Your book review must be published after the posting of this announcement, i.e., no submitting book reviews you wrote a month ago and already published elsewhere on the Internet.
What’s your policy on previously-partially-published reviews? The specific case I have in mind is a rough review I put up on Goodreads, which would need major reworking to be suitable here. (It’s currently more of a notes-dump than a proper review.)
glasses evidence better explained by the fact that fogging glasses are a good feedback loop/incentive to wear your mask properly
This could be an interesting thing to study. Anecdotally, I think I’ve seen more people give ‘fogged glasses’ as a reason/excuse not to wear a mask, or to pull it right down, than as a reason to fit the mask properly. For some people and some mask types, there seems to be an assumption that air escaping out the top is inevitable.
The section on Australia is very silly.
A year of house arrest to stop a 1 in 500 chance of death naively implies that the QALY value for a year under house arrest is at least 0.92 or so, and since Covid primarily kills the elderly that calculation is highly generous and it’s more like 0.96. Was it worth it?
I think you just made up ‘a year’? The most-locked-down state in the country (and there is massive variation between states in that respect) has spent much less than a year in lockdown.
“House arrest” is hyperbolic nonsense. It’s not just pithy and emotive and a bit loose, it’s simply false as a description of life in Australia during the pandemic. Presumably you either know this, or have very little contact with Australians and yet have nevertheless decided to make confident pronouncements about their (our) lives.
Issues with naive aggregation of QALYs aside, you surely know better than to pretend ‘deaths averted’ is the only significant benefit of keeping covid at bay.
(And you’re looking at lives saved by taking Australia’s measures rather than those taken in countries with a ~0.2% death rate. So on the ‘cost’ side of the equation, you should not be counting the full cost of “”“”House Arrest”””″, but its cost minus that of the measures required to keep the rate to 0.2%.)
Ok, thanks for engaging. Be well. Or I guess, be happy and unsufferful.
Cheers. I won’t plug you into the experience machine if you don’t sign me up for cryonics :)
Well I pre-theoretically care about happiness and suffering too. I hate suffering, and I hate inflicting suffering or knowing others are suffering. I like being happy, and like making others happy or knowing they’re happy. So it’s not really a process of teasing out, it’s a process of boiling down, by asking myself which things seem to matter intrinsically and which instrumentally. One way of doing this is to consider hypothetical situations, and selectively vary them and observe the difference each variation makes to my assessment of the situation. (edit: so that’s one place the ‘teasing out’ happens—I’ll work out what value set X implies about hypothetical scenarios a, b, and c, and see if I’m happy to endorse those implications. It’s probably roughly what Rawls meant by ‘reflective equilibrium’—induce principles, deduce their implications, repeat until you’re more or less satisfied.)
Basically, conscious states are the only things I have direct access to, and I ‘know’ (in a way that I couldn’t argue someone else into accepting, if they didn’t perceive it directly, but that is more obvious to me than just about anything else) that some of them are good and some of them are bad. Via emotional empathy and intellectual awareness of apparently relevant similarities, I deduce that other people and animals have a similar capacity for conscious experience, and that it’s good when they have pleasant experiences and bad when they have unpleasant ones. (edit: and these convictions are the ones I remain sure of, at the end of the boiling-down/reflective equilibrium process)
I think I’ll bow out of the discussion now—I think we’ve both done our best, but to be blunt, I feel like I’m having to repeatedly assure you that I do mean the things I’ve said and I have thought about them, and like you are still trying to cure me of ‘mistakes’ that are only mistakes according to premises that seem almost too obvious for you to state, but that I really truly don’t share.
The ‘reasoning’ is basically just teasing out implications, checking for contradictions, that sort of thing. The ‘reflection’ includes what could probably be described as a bunch of appeals to intuition. I don’t think I can explain or justify those in a particularly interesting or useful way; but I will restate that I can only assume you’re doing the same thing at some point.
To this end I think it would help if you laid out your own ground-level values, and explained to whatever extent is possible why you hold them (and perhaps in what sense you think they are correct).
Because it’s replacing the thing with your reaction to the thing. Does this make sense, as stated?
Not without an extra premise somewhere.
we’re asking for clarification about what our good-thing-detectors are aimed at
I think this is something we disagree on. It seems to me that one of your premises is “what is good = what our good-thing detectors are aimed at”, and I don’t share that premise. Or, to the extent that I do, the good-thing detector I privilege is different from the one you privilege; I see no reason to care more about my pre-theoretic good-thing detector than the ‘good-thing detector’ that is my whole process of moral and evaluative reflection and reasoning.
your stated fundamental values—happiness, non-suffering—are actually very very different from the pre-theoretic fundamental values—i.e. the things your good-thing-detectors detect, such as having kids, living, nuturing, connecting with people, understanding things, exploring, playing, creating, expressing, etc.
That’s the thing—I’m okay with that, and I still don’t see why I ought not to be.
Happiness is a mental event, those things are things that happen in the world or in relation to the world. Does this make sense?
Of course—and the mental events are the things that I think ultimately matter.
I’m saying a weaker claim: it’s just not what you actually value.
I think this is true for some definitions of value, so to some degree our disagreement here is semantic. But it also seems that we disagree about which senses of ‘value’ or ‘values’ are important. I have moral values that are not reducible to, or straightforwardly derivable from, the values you could infer from my behaviour. Like I said, I am imperfect by my own lights—my moral beliefs and judgments are one important input to my decision-making, but they’re not the only ones and they don’t always win. (In fact I’m not always even thinking on those terms; as I presume most people do, I spend a lot of my time more or less on autopilot. The autopilot was not programmed independently from my moral values, but nor is it simply an implementation (even an imperfect heuristic one) of them.)
A reason I think it’s not actually what you value is that I suspect you wouldn’t press a button that would make everyone you love be super happy, with no suffering, and none of their material aims would be achieved (other than happiness), i.e. they wouldn’t explore or have kids, they wouldn’t play games or tell stories or make things, etc., or in general Live in any normal sense of the word; and you wouldn’t press a button like that for yourself. Would you?
I’ve often thought about this sort of question, and honestly it’s hard to know which versions of wireheading/experience-machining I would or wouldn’t do. One reason is that in all realistic scenarios, I would distrust the technology and be terrified of the ways it might backfire. But also, I am well aware that I might hold back from doing what I believed I ought to do—perhaps especially with respect to other people, because I have a (healthy, in the real world) instinctive aversion to overriding other people’s autonomy even for their own good. Again though, the way I use these words, there is definitely no contradiction between the propositions “I believe state of the world X would be better”, “I believe I ought to make the world better where possible”, and “in reality I might not bring about state X even if I could”.
edit: FWIW on the concrete question you asked, IF I somehow had complete faith in the experience machine reliably working as advertised, and IF all my loved ones were enthusiastically on board with the idea, I reckon I would happily plug us all in. In reality they probably wouldn’t be, so I would have to choose between upsetting them terribly by doing it alone, or plugging them in against their wishes, and I reckon in that case I would probably end up doing neither and sticking with the status quo.
edit again: That idea of “complete faith” in the machine having no unexpected downsides is hard to fully internalise; in all realistic cases I would have at least some doubt, and that would make it easy for all the other pro-status-quo considerations to win out. But if I was truly 100% convinced that I could give myself and everyone else the best possible life, as far as all our conscious experiences were concerned? It would be really hard to rationalise a decision to pass that up. I still can’t imagine doing it to other people if they were begging me not to, but I think I would desperately try to convince them and be very upset when I inevitably failed. And if/when there was nobody left to be seriously hurt by my plugging myself in, and the option was still available to me, I think I’d do that.
An aside: the characterization of post-modern argument in the OP is only accurate in the most extreme and easily parodied of post-modernist thinkers. Most post-modernists would argue that social constructs are subjective narratives told on top of an objective world, and that many more things are socially constructed than most people believe. That the hypothetical about the sun is used as an example of bad post-modernist thought, instead of any of the actual arguments post-modernists make in real life, is a bit of a tip-off that it’s not engaging with a steel man.
I think Scott’s claim (back in 2014) would be that you’ve just articulated the post-modernist motte, and in fact people often do make arguments and pronouncements that (at least implicitly) depend on the thing that you see as a weakman and he sees as the bailey. (I haven’t read enough of the relevant stuff to take a position here; Scott’s cynical account rings true to me, but that could be because what rises to my attention is disproportionately the extreme and easily-parodied stuff, and then I lazily pattern-match the rest without giving it a fair chance.)
edit: to be fair, I can see a potential motte-and-bailey on the anti-pomo side. (Bailey: the sun hypothetical, although made up, is a pretty accurate characterisation of how postmodernists argue. Motte: that was just a throwaway tongue-in-cheek example, a punchy way to illustrate the main point of the post; you’re taking it too literally if you bother pushing back against it. Or alternatively, Bailey: that is how postmodernists argue. Motte: that is how a small proportion of postmodernist philosophers, and a bunch of random people inspired by postmodernism, argue.) So I think it’s fair enough to suggest that the absence of real examples is a red flag.
Re your first paragraph—fair enough, and thanks for clarifying. Something about this approach has rubbed me the wrong way, but I am stressed IRL at the moment and that is probably making me pricklier than I would otherwise be. (By the way, so that I don’t waste your time, I should say that I might stop responding at some point before anything is resolved. If so, please don’t interpret that as an unfriendly or insulting response—it will just be the result of me realising that I’m finding the conversation stressful, and/or spending too much time on it, and should probably leave it alone.)
I described a view of what happiness is, and the implication of that view that happiness isn’t a terminal value.
I think you’re referring to the following lines—let me know if I’m missed others.
Happiness is something that sometimes happens when you and the world are on the way towards good things.
Depending on exactly how you mean this, I think it might beg the question, or at least be missing a definition of ‘good things’ and a justification for why that excludes happiness. Or, if you mean ‘good things’ loosely enough that I might agree with the quoted sentence, I don’t think it bears on the question of whether happiness is/ought to be a terminal value.
The quality of conscious experience you’re talking about is a derivative aspect, like a component or a side effect, of a process of your mind learning to understand and affect the world to get what it wants.
I would quibble with this, if “your mind learning to understand and affect the world to get what it wants” is intended as an exhaustive description of how happiness arises—but more to the point, I don’t see how it implies that I shouldn’t consider happiness to be a fundamentally, intrinsically good thing.
happiness is what your brain does when its “is the world getting better” detector is returning “hell yeah!”
Again, even if this is true, I don’t think it bears on the fundamental point. I don’t see anything necessarily unreasonable about wanting everyone, including me, to experience the feeling they get when their ‘world getting better’ module is firing. (And seeing that feeling, rather than whatever triggers it, as the really important thing.)
I think you see a conflict between one (unconscious) part of my mind saying ‘the world is getting better [in some way that isn’t entirely about me or other people feeling happier or suffering less], have some happiness as a reward!’ and the part that writes and talks and (thinks that it) reasons saying ‘increasing happiness and reducing suffering is what it means for the world to get better!‘. But I just don’t have a problem with that conflict, or at least I don’t see how it implies that the ‘happiness is good’ side is wrong. (Likewise for the conflict between my ‘wanting’ one thing in a moral sense and ‘wanting’ other, sometimes conflicting things in other senses.)
Basically I think our disagreement is over whether the impartial judgements actually share your values. I’ve been trying to point out how it looks a lot more like the impartial judgements are using a different criterion for what constitutes a better world than the criterion implied by your desires. E.g. on the one hand you’re afraid of your loved ones dying, which I take to imply that the world is better if your loved ones don’t die. On the other hand some of your other statements sound like the only problem is the fear and unhappiness around death. So basically my question is, how do you know that the impartial conclusions are right, given that you still have fear of your loved ones dying?
From a certain perspective I’m not confident that they’re right, but I don’t see any good reason for you to be confident that they’re wrong. I am confident that they’re right in the sense that my ground level, endorsed-upon-careful-reflection moral/evaluative convictions just seem like fundamental truths to me. I realise there’s absolutely no reason for anyone else to find that convincing—but I think everyone who has moral or axiological opinions is making the same leap of faith at some point, or else fudging their way around it by conflating the normative and the merely descriptive. When you examine your convictions and keep asking ‘why’, at some point you’re either going to hit bottom or find yourself using circular reasoning. (Or I guess there could be some kind of infinite regress, but I’m not sure what that would look like and I don’t think it would be an improvement over the other options.)
I know that’s probably not very satisfying, but that’s basically why I said above that I can’t see us changing each other’s mind at this fundamental level. I’ve got my ground-level convictions, you’ve got yours, we’ve both thought about them pretty hard, and unless one of us can either prove that the other is being inconsistent or come up with a novel and surprisingly powerful appeal to intuition, I’m not sure what we could say to each other to shift them.
Another point that might matter, is that I don’t think it makes sense to talk about “moments of conscious experience” as isolated from the person who’s experiencing them. Which opens the door for death mattering—if we care about conscious experience, and conscious experience implies identity across time, we might are about those identities continuing. The reason I think it doesn’t make sense to talk of isolated experience is that experience seems like it always involves beliefs and significance, not mere valence or data.
I should have gone to bed a while ago and this is a big topic, so I won’t try to respond now, but I agree that this sort of disagreement is probably important. I do think I’m more likely to change my views on personal identity, moments of experience etc. than on most of what we’ve been discussing, so it could be fruitful to elaborate on your position if you feel like it.
(But I should make it clear that I see consciousness—in the ‘hard problem’, qualia, David Chalmers sense—as real and irreducible (and, as is probably obvious by now, supremely important). That doesn’t mean I think worrying about the hard problem is productive—as best I can tell there’s no possible argument or set of empirical data that would solve it—but I find every claim to have dissolved the problem, every attempt to define qualia out of existence, etc., excruciatingly unconvincing. So if your position on personal identity etc. conflicts with mine on those points, it would probably be a waste of time to elaborate on it with the intention of convincing me—though of course it could still serve to clarify a point of disagreement.)
You wrote that you have an “impartial observer” who shares “fundamental values” with you [...]
I feel like you’re reifying the impartial observer, and drawing some dubious conclusions from that. The impartial observer is just a metaphor—it’s me, trying to think about the world from a certain perspective. (I know you haven’t literally failed to realise that, but it’s hard for me to make sense of some of the things you’re saying, unless there’s some kind of confusion between us on that point.)
All of my varied and sometimes conflicting feelings, beliefs, instincts, desires etc. are equally real. Some of them I endorse on reflection, others I don’t; some of them I see as pointing at something fundamentally important, others I don’t.
the “impartial observer” pretends that your “instincts” are aimed merely at feelings
I don’t think I’ve ever suggested that my instincts are “aimed merely at feelings”—if they’re ‘aimed’ at anything other than their direct targets, it probably makes more sense to say they’re aimed at the propagation of my genes, which is presumably why they’re part of me in the first place. And on reflection, I don’t see the propagation of my genes as the supreme good to be aimed at above all else, so it’s not surprising that I’m sometimes going to disagree with my instincts.
as if the point of cryonics is [...]
“the point of cryonics” can be whatever someone signing up wants it to be! I get that for some people, death is the ultimate bad thing, and I have some sympathy with them (you?) on that. I don’t like death, I’m afraid of it, etc. I haven’t talked myself into thinking that I’m fine with it. But, on reflection, and like I said a few comments up, when I think about personal identity and what it actually means for a specific person to persist through time, I’m not convinced that it is fundamentally important whether an experience-moment belongs to one particular entity or another—or whether a set of experience-moments belongs to one entity or a group of others. (And that’s what’s fundamentally important to me—conscious experience. That’s what I think matters in the world; the quality of conscious experiences is what I think makes the world good or bad, better or worse.)
None of this means that death doesn’t suck. But to me, it primarily sucks because of all the pain it causes. If we all somehow really got used to it, to the point that we could meet it without fear or horror, and could farewell each other without overwhelming grief, I would see that as a great improvement. A hundred generations living a hundred years each doesn’t seem intrinsically worse to me than a single quasi-immortal generation living for 10,000 years. Right now I’d take the second option, because yeah, death sucks. But (setting aside the physical decay that in fact tends to precede and accompany it), in my opinion the degree to which it sucks is contingent on our psychology.
I perceive this as a self-destructive conflict, and I wanted to explore and make precise what you meant by “the values that my ‘impartial observer’ shares with me”, because that seems like part of the conflict. [...]What I’m saying is, is that happiness is what your brain does when its “is the world getting better” detector is returning “hell yeah!”. So what you’re saying is a vicious circle. (It’s fine though, because your “is the world getting better” detector should still be mostly intact. You just have to decide to listen to it, rather than pretending that you want to trick it.)
I perceive this as a self-destructive conflict, and I wanted to explore and make precise what you meant by “the values that my ‘impartial observer’ shares with me”, because that seems like part of the conflict.
What I’m saying is, is that happiness is what your brain does when its “is the world getting better” detector is returning “hell yeah!”. So what you’re saying is a vicious circle. (It’s fine though, because your “is the world getting better” detector should still be mostly intact. You just have to decide to listen to it, rather than pretending that you want to trick it.)
I appreciate your directness, but I don’t really appreciate the ratio of confident, prescriptive psycholanalysis to actual argument. You’re asserting a lot, but giving me few reasons to take your assertions seriously enough to gain anything from them. (I don’t mean this conversation should be about providing me with some gain—but I don’t get the sense you are open to having your own mind changed on any of the topics we’re discussing; your purpose seems to be to fix me in some way.) I genuinely disagree with you on the fundamental importance of happiness. I might be wrong, but I’m not simply confused—at least not in a way that you can dispel simply by asking questions and asserting your own conflicting beliefs.
Sorry if that comes across in an insulting way; I do appreciate your attempts to work through these issues with me. But this has felt like a fairly one-sided dialogue, in the sense that you seem to think exactly one of us has a lot to learn. Which isn’t necessarily a problem, and perhaps it’s the attitude most of us take into most such discussions—but if you want to teach me, I need you to do more to positively support your own convictions, rather than just confidently assert them and try to socratic-dialogue your way to a diagnosis of what’s wrong with mine.
How do you define it
It’s context-dependent, but if we’re still talking about the bit where I said my “fundamental values” include “happiness is good”, I meant that I think increasing the amount of happiness and reducing the amount of suffering in the world makes the world better. (edit: And not instrumentally, i.e. because of something else that suffering and happiness lead to—the point is that to me, happiness and suffering are the ground-level things that matter; other things become instrumentally important by virtue of promoting happiness and reducing suffering.)
why do you care about that definition?
I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking here—why do I want to define the word that way? or why did I feel the need to point out that I don’t define the word in the other way? or why do I care about the thing that definition points to? or something else.
It sounds like you said here that “happiness is good” is one of your “fundamental values”. Maybe this doesn’t respond to what you mean, but what I’m saying is that it’s almost a type error to say “this quality of conscious experience is what I’m trying to make happen in the world”. The quality of conscious experience you’re talking about is a derivative aspect, like a component or a side effect, of a process of your mind learning to understand and affect the world to get what it wants. So I can see how it’s confusing: if you want X, and whenever you get X you’re happy, then saying “what I’m trying to get is being happy, and X is a subgoal of that” almost captures all of the X that you want. But it’s backwards, if you see what I mean; you’re happy because you got what you wanted, it’s not that you wanted to be happy. [..] If you optimized for what you actually want, you’d be happy (or at least happier) in a wholesome way (the opposite of the unwholesome happiness of heroin).
I agree that trying to optimise directly for happiness is often counterproductive, and having goals and desires other than happiness is often the best way to actually attain happiness; I disagree that this implies happiness isn’t what fundamentally matters, or what I personally value. (I don’t define ‘what I value’ as ‘what I am actually trying to bring about’, though—I believe it is possible, and common, to fail to act in accordance with one’s values. And yes, in my case there’s the potential for significant tension between what I believe, after lengthy consideration, is fundamentally good, and what I aim at or care about moment-to-moment. But I don’t think this carries the implications you seem to think it carries.)
If you optimized medium-strongly for that, you’d become a heroin addict or similar.
Strongly disagree; I don’t personally know any heroin addicts, but from what I have read and seen, becoming a heroin addict is a terrible strategy if one wants to be happy and avoid suffering over the medium-long term. Your first reaction may be that this is a pedantic quibble, but I don’t think there is actually anything close to true ‘wireheading’ currently available to us; the real-world examples people give always have obvious downsides even from a purely hedonistic standpoint. So I think they do more to mislead and confuse than to clarify or support any anti-hedonist arguments.
Aren’t we on LW to discuss difficult important questions?
You’re welcome to make the arguments! I’m just trying to be honest here, that I think we’re extremely unlikely to change each other’s minds at that level. (IME, productive discussion on purely moral/evaluative questions is quite rare, and usually requires some common ground at a lower level.)
Do you think you see why someone might call it a type error to think that happiness is what we “want” or “value”?
If you’re saying I’m the one making that error, I think I failed to get across my position. I don’t think happiness is necessarily what we want or value—i was using the word to refer to a certain quality of conscious experience, basically the opposite of suffering.
I’m saying that conflicts between your “ethics” and your “real person” should be interesting as points of potential greater understanding, but it sounds like you’re throwing away those opportunities.
Fair enough—again, feel free to make the arguments. I’ve got to go afk for a while, but I will come back and at least try to consider them.
I’m still a bit confused by the rest of your post—some of our issues may be semantic (we seem to use some key words quite differently) but I suspect some fundamental disagreements are also getting in the way. Sorry that this is a bit of a non-response; if you do want to go deeper, I’ll try to give your words proper consideration later today or tomorrow.
If we agreed on the probability of each possible outcome of cryonic preservation, but disagreed on whether the risk was worth it, how would we go about trying to convince the other they were wrong?
There’s just no way we’re going to agree on the really fundamental stuff; your first-paragraph assertions are as unconvincing to me as I’m sure mine are to you.
This sounds like you’ve reached a “compromise” that entails basically not trying too hard to do anything. This seems very likely to be undesirable from either the “ethical” perspective or the “real person” perspective.
I’ve accepted that I’m imperfect with respect to my ethical system. I don’t know how you got from there to the assumption that I’m ‘not trying too hard to do anything’.
Do you think you behave in a perfectly ethical way? If so, I think you’re almost certainly either deceiving yourself or simply making the compromise one level up, i.e. adopting a very undemanding ethics.
You list (1) feelings of desire, and (2) ethical reasons. But what about reasons to desire
I think these are encompassed in my ethical considerations—I still matter from that perspective, just not disproportionately much. So if something would be good for me, that fact has ethical importance.
or reasons that your desire takes up and makes part of itself?
I don’t think I know what this means.
It’s an interesting one—I think people differ hugely in terms of both how they weigh (actual or potential) happiness against suffering, and how much they care about prolonging life per se. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen people on LW and/or SSC say they would prefer to intensely suffer forever than to die, whereas I am very much on the opposite side of that question. I’m also unusually conservative when it comes to trading off suffering against happiness.
I don’t know how much this comes down to differing in-the-moment experiences (some people tend to experience positive/negative feelings more/less intensely than others in similar circumstances), differing after-the-fact judgments and even memories (some people tend to forget how bad an unpleasant experience was; some are disproportionately traumatised by it), differing life circumstances, etc. I do suspect it’s largely based on some combination of factors like these, rather than disagreements that are primarily intellectual.
edit: I’ve kind of conflated the happiness-suffering tradeoff and the ‘suffering versus oblivion’ dilemma here. In the second paragraph I was mostly talking about the happiness-suffering tradeoff.
I think there’s some confusion between us—why do you say “they don’t recommend taking actions that would lead to things you want”?
edit: actually, I think I know roughly what you mean—hang on and I’ll edit this into a proper response.
What I consider my ‘fundamental values’ are pretty few: suffering is bad, happiness is good, and some sort of commitment to equality, such that a set of experiences don’t matter more or less because of who is having them. Those are the values that my ‘impartial observer’ shares with me; if we’re using the veil of ignorance metaphor, we can leave out the commitment to equality and let that arise naturally via the veil.
As a real person I am of course very partial, and I also care about some things that, on reflection, I see as only having instrumental or contingent importance. When I’m thinking about an ethical question, I try to adopt the impartial perspective; then, in guiding my real-world actions, my view of what is ethical will be integrated with everything else that affects my behaviour, and some sort of compromise will be reached. So, with respect to cryonics: if I don’t feel any desire to do it, and I don’t see any ethical reason to do it, what’s the problem with not doing it?
Not a literal third party, but I do try to think about ethical questions from the perspective of a hypothetical impartial observer. (With my fundamental values, though; so if it’s anyone, it’s basically me behind a veil of ignorance.)
I’m not sure if you’d count me as having “really considered” cryonics; I’ve genuinely thought about the topic, but I’ve never been tempted to take any steps toward signing up, or researching it in depth. Here are a couple of reasons:
Failure (or ‘success’ with caveats) needn’t merely leave me with the default outcome (nothingness) -- some of the conceivable failure modes are horrifying. I don’t want to go into detail, but there’s the potential for a lot of suffering.
I’m instinctively biased toward myself and the preservation of my own life, but I don’t think I particularly ought to be. My self-preservation instinct doesn’t kick in when I think about cryonics, and nobody who loves me is going to be cryopreserved, so my absence won’t hurt anyone. I see no reason to try to override my natural tendency to do nothing.
I don’t see any compelling reason to assign fundamental value to the extension of a life. When I think about personal identity in a reductionist way, I see nothing intrinsically important about the connections that make a set of experience-moments part of one person’s life rather than another’s (or some others’). I instinctively want to continue to live, and I definitely want the people I care about to continue to live—but where those desires aren’t naturally present, I don’t see why I should push myself to try to create them or override their absence. (Of course I don’t want anyone to go through the pain of death and bereavement, but that’s a separate question; see the next sub-point.)
Of course, if I could convince myself to have high confidence in cryonics, it would probably take the sting out of my and my loved ones’ deaths (provided I could convince them to sign up too). But if we were to sign up without much confidence, we would all still have to go through the ordinary experiences of fear and grief, whether or not we subsequently woke up in the future.
Why don’t these instincts kick in with respect to cryonics? Probably a lack of confidence that it has much chance of working (based on a combination of lazy heuristics and some genuine thought/reading), and the fact that it is weird enough not to map easily onto anything I instinctively recognise as ‘survival’. So I have to think about it, and when I do I reach the conclusions I’ve mentioned here.