"Daniel Kuehn Sides with Socrates and Plato; Unfortunately, Aristotle Was Right
Nobody who genuinely understands the time inconsistency problem is ever going to be in a position where in the short-run they want something that is inconsistent in the long-run, because anybody who genuinely understands the time inconsistency problem (or really any number of other “unintended consequences” type problems like it) is going to knowingly cut off their nose to spite their face like that.This was the position adopted Socrates and Plato: "No one goes willingly toward the bad." But it is wrong. It fails to account for akrasia: weakness of the will. I can testify with certainty that, for an entire month, while perfectly aware that I was engaging in hyperbolic discounting, I still night after night failed to unfold the sofa bed upon which I was to sleep because it seemed like to much trouble that night."
I will concede that "understands" was not the best word to use in that comment. But I had plenty of comments in that thread to provide further elaboration so there's no reason to interpret me like this.
I understand the time inconsistency problem.
Now, if you were to hear Gene say "I really should open up this sofa bed - it would be much better for me to just do it. I won't regret my short sighted inclinations in the morning", and if, after hearing that, you were to see Gene start opening his sofa bed, you would conclude that he is doing it because he WANTS to do it, beause he thinks it is a GOOD not a BAD. And as I pointed out in my post last night, you'd assume that he is taking into account the utility of his future self as well. It's the only explanation of why he would go to the trouble of doing it.
If someone can explain to me why you would observe Gene doing those things if it's something he considers BAD, then I'll concede I was wrong. Otherwise I'm sticking to it.
Of course, as we all know, you don't always end up considering your future self. In fact you often don't consider your future self. That's why this is even a problem worth discussing. That's why from the very beginning of this discussion I have been on the rules side of the rules vs. discretion divide.