Wei Dai, Except that traditionally speaking an infinitelly massive universe is generally considered implausable by the greater scientific community.
But I think the greater matter is that even if it were physicially possible, it’s impossible to mentally reason about as a reader of good fiction. And thus has the ability to break internal consistancy of an otherwise good store in the mind of the reader.
“Now, if someone is in a unproblematic, loving relationship; and they have enough money; and no major health problems; and they’re signed up for cryonics so death is not approaching inexorably; and they’re doing exciting work that they enjoy; and they believe they’re having a positive effect on the world...
...and they’re still unhappy because it seems to them that the universe is a mere dance of atoms empty of meaning, then we may have a legitimate problem here. One that, perhaps, can only be resolved by a very long discussion of the nature of morality and how it fits into a reductionist universe”
Apart from the cryonics thing (thinking about it), I fit into this category. But I am not holding my breath that you are going to provide any plausible arguments. It would be good if you actually engaged with the literature about this as well, as well as doing your own thing the WHOLE time.
I became a convinced of moral Anti Realism by Joshua Greene and Richard Joyce. Took me about a year to get over it. So, not a casual nihilist. And no, arguments that one should be rational have no normative force either, as far as I can see. The only argument for rationality would be a moral one. Anyway, I became a consequentialist like Greene suggested....
Unknown, that was interesting and spot on I guess. I must say however, that personally, I didn’t think it made sense to think that you could ‘agree to disagree’ about factual matters if you had the same amount of evidence before I read this blog. That doesn’t seem to make sense to me in an elementary way. So I have no problem with cryonics, transhumanism etc. being possibly ‘true’ - although I haven’t the foggiest, most of these thing seem plausible to me. Perhaps what I should have said viz. the ‘the other people being biased’ thing is that it seems to include values. i.e. we should share the values of EY. This jars somewhat with the meta-ethical anti realisem which is part and parcel of this sort of thoguht. Now again, I guess that the response is that often we actually do have the same values, but we haven’t extrapolated far enough in a coherent way.
Re: people accusing you of bias. I offer this likely irrelevant observation: I think it’s the tone of the blog. Although you do an amazing job of explaining very complicated things to us cretins, it is seems to be that the feeling here is that you are speaking to the plebs from a very great hight inded (which is true, I am guessing). However, being the simple apes that we are, its easy to get upset and accuse you of hypocrisy.
Other blogs written by other extremely smart people (possibly even smarter people, if that’s possible)do not induce this feeling in me (and therefore possibly others)so perhaps that’s something you need to work on. Also, regarding the issue of cryonics etc., I also find it pretty distracting. For much the same reason as you warn against bringing contemporary politics into these sorts of discussions (i.e. of the biases themselves), it gets my feelings worked up, and it detracts from thinking about the actual biases.
Also, I get the feeling (again, probably wrongly) that you sort of think that people are biased/irrational if you don’t agree with these somewhat unusual proposals. Now this is not suprising I guess, it is common Utilitarian/Economic argument that ‘well you accept P, but this, you may not realise, actually also implies Q’ (some counter-intutive moral point) (actually Bostrom’s reversal test paper is another good example). While this is often a powerful form of argument, as the likes of Singer show, it often seems to make one feel a bit manipulated. But again, maybe that’s just me. Please don’t take these as slams, I’m just reporting my reactions as an attempt to explain what other people are saying & hopefully help improve things. I think it is a pretty damn interesting blog and the level of disucssion is amazingly high, but like everything it could be better.
PS The Walking out on your lonesome from the conference thing was a good point, but the way you illustrated it was a tad self-aggradizing, I think.