Monday, September 14, 2015

ARFAQ Spot Check 2: Murder and Aggravated Assault

As time passes, evidence contradicting Sophist Alexander's points accumulates, which necessarily means evidence in favour of reactionary points accumulates. Kindly note this is a prospectively testable prediction.

"lest someone bring up that medical technology has advanced enough to turn many would-be murders into attempted murders – which is true – aggravated assaults, the category of crime that would encompass attempted murders, are less than half of what they were twenty years ago. Kind of hard to square with everything getting worse and more violent all the time."
Twenty years? Oh yeah. "Actually, stopping at 1885 is for losers."

So. What are the facts? (Via an anonymous donor.)
"They found that while the murder rate had changed little from a 1931 baseline figure, assaults had increased. The aggravated assault rate was, by 1997, almost 750% higher than the baseline figure."
Oh good, a twenty year low is still almost eight times higher than going back just a little farther.

Btw, England's homicide rate 1900: 0.96 per 100,000, and America was 1.1. America corrected for race (white only) is now 1.2. Without WWII/Vietnam trauma medicine, American murder (white only) would be, according to these authors, between 2.7 and 5.4.

So, in fact, no it's not hard at all to argue that things are getting worse. Decline advances as progressivism advances.

(Yes the study is 2002, but it's new to me.)

The longest-term trends, going back before the French Terror, are if anything further evidence to the contrary. It merely shows that progressivism is failing to maintain a long-term trend that pre-existed it.

On gun control: the Swiss murder rate, where basically every household has a working automatic weapon by law, is 0.6.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Morality 4: Ethitropism, Property, and Cooperation

Nihilism obtains. However, there is a behaviour that approaches morality in the limit, ethitropism.
Ethitropism + property recapitulates all the noncontroversial parts of morality, e.g. English Common Law, strongly suggesting it is the underlying principle and can be used to audit e.g. English Common Law.
Ethitropism is cooperation.

Morality cannot simply be might. If right can be reduced to might, then nihilism obtains. I require morality to alter behaviour patterns, not to be identical to any pattern.

Morality cannot simply be prudence. (Ethitropism is simply prudence.) If morality can be reduced to prudence, then nihilism obtains, because it is never necessary to sacrifice for morality; just the opposite, the immoral person is the one sacrificing. Were this so, intentional punishment (sub specie aeternalis) would be unnecessary, because 'immorality' would automatically punish. Pragmatically, it must sometimes be imprudent to be moral. Pragmatically, intentional punishment is necessary, so the assertion also looks empirically false.  (Ethitropism does have long/short term tension.)

Not being merely accruing benefits, morality is also not merely avoiding costs; morality is not mere cowardice. If morality is cowardice, nihilism obtains.

I've spanned the space of all external reasons to alter behaviour.

This gives us some strong hints about where to look, which is inside. (It helps that many traditions already know this.) A good person is internally motivated to do good, not merely because that causes to happen more often, but because they do not stop being good if external conditions change. E.g. someone who truly was only good out of fear of jail or hell would stop being good if they enter an environment of anarchy or atheism. (Personally think the former deserves my friendship if they want it and the latter does not.)

For short, I call this internal motivation ethitropism and those that lack it anethitropic. The moral and amoral, if your context is tolerant of imprecision. E.g. the anethitropic can still act moral if the surrounding society is ethitropic and thus converts, by intentional punishment, what is moral to what seems prudent.

Problem: helps not at all in defining 'good.' An ethitrope who is mistaken about what is good is as ethically useless as the anethitrope. However, good is valuable and important. The ethitrope, then, prefers to uphold the preferences of others. (Not instead of their own, but in addition to their own, as otherwise we have a contradiction where the ethitrope's defining preference is invalidated by ethitropism.) Hence the importance of the reification of values.

Bonus: anethitropes don't care what is and isn't a valid value, and will never be (directly) affected by these facts, which simplifies the analysis.

The principle that resolves conflicting preferences is property. For what you own, what you value goes.
There is one coherent definition of ownership, which is reasonable expectation of control. This is the minimum definition of property.

If I do not control my property, then I have a contradiction - someone or something else must control my property, thus by symmetry I must be able to control their property but not my own, including their body, through which they exert control over my property, which means I both control and don't control my property.
If I do not expect to control my property, I have a contradiction, as I will not attempt to control it and de facto control will go to someone or something else.
If my expectation is not reasonable, then the definition is infinitely abusable. Rationally, everyone would claim to own everything and we would have a contradiction. The mad frequently claim to control things they don't, and rationalize their failure to control it rather than learning.

In the limit of perfect communication, observation, and rationality, theft and so on is impossible. As time passes, our imperfect world approaches this perfection. If the customer steals from the ice cream merchant more than once, there will soon be no ice cream to steal, as the merchant will realize their expectation of control was not reasonable, and stop producing ice cream. The thief destroys their own livelihood in the long run. (Thus the long/short term tension first appears.) Given that the short term converges on the long term, I can perform the analysis purely on the long term.

Preferences regarding non-property cannot be realized (or else can be converted to property transactions). They cannot possibly be valid as values. Conversely, preferences regarding property will only not be realized if the preference-holder has higher preferences that supercede them.

The modus tollens is also important. If society considers a value valid, it must make or the corresponding property sufficiently secure, or it contradicts itself.

Ethitropism, then, is respecting the property of others. Since ownership is rarely absolute in the short term, it is always possible to find ways to attack property. The ethitrope does not attempt to do so.

It is thus cheap to cooperate with an ethitrope. Making contracts with them is always secure, because they cart around your security internally.
It is thus prudent to be an ethitrope. (Which means nihilism obtains - even internal motivation doesn't create a true ought.) Similarly, it is very rational to ostracize anethitropes. I give up minor gains in the present for the prospect of ongoing future gains.
Because property converged on ideal property, it is similarly prudent for society to promote and approximate ethitropy. Anethitropic societies will make their children poorer, not richer. (Sound familiar?)

It is very unwise for the ethitrope to uphold the values of anyone who will not symmetrically uphold the ethitrope's values in return. Gains from cooperation don't materialize if they won't cooperate.

Thus a full definition of ethitrope is one who upholds the values of those who will uphold their values. I have an amusingly recursive definition: an ethitrope upholds the property of other ethitropes.

The logical reason is that the property of anethitropes cannot reify their values, because their preferences point to violating values.


Why exactly is ice cream theft (very closely approximately) wrong? If the customer does not uphold the merchant's valuing of money, it proves the customer does not value value. The value reified, through the customer's ownership of self, is the anti-reification of values, causing all of the customer's other preferences to be ethically irrelevant, even to ethitropes. This is in addition to the fact that if the merchant knew the customer was planning to steal the ice cream, he either would have put in sufficient security to stop it, or simply not made it at all.

Alternatively, the merchant should steal the money as soon as they can, and never make any ice cream. Because the customer has no reified values, it does not violate ethitropy to do so, and there's no other way the merchant is going to get the cash. By deciding to deviate, the customer makes the prudent strategy pre-emptive annihilation. At best, the customer manages to fend off the merchant, but then the merchant will develop better weapons, and not only will the customer get no ice cream, an expensive arms race will ensue. The customer pragmatically destroys their own value, as a result of logically destroying it.

Conversely, the merchant can plan to kill the customer, and keep everything for themselves. But, by doing so, the merchant invalidates the valuation of their own life. It is not (approximately) wrong for the customer to kill the merchant in self-defence.

Fraud is of course merely intellectual (versus physical) aggression.

Ah yes, that terrible weasel-word, aggression. Using this framework, we can define aggression: it is abrogating or attempting to abrogate reasonable security.

Of course now we have a new weasel word, 'reasonable.' There is no way to define reasonable to a hostile audience. It is something for ethitropes to define by contract, which by definition they will always be able to do.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Morality 3: Value Reification

Because values are not external, the internal values assume fully objective status.


Agents have preferences. Preferences can be satisfied. Values are a particular kind of preference.
"Consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of:"
Philosophically speaking 'important' or 'beneficial' mean the same thing as 'valuable' so this definition begs the question. 

Can value be physically real? Can we potentially build an importometer? 
Even if the answer seems obvious, philosophy requires us to prove it.
To be physical, it would have to be local: no FTL measurements allowed. Since we can move all agents away from any particular entity, it would have to be agent-independent. To still be physical, the property would have to be necessary to predict the behaviour of the entity. Importance as physically existent has been ruled out to fifteen or so decimal places...but I can do better. 

The nonlocal thing kills it. It would have to adhere to individual particles. An electron cannot tell if it's part of a diffuse, invisible nebula in space or part of a weapon currently killing someone. But, to be important, it has to be able to tell precisely this kind of difference. Importance cannot physically exist. It is not 'out there' so to speak.

This means that a universe with only one agent, that agent's preferences cannot be wrong. There is nothing to contradict them. (Caveat: time evolution introduces complications. Preferences evolve, and so the agent can be wrong about what their future satisfaction will be. Wisely trading present satisfaction for future is hard.) 
If the agent is a person, and the universe satisfies their preferences, then it is simply better than a universe that doesn't. As per Subjectivity and Objectivity, if a person thinks they are satisfied, they cannot be mistaken. Satisfaction is a positive quale. A more satisfying universe is more positive, i.e. better, than a less satisfying universe.

A better universe is a more valuable universe.

But, surely, not all preferences can be values. 

If there is a second agent, within epsilon of 100% certainty, their preferences will conflict. If we have an ice cream merchant and a customer, the customer would prefer to steal the frozen treat, and the merchant would prefer to steal the cash. (If we define value as simply the sum of satisfaction across agents, we get utilitarianism.) 

While the coherent values can still be reified, the contradicting preferences cannot be straightforwardly converted to values. The only possible way to resolve the conflict is to invalidate one of the preferences; if an objective way of doing so can be found, then those preferences too can be reified into values. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Morality 2: Psychological Egoism

Psychological egoism is defined to mean agents can only serve their own preferences.

The proof is simple.

A preference is what an agent will decide to pursue, given the option (or if exclusiveness is forced on them). If an agent can pick up a red ball or a blue cube, it will pick up the one it prefers. (Test: go look at the Oxford or Webster dictionary.)

To give to charity is to prefer someone else's material interest over your own. It is not to be selfless. It is to prefer moral or social interest over material interest. It is e.g. to enjoy having someone else buy with the money rather than to enjoying buying with it yourself.

Psychological egoism is a straightforward consequence of the nature of discrete agents with preferences.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Morality 1: Subjectivity and Objectivity

Consciousness is subjectivity. Subjectivity is not objectivity. Since physics is objective, consciousness is not physics.

Existence: interaction. If something exists, I must be able to learn that it exists. Exists is a verb: things that exist exist in some manner, which we call their properties. To learn that something exists it is necessary to learn in what manner it exists.
Objective: epistemically available to the third person. This has symmetry: if it is available to one third person, it will be available to all third persons, at least in principle.
Subjective: epistemically available to the first person. This is exclusive with being objective, as I'll show.


Let's cleave the sight of a red ball at its joints.

There's a red ball. The ball scatters photons, which enter the eye, which excites the retina, which sends a signal, which is processed by the visual cortex, which results in the red ball qualia.

There is the idea the visual cortex and the red ball qualia have to be identical, but this is epiphenomenalism. As per Turing, the exact implementation of the cortex is not relevant: silicon, myelin, vacuum tubes, gears and levers, it doesn't matter.


1. These all produce the same qualia.
2. These produce slightly different qualia.
3. These produce no qualia at all - I am somehow mistaken.

The motivation for 2) is to maintain the identity, so as to reconcile consciousness with physicalism. However, this results in epiphenomenalism, and thus still refutes physicalism. If the cortex is fully objective, we can remove all supposedly-subjective features from it without loss of predictive validity, as per Ockham, and thus we have proven they don't exist, as in 3). Thus 2) is either not meaningfully different from 3) or you must accept epiphenomenalism, which is magic.

Epiphenomenalism is self-contradictory.
1. By definition, the epiphenomenal agent cannot causally affect the brain, only the reverse. (Newton's generalized third violation).
2. The epiphenomenal mind does not exist, as far as the brain is concerned - it is not epistemically available.
The mind cannot teach the brain about epiphenomenalism.
3. The brain cannot learn epiphenomenalism. It can only refute it. Further, it will only occur to the brain at all due to noise - consider all the ideas you have not bothered to analyze because they're not true. The brain sees no explanandum.
4. A epiphenomenal mind cannot speak to other minds about its existence.
4. In contradiction, epiphenomalism is popular and seen to explain something. "Recently, epiphenomenalism has gained popularity with those struggling to reconcile non-reductive physicalism and mental causation."

(Ed: I'm trying the numbers thing but I'm skeptical that it in fact improves clarity.)

Conclusion: if you have a mind, not just a brain, if you have a thought at any moment, it disproves physicalism. On request I can also show that all forms of dualism reduce to either physicalist monism or full on Cartesian substance dualism.

Let's look at this from another angle.

Thoughts are subjective by identity.

Imagine a beautiful vista, such as a mountain during sunrise.
That you think this image is beautiful is what causes you to think it is beautiful. Identities are tautological; try to imagine a beautiful image that is ugly. Try to imagine a red ball that is a blue cube. This means you cannot be mistaken about thinking the image is beautiful. The Cogito generalizes; not only can you not be mistaken about your existence, you cannot be mistaken about the manner of your existence.

The subjective existence is not only available to the first person, but necessarily known by the first person.

This means you have a subjective existence.
If this existence is merely privileged access to some parts of physical, objective reality, then epiphenomeanlism obtains.
If a thing can be learned about subjectively by one observer and objectively by all other observers, it can also be learned about objectively by the one observer. This means the subjective is unnecessary to fully predict/explain the behaviour of the thing, which means it is causally impotent, which means it is an epiphenomenon. The subject would be unable to tell other observers about its privileged access, only the objective brain, which would have to learn about itself by the usual objective methods, would be able to communicate.

(Let me disprove epiphenomenalism by demonstration: I have subjective thoughts, about which I cannot be mistaken by identity. You're welcome to believe I am lying, if you wish.)

In contradiction, the objective is never necessarily known by the third person; what you think about an objective entity is not identical to that entity. The subjective is fully disjoint with the objective, epistemically speaking. As per my definition of existence, they must also be disjoint in existence.

(Speculation: time evolution allows a subjective event/existence to diamorph into an objective one and vice versa, just as it allows one particle to transform into another. Deep speculation: where the quantum interaction falls on the probability space is determined by a mind, which causes a thought to diamorph into a past physical event. It is a true decision.)

Consciousness, qualia, is the subjective. What 'green' is, rather than what is it caused by or correlated with, is the thought that looks green, that is green because you think it is green.

At present it is impossible to definitively solve the other-minds problem. However, using this framework, it becomes an empirical question. Consciousness is nonelemental, it has internal causation and thus the mind has internal structure, which will affect the statistical distribution of the behaviour of physical objects it is causally linked to. (Speculation: a usefully testable mind could be built out of silicon for something on the order $30 000.)
However, it is possible to solve the self-mind issue, using intentionality. If you have a thought, then cause a portion of physical reality to mimic it, as the thought mimics physics. If you succeed, then...