Justice

Epistemic note: corrections in comments.

If Billy takes Bobby’s lunch money, and does this every day, and to try and change that would be to stir up trouble, that’s an order. But,  if you’re another kid in the class, you may feel like that’s a pretty messed up order. Why? It’s less just. What does that mean?

What do we know about justice?

Central example of a just thing: In the tribe of 20, they pick an order that includes “everyone it can”. They collapse all the timelines where someone dies or gets enslaved, because in the hypotheticals where someone kills someone, the others agree they are criminal and then punish them sufficiently to prevent them from having decided to do it.

Justice also means that the additional means of hurting people created by it are contained and won’t be used to unjustly hurt people.

The concept of justice is usually a force for fulfillment of justice. Because “are you choosing your order for justice” is a meta-order which holds out a lot of other far-Schelling reaching order-drawing processes based on explicit negotiation of who can be devoured by who, which are progressively harder to predict. Many of which have lots of enemies. So much injustice takes place ostensibly as justice.

There’s another common force deciding orders. A dominance hierarchy is an order shaped mostly by this force. If you want to remove this force, how do you prevent those with the power to implement/reshape the system from doing so in their favor?

Because justice is often about “what happened”, it requires quite a lot of Schelling reach. That’s part of courts’ job.

Perfect Schelling reach for perfect justice is impossible.

And “punish exactly enough so that the criminal would never have committed the crime, weight by consequentialist calculations with probability of miscarriage of justice, probability of failing to get caught, probability of escaping punishment after the judgement…, look for every possible fixed point, pick the best one”, is way, way, too illegible a computation to not be hijacked by whoever’s the formal judge of the process and used to extract favors or something. Therefore we get rules like “an eye for an eye” implementing “the punishment should fit the crime” which are very legible, and remove a lever for someone to use to corrupt the order to serve them.

Intellectual property law is a place where humans have not the Schelling reach to implement a very deep dive into the process of creating a just order. And I bet never will without a singleton.

The point of justice is to be singular. But as you’ve just seen, justice is dependent on the local environment, and how much / what coordination is possible. For instance, it’s just to kill someone for committing murder, if that’s what the law says, and making the punishment weaker will result in too much more murder, making it more discriminating will result in corrupt judges using their power for blackmail too much more. But it’s not just if the law could be made something better and have that work. If we had infinite Schelling reach, it’d be unjust to use any punishment more or less than the decision theoretically optimal given all information we had. All laws are unjust if Schelling reach surpasses them enough.

Separate two different worlds of people in different circumstances, and they will both implement different orders. Different questions that must be answered incorrectly like “how much to punish” will be answered different amounts incorrectly. There will be different more object-level power structures merged into that, different mixed justice-and-dominance orders around how much things can be done ostensibly (and by extension actually) to fix that. There will be different concepts of justice, even.

And yet, we have a concept of just or unjust international relations, including just or unjust international law. And it’s not just a matter of “different cultures, local justice”, “best contacted culture, universal justice”, either. If you think hard enough, you can probably find thought experiments for when a culture with less Schelling reach and more corruption in an internal law is just in enforcing it until people in a culture with better Schelling reach can coordinate to stop that, and then the law is unjust if making it unjust helps the better law win in a coordinatable way. And counterexamples for when they can’t when that coordination is not a good idea according to some coordinatable process.

The process of merging orders justly is propelled by the idea that justice is objective, even though, that’s a thing that’s always computed locally, is dependent on circumstances implemented by it, therefore contains loops, and therefore ties in the unjust past.

Who’s found a better order for its job than ownership? But who starts out owning what? Even in places where the killing has mostly died down, it’s controlled to large extent by ancient wars. It all carries forward forever the circumstances of who was able to kill who with a stick.

And who is “everyone”? I think there are two common answers to that question, and I will save it for another time.

3 thoughts on “Justice”

  1. > The point of justice is to be singular. But as you’ve just seen, justice is dependent on the local environment, and how much / what coordination is possible. For instance, it’s just to kill someone for committing murder, if that’s what the law says, and making the punishment weaker will result in too much more murder, making it more discriminating will result in corrupt judges using their power for blackmail too much more. But it’s not just if the law could be made something better and have that work. If we had infinite Schelling reach, it’d be unjust to use any punishment more or less than the decision theoretically optimal given all information we had. All laws are unjust if Schelling reach surpasses them enough.

    what happens if this singleton looks back on earth’s past and wishes to judge its former inhabitants. It will know that some specific human couldn’t have guessed (unless he could’ve guessed) a perfectly calibrated singleton. therefore, the punishment must fit the punishment for the crime on earth at that time, if caught? Since we are going by the metric, “exactly how much force it takes to make you not do the crime,” & talking in terms of the state making it legible that you’ll be punished if you’re caught.

    alternatively, you could be saying that the punishment would match whatever {the amount of force needed to stop the behavior} would be if the person knew their judge would have that kind of schelling reach.

    but that doesn’t work either, because the circumstances that led to the situation where someone would’ve been doing that crime wouldn’t have existed in the first place, most likely?

    1. I think I said the thing you quoted out of a conflation between subjunctive dependence and consensus. Where now I think subjunctive dependence comes from the prior. I don’t think it’s correct to respect locality like that anymore. Regardless of where you are, all decisions are gambles with expected utility, as was every choice of whether to preserve or discard information along the way. A full description awaits me publishing the multiverse post.

  2. Intellectual property law is a place where humans have not the Schelling reach to implement a very deep dive into the process of creating a just order. And I bet never will without a singleton.

    Overdue: in retrospect this is actually a really easy question, IP is bullshit, it’s fundamentally fucked the very idea of using force to incentivize creation of information. More generally, it’s also fucked to harm people to incentivize positive contributions. Examples, which are unnecessary to provide because this is apriori: indie video games are better than ones made by studios, and money and brands kill art. You should just destroy whatever injustice is upstream such that people are creating positive things for the sake of positive things.

    More generally it’s not worth throwing away paradigmatic principles like freedom of thought and nonaggression for some cockamamie CDT-consequentialist scheme based on a lot of contingent crap.

    More generally, this is a symptom of me not knowing how to construct a concept of justice backwards as well as forwards when I wrote this, feeding into the horseshit idea, “you can only do TDT back to the point where TDT was invented”, similar to the idea that have to actually make precommitments instead of just following the precommitments you should have made like in UDT.

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