Monday, July 13, 2020

Values of Altruists

Values of altruists, based on this thread.

Altruism: concern for other sentient beings. A larger moral circle is better than a smaller one. Components:

other-orientation / relative lack of self-focus

(curiosity is an intellectual version of this)

hope (a fusing of something like optimism with openness to evidence, a kind of trust)

personal connection with reality (maybe a sense of moral obligation, a connection with other being's subjective states, or a taste for a better world)

inclination to work

Support values/practices to the value of altruism:

"moral uncertainty (normative uncertainty in general)" -- helps keep an ethical/social movment from becoming fanatical

(another approach being "you trust God, and thus you know things, and thus you don't act as though God doesn't exist to underpin your well-being and be the authority in your place")

rationality -- disciplined thinking helps find problem areas and address them effectively

outcomes matter

don't only do emotionally appealing things

effective communication -- work with the culture while trying to change it, listen, be disciplined / rational in speech and listening, argue well

against politicization

for working / building rather than fighting / exposing

("exposing": "saying the unhealthy truth for truth's sake", or something like that)

for knowing and self-improvement

Support values that are riskier to promote culture-wide:

some kind of ambition is good

humility is good but trying to maximize humility is bad (being so humble you don't have any confidence in your knowledge prevents action)

courage is good but not foolhardiness

will is good, if it stays in touch with reality

being "real" is good (following through on promises, really having intentions)

personal sufficiency is good (you have enough or are enough to dare reach into someone else's reality)

These are riskier. I think one thing to remember is that ideas are things in people's minds, that culture is really embodied in people, not in words. A lot of culture is in interpersonal contact, which forms the context for ideas. So ideally, if you promote values, you shouldn't just say things, but should instruct people (or be in relationships with people) such that they really understand what you're saying. Genes become phenotype through epigenetics, and concepts become emotions, attitudes, and behaviors through the "epiconceptual". The epiconceptual could be the cultural background that informs how people hear a message (like "yes, this is the moral truth, but we don't actually expect people to live up to the moral truth"), or it could be the subcultural background from a relationship or community that makes it make sense. The practices and expectations of culture / subculture. So values are a thing which are not promoted just by communicators, but also by community-builders, and good communities help make risky but productive words safe to spread.

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