Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Utilitarianism requires answers about consciousness

I don't think the issues raised by utilitarianism (pascal's mugging, whether negative utilitarianism is the right answer) can be resolved without solving the qualia problem. It seems like when we better know what pain is, we'll be in a better position to assess how bad it is. At it currently stands, our failure to understand consciousness means we have a shaky understanding of what even "I" means (therefore, debates of egoism vs. altruism, etc., seem likely to shift if we get a better explanation of consciousness).

I imagine that my extrapolated volition would have this additional info available to make the "right" choice. It seems like it will be hard to have clarity on the issues without significantly more scientific work done (how do neurons work, etc.)

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