But daaad, this now becomes a multi-objective optimization problem, and there are potentially an infinite number of solutions that lie along the Pareto frontier...
In more old-school convex optimization the closest thing is probably insufficiently constrained problems. If you don't say the amount of each food you eat has to be greater than zero, you can get all your dietary needs satisfied for the low low price of minus infinity dollars!
From another perspective, though, perhaps there's a "No True Scotsman" side of this. Is a utility monster a sign of a badly-specified problem, or are they a definitive sign of one? If the former, it stands to reason it's not a "concern" for modellers -- it's a dream!
For example, the special "Felix" case ignores the case where said guy is stuck by gamma radiation and dies. Over time, the probability of that k or a bunch of other catastrophes ruinning the solution tends to 1.
Therefore, the best solution avoids the most known catastrophes and is updated as new possibilities of those are found. (Tontine lotto, anyone?) Minimax loss optimal. Maximin (maximizing gain without increasing base loss) could be decent as well. Deciding between the two is better left to wizards.
Online stochastic optimization is mathematical black magic anyway so far.
But then, satisfying humans is much easier given all the built in biases we have. Keeping things alive long term is much harder.
Does the millionth lucky penny feel as special as the first? If you gave Jeff Bezos a million $ would he even notice, let alone feel happier.
I feel that most happiness is gained from being able to feed and house your family, not having your children die from disease. Anything much beyond that is a rounding error and based on standards of the day.
Having robots makes Felix really happy. Not as happy as having slaves, but still happier than anyone else could ever be.
Anyway, well, then, that seems to leave some big question marks. How is everyone who goes through utilitarian moral reasoning supposed to decide between help and neglect, and hope to come up with the same answer? (Because if two people come up with sufficiently different answers, it may lead to one or both concluding that the expected utility of violently enforcing obedience from the other person is worth the cost, unless they have deontological rules of some sort. Like the kind that the article says Mill supported.)
If someone is vegetarian/vegan for ethical reasons, it's because they want there to be fewer factory farms. This would of course mean that the animals they would have eaten wouldn't exist at all, so of course they'd consider nonexistence better than a life of torture.
"I'd rather you not have lived at all, rather than live a life of torture" is a pretty mainstream opinion in general, I think.
Unless cloning counts? Is extinction okay as long as we have some copies of their DNA and plan to clone them into a decent life eventually? I feel rather uneasy about that resolution; at the very least I'd want to see a species successfully reconstructed in this manner before giving the possibility moral weight.
Didn't you just describe North Korea?
I feel like Pareto efficiency only comes into the picture if the quantities are actually clear, but I don't understand how to make that concrete in ethical (not economic) terms.
The "rule" of "quality" seems like it can easily be abused by whoever is in power in the given situation. E.g. an assertion such as this could be valid: it's okay for police to shoot "innocent" people if "they were disturbing the peace".
Are quality and quantity both vulnerable to being gamed?
the frontier is the points in space where neither can be further optimized without impacting the other.
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump.
I said, "Don't do it!"
He said, "Nobody loves me."
I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"
He said, "Yes."
I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?"
He said, "A Christian."
I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?"
He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me, too! What franchise?"
He said, "Baptist."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Baptist."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912."
I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over the bridge.
For a time, John Stuart Mill was indeed a lion for his father's ideals. However, it should perhaps not be too terribly surprising that Stuart's independent thinking lead him to somewhat diverge from his father's perspectives.
One of the more important moments for that was in his twenties. John came to realize that even if all the reforms he wished for came to pass, he would still be unhappy. That realization lead to a nervous breakdown. He slowly recovered, reworking his father's philosophy into something that would allow him to live a life worth living.
>Man is unhappy because he doesn't know he's happy. It's only that. 
I can't see that sentience and the quality of individual happiness are necessarily related. It may be that some other species is capable of sustaining a higher quality of happiness. If, for example, that species turns out to be a kind of duck, are John Stuart Mill utilitarians obligated to maximize the quantity of very happy ducks over happy humans?
I'm not familiar with Mill or Bentham. What would a "preponderance" of the evidence on both sides look like if there were to be a balance, I wonder? Can we even compare quantity and quality in any way?
It's hard to name another philosopher from the past fifty years who has had similar impact on people's behavior and secular moral discourse.
If you're interested, they also have some interesting things to say about the upcoming decorative gourd season.
Cynical attitude aside, I’m not sure why this is on HN. It doesn’t seem particularly insightful, interesting, or funny.
>Cynical attitude aside, I’m not sure why this is on HN. It doesn’t seem particularly insightful, interesting, or funny.
The average HN reader does probably know enough about philosophy to know the differences between Bentham and Mill but not enough to make that seem trivial.
If I’ve misjudged the HN audience and enough do appreciate this link, I can’t/won’t argue with their upvotes!
I won’t say that the allegorical reading is more “correct,” but if you’d like some clues leading to it, look for the breadcrumbs like this: “And, even though Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are ideologically similar, I refuse to let my son believe in Bentham’s very-slightly-different version of ethics.”
My point is, don’t take it too seriously.
This made me wonder how many kids are switching to a different branch of religion. I've seen a bit of moving to a completely different faith / no religion, but almost changes of denomination.
The first thing that came to my mind was the local liberal and "materialist" (that is, Marxist) contingents fighting over definitions. (And that does involve a few parents!) But it's equally reminiscent of childhood Catholic versus Protestant conflicts. I only have more recent experience of one to privilege it over the other.
I may be projecting a little bit.
Religion/Philosophy (really many parts of the human experience), is often like DNA - 99.9% the same but it’s the 0.01% difference that gets all the attention
On the Christian side, some Seventh-Day Adventists apparently see the Catholic church as the "Whore of Babylon" and the pope as the antichrist. 
Maybe the closeness between two groups just means they can be really detailed and exact about why they hate each other.
That’s probably not too far off. My impression is that the Hebrew Bible was written by nomadic shepherds who despised cosmopolitan city-dwellers who they thought had loose morals. And similarly for the authors of the New Testament, who despised the Roman Empire of the day (“Babylon” here is thought to be a stand-in for Rome).
It is quite ironic that this became the holy teaching of the state religion of the Roman Empire a few centuries later.
(Disclaimer: I am not a religious person and am by no means an expert on the Bible.)
Ah the good old:
He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"
Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.
Denominations that don't practice infant baptism would allow those adults to be baptized because they don't regard the first one as authentic.
It's true that denominations that practice infant baptism usually don't allow adults who were baptized as infants to be re-baptized, because they consider the person to be already baptized, so there's no need.
But even in cases where denominations try diligently to avoid the case where they're conferring baptism on someone who may have already been baptized (as in the case of the Catholic church and conditional baptism), there are no penalties for baptizing someone who was already baptized. It's just sort of a pointless thing, unless you reject the idea that infant baptism is legitimate, in which case why belong to a denomination that practices infant baptism?
Maybe there were penalties in the past that I'm not aware of, so I'd love to learn more about the executions.
His overall philosophy for "moral computation" is incredibly relevant today.
He advocated a common source for value in the notion of harmony, in both ethics and aesthetics. He was probably the most influential contemporary philosopher for the American founding fathers. Also, he was apparently an incredible all-around guy.
Adam Smith referred to him as "the never-to-be-forgotten Hutcheson". So go Wikipedia the dude and consider yourself smarter.
Say we can build a roman colosseum with brutal games between human, with advanced technology - that people enjoy brutal games (of course there are people like it as it was popular and people like brutal movies) can see the game on something like the internet easily.
And you can increase the size of the world and the overall population infinitely, assuming the technology will still valid to broadcast.
As well as putting it less kindly the "hobbyist" elements in the Libdems and Labour in the UK
Recommend saying what you want, no silly fake dialog needed.