newptcai

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Some promising career ideas beyond 80,000 Hours' priority paths

I happened to have met someone working in formal verification. What they do is to use SAT solver to check if a railroad switching system works as expected. I don't think they would consider them doing AI security. But for software used in critical infrastructure (like railway), it is an important safe measure.

Candy for Nets

As we go I'm going to continue to try very hard not to pressure or manipulate her, while still giving advice and helping her explore her motivations here.

Where do you draw the line between education and manipulation? Do you consider punishment and reward necessary in educating children?

Testing Newport's "Digital Minimalism" at CEEALAR

Isn't 2h TV per day a bit too much? Why not read some books.

Is impersonal benevolence a virtue?

She is a virtue ethicist, so she believes the best way to live a good life to develop virtues in ourselves. The reason she gives it that being a virtuous person, on average, is the best bet to flourish, e.g., having good health, satisfying career, happy family, etc. But she rejects that "impersonal benevolence" is a virtue. Thus, for Hurshouse, a person can still be virtuous and live a good life even if she does not care at all about strangers whom she has never met. To be honest, this is the most problematic part I found in her thesis.

Is impersonal benevolence a virtue?

I like your answer. Thanks for all the replies!

Open Thread: July 2021

Just watched the documentary Seaspiracy https://www.seaspiracy.org/. I knew a trillions of acquatic animals are killed each year. But seeing the impact of the fishing industry on screen is really shocking.

A ranked list of all EA-relevant documentaries, movies, and TV series I've watched

Seaspiracy is a great documentary. Truly shocking. I knew trillions marine animals are killed each year by fishing. But I did not realize the ocean may become empty in a few decades.

Is impersonal benevolence a virtue?

Of course Hursthouse's account of ethical naturalism could be mistaken. (I am not totally satisfied with it either). But I just don't see how morality can be seen as "objective" without appealing to human nature in some way. (I know Derek Parfit has a book On What Matters defending moral objectivity. But I have not had the guts to dive into it.)

As for "impersonally benevolence", I agree that it doesn't necessary has to conflict with the well-being of one's family. For example in Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality, Peter Railton argues that maybe to be it is may be the case that a do-gooder can do more good if he/she be a bit partial -- If you have a happy family, you may have a lot more energy to help strangers.

But I do think this is not necessarily always conflict free. For example, Peter Singer was once accused of being hypocrite because he and his sister put their mum with Alzheimer's disease in a caring facility, which cost a lot of money.

Singer has spent his career trying to lay down rules for human behavior which are divorced from emotion and intuition. His is a world that makes no provision for private aides to look after addled, dying old women. Yet he can’t help himself. “I think this has made me see how the issues of someone with these kinds of problems are really very difficult,” he said quietly. “Perhaps it is more difficult than I thought before, because it is different when it’s your mother.”

Did helping his mum motivated Singer to do more good later in his life? Maybe. But it would be very hard to do the calculations.

Is impersonal benevolence a virtue?

I feel that rejecting ethical naturalism necessarily implies rejection of moral objectivity. Thus we will have to accept ethical relativism, which amounts to moral nihilism.

There is a chapter of Strangers Drowning which tells the story of an American missionary who had worked in Africa with her family, including two young children. During their time there, her children was almost kidnapped by a mob. But she persisted and kept working there. Eventually, she had to come back to American for the benefit of one of her children, who has intellectual disability. But she felt bad about it breaking commitment to the church.

I think this example shows that indeed, for people who strive to be "impersonal benevolent", there would come a time to decide whose benefit comes first, the children or strangers? And the children may come to resent morality if the parents actually choose strangers.

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