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kbog comments on Is Effective Altruism fundamentally flawed? - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 16 April 2018 05:34:59PM *  0 points [-]

the reason why 5 minor toothaches spread among 5 people is equivalent to 5 minor toothache had by one person is DIFFERENT from the reason for why 5 minor headaches had by one person is equivalent to 1 major toothache had by one person.

No, both equivalencies are justified by the fact that they involve the same amount of base units of pain.

But Reason S doesn't give a crap about how bad the pains on the two sides of the equation FEEL

Sure it does. The presence of pain is equivalent to feeling bad. Feeling bad is precisely what is at stake here, and all that I care about.

In any case, I don't think what I think here is relevant to my argument against your utilitarian sense of "involves more pain than".

Yes, that's what I meant when I said "that's a question of how we evaluate and represent an individual's well-being, not a question of interpersonal comparison and aggregation."

Comment author: Jeffhe  (EA Profile) 23 April 2018 04:42:54PM *  0 points [-]

the reason why 5 minor toothaches spread among 5 people is equivalent to 5 minor toothache had by one person is DIFFERENT from the reason for why 5 minor headaches had by one person is equivalent to 1 major toothache had by one person.

No, both equivalencies are justified by the fact that they involve the same amount of base units of pain.

So you're saying that just as 5 MiTs/5 people is equivalent to 5 MiTs/1 person because both sides involve the same amount of base units of pain, 5 MiTs/1 person is equivalent to 1 MaT/1 person because both sides involve the same amount of base units of pain (and not because both sides give rise to what-it's-likes that are experientially just as bad).

My question to you then is this: On what basis are you able to say that 1 MaT/1 person involves 5 base units of pain?

But Reason S doesn't give a crap about how bad the pains on the two sides of the equation FEEL

Sure it does. The presence of pain is equivalent to feeling bad. Feeling bad is precisely what is at stake here, and all that I care about.

Reason S cares about the amount of base units of pain there are because pain feels bad, but in my opinion, that doesn't sufficiently show that it cares about pain-qua-how-it-feels. It doesn't sufficiently show that it cares about pain-qua-how-it-feels because 5 base units of pain all experienced by one person feels a whole heck of a lot worse than anything felt when 5 base units of pain are spread among 5 people, yet Reason S completely ignores this difference. If Reason S truly cared about pain-qua-how-it-feels, it cannot ignore this difference.

I understand where you're coming from though. You hold that Reason S cares about the quantity of base units of pain precisely because pain feels bad, and that this fact alone sufficiently shows that Reason S is in harmony with the fact that we take pain to matter because of how it feels (i.e. that Reason S cares about pain-qua-how-it-feels).

However, given what I just said, I think this fact alone is too weak to show that Reason S is in harmony with the fact that we take pain to matter because of how it feels. So I believe my objection stands.

Have we hit bedrock?

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 23 April 2018 10:44:02PM *  0 points [-]

On what basis are you able to say that 1 MaT/1 person involves 5 base units of pain?

Because you told me that it's the same amount of pain as five minor toothaches and you also told me that each minor toothache is 1 base unit of pain.

5 base units of pain all experienced by one person feels a whole heck of a lot worse than anything felt when 5 base units of pain are spread among 5 people, yet Reason S completely ignores this difference. If Reason S truly cared about pain-qua-how-it-feels, it cannot ignore this difference.

If you mean that it feels worse to any given person involved, yes it ignores the difference, but that's clearly the point, so I don't know what you're doing here other than merely restating it and saying "I don't agree."

On the other hand, you do not care how many people are in pain, and you do not care how much pain someone experiences so long as there is someone else who is in more pain, so if anyone's got to figure out whether or not they "care" enough it's you.

Have we hit bedrock?

You've pretty much been repeating yourself for the past several weeks, so, sure.

Comment author: Jeffhe  (EA Profile) 24 April 2018 03:26:21AM *  0 points [-]

Because you told me that it's the same amount of pain as five minor toothaches and you also told me that each minor toothache is 1 base unit of pain.

Where in supposition or the line of reasoning that I laid out earlier (i.e. P1) through to P5)) did I say that 1 major headache involves the same amount of pain as 5 minor toothaches?

I attributed that line of reasoning to you because I thought that was how you would get to C) from the supposition that 5 minor toothaches had by one person is experientially just as bad as 1 major toothache had by one person.

But you then denied that that line of reasoning represents your line of reasoning. Specifically, you denied that P1) is the basis for asserting P2). When I asked you what is your basis for P2), you assert that I told you that 1 major headache involves the same amount of pain as five minor toothaches. But where did I say this?

In any case, it would certainly help if you described your actual step by step reasoning from the supposition to C), since, apparently, I got it wrong.

If you mean that it feels worse to any given person involved, yes it ignores the difference, but that's clearly the point, so I don't know what you're doing here other than merely restating it and saying "I don't agree."

I'm not merely restating the fact that Reason S ignores this difference. I am restating it as part of a further argument against your sense of "involves more pain than" or "involves the same amount of pain as". The argument in essence goes: P1) Your sense relies on Reason S P2) Reason S does not care about pain-qua-how-it-feels (because it ignores the above stated difference). P3) We take pain to matter because of how it feels. C) Therefore, your sense is not in harmony with why pain matters (or at least why we take pain to matter).

I had to restate that Reason S ignores this difference as my support for P2, so it was not merely stated.

On the other hand, you do not care how many people are in pain, and you do not care how much pain someone experiences so long as there is someone else who is in more pain, so if anyone's got to figure out whether or not they "care" enough it's you.

Both accusations are problematic.

The first accusation is not entirely true. I don't care about how many people are in pain only in situations where I have to choose between helping, say, Amy and Susie or just Bob (i.e. situations where a person in the minority party does not overlap with anyone in the majority party). However, I would care about how many people are in pain in situations where I have to choose between helping, say, Amy and Susie or just Amy (i.e. situations where the minority party is a mere subset of the majority party). This is due to the strict pareto principle which would make Amy and Susie each suffering morally worse than just Amy suffering, but would not make Amy and Susie suffering morally worse than Bob suffering. I don't want to get into this at this point because it's not very relevant to our discussion. Suffice it to say that it's not entirely true that I don't care about how many people are in pain.

The second accusation is plain false. As I made clear in my response to Objection 2 in my post, I think who suffers matters. As a result, if I could either save one person from suffering some pain or another person from suffering a slightly less pain, I would give each person a chance of being saved in proportion to how much each has to suffer. This is what I think I should do. Ironically, your second accusation against me is precisely true of what you stand for.

You've pretty much been repeating yourself for the past several weeks, so, sure.

In my past few replies, I have:

1) Outlined in explicit terms a line of reasoning that got from the supposition to C), which I attributed to you.

2) Highlighted that that line of reasoning appealed to Reason S.

3) On that basis, argued that your sense of "involves the same amount of pain as" goes against the spirit of why pain matters.

If that comes across to you as "just repeating myself for the past several weeks", then I can only think that you aren't putting enough effort into trying to understand what I'm saying.