Darius_M

I got involved in EA in 2015, took the GWWC pledge in 2016, and founded and led a German EA student group in 2016/17.

Between 2017 and 2020, I completed a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford, where I helped lead the EA Oxford student group for two years.

I did EA research and community building internships with EAF (2017), CEA (2018) and Charity Entrepreneurship (2019).

Starting in 2019, William MacAskill, James Aung, Richard Yetter Chappell and I created Utilitarianism.net, an introductory online textbook on utilitarianism.

Currently, I study for a master's degree in security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

Topic Contributions

Comments

What moral philosophies besides utilitarianism are compatible with effective altruism?

In "The Definition of Effective Altruism", William MacAskill writes that 

"Effective altruism is often considered to simply be a rebranding of utilitarianism, or to merely refer to applied utilitarianism...It is true that effective altruism has some similarities with utilitarianism: it is maximizing, it is primarily focused on improving wellbeing, many members of the community make significant sacrifices in order to do more good, and many members of the community self-describe as utilitarians.

But this is very different from effective altruism being the same as utilitarianism. Unlike utilitarianism, effective altruism does not claim that one must always sacrifice one’s own interests if one can benefit others to a greater extent. Indeed, on the above definition effective altruism makes no claims about what obligations of benevolence one has.

Unlike utilitarianism, effective altruism does not claim that one ought always to do the good, no matter what the means; indeed...there is a strong community norm against ‘ends justify the means’ reasoning.

Finally, unlike utilitarianism, effective altruism does not claim that the good equals the sum total of wellbeing. As noted above, it is compatible with egalitarianism, prioritarianism, and, because it does not claim that wellbeing is the only thing of value, with views on which non-welfarist goods are of value.

In general, very many plausible moral views entail that there is a pro tanto reason to promote the good, and that improving wellbeing is of moral value. If a moral view endorses those two ideas, then effective altruism is part of the morally good life." (emphasis added)

What moral philosophies besides utilitarianism are compatible with effective altruism?

The following paper is relevant: Pummer & Crisp (2020). Effective Justice, Journal of Moral Philosophy, 17(4):398-415.

From the abstract: 
"Effective Justice, a possible social movement that would encourage promoting justice most effectively, given limited resources. The latter minimal view reflects an insight about justice, and our non-diminishing moral reason to promote more of it, that surprisingly has gone largely unnoticed and undiscussed. The Effective Altruism movement has led many to reconsider how best to help others, but relatively little attention has been paid to the differences in degrees of cost-effectiveness of activities designed to [in]crease injustice." 
 

Effectiveness is a Conjunction of Multipliers

Great post! While I agree with your main claims, I believe the numbers for the multipliers (especially in aggregate and for ex ante impact evaluations) are nowhere near as extreme in reality as your article suggests for the reasons that Brian Tomasik elaborates on in these two articles:

(i) Charity Cost-Effectiveness in an Uncertain World 

(ii) Why Charities Usually Don't Differ Astronomically in Expected Cost-Effectiveness  

EA Projects I'd Like to See

Excellent post! I really appreciate your proposal and framing for a book on utilitarianism. In line with your point, William MacAskill, Richard Yetter Chappell and I also perceived a lack of accessible, modern, and high-quality resources on utilitarianism (and related ideas). This is what motivated us to create utilitarianism.net, an online textbook on utilitarianism. The website has been getting a lot of traction over the past year, and we are still expanding and improving its content (including plans to experiment with non-text media and translations into other languages). We encourage anyone to reach out to us with ideas for additional content we could create or any other ways to improve the website.

What psychological traits predict interest in effective altruism?

Strong upvote! I found reading this very interesting and the results seem potentially quite useful to inform EA community building efforts.

Open Thread: Spring 2022

Hi Timothy, it's great that you found your way here! I am also from Germany and am happy to report that there is a vibrant German EA community (including an upcoming conference in Berlin in September/October that you may want to join). 

Regarding your university studies, I essentially agree with Ryan's comment. However, while studying in the UK and US can be great (I've done both!), I appreciate that doing so may be daunting and financially infeasible for many young Germans. If you decide to study in Germany and are more interested in the social sciences than in the natural sciences, I would encourage you (like Ryan) to consider undergraduate programs that combine economics with politics and/or philosophy. Based on my own experience, I can particularly recommend the BA Philosophy & Economics at the University of Bayreuth, though you should also consider the BSc Economics at the University of Mannheim (which you can combine with a minor in philosophy or political science).

In case you are interested in talking through all this sometime, feel free to reach out to me and we'll schedule a call. :)

Open Thread: Spring 2022

Time to up your game, Linch! 😉

Would you like to run the EARadio podcast?

I want to express my deep gratitude to you, Patrick, for running EA Radio for all these years! 🙏 Early in my EA involvement (2015-16), I listened to all the EA Radio talks available at the time and found them very valuable. 

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