I am new here, I am looking for an answer to the question of what is the most effective way to help, but with specific ethical assumptions. Namely, in a theoretical situation; to help a suffering being or to make the being not be born at all, I believe that one should ignore the suffering being and rather focus on making sure that the other one does not occur. I don't think that death has a negative value too, so the arguments "it will save someone life" don't appeal to me, what matters is the elimination of suffering and the best way not to suffer is not to live. The best way is never to be born. With such assumptions, what is the best way for effective altruism?




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If you hold these assumptions robustly, the most direct answer would be to focus on the kind of beings who are likely to experience greater suffering by default, namely factory-farmed animals, and potentially some wild animals. You should focus on interventions (alternative proteins, vegan advocacy) that are likely to cause these animals not to come into existence, rather than welfarist approaches that improve the lives of animals but keep numbers relatively constant. This is a very popular approach, so you'd be welcome in this part of the EA space.

But you might want to slightly relax your assumptions slightly when considering practical work you could do. Assuming that reducing suffering is your ultimate goal, if the "best way not to suffer is not to live", it doesn't necessarily follow that the most effective way to reduce suffering (given limited resources) is stopping beings coming into existence. 

For example, an intervention to help people in poor countries detect particularly painful congenital defects before birth and terminate these pregnancies might reduce suffering and satisfy your assumptions, but if it's expensive, it might be more effective to reduce the suffering of existing people, for example, providing relatively cheap pain relief for people with late-stage cancer. 

Or if you could cause x number of factory-farmed chickens to be raised in a free-range/ organic way for the same cost/ resources as stopping y number of factory-farmed chickens being born, there's probably some number for x and y for which you'd choose the first option. 

I agree with you. Anyway, with that in mind, what charities would you recommend for me to support specifically?

You mentioned "vegan advocacy" it doesn't seem to me effective in principle I think it's not worth debating and it doesn't change anything. Besides, I'm not sure how real animal suffering is compared to human suffering, due to the fact that consciousness plays a big role in the experience of suffering. I'm guessing that animals do suffer, so I'd love to hear about specific ways to act so that they are not born, but I'd still like to hear about an alternative that focuses on the problem of human existence.

Regarding "the problem of human existence", it sounds like you'd get along with the people at the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. I have no reason to think that organization is particularly effective at achieving its goal, but they might be able to point you in the right direction. There's also Population Connection, which I don't believe shares the same end goal but may (or may not) be taking more effective steps in the same direction.

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