[ExI] Meta question

rex rex at nosyntax.net
Fri Aug 19 03:47:01 UTC 2016

William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com> [2016-08-18 07:03]:
>    I still have problems with word definitions:  if 'irrational' behavior
>    works better than 'rational' behavior, then it is rational.  Perhaps we
>    need to define rational as well as irrational.
>    It simply makes no sense to me to say'it is rational to act
>    irrationally'.  This is oxymoronic.

Agreed. As a mathematician in a former life, here's my whack at it: If a
behavior maximizes utility then it's rational. Otherwise, it's irrational.

> Keith wrote: (I hope the attribution is correct -- it's diffult to sort out.)
>>      In the past, at times where humans had run into the ecological limit,
>>      it was rational from _the viewpoint of human genes_ for humans to act
>>      irrationally and from the evidence of history, stupidly. Even from
>>      the gene's viewpoint, getting humans to act irrationally is not a good
>>      strategy most of the time.  Acting irrationally or stupidly and
>>      following irrational leaders is a *conditional* behavior, turned on by
>>      anticipation of a bleak future.

When the viewpoint is changed the utility function changes and a formerly
irrational behavior (irrational because it did not maximize utility) may
become rational (maximize utility). 

>>      Unfortunately, a substantial fraction of the people in the word
>>      anticipate a bleak future.
>>      Sadly, irrational, even stupid behavior, is what we can expect.

Irrational from your POV, but perhaps rational from another POV. How do
you know your POV is True?


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