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Morality and constrained maximization, part 1

Instrumental rationality is about achieving your goals. But morality, famously, sometimes demands that you don’t. Suppose, for example, that you only want apples. Sometimes you might be in a position to steal apples, and get away with it, and know this. But morality still says: no. So are morality and instrumental rationality in conflict? A… Continue reading Morality and constrained maximization, part 1

Anthropics and the Universal Distribution

(Content warning: especially niche topic.) Some readers of my recent sequence on anthropics suggested that I consider an approach that they find especially plausible — namely, UDASSA (or the “Universal Distribution” plus the “Absolute Self-Sampling Assumption”). So, partly on this prompting, and partly from pre-existing interest, I spent some time learning about UDASSA, and talking… Continue reading Anthropics and the Universal Distribution

On the Universal Distribution

A number of people I know are excited about a type of fundamental prior known as the “Universal Distribution” (UD). In particular, they’re excited about using this prior to address questions about anthropics.  I discuss the application to anthropics in a later post. As a foundation for that post, though, I wanted to first lay… Continue reading On the Universal Distribution

SIA > SSA, part 4: In defense of the presumptuous philosopher

Previously in sequence: Part 1: Learning from the fact that you exist; Part 2: Telekinesis, reference classes, and other scandals; Part 3: An aside on betting in anthropics. This post is the last in a four-part sequence, explaining why I think that one prominent approach to anthropic reasoning (the “Self-Indication Assumption” or “SIA”) is better than… Continue reading SIA > SSA, part 4: In defense of the presumptuous philosopher

SIA > SSA, part 3: An aside on betting in anthropics

Previously in sequence: Part 1: Learning from the fact that you exist; Part 2: Telekinesis, reference classes, and other scandals. This post is the third in a four-part sequence, explaining why I think that one prominent approach to anthropic reasoning (the “Self-Indication Assumption” or “SIA”) is better than another (the “Self-Sampling Assumption” or “SSA”). This part… Continue reading SIA > SSA, part 3: An aside on betting in anthropics

SIA > SSA, part 2: Telekinesis, reference classes, and other scandals

Previously in sequence: SIA > SSA, part 1: Learning from the fact that you exist. This post is the second in a four-part series, explaining why I think that one prominent approach to anthropic reasoning (the “Self-Indication Assumption” or “SIA”) is better than another (the “Self-Sampling Assumption” or “SSA”). This part focuses on objections to… Continue reading SIA > SSA, part 2: Telekinesis, reference classes, and other scandals

SIA > SSA, part 1: Learning from the fact that you exist

This post is the first in a four-part sequence explaining why I think that one prominent approach to anthropic reasoning is better than another. Consider: God’s extreme coin toss: You wake up alone in a white room. There’s a message written on the wall: “I, God, tossed a fair coin. If it came up heads,… Continue reading SIA > SSA, part 1: Learning from the fact that you exist

Can you control the past?

I think that you can “control” events you have no causal interaction with, including events in the past, and that this is a wild and disorienting fact, with uncertain but possibly significant implications. This post attempts to impart such disorientation. My main example is a prisoner’s dilemma between perfect deterministic software twins, exposed to the… Continue reading Can you control the past?

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