Barry Cotter

-4Joined Jan 2023


Just a warning on treating everyone as if they argue in good faith. They don’t. Émile P. Torres, aka @xriskology on Twitter doesn’t. He may say true honest things but if you find anything he says insightful check all the sources.

Émile P. Torres’s history of dishonesty and harassment An incomplete summary

I’m saying decouplers are more likely to be honest with themselves, and if they value truth terminally, to be honest with others. Having multiple goals that trade off against each other in ways that are unclear to people who hold them, never mind anyone else, generally goes along with this kind of muddled thinking. You don’t get to be any good as an academic philosopher without being a high decoupler. It’s a necessity for being expert, never mind world class.

Peter Singer seems pretty clearly to be a utilitarian above and beyond any other moral considerations so if he thought lying would increase utility he’d do it. Nick Bostrom clearly values truth seeking over short term considerations. If you don’t value the longtermist element of EA that’s fine. Have fewer people die, more people live long, healthy , happy lives, perhaps care about animal welfare on somebody level. That’s plenty for the next 30 years. Truth as terminal value is not really relevant. Being right is however very important if you’re trying to get things right on the scale of 100 years, never mind anything longer than that. Not lying, even if it’s convenient, is important. The purge Bostrom faction almost certainly mostly believes that what they profess is true. But purging people for having different beliefs is not truth seeking behaviour. If you’re a longtermist you can’t do that. You can’t lie for political convenience unless you plan to do everything important in secret either because every area where your model and the world are different is an opportunity to fuck to when you’re very likely to do so anyway.

If all high context means is that Bostrom could have said the same thing but less bluntly fine. It seems extremely unlikely that those calling for his ouster would have found a statement that was more delicate with the same truth message any less offensive.

You might be able to arrive at diversity and inclusion from utilitarian and truth seeking norms but you can’t get to equity from them.

I can’t imagine Singer having a commitment to public truth telling like Bostrom’s either, because he’s published on the moral necessity of the Noble Lie[1]. If he believed something that he thought publicising would be net negative for utility he would definitely lie about it. I’m less sure that McAskill would lie if he thought it expedient for his goals but the idea that he’s not a high decoupler beggars belief. He’s so weird he came up with a highly fit new idea that attracts a bunch of attention and even real action from the intellectually inclined philosophy lovers. Normal people don’t do that. Normal people don’t try to apply their moral principles universally.


High decoupling truth seekers who wanted to do the most good were necessary for founding the movement. Now that it exists they aren’t. As time goes on it will more closely approach the normal charitable movement where fashion and status seeking are as important, if not more important than doing the most good. This was inevitable from the founding of the movement. Autists and true believers always lose to people who are primarily interested in power and social status eventually in every social movement. Getting ten or twenty years of extra good over the normal charitable complex before it degenerates into them is good.