28Joined Jul 2022


"Frankly we think that if..." on the page with the scale and people on it. Who are yall and why should I care?

I liked the examples of moral circle expansion from romans and disabled.

Thank you very much for doing your best and sorry about not being clearer in my first draft. I really appreciate your comments, they have definitely helped me clarify this essay. I'm sorry I was harsh in my last comment (I deleted the harsh parts).

"I will say that some... The two communities could help each other."

I agree. As I mentioned in my essay, there is considerable overlap in EA and religion. 

Here's a quote I like but didn't get a chance to mention:

"But, curiously, religious commitment and effective altruism are united in telling us we should not serve mammon. They are united in claiming that the ordinary, 21st-century American and Western European way of living has gone drastically wrong, and that we need to create a different way of living from the ground up. They are united in thinking that people who are not part of our everyday social group should occupy a much larger part of our concern. They are united in thinking that our focus should be on others rather than on ourselves, not just part of the time, but as a way of life." 

Source: “Effective Altruism and Religion Synergies, Tensions, Dialogue” edited by D. Roser et. al; published 2022; accessible at 

I get the feeling you might like this book and thanks again for your feedback!

"There have been many studies of religion over the years, from outsider and insider perspectives, evaluating all aspects of religions"

I agree because I have been reading these studies for years.

I have added a preface [link] that explains my background, but as I mentioned above I have yet to find " a reliable, balanced, up-to-date source of the evidence for and against even a single major religious ideology (with one possible exception)" [more on that here] or a proper inquiry into alternatives to evidentialism [more on that here].

How about you?

"If you apply western ethics to religious philosophies... understand western philosophy and ethics to some degree."

Well put.

"I think that you seek an an incompatible (apples-to-oranges) comparison of religions and EA."

I don't think so and I don't see how comparing them is necesssary for figuring out how to do the most good. If truth is not dependant on its source, then I don't care if the information vital for maximally effective altruism comes in the garb of EA or religion or any other label. 

"Overall, I think your approach poses an unnecessary challenge to religion."

I didn't intend to challenge religion at all. Can u please explain why u think I am being "unfair to religion" (preferably while referring to specific quotes)?

"Sorry if that was rambling or repetitive. I don't have time to edit this down."

No worries (your unedited comments are a lot better than nothing :)

Thanks for the feedback, it got me thinking and led to me clarifying my work. Feel free to offer more.

"make use of studies of ideology in general
study religious epistemologies using research done to date"

Good idea, it would be wasteful to try to reinvent what has already been done. However I have tried and failed to find  comprehensive studies and research thorough enough for an issue whose stakes are so high. How about you?

"I would be skeptical of the claim that religions all pursue effective altruism of some sort."

Me too! To clarify, one of my points was that religions claim to know by far the best ways (and so aspiring effective cannot afford to dismiss them without a fair trial), not they are good at putting those answers into practice [more on this in the section The stakes could not be higher].

In fact, I think it is safe to say most religious adherents often fall short of the ideal. For example popular Christian apologists write "Someone once said the biggest problem with Christianity is Christians" (Geisler and Turek, 2004) and I've heard similar sentiments from prominent Muslims and Jews and I bet they exist in other religions.

"You could investigate religious models of morality using western distinctions (deontology, axiology, consequentialism, utilitarianism, ..)."

Could you elaborate why? I was thinking it's less important to classify claims (essential to effective altruism) and more important to focus on verifying or falsifying them asap.

"[#1] The major world religions are more or less immune to epistemological challenges and [#2] I am tempted to think the same about any deeply held beliefs of folks who identify with EA."

Re #1: I don't disagree and that's okay with me since I want to figure out how the most effective altruism is done, not waste my time convincing religious people who don't share that interest.

#2 I empathize, but think it would be a mistake to underestimate EA without giving them a shot. Not only do they pledge allegiance to selflessness and seek criticism more than most, but the Centre for EA even states that radical open mindedness is a core value of EA. Thanks to your comment I have specified that in (what is currently) footnote [83].

"Certainty is the antidote to learning" - High Performance Habits 

That came to my mind when reading this post (which I really liked (so much that I don't have much else to add:)).

I don't think you mentioned the Ideological Turing Test and Chesterton's fence, but I think they may be  worth adding. 
These two concepts have really helped me make sure I understand (instead of unconsciously misrepresenting) ideas I don't agree with.
Julia Galef eloborates on both concepts well in her book Scout Mindset (mentioned above).

P.S. I really liked this post, it was very concise and helpful for me.

I fully support EA distillation since it often feels like I'm drowning in a sea of great content. I'd add that "You might be a good fit for this if you:"

are suffiecently motivated, and got something like High Performance Habits. That's the name of a book, that I'm not affiliated with anyway (except that it's done wonders for me), written by someone who's job it is to help people become more successful. And he writes:

"Everything is trainable. No matter what skill you want to learn, with enough training and practice and intention, you can become more proficient at it...

Perhaps the three best findings of contemporary research tell us that you can get better at practically anything if you keep a growth mindset (the belief that you can improve with effort), focus on your goals with passion and perseverance, and practice with excellence."

Im very interested if infinite ethics includes the possibility that a person's sentience can persist for infinite time (i.e. wat lots of religions claim)

Thanks so much! I didn't know that was an option.

Good idea, but I'm not just looking for feedback right now. I'm also trying to test out the forum before making my first real post. And I guess it's not so bad if EAers get a sneak peek

Load More