[extropy-chat] Rational thinking

Colin Geoffrey Hales c.hales at pgrad.unimelb.edu.au
Fri Dec 1 00:05:31 UTC 2006

> Jef Allbright wrote:
>> A key difference between the sacrifices of the founding fathers and
>> those of the kamikaze pilots was that the founding fathers were
>> taking action on behalf of a wide sphere of self-identity to promote
>> their values into the significant future, while the kamikaze pilots
>> were acting within the narrow sphere of individual identity in fear
>> of societal pressure and dire consequences in the very near term.
>> (Note that the question asked about the rationality of the pilots,
>> and not of their commanders. Note also that we have not addressed
>> factors of pride or patriotism which have little overlap with the
>> domain of individual rational decision-making.)
> This seems to be uncharitable to the motivations of the Japanese pilots,
> and I can't tell whether the intent is to include all uniformed
> soldiers, all those acting in the moment, or only conscripts.
> I won't try to argue that those pilots were acting rightly, or that they
> were fighting on behalf of a noble cause, but to say that they were
> irrational because their immediate motivations were due to training and
> group pressure doesn't give any credit to their feelings of patriotism
> and their desire to support a large cause.
> When phrased that way, all soldiers in combat act for those motivations,
> but surely some of them have decided to  place themselves in that
> position.  That was what the founders of the US were doing when they
> made the aforementioned pledge.  Once having done so, they each often
> found themselves pressured by the force of later events and earlier
> commitments.  But you give them credit for the noble motivations behind
> the earlier pledge, rather than the situations the pledge let them into.
> Would you like to draw a finer or a different distinction?  How do you
> want to characterize the actions of an American in uniform, who
> voluntarily enlists, and later finds him or herself in a battlefield
> situation, falling on a grenade to save fellow soldiers?  Or soldiers in
> earlier wars who made attacks against daunting odds in service of a
> cause they chose to defend?
> Chris

Consider this:

"... that neither beliefs nor acts of belief, nor decisions, nor even
preferences, are reasonable or rational except in the sense that they are
reached by procedures methods that are reasonable or rational. (The phrase
rational belief is rather like the phrase ‘fast food’.)..."

”Induction: A Problem Solved" in David Miller 2005, "Out of Error" p111.

The healthy human brain (=rationality) can come to almost any
conclusion/belief. Consider advertising. Consider religion. That the
belief is 'rational' means that it was reached through a rational process,
not that it makes any sense! The payoff: you get to be wrong (=creative).
And you get to die for your country.


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