from the AI Alignment Forum. May contain more technical jargon than usual.

Let’s consider three ways you can be altruistic towards another agent:

  • You care about their welfare: some metric of how good their life is (as defined by you). I’ll call this care-morality - it endorses things like promoting their happiness, reducing their suffering, and hedonic utilitarian behavior (if you care about many agents).
  • You care about their agency: their ability to achieve their goals (as defined by them). I’ll call this cooperation-morality - it endorses things like honesty, fairness, deontological behavior towards others, and some virtues (like honor).
  • You care about obedience to them. I’ll call this deference-morality - it endorses things like loyalty, humility, and respect for authority.

I think a lot of unresolved tensions in ethics comes from seeing these types of morality as in opposition to each other, when they’re actually complementary:

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