Head of Research and Policy @ ALTER - Association for Long Term Existence and Resilience
6557 karmaJoined Oct 2018Working (6-15 years)


  • Received career coaching from 80,000 Hours
  • Attended more than three meetings with a local EA group
  • Completed the AGI Safety Fundamentals Virtual Program
  • Completed the In-Depth EA Virtual Program


Deconfusion and Disentangling EA
Policy and International Relations Primer


That's a really interesting question, but I don't invest my charitable giving, though I do tithe my investment income, once gains are realized. My personal best guess is that in non-extinction scenarios, humanity's wealth increases in the long-term, and opportunities to do good should in general become more expensive, so it's better to put money towards the present.

I've found that if a funder or donor asks, (and they are known in the community,) most funders are happy to privately respond about whether they decided against funding someone, and often why, or at least that they think it is not a good idea and they are opposed rather than just not interested.

I don't necessarily care about the concept of personal identity over time, but I think there's a very strong decision-making foundation for considering uncertainty about future states. In one framing, I buy insurance because in some future states it is very valuable, and in other future states it was not. I am effectively transferring money from one future version of myself to another. That's sticking with a numerical identity view of my self, but it's critical to consider different futures despite not having a complex view of what makes me "the same person".

But I think that if you embrace the view you present as obvious for contractualists, where we view future people fundamentally differently than present people, and do not allow consideration of different potential futures, you end up with some very confused notions about how to plan under uncertainty, and can never prioritize any types of investments that pay off primarily in even the intermediate-term future. For example, mitigating emissions for climate change should be ignored, because we can do more good for current people by mitigating harms rather than preventing them, and should emit more and ignore the fact that this will, with certainty, make the future worse, because those people don't have much of a moral claim. And from a consequentialist viewpoint - which I think is relevant even if we're not accepting it as a guiding moral principle - we'd all be much, much worse off if this sort of reasoning had been embraced in the past.

I don't see a coherent view of people that doesn't have some version of this. My firstborn child was not a specific person until he was conceived, even when I was planning with my wife to have a child. As a child, who he is and who he will be is still very much being developed over time. But who I will be in 20 years is also still very much being determined - and I hope people reason about their contractualist obligations in ways that are consistent with considering that people change over time in ways that aren't fully predictable in advance.

More to the point, the number of possible mes in 20 years, however many there are, should collapse to having a value exactly equal to me - possibly discounted into the future. Why is the same not true of future people, where the number of different possible people each have almost zero claim, and it doesn't get aggregated at all?

Since any given future person only has an infinitesimally small chance of coming into existence, they have an infinitesimally weak claim to aid.


I think this is confused. Imagine we consider each person different over time, a la personites, and consider the distribution of possible people I will be next year. There are an incredibly large number of possible changes which could occur which would change my mental state, and depending on what I eat, the physical composition of my body. Does each of these future me have only an infinitesimal claim, and therefore according to contractualism, have almost no importance compared to any claim that exists before that time - and therefore you can only care about the immediate future, and never prioritize what will affect me in a year over what will affect some other person in 10 minutes?

See my reply to Yovel, but preferring violence to the status quo is very different than not wanting peace. And given that they keep getting bombed by Israel, it makes sense that they don't want to simply lay down arms - but per the last link, a majority supported continuing the ceasefire.

First, election of Hamas and Hamas affiliated seats is very different than support for Hamas. These were local representative elections, not a national party election like Israel. So the 58% number seems misleading. And the reason there have not been elections since 2006 has much more to do with Hamas being unwilling to have elections than you seem to think

Second, I think there is a critical difference between support for a political group and support for violence. Most Gazans did not want violence, and a majority of Palestinians, when polled, would accept peace under various terms - they no longer support a two state solution with the current borders, though they did a decade ago, especially because such a deal still leaves Israel in control of the borders. However, there are a variety of scenarios which include concessions Israel is unwilling to offer, for political and/or security reasons, that would have a solid majority of Palestinians supporting a deal.

The problem is that there is no endgame. As I said two days ago, we're repeating what the US did after 9/11, mistakes and all.

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