[ExI] Under the libertarian yoke was Re: Next Decade May See No Warming

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Sat May 3 13:57:26 UTC 2008

On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 2:34 PM, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:
> On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 9:31 AM, Damien Broderick <thespike at satx.rr.com> wrote:
>  > At 11:23 AM 5/2/2008 -0400, Rafal wrote:
>  >
>  >  >Brainstorm here with us on how to solve the problem of global warming
>  >
>  >  Fun. You go first.
>  I think Rafal is pointing in a very good direction, but I don't think
>  such a solution exists for any such problem in isolation.  It will
>  work when a critical amount of the population of persons adopt the
>  superrational viewpoint that **within the indefinite scope of an
>  uncertain future**, promotion of their individual values is optimized
>  by acting in accordance with best-known principles rather than
>  expected consequences.

### I disagree with the notion of "superrationalism", especially as
stated above. Obviously, if you disregard expected consequences, you
are very likely to fail at whatever you are trying to achieve, no
matter how feel-good your principles are. I am quite familiar with the
application of "superrationalism" to trying to develop a meta-analysis
of a situation and to find strategies circumventing the weaknesses of
existing strategies. Usually, there are strategies which provide
limited efficiency due to defection: one cannot join a cooperative
effort functioning over the long term because defection over the short
term is both possible and rewarding (in terms of e.g. survival
fitness, satisfaction of individual desires), thus defectors are not
excluded/suppressed, and inevitably destroy the cooperation by
outbreeding or otherwise marginalizing cooperators. "Superrationalism"
here means the ability to see the limitations imposed by defection,
and trying to improve the strategies by dealing with it. If you are
successful, you can achieve more in the long term than somebody who
doesn't analyze the system as a whole and tries to maximize his
utility within the existing framework of strategies. I dislike the
term "superrationalism": we don't need it, since it simply refers to
rationalism applied consistently and over the long term, rather than
something qualitatively different from rationalism. Also, many
"superrationalists" only point out the weaknesses of existing
strategies, which isn't exactly rocket science, and then hand-wavingly
exhort to do something better. Certainly it would be nice if we all
were a happy family working together to make each one of us better
off, but the really hard issue is finding new solutions that are
impervious to defection and work well over long time.

Still, if you like to talk about "superrationalism", the argument
could be made that the libertarian trying to find non-violent and
resilient modes of cooperation to supplant the endemic violence
surrounding us, is in fact the superrationalist. After all, we are all
in it together, we are all suffering because of the widespread belief
that violence is a good way of getting things done, and all of us
would assuredly be much better off if we could find a way of making it
more difficult to inflict. I posited the "libertarian yoke" to
stimulate discussion of exactly how it could be done but so far it
looks like everybody is stymied, no doubt in part because for us,
humans, advocating violence against others is an ingrained habit of


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