anonymous_ea_267

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Problems in effective altruism and what to do about them

Well, I do believe that misrepresenting the views you're arguing against is dishonest. Especially so, if your essay is literally called "Why I’m Not a Negative Utilitarian"

Problems in effective altruism and what to do about them

Do I understand you correctly, you believe that the following (copied from the comment you're replying to) are acceptable practices in the type of an essay Toby Ord published?

He [Toby Ord] describes the academic literature incorrectly in a way that benefits his case. He writes that “A thorough going Negative Utilitarian would support the destruction of the world (even by violent means)” without mentioning that for many years, a published objection to his favoured view (classical utilitarianism) is that it implies that one should kill everyone and replace us, if one could thereby maximize the sum of well-being (see my paper The World Destruction Argument).

Problems in effective altruism and what to do about them

Peter writes:

I have little allegiance to the people criticized here and if this was good criticism I would be one of the first people to say it.

It should be noted that Peter was profiled by William MacAskill (one of the main subjects of this post) in Quartz and was one of the few people profiled in William's book Doing Good Better. Chapter 9 of the book begins with:

As Peter Hurford entered his final year at Denison University, he needed to figure out what he was going to do with his life. He was twenty-two, majoring in political science and psychology, and he knew he wanted a career that would both be personally satisfying and would make a big difference. Graduate school was the obvious choice for someone with his interests, but he didn’t know what his other options were, or how to choose among them.

How should young people like Peter who want to make a difference in their careers go about their decisions?

Peter also writes:

I have no idea what Nick Bostrom’s CV is about but putting inflated impressive-sounding things on a CV is also super typical

But what Bostom wrote is not just an "inflated impressive-sounding thing". He seems to have falsely claimed setting a national record in undergraduate performance. Does Peter consider false claims about setting academic records to be an acceptable practice?

Peter also writes:

"creat[ing] syllabi with writings by themselves and those who agree with them" also sounds super standard

As an academic: no, this is not a standard academic practice. The standard academic practice is to represent the views you support and the views you reject fairly. Note, that Peter ignores the following part of the post in his comment:

Toby Ord is a trustee at CEA and part of the team at FHI. His 2013 essay against negative utilitarianism (NU) is a one-sided and misleading attempt to convince lay people away from negative utilitarianism. I try to be polite in my response to it, but I will try to be blunter here. His text is so bad partly for the following reasons: Toby writes in the role of a university researcher with a PhD in philosophy, and he writes for non-experts. He spends the whole essay essentially trashing a moral view that is opposite to his own. He does little to refer the reader to more information, especially information that contradicts what he writes. He describes the academic literature incorrectly in a way that benefits his case. He writes that “A thorough going Negative Utilitarian would support the destruction of the world (even by violent means)” without mentioning that for many years, a published objection to his favoured view (classical utilitarianism) is that it implies that one should kill everyone and replace us, if one could thereby maximize the sum of well-being (see my paper The World Destruction Argument).