Additional links: (3 parts)

  • Artir Artir 2017-01-12T21:36:36Z

    Q: If someone steals from you, you have the right to get your stuff back or be compensated. If someone steals from your father, do you inherit the right? And: your gran-gran-gran-father?

    Why would one have a right to restitution? Why would one have property (inc. body) that can be stolen in the first place?

    My working theory has to do with personal projects, having a sphere of the world that is under the control of our will, employed to create meaning (Rather than happiness. Happiness is overrated. But I digress :P ). The things most vital to our projects are more property than those that aren't. In practise, a legal system will have to settle these frontiers. [[This makes more sense once one has read my draft paper about this view]]

    When something is stolen from someone, they are thus prevented from using that with the end they had in mind.

    The one who has stolen something has done something wrong. Doing something wrong, I'd argue, generates the obligation to undo the wrong. Effectively what happens then is that the item taken mostly disappears from your life plans, but you get something else: a claim on the thief. But in different ways. Suppose money is stolen. Then the ownership over the money is lost, but a claim is gained. The reason being that you don't care about that specific money, any equal sum (other banknotes, a deposit, etc) will do. Once the thief pays compensation, the prior situation is restored.

    In the case of the father dying, you would inherit the right, as the debt from the thief is still an asset of your father's estate. Interestingly, I argue that you would not inherit his debts, if any are remaining after using the assets to pay whatever debts standing there might be.

    But suppose then that what is stolen is an item that you value intrinsically. It can be an item handed down over generations of your family, a painting, or even a spot of land. Then that thing would still be part of your personal plans, so the loss wouldn't appear on your balance sheet as an asset as before. The fact that the thing is still under your sphere of influence directly grants you the right to take it back. The fact that it is troublesome to get, and that effort is caused by the thief, gives you to exact further compensation beyond returning the item.

    But suppose the painting is stolen from your father. There you would inherit the legal right to the painting (which your father held), but potentially the painting might not be part of your personal projects. You can just not care about it. On the other hand, someone who has knowingly stolen it wouldn't have it fully integrated in their life, as they'd know is the result of theft and thus not fully theirs. So while initially you could claim the painting back, after a while it will stop being yours (essentially, when you mostly forget about it), having been assimilated into other person's personal plans (the thief, potentially). Most typically, imagine that the painting is then sold to someone, who thinks the painting has been legally acquired. Then that person will begin to slowly capture the right to the painting. And so it could happen that if you have mostly forgotten about it, and then you want to claim it back, it won't be yours anymore.

    This is consistent with the concept of usucapio in civil law: acquisition through posession in roman law.

    The gran-gran-gran-granfather case: My g^4 takes money from yours. Do I owe you something? No I don't. My g^4 takes money a painting from yours. Do I have to give it back? Typically yes, if you know that the painting was stolen, and so do I. No if you are totally unaware of the painting and I think the painting has always been in my family. It is a greyer area if you still want the painting back, the knowledge of its robbery having been handed down through the generations, and in addition it is the case that I am unaware that the painting I own came from theft, or viceversa. If I know it has been stolen, I have the moral duty to give it back. If you know it belongs to you, you have some trace of 'the painting being part of your projects' (discounted through the ages), but the trouble is that so will I. This is an issue a legal system would have to settle, and I could see there being a clause saying that 'Items stolen and not recovered after 50 years stop being property of the original owner' with an additional article 'Unless the item is intrinsically tied to the owner (A painting of my gran-gran-gran-granfather looking cool).


  • Artir Artir 2017-10-28T15:39:54Z

    Against the utilitarian argument for democracy.

    Here's an argument: There is no reason to prefer some people's preferences over states of the world over others. Therefore we should weigh them equally (Like one would use a noninformative prior, so to speak). Therefore, this meta-ethics lead to democracy.

    Where this goes wrong:

    1. It assumes the highly dubious premise that everyone's preferences count equally. This makes my preference for drinking tea as valid with that of a serial murderer who delights in their desds.
    2. It can also be the case that, given that meta-ethics, there is no reason not to prefer some preferences to others.

    Why? Deep down, that meta-ethics is the sort of unstable emotivist nihilism that underlies the early Peter Singer's thought (before he switched to non-natural moral realism). The assertion that is really being made is that moral reasoning is something like "just feelings" or "necessarily wrong". But from that what follows is that there are no moral reasons, not that everyone is equally right. Everyone is equally wrong, and there is no reason for or against anything, in any objective sense, if one accepts these views.

  • Artir Artir 2018-08-19T09:57:22Z

    Notes on the MacFarlane article on ifs and oughts:

    Imagine someone says

    1. A implies A'

    2. B implies B'

    3. Either A or B

    4. Therefore, either A' or B'

    5. But also, neither of A' or B'

    6. is derived from believing 1-3, and it conflicts with 5, so at least one of the axioms have to go. MacFarlane take this to be that modus ponens itself has to go rather than rejecting any of the premises! For they fill in the structure with:

    Ten miners are trapped either in shaft A or in shaft B, but we do not know which. Flood waters threaten to flood the shafts. We have enough sandbags to block one shaft, but not both. If we block one shaft, all the water will go into the other shaft, killing any miners inside it. If we block neither shaft, both shafts will fill halfway with water, and just one miner, the lowest in the shaft, will be killed. So A or B are "miners are in that shaft" and A', B' mean block that shaft. Yet the answer is to block neither, instead block half of each.

    As I still think modus ponens is valid, here's my reply:

    The problem is generated by not considering all the options. For example, imagine this other situation: We have a box and somehow there is a single electron in it. We mentally partition the box in two areas and say "Either the electron is in A or is in B". But then we add this premise: The electron is in both A and B. This leads to a paradox. But it is easy to see what the problem is: that electrons are fields and that our initial partitioning of the setup was wrong.

    In the case of the miners, because we are reasoning under uncertainty, the miners are in a similar situation to the electron. Consider this other setup:

    1. The miners are for sure either in A or for sure in B or we are not sure
    2. If they are in A, block A, if they are in B block B
    3. If we are not sure, block both
    4. We are not sure
    5. Block both

    This solves the problem by considering our uncertainty into the problem. In the original formulation, there is no uncertainty in it, and premise 5 crucially depends on us being uncertain. Oddly, the authors do not consider rejecting premise 4, which is the one I would reject. Propositional logic cannot deal with truth values different than 0 and 1, and here we have that A is in fact true with p=0.5 and B is true with p=0.5. Premise 4 is stating that either P(A)=1 or P(B)=1 . And this is not true. It is true that P(A)+P(B)=1, but (4) rejects us having P(A)=P(B)=0.5.

    Why do we accept premise (1) in the first place: Because we are uncertain. But we cannot be uncertain in propositional logic, things have a definit answer. If we want to approximate our state of uncertainty, we have to explicitly introduce it into the system (What I did above). Premise (1) can be reweritten as "We ought to block neither shaft IF we are uncertain". But that's the problem, we haven't considered that we can be uncertain in the rest of the derivation. If we did, then the paradox disappears.

  • Artir Artir 2017-12-11T20:08:02Z

    Comments on

    Many of the points the article makes are based on a book (which I won't read, and it won't probably be on genlib yet, so I can comment on what is publicly available) The points the article makes:

    • Computer work was thought of as menial labour, and it was feminised

    > It indeed was menial labour. In its origins, computer work would have been menial, things like data entry, or punching cards following a program others would have written. Slowly, it developed into what we now know. The article offers no direct evidence that it was feminised. In general it is difficult to find data for the 1960s, but the oldest data I got, from 1970 suggest 17% of IT related professionals were women . An old paper sets the number at a bit more . Given the trend and the intra-decade changes observes in the first paper, the % of women programmers in the 60s seems to have been the least like 5%, and the most like 23% or so, which it is vaguely what it is now.

    • They were pushed out of the field

    > People cite the story of male hero culture, etc, but on the light of this, that usual story doesn't look plausible If anything, women % increased! since the 60s (I mean the story of the peak and then decline) Maybe there is more in the book.

    • Some women started their own companies of women programmers

    > As did many men

    • All six programmers of ENIAC were women

    > Indeed. We could also mention Grace Hopper, who was both the inspirator of the popular business oriented language COBOL and the writter of the first or second ever compiler. We might focus on these because they seem striking to us. But if we take a broader look, we get the usual view. Consider for example programming languages invented before 1950. 8/9 were invented by men. In the 1950s , 5 out of 50. And so on. Similarly, for operating systems, or compilers . Hopper et al were the exception, not the rule.

    Without reading the book, not much more than this can be said, I think. Given the above and my other blogposts, I think the one ought to expect the book to either cherrypick or weave its arguments poorly.

    There is also one further point: Indeed, I see as plausible that in its origins programming would have seemed as a menial activity. Theorising and building was the "cool thing", and programming was just figuring out the details. Assuming that men are more status-driven, and assumen men and women didn't change, as people notices that the true nature of programming was like building stuff (and probably also because of the money payed incresed), it gained status, and with status came men. It's difficult to know to what extent. As I mentioned above, the % of women in tech has everywhere and always been low. Within tech, it is more difficult. The census statistics would have aggregated theoreticians, programmers, and computer engineers, and so it could have been that men who used to go to theory or engineering went into programming, keeping the overall ratio equal, but increasing that of programming.