When evaluating the outcome of an action, a distinction can be made between the action’s direct and indirect effects. Although the boundary between these two categories is often imprecise, direct effects are those effects that are relatively obvious and intended. Indirect effects, in turn, are effects
which are either non-obvious (i.e., it is difficult to determine whether or to what extent they follows from the relevant actions), unintended, or both.
Many kinds of indirect effects have received attention within the effective altruism community, including
Indirect long-term effects are effects on the long-run future from interventions targeted at the short-term. Other terms that have been used for this concept or somewhat similar concepts include flow-through effects
(Karnofsky 2013; Karnofsky et al. 2013; Shulman 2013; Wiblin 2016), ripple effects (Beckstead 2013; Whittlestone 2017), knock-on effects (Gaensbauer 2016; Greaves 2016; Snowden 2017) and cascading effects. Beckstead, Nick (2013) On the overwhelming importance of shaping the far future , Doctoral thesis, Rutgers University. Gaensbauer, Evan (2016) Effective altruism, environmentalism, and climate change: an introduction , Effective Altruism Forum , March 10. Greaves, Hilary (2016) Cluelessness , Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society , vol. 116, pp. 311–339. Karnofsky, Holden (2013) Flow-through effects , The GiveWell Blog , May 15. Karnofsky, Holden et al. (2013) Flow through effects conversation , Jeff Kaufman’s Blog , August 19. Shulman, Carl (2013) What proxies to use for flow-through effects? , Reflective Disequilibrium , December 11. Snowden, James (2017) The economic benefits of malaria eradication , The Giving What We Can blog , January 18. Whittlestone, Jess (2017) The long-term future , Effective Altruism , November 16. Wiblin, Robert (2016) Making sense of long-term indirect effects , Effective Altruism , August 7.