Show more
tripu boosted

This definition doesn’t even make sense to a consequentialist, right?

Home-delivered meals have always bothered me. It looks like the perfect example of overlooked irresponsible #consumerism. You have a fridge where y...
tripu boosted
Our national ID card (“DNI”) is 78 years old. Mandatory ID cards are anathema in some places (US) and to some ideologies (libertarians) — but they're so convenient and solve many day-to-day problems. In #Spain, most people don't give it a second thought and can't even imagine red tape or mundane chores without the #DNI. I despise #surveillance as much as anyone, but I fail to see how an #IDcard makes things much worse, compared to the plethora of information governments have about us already…

In the same vein (more sophisticated, but still quite naïve):

I remember chatting with a classmate during our first (or second?) year of college (MSc in CS and Software Engineering) and suddenly realising that although we knew already a lot about the basics of programming, computer architecture, OS’es, etc we had no clue about how to make a computer do two things at the same time (concurrency, multithreading, etc). We knew how to program linearly, and how to manipulate OS interruptions to respond to events such as the user pressing a key or a certain timer ticking — but we didn’t know what parallelism even looked like.

It’s so enlightening to remember what one once didn’t know.

Around 1996 I was programming in BASIC and reading about that thing, “the internet” (I used it for the first time one year later). I was so confused by the apparent ability of e-mail to live in the ether: how come one could send mail to someone whose computer was off, then shut down their own computer, and the message would still arrive hours or days later when the recipient switched on their computer again? Where had that mail been lurking in the meantime??

tripu boosted

Enviro rant, Europe drought, fecking cows 

In drought conditions, people consider the water usage of different crops, and you'll often hear opinions voiced about whether crop X or Y should be allowed because of high water use.

But cattle farming uses more water than practically any crop, indeed cattle will often require *drinking quality water*, and lots of it, but you don't hear people suggesting herd sizes be reduced.

Maybe they fecking well should, though. Ireland is close to a drought right now and we have far more cattle than people, competing with humans and with nature for premium quality water and air and food.

You can help, human! Incentivise fewer cattle by buying less of the associated produce. And maybe ship a letter to a representative about adjusting agri incentives. There are exciting alternatives that will improve your health and require a fraction of the water or land or carbon to produce.

tripu boosted


In 1951, Adelbert Ames created the mind-boggling ‘Ames Window’. It’s so effective that even when you know how it works you can’t break the illusion [video from The Curiosity Show:]


I know a couple who remind me of Caleb from : they always speak in clichés and platitudes, so much so that it’s hilarious.

“Humanity went from thinking that the sun was a hummingbird-shaped warrior god requiring human sacrifice to using solar radiation pressure to power interplanetary spacecraft. We credit most impressive achievements like that to science, and some to Al Gore.”

@fidel Ah, I misunderstood. You asked about MS, but I answered thinking of TE. Yes, both are vandals.

@fidel Yes, it’s clear that what they do is illegal. I said “bordering on vandalism”, but I concede they’re vandals, OK.


“Any such measure will always be subjective.”

Yes. Moral philosophy isn’t objective the way maths are, or even chemistry.

“That is why I think imposing your view on somebody else by coercion is unethical.”

That’s a huge leap, a non sequitur. The ethical uses of coercion and violence are within the scope of ethics, too. In all ethical frameworks, there are some cases when the right thing to do is to “impose your view by coercion”.

The fact that moral systems aren’t clear-cut equations and that they sometimes (or even often) contradict each other doesn’t mean that all forms of coercion are always wrong. You can’t escape the messy conundrums of trying to live an ethical life by pretending that it’s possible to never force others to do anything they don’t want to do.

I think it was good to use force to free slaves from their masters. Remember: they weren’t human beings but property to their lawful owners. Freeing slaves was theft. Using coercion (apart from persuasion) to free a slave is the moral thing to do, even if you haven’t communicated with the slave and the slave hasn’t asked for your help.

Using coercion to stop someone from torturing dogs for fun is the right thing to do, even if those dogs are their property.

If your neighbour insists on expanding his arsenal of heavy artillery and producing chemical weapons, in spite of the clear opposition of the whole community, you guys don’t need to wait for him to produce a credible, specific threat before using violence to force him to stop.

In a world with great inequality, where famine killed millions and some individuals had the same resources as medium-sized countries, abstaining from any form of coercion (eg taxation) that could help ameliorate the injustice would be immoral, I think.



Oh, I see. Yes, the argument can work both ways: more people affected means both more (allegedly positive) impact and more annoyance. OK.

Yes, spoiling a product instead of putting stuff in people’s stomachs would definitely be less objectionable for me. I think I would put Meat Spoilers at the same level as Tyre Extinguishers: a campaign to cause minor annoyance/loss for potentially lots of people, against the law, across the board, ignoring personal circumstances and justified cases, not directly affecting people’s health or body, most likely counterproductive and immoral in the end.


I identify (more or less) as a consequentialist, a (negative) utilitarian, and an (aspiring) rationalist.

My whole moral framework puts something very similar to “the greater good” at the centre. “Bad” to me is whatever increases suffering in the universe. “Good” is defined in opposition. Noting greater than the whole universe, and nothing more important than reducing suffering.

So, in a certain way, the greater good is the only thing I care about, and the only thing I think everyone else should care about!

(Of course I’m oversimplifying, and I’m not absolutely certain about this. But it’s the closest I have at the moment to the beginning of a morality.)


Again, I totally get that, and sympathise with the idea. (You and I aren’t that far apart in these matters, really!)

Worthy ideas are abused by demagogues and mass murderers. Peace, prosperity, security, freedom, children. They claim to care about all that. As Bryan Caplan says, we aren’t cynical enough about politicians.

And yet.

Obviously worthy ideas are worthy per se.

Think of any indictment or policy that would actually improve public health, make children safer, raise living standards, or decrease violence. That’s a proposal that would work towards the greater good, by definition. By simply stating that fact out loud, does that proposal become less good? does it switch from beneficial to evil? Obviously not.

Show more
Qoto Mastodon

QOTO: Question Others to Teach Ourselves
An inclusive, Academic Freedom, instance
All cultures welcome.
Hate speech and harassment strictly forbidden.