the loss of humanity would be a terrible thing indeed, reducing our universe to a meaningless machine. Misanthropy is misguided at best, dangerous and immoral at worst.

Condemning Lies


Deception is a hostile act that deprives people of the ability to have a relationship with you based on fully informed consent. As such, any deception (including lies of omission) are immoral acts (although sometimes immoral acts must be performed to avoid more immoral acts). The closer your relationship, the more important honesty is.


  1. Tell the truth in all circumstances (with the exceptions listed below). The importance of telling the truth increases with the amount of trust the other person is giving, and how much you care about your relationship with this person.

  2. Volunteer your thoughts liberally, but only when you have reason to believe that your audience wants to know them, or if your relationship would benefit from knowing them.

  3. If you wish to keep something private, say so explicitly.


  1. Avoid telling the truth when you have confirmed that dishonesty is the least harmful alternative. Situations like this in social relationships are very rare, and should be exited as quickly as possible.

    1. Where exiting is not a meaningful option, long-term dishonesty may be the best policy, though we should be highly skeptical of this option as we are all biased to favor it.

  2. Where a person explicitly does not want honesty, there is no need to be honest with them.

  3. Since this is a practice meant for personal relationships, and is premised on consent and power dynamics, there is no significant requirement in this framework to be honest to entities that have power over you, such as governments and corporations.

  4. Sarcasm and friendly pranks are also acceptable, but do not harm others or allow them to labor under falsehoods.