“Are there motives for seeking truth besides curiosity and pragmatism?”
I can think of several that have showed up in my life. I’m offering these for consideration, but not claiming these are good or bad, pure or impure etc. Some will doubtless overlap somewhat with each other and the ones stated.
As a weapon. Use it to win arguments (sometimes the point of an argument is to WIN, never mind learning the truth. I’ve got automatic competitiveness I need to keep on a short leash). Use it to win bar room bets. Acquire knowledge about the “buttons” people have, and use it to manipulate them. Use it to thwart opposition to my plans, however sleazy. (“What are we going to do tonight, Brain?” … )
As evidence that I deserve an A in school. Even if I never have a pragmatic use for the knowledge, there is (briefly) value in demonstrably having the knowledge.
As culture. I don’t think I have ever found a practical use for the facts of history ( of science, of politics, or of art ), but they participated in shaping my whole world view. Out of that, I came out of retirement and dedicated myself to saving humanity. Go figure.
As a contact, as in, “I know Nick Bostrom.” (OK, that’s a bit of a stretch, but it is partly informational.)
5, As pleasure & procreation, as in, “Cain knew his wife.” ;-)
“To make rationality into a moral duty is to give it all the dreadful degrees of freedom of an arbitrary tribal custom. People arrive at the wrong answer, and then indignantly protest that they acted with propriety, rather than learning from their mistake.”
Yes. I say, “Morality is for agents that can’t figure out the probable consequences of their actions.” Which includes me, of course. However, whenever I can make a good estimate, I pretty much become a consequentialist.
Seeking knowledge has, for me, an indirect but huge value. I say: Humanity needs help to survive this century, needs a LOT of help. I think Friendly AI is our best shot at getting it. And we’re missing pieces of knowledge. There may be whole fields of knowledge that we’re missing and we don’t know what they are.
I would not recommend avoiding lines of research that might enable making terribly powerful weapons. We’ve already got that problem, there’s no avoiding it. But there’s no telling what investigations will produce bits of information that will trigger some human mind into a century-class breakthrough that we had no idea we needed.