Over… stim… ulation…

Eliezer Yudkowsky is talking about one of my favorite ideas on this blog… morality as preference! and in the form of Socratic dialog no less!

Subhan: “I suggest that when the pie-requester says to you, ‘It is right for me to get some pie’, this asserts that you want the pie-requester to get a slice.”

Obert: “Why should I need to be told what I want?”

Subhan: “You take a needlessly restrictive view of wanting, Obert; I am not setting out to reduce humans to creatures of animal instinct. Your wants include those desires you label ‘moral values’, such as wanting the hungry to be fed -”

Obert: “And you see no distinction between my desire to feed the hungry, and my desire to eat all the delicious pie myself?”

Subhan: “No! They are both desires – backed by different emotions, perhaps, but both desires. To continue, the pie-requester hopes that you have a desire to feed the hungry, and so says, ‘It is right that I should get a slice of this pie’, to remind you of your own desire. We do not automatically know all the consequences of our own wants; we are not logically omniscient.”

Here’s the second part where EY says his own views don’t fit either interlocutor’s so in particular he doesn’t believe morals are merely preferences. I await, with bated breath, part three!

And then — and then! — we have Prof. Delong going after the “Walmart reduced prices of things poor people buy relative to things rich people buy and so in real terms inequality didn’t much increase in the last decade” crowd (aka Broda and Romalis). And he does so not in his usual “I’m a social democrat following marching orders” mode but in his “damn good economist” mode.

When Broda and Romalis assert that trade is causing the prices of tradeable necessities to fall rapidly, they are either (a) breaking the H-O framework in some way, or (b) implicitly asserting that capital is the scarce factor in the United States and thus the factor of production whose returns are reduced by globalization.

He then provides this theoretical paper which I take to be validation of my own dissertation topic and the Invisible College giving me a pass on my virtual oral exam.

The basic idea is that Stolper-Samualson is broken if you consider people share in the ownership of factors of production… there doesn’t have to be losers from trade if there’s extensive enough sharing of ownership. Where have you heard that before, I wonder.