Dan Hageman

55Joined Jun 2020

Bio

I am a biomed engineer PhD who is working as a field medical scientist in immuno-oncology for a pharmaceutical company. I'm currently pursing an earn-to-give path, taking full advantage of my company's yearly $30k matching program, and partnering with an EA colleague to start a small community called 'Match for More', which similar to GWWC, looks to foster EA advocates in the professional workspace who leverage their company's matching programs and seek to bring EA principles into mainstream corporate consideration.

I'm very keen to get advice on various earn-to-give strategies, and especially interested in meeting other regular donors who contribute yearly 5-figure+ donations, as I'm also developing a 'sort of' charity swap schema that could help increase our impact together with 'patient philanthropists' who utilize Donor-advised Funds.

I'm particularly interested in rational decision making, moral philosophy, the potential conflict between Negative Utilitarianism and Classical Utilitarianism approaches to EA, strategies to spread EA ideas to the general public, the potential of spreading our ideas to 'less secular' areas of western societies, and much more.

Always keen to have a chat about anything EA-related, especially if you have ideas/feedback on the sort of work I'm pursuing or it seems like my areas of interest might be helpful to yours!

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Okay, thanks for clarifying for me! I think I was  confused in that opening line when you clarified that your views do not say that only a relief of suffering improves a mental state, but in reality it's that you do think such is the case, just not in conjunction with the claim that happiness also intrinsically improves a mental state, correct?

>Analogously, you can increase the complexity and artistic sophistication of some painting, say, but if no one ever observes it (which I'm comparing to no one suffering from the lack of more intense happiness), there's no "improvement" to the painting.

With respect to this, I should have clarified that the state of contentment, that becomes a more intense positive state was one of an existing and experiencing being, not a content state of non-existence and then pleasure is brought into existence. Given the latter, would the painting analogy hold, since in this thought experiment there is an experiencer who has some sort of improvement in their mental state, albeit not a categorical sort of improvement that is on par with the sort the relives suffering? I.e. It wasn't a problem per se (no suffering) that they were being deprived of the more intense pleasure, but the move from lower pleasure to higher pleasure is still an improvement in some way (albeit perhaps a better word would be needed to distinguish the lexical importance between these sorts of *improvements*).


 

Right, though would it not be distinct for one to differ on whether they agree with the evaluation (I do) that one situation lacks a preexisting problem? If one takes the absence of pleasure as a preexisting problem, and perhaps even on the same moral plane as the preexisting problem of existing suffering, then the fundamental disagreement may not sufficiently be identified in this manner, right? 

Can you elaborate a bit on why the seemingly arbitrary view you quoted in your first paragraph wouldn't follow, from the view that you and Teo are defending?  Are you saying that from your and Teo's POVs, there's a way to 'improve a mental state' that doesn't amount to decreasing suffering (/preventing it)? The statement itself seems a bit odd, since 'improvements' seems to imply 'goodness', and the statement hypothetically considers situations where improvements may not be good..so thought  I would see if you could clarify.

In regards to the 'defensible alternative', it seems that one could  defend a plausible view that a state of contentment, moved to a state of increased bliss, is indeed an improvement, even though there wasn't a need for change. Such an understanding seems plausible in a self-intimating way when one valence state transitions to the next, insofar as we concede that there are states of more or less pleasure, outside an negatively valanced states. It seems that one could do this all the while maintaining that such improvements are never capable of outweighing the mitigation of problematic, suffering states. **Note, using the term improvement can easily lead to accidental equivocation between scenarios of mitigating suffering versus increasing pleasure, but the ethical discernment  between each seems manageable. 

Thanks so much for this great post! I've had Schwab Charitable for about a year now, and has been very smooth. Also potentially worth noting, one can transfer between DAFs across various providers, so if the size of a DAF were to change, I think it should be feasible to move to one with better options/fees as needed.

Quick comment. With respect to your first point, this has always struck me as one of the better points as to why non ethical arguments should primarily avoided when it comes to making the case for veganism. However, after reading Tobias Leenaert's 'How to Create a Vegan World: A Pragmatic Approach', I've become a bit more agnostic on this notion.  He notes a few studies from The Humane League that show that red-meat reducers/avoiders tend to eat less chicken than your standard omnivore. He also referenced a few studies from Nick Cooney's book, Veganomics, which covers some of this on p. 107-111. Combined with the overall impact non-ethical vegans could have on supply/demand for other vegan products (and their improvement in quality), I've been a bit less worried about this reason.

I think your other reasons are all extremely important and underrated, though, so still lean overall that the ethical argument should be relied on when possible :)  

I think the issue of marginal impact, particularly for relatively small donations going to organizations with rather large budget/granting power, is quite difficult to be confident in, and hence shouldn't be the driving factor in looking at the benefit of said donation. Much of the problem is illustrated well in Budolfson's and Spear's essay, The Hidden Zero Problem

It does seem that many EA calculation rely on one of Parfit's 'share of the total' errors that he outlined in Reasons and Persons, making transparent advertisement about the effectiveness of individual donations quite difficult.

Huge fan of the work your team has done, so thank you all for everything!  A couple questions :)

1. For potential donors who are particularly interested in wild animal welfare research, how would you describe any key differentiating factors between the approaches of Rethink Priorities and  Wild Animal Initiative

2. For donors who might want to earmark donations to go specifically towards wild animal welfare research within your organization, would this in turn affect the allocation of priority-agnostic donations otherwise made to Rethink? Or is there a way in which such earmarked donations indeed counterfactually support this specific area as opposed to the general areas you cover? (This question applies to most multi-focused orgs.)

3. With respect to invertebrate research, and specifically 'invertebrate sentience', it seems that the sheer number of invertebrates existing would be the driving factor in calculating any expected benefit of pursuing interventions. Are there 'sentience probabilities' low enough to put such an expected value of intervention in question? (I have not thoroughly looked through your publicly available work, so feel free to point to relevant resources if this question has been addressed!)

Thanks in advance for all your thoughts!

Donor Advised Funds with no minimum contribution requirements

 

Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable recently eliminated the minimum initial contribution requirements for their donor-advised funds. 

Fidelity and Schwab are major financial services companies. Their nonprofit arms operate donor-advised funds (DAFs), which are tools to make donating more convenient and tax-efficient (see Aaron Hamlin’s succinct summary for more info). Like many financial services companies, Fidelity and Schwab previously required customers to contribute ~$5,000 in order to open a DAF. Now, they’ll let you open a DAF with any initial contribution.

This is particularly exciting for donors interested in patient philanthropy: the idea that we could maximize the impact of our donations by donating later. To learn more about patient philanthropy and see if this approach might be right for you, see:

Now that it’s easy to open a DAF with a contribution of any size, it’s a great time to consider patient philanthropy.

Cheers to the Giving Season!!

 

*Special thanks to Cameron Meyer Shorb (Wild Animal Initiative) for the feedback!

*Match for More*--An organization seeking to cultivate a community of EA professionals who leverage their company's matching program towards EA-align charities/causes.

My colleague and I have been working on developing an organization/community that, similar to the way GWWC fosters a community of effective givers who pledge 10% of their income, we look to cultivate a community of those effectively leveraging their company’s matching opportunities, and specifically leveraging them towards various EA-aligned causes and organizations. We believe that this organization, called 'Match for More', can have an impact on professionals’ charitable contributions and longevity, their allocation effectiveness, and their ability to speak more about their donation opportunities in a social atmosphere that will continue to motivate and spread the giving mentality that lies at the core of EA values.


More details:

After just a bit of research, and some polling in various online EA communities, we’ve learned that there are already EAs out there taking full advantage of their matching opportunities, whether their own or that of their spouse or partner. Of the numerous companies currently offering such opportunities, many boast matchings in the 5-figure territory, and several with a multiplication factors more than just 1:1.

One of the great things about Match for More is that there is very little cost in getting it off the ground, outside of the labor it takes to start the initial community, build a website, and look for innovative ways to increase our potential impact both within the broader EA community and the corporate world. Along with the ‘foster a community outlook’ that Match for More seeks to pursue, we are also considering a type of *EA Ambassador Program*, which would allow employees of professional organizations to better bring EA principles into consideration at the corporate level. This could mean anything from initiating matching opportunities for employees where they do not already exist, having company’s reconsider strategies for their large-budget philanthropic efforts that are often allocated across a wide range of causes, and generally spreading the EA mentality to others they work with in the professional setting each and every day. While we’ve seen workplace activism within the EA community break ground on a few different fronts, there seems to be great opportunity for a focused and organized effort that can provide resources, advice, and general support for those with access to corporate communities and who are looking to spread our ideals.

As our organization is still in its early stages, we are keen to hear feedback about the organization goals in general. With the idea of a community at the core of our mission, we would love ideas on how best to consider membership of such a community. For example, how should someone taking full advantage of a $2000 match be included vs someone matching $5000 of a potential $50k match that they have on offer? How best can we consider inclusion criteria for the breadth of EA-aligned charities to grow our community and maintain freedom for those who prioritize various causes? What outlets would be best for growing our community at both early and late stages?

All of this, along with the general aims of Match for More, would be cause for a great discussion with like-minded EAs who share in our values and seek to increase impact where we can!