if you look at other social movements, you get this club where there are certain beliefs that everyone holds, and it becomes an indicator of in-group mentality...Looking at other social movements should make us worried about that as a failure mode for us as well.” - Will MacAskill in his opening talk for EA Global this year

The othering of this movement, its definition in contrast with pre-existing institutions, ideas or conventions - who does that serve, who does it alienate, and to what end?

Let us consider the counterfactual to effective altruism. The counterfactual to effective altruism is not ineffective altruism, nor is is effective egoiism:

Before the formalisation of Effective Altruism, utilitarians already debated felsific calculations, rationalists debated controversial ideas, funders completed cost-effectiveness analysis and prioritised causes. Charities were evaluated, people committed to donate income to charity, MIRI worked on AI alignment, the THINK network recruited, consequentialists raised Sam,  Activist do gooders searched for ways to do good better and philanthropists networked with one another.

EAs prioritize causes with  Karnofsky's Impact Neglectedness Tractability (INT) framework. Global priority setting is nothing new, to illustrate of the World Health Organisation:

“From the original Hanlon equation, the PAHO-adapted method maintains components A (size of problem), B (seriousness of problem), and C (effectiveness of intervention), drops component D (PEARL - Propriety, Economics, Acceptability, Resources, and Legality), and adds component E (inequity) and F (institutional positioning).” - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31363360/ 

There is widespread agreement across society on the value of effectiveness, and altruism. We did not invent effective altruism, we discovered and elevated it. Yet, effectiveness and altruism are not all that matter to us. The reification of altruism, and effectiveness does not in itself imply the moral weight of different species, our friends vs strangers, interpersonal comparisons of wellbeing, or the value of future humans relative to present humans. And, to what degree is stated belief to the contrary consistent with our revealed preferences?

Should effectiveness and altruism be uniquely prioritised? What of the miscellaneous other 'terminal' human values, howsoever defined. Could the relegation of these norms to secondary status impair our moral intuitions or development?

In certain regions of the Amazon, and the highlands of Papua New Guinea, there are small communities with languages that do not include words for altruism.

How cross-cultural and universal are the concepts of effectiveness and altruism? How authentic are they to our nature, the spectrum and interactions of our  moral intuitions? 




No comments on this post yet.
Be the first to respond.
Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities