Cause-neutrality is often seen as a key feature of effective altruism. In spite of that there is some unclarity over what it really means. In this talk, Stefan Schubert argues that the key sense of cause-neutrality is selecting causes based on impartial estimates of impact. This is distinct from cause-divergence - that effective altruists invest in several causes. Cause-neutrality does not entail cause-divergence, and it is confusing to use the term “cause-neutrality” for cause-divergence, as is sometimes done. Indeed cause-neutrality is compatible with effective altruism focusing solely on one cause. Similarly, cause-neutrality does not entail cause-agnosticism – agnosticism over which cause is best – and it is confusing to use the term “cause-neutrality” for cause-agnosticism, as is sometimes done. 

In addition to these conceptual clarifications, Schubert discusses some considerations of relevance for whether we should be cause-divergent and cause-agnostic. Background:

In the future, we may post a transcript for this talk, but we haven't created one yet. If you'd like to create a transcript for this talk, contact Aaron Gertler — he can help you get started.




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