AbigailT

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500 Million, But Not A Single One More

This post takes a well-known story about impact (smallpox eradication), and makes it feel more visceral. The style is maybe a little heavy-handed, but it brought me along emotionally in a way that can be useful in thinking about past successes. I'd like to see somewhat more work like this, possibly on lesser-known successes in a more informative (but still evocative) style.

Disagreeables and Assessors: Two Intellectual Archetypes

Thanks for the post - I can see what you're getting at, but this doesn't feel like two clearly distinct categories to me. The first person I thought to try and apply this to had strong traits from both columns, for example. As a similar but more available example, where would you fit Bryan Caplan here? He's disagreeable without being angry, and is trying hard not to be wrong while happily telling others why they are. 

I'm not sure whether my intuition here is that these can both be strong/weak in the same person, that there's more of a spectrum, or that they're a set of characteristics that may or may not cluster the way you've described. I'm not really sure what shape you meant for this to take, or how well it applies in these intermediate cases.

anoni's Shortform

I should clarify 3.3. For me, longtermism is partly the acknowledgement of much vaster moral stakes - so long as there are things we can do to help, they're no less important to do as short-termist interventions. (The usual arguments about it not being helpful to demand too much of people still apply though).

anoni's Shortform

Hi - my intuitions fall in the other direction here, so I'm keen to explain why.  Implicit IMOs in front of everything here.

1:
    1.1:  I have a younger brother. My parents could have stopped at one, and my family would broadly still be happy, but my brother is generally happy and leads a good life. Similarly, if they'd had a third child they probably would have been happy and great too, and I would have loved them. All else being equal I wish that youngest sibling could have existed. IMO these two sentiments aren't meaningfully distinct. 

    1.2:  We don't only care about humans.  Sure, the argument for making more humans would apply to insects or something as well. However, most of the things that would kill all the humans would also kill everything else, so for me not letting that happen is still much more of a priority.

    1.3: True on the specifics, false more generally. I don't know exactly what the world should look like, but I'm pretty sure people being happy is good, more people being happy is better, and everything being unrecoverably dead is neutral at most. 

 

2:

    2.1: If we weren't potentially about to all die I'd be more willing to think about this, but we have to survive the next century or two first. Whether capitalism makes things better or worse for now depends much more on whether it makes us more or less likely to all die, than on anything else (again, for now). 

    2.2: I'm pretty sure non-privileged people also want to be alive and happy. 

    2.3: Possibly, and I'm ok with that. I'd rather live a worse life if it means my grandkids are more likely to survive and have happy ones. Although it's definitely better for everyone to be happier now, I feel like it doesn't amount to much if we all die in the next century. 

    2.4: If I can choose between a surviving but stable society, and a growing one, I would choose the growing one. But both are better than an empty rock, so the priority now is not dying either way.

 

3: 

    3.1: I'm pretty sure we'll continue to want to be alive and happy, so false. People can't decide what their preferences are, and work to fulfil them, if they don't exist.

    3.2: Our moral intuitions were built for very different-looking societies to where we are today. We like sugar and sex because we were supposed to go for fruit and reproduction; our moral intuitions aren't hugely different. IMO this is in a similar category to people caring more about saving one child than eight of them. 

    3.3: No.