It seems to me that many people have intuitions in the direction of "it's extremely hard to know with any confidence anything about the eventual consequences of our actions". The place these intuitions are coming from provides some support for at least two problems for trying to do good in the world:
- (1) Maybe we just have so little idea that even in principle the idea of trying to choose actions aiming at getting good eventual consequences is misguided.
- (2) The massive amounts of uncertainty around consequences mean that doing good is a very hard problem, and that a key part of pursuing it well is finding strategies which are somewhat robust to this uncertainty.
In some sense (2) is a weaker version of the concern (1), and it only looks attractive to address conditional on concern (1) not biting.
What should these be called? I think (1) is almost always called cluelessness, and (2) is sometimes called cluelessness, but it seems like it would be helpful to have distinct terms to refer to them. Also on my perspective (1) is a reasonable thing to worry about but it looks like the concern ultimately doesn't stand up, whereas I think that (2) is perhaps the central problem for the effective altruist project, so I'm particularly interested in having a good name for (2).