From: Johnicholas Hines (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Feb 12 2009 - 21:09:08 MST
What do we mean by "should"? I'm not a philosopher of deontic logic,
and I'm not going to try to write down any formalization of the
concept. I don't think it's necessary or important for the moment.
If I advocate for some action, like so:
"I think we should (donate to the Methuselah Foundation's M prize)."
I think everyone on this list understands, in a commonsense way, what
I am trying to communicate.
I hope that everyone also agrees that the future is not written. We
can build it. Even if there are opposing forces and success is not
guaranteed, we should strive to a better future.
Suppose that someone else on the list argues "No, we should not
(donate to the M prize)." and then I ask "Why shouldn't we?", and they
respond "(Donating to Friendly AGI research) has a better
(cost/benefit ratio)." At this point we're engaging in dialog. There
is communication happening.
Claiming at this point "Normative language is not falsifiable." shifts
the topic from (the M prize) to the philosophy of deontic logic. This
is the red herring fallacy. Regardless of the philosophers, we do have
a working ability to advocate actions to other people, and understand
when someone else is advocating an action to us.
There is NO SPECIAL BONUS for carefully avoiding the words "ought",
"should" or "moral" in your writing. If you create a rhetorical
fantasy of a possible future depicting torture and death, readers will
easily connect the dots and understand the normative message "We
should strive to avoid this future.". Despite the grammar, you are
still engaging in normative dialog, and advocating for actions.
My point is: eschew obfuscation. Use normative grammar to advocate for actions.
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