There should be an Effulgence thread

Plain old discussion of Alicorn stories.

Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby Kappa » Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:29 pm

Personally I go for "View unread posts" most of the time :)
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Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby raginrayguns » Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:36 am

Hi I'm midway through the Third Bugger War right now, the invasion has just begun. And I've been thinking a lot about what to do with the AF officers, afterward. Especially the ones that were responsible for Sue's rape.

On the surface, I'm mad at them and they did something horrible so they should go to prison or something. (branch horrible)

But then, thinking utilitarianwise, they did it because there was, in their judgment, a small chance it would cause the continued survival of humanity. (branch utility-->worth it) And their judgment is supposedly the best humanity has, so if I disagree I'm probably wrong

But then, still thinking utilitarianwise, should they really be allowed to use their judgment, when it comes to doing things this horrible? Should they really have the power to do anything they think will help? Like, for Sue's rape. It's so awful that if they think the benefits outweigh the loss, if they calculate the expected value of the benefit as that large, I would just think they must have made a mistake. So nobody should have that kind of power, and a good system would punish them. (branch utility-->not that smart)

But then, still thinking utilitarianwise, I don't think they did calculate that the expected value of the benefit is larger than the awfulness of the rape. I think they just don't really care about the rape. This seems more likely than that they thought it was just that good of a psychological test. Therefore they should go to jail for valuing his safety too little (branch utility-->they're assholes)

It's very perplexing. I don't want to put too many restrictions on the people whose job it is to stop the buggers. But they seem to need it because they're assholes.
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Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby Kappa » Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:49 am

They do need it, because they are assholes. XD I mean, ultimately, the effect of all their actions as a whole was to save the earth... but most of the good there was accomplished in spite of the fucked-up things they did to Sue, not because of it. And they weren't really making calculations against the loss, when they decided to let a serial rapist have continued access to Sue; they were operating on the principle that any negative consequences to anything they decided to try could simply be written off because their goal was saving the world and it would all be worth it if that part worked - regardless of whether or not any particular horrible thing they might try could be expected to have a significant positive effect. And on top of that they didn't care anyway. Because they're assholes.
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Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby Alphabeta » Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:06 pm

Really, it's not hard to come up with a plan to empirically test if Sue was capable of murder that doesn't include giving a serial rapist free reign, if the notion of honesty isn't anathema. And if you're willing to make Sue kill someone, but that's not what was missing.

If they'd had him kill his dad, it would probably be easier to get people who sympathize with him on board with the plan.
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Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby Adelene » Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:34 pm

It seems pretty obvious to me that they should go to jail - and that 'go to jail' would be the right option even if the rape had been both helpful and the only viable option.

The point of jail is more to stop other people from doing the same sort of thing later, not about whether the particular case at hand turned out okay or not. In future cases where it really is a matter of saving humanity and hurting someone for it really is necessary, I don't think the threat of jail time will stop anybody - or at least it won't stop anybody who would be making good decisions about that in the first place. Who it will stop are people who wouldn't otherwise think the problem all the way through, who could be made to go 'hmm, maybe rape would work, but it'll land me in jail even if it does... *think think think* oh right, I can do this other thing instead!'.
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Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby raginrayguns » Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:38 pm

okay, pretending to accept your premise that that's what jail is for, for the remainder of the post.

No, you definitely shouldn't put people in jail if its both helpful and the only viable option. Because then future people will be afraid to do the only helpful and viable thing, which is bad.

Also, if someone didn't do anything wrong and you put them in jail anyway as a warning to future people, that's a cruel way to use them. You shouldn't do it.
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Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby Adelene » Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:01 pm

raginrayguns wrote:Also, if someone didn't do anything wrong and you put them in jail anyway as a warning to future people, that's a cruel way to use them. You shouldn't do it.


Intentionally setting up a rape is wrong, even if there's a larger good served by it. This isn't the sort of thing where -1 and 10 can be added to get 9, it's much more complicated than that.

No, you definitely shouldn't put people in jail if its both helpful and the only viable option. Because then future people will be afraid to do the only helpful and viable thing, which is bad.


Pretty sure anybody I wouldn't be horrified to have in the decision-making position in the first place would be even more upset about letting humanity get wiped out than at going to jail for a while, so this isn't all that much of a problem. Being in a position where your choice is between setting up a rape and everybody getting killed is horrible; it's okay for it to feel like it is.
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Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby Kappa » Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:21 am

I'm with Ade here.

The way I think of it, the sort of person who would be willing to do what that administration did to Sue but not willing to go to jail for it is the sort of person I would emphatically not want to put in a position to make those kinds of decisions. "Willing to accept terrible consequences for other people, but not willing to accept less-terrible consequences for oneself, in service of the same ends" is the kind of priority system that leads to doing a lot of terrble things to other people.

For that matter, don't just think of future administrators - think of future Sues! Who the hell would ever let their child go to Battle School again, if it got out that that happened and the people in charge got away with it? For sure, having that sharp a decrease in the join rate of kids with responsible parents would have a way bigger negative impact on the IF's future world-saving capabilities than having known consequences for favouring psychological torture as an educational and analytical tool.
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Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby Kingsley » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:08 am

IIRC in the Ender's Game novel (or perhaps one of its sequels), Col. Graff does in fact get sent to a court-martial but is acquitted because his actions were necessary.

This element, like most questionable things about the Ender's Game novel, was not found in the IMO vastly superior original short story.
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Re: There should be an Effulgence thread

Postby raginrayguns » Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:29 pm

Okay I'm up to magician!Bella's journey to the castle in the Enchanted Forest, and what I'm wondering is, how's she know how her pining-trigger works, or even that she has one? Is this the kind of thing people can figure out by introspection? Because it doesn't really seem like it, I guess
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