[extropy-chat] Rational thinking

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Fri Dec 1 08:54:16 UTC 2006

Eliezer writes

>> Those Founders deployed their rationality to good effect; the Nazis
>> obviously did not.  But that was not the question.
> Um, no human being is "rational" which may be one reason why I declined 
> to provide a definite answer to your question.

I might as well mention something else that's also obvious: namely,
that rationality is, of course, a matter of degree, and when some
people (evidently not you) were maintaining that suicide bombers
were irrational, what they meant, of course, is that they were a lot
less rational than normal.

> There's varying degrees of rationality on many different levels.

We agree.

>> Yes. But the question still remains, When they put their own lives
>> at great risk, were they being rational, and how exactly is that
>> fundamentally different from the case of the kamikazes?
>> (It's Obvious to Me  /  What the Answer should Be    :-)
> Maybe I'm reading too much into your question - assuming that you were 
> looking for a nonobvious answer.

Actually, given the potential for miscommunication, I simply wondered
if you shared my belief that in terms of rationality the Founders were no
different than kamikaze pilots (the ones, that is---to acknowledge
criticism from other quarters---who felt an overwhelming reverence
for the Emperor and a keen sense of duty and loyalty to Japan).

> I thought you acknowledged that human beings can have interests
> (components in their utility function) beyond their own self-preservation.

Indeed I did.  And I thought that I was the one making a big deal of this.

> but maybe you're just fishing for the obvious answer, "They 
> sacrificed themselves for different ends, and rationality is neutral 
> about the question of self-sacrifice as such."

Yes, that's it.


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