Squark09 OP t1_iwztj7o wrote

Excellent comment!

I'm already pretty committed to open/empty individualism, so this post was really meant to be me thinking through what utilitarianism means in this context. I get that it's controversial, but my own experiences in meditation and thinking about the scientific ambiguity of "self" have convinced me that closed individualism doesn't make sense.

> I don't see how logarithmic scaling helps with repugnant conclusion

You're right that it doesn't make any difference in the pure form of the thought experiment, however I think it does make a difference when you have limited resources to build your world. It's much easier to push someone's conscious valence up than to generate another 1000 miserable beings. The main thing that makes a difference here is open/empty individualism.

> I don't see why boundedness of consciousnesses (restriction from accessing other's consciousness unmediated) isn't enough to ground for individuation

If you go down this line of reasoning, your future self is separate from your past self, they don't share a bound experience either, it's just that your future self has a bunch of memories that it puts together into a story to relate to your past self. Most common sense ethics still tries to reduce suffering for a future self, why is this any different than claiming that you should help others?

> I also don't see the meaning of calling it the "same" consciousness if it doesn't have a single unified experience (solipsistic).

I mean that all consciousness is the same in the sense that two different electrons are the same, all consciousness has the same ontological properties. So if you buy that your own suffering is "real", then so is someone else's.


Squark09 OP t1_iwiq1rn wrote

As I say in the article, most of the time deontological or virtue ethics are actually a better bet for figuring out how to act. But that's just because they're a more efficient way of reasoning the best thing to do. In the end the thing that matters is the sum total of positive conscious experience


Squark09 OP t1_iwij01g wrote

It seems like the conclusion is smuggled in because in a way it's tautological. What we mean by good or bad has to be conveyed by conscious valence, as that's the only way we can know anything.

Then if you reject closed individualism, you have to admit that other people's experiences matter as well.

Hence you get valence utilitarianism.


Squark09 OP t1_iwidy43 wrote

Valenced means it can be intrinsically good or bad, suffering is intrinsically bad, joy is intrinsically good.

Closed individualism (nice description from https://qri.org/glossary ): "In its most basic form, this is the common-sense personal identity view that you start existing when you are born and stop existing when you die. According to this view each person is a different subject of experience with an independent existence. One can believe in a soul ontology and be a Closed Individualist at the same time, with the correction that you exist as long as your soul exists, which could be the case even before or after death."


Squark09 OP t1_iwicrpf wrote

I don't think "people themselves" really full exist as independent entities outside of a web of experience. Then the value in someone's individuality comes from the experiences associated with that individuality.

This is the point about rejecting closed individualism


Squark09 OP t1_iwichxa wrote

> As long as you are able to rank any two experiences relative to each other, the rest is sorted out by transitivity.

This is key, I actually recall hearing about some Neuroscience research that showed that we actually do these kind of comparisons all the time and are quite good at distinguishing the relative valence of very mixed experiences


Squark09 OP t1_iwic2sq wrote

I actually think if you pay more close attention (e.g. by training in meditation) you will see that there are no really neutral experiences, but there is also some kind of pleasantness in just existing without suffering.

It is true that the picture can be mixed though and it's not obvious how to treat that: see here for example https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/bvtAXefTDQgHxc9BR/just-look-at-the-thing-how-the-science-of-consciousness