Brad West

761 karmaJoined Nov 2021


A lot of the work with mithrilmen is keeping an argument at a level of abstraction where it sounds sensible as a principle, but yet declining to interrogate it further, perhaps because venerated people hold that position.

Answer by Brad WestMay 23, 20233220

I'm really grateful for those that work to better the world in the highest expected value ways that they can that are not receiving and have not received esteem, compensation, prestige and/or other personal benefits.

A lot of people do work in legible ways and/or on paths that others have paved and have an easier, happier journey. These people are great and, especially in EA, deserve the happiness for their hard work and industry in doing good.

But there are many who are seeking new paths, taking risks, to try to better the world. From an egoistic perspective, this is probably folly; a serious chance, if not high probability, of financial and personal difficulty. But if we did not have such people, some of our most promising paths would not have been found.

Here's to those who give it their all but are not supported or celebrated. May you win for us all and, in the meantime, somehow find the strength to keep fighting.

Social status in EA shouldn't have intrinsic value, but it sure can have instrumental value. It can facilitate access to EA's considerable connections, influence, and money.

The EA community as an impact multiplier of your ideas and projects is a potentially valuable asset, but largely depends on your social status within it.

If you're interested in impact, try to find potentially h impact organizations that are in early stages and lack funding and see if there is some secretarial/organizational work that you can volunteer for. Helping organizations at early pre-funding stages with simple tasks can free up a lot of time and doesn't necessarily require you to be brilliant.

Brad West

Thanks for the excellent post!

I'll make sure to share it and augment visibility by... Oh wait, never mind.

Answer by Brad WestApr 28, 20230-7

You would donate as much of your income as possible to effective charities and/or dedicate your life to effective Altruist causes (however you determine that) because the utility derived from your income/work is likely hundreds times greater applied rationally for the benefit of others than for your personal welfare, even with a 50% discount rate. You would have to have a very high confidence in sollipsism before it would be rational to live selfishly.

Assuming the genuine willingness of volunteers who ended up not being selected, I do not see a differing level of moral praiseworthiness based on the fortune/misfortune of not having the opportunity to be a part of the study.

Just briefly skimmed, but I was wondering if the decreased happiness from the lesser consumption of crap was factored into the analysis.

The name "Effective Foundations" suggests that the organizations it would be courting and trying to influence are not effective. Might want to consider a different name for an organization with the goal you set forth.

Brad West

I haven't put a ton of thought into it, but the notion that "the last shall be first and the first shall be last" and many of the passages in the Gospel that emphasize helping those in worse situations suggests impartiality. Then, as now, putting equal weight to the interests of all tends to result in directing resources to the worst off, as this is often most cost effective.

Further, the notion that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven jives well with the demandingness of Effective Altruism. The dollars you earn are almost always better directed to an effective charity than to your personal consumption. I think we often try to sell a more palatable "10% is fine" message, to appeal to more people, but probably EAs and Christians who take the reasoning seriously should require much more of themselves than Christian and EAs tend to ask.

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