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I want to clarify that I do specifically mean philosophical movements like existentialism, structuralism, post-structuralism, the ethics behind communism and fascism -- which all were influential in the 20th century. I would also argue that the grouping into consequentialism/virtue ethics/deontology does not capture the perspectives brought up in the aforementioned movements. I would love to see EAs engage with more modern ideas about ethics because they specifically shed light on the flexibility and impermanence of the terms 'reason' and 'evidence' over the decades. 

Sure, you have to choose some model at some point to act, or else you'll be paralyzed. But I really wish that people who make significant life changes based on reason and evidence take a close look at how these terms are defined within their political movement, and by whom.

I agree that the choices we make are in some sense political. But they’re not political in the sense that they involve party or partisan politics.


I disagree. Counter-examples: Sam Bankman-Fried was one of the largest donors to Joe Biden's presidential campaign. Voting and electoral reform has often been a topic on the EA Forum and appeared on the 80000h podcast. I know several EAs who are or have been actively involved in party politics in Germany. The All-Party Parliamentary Group in the UK says on its website that it "aims to create space for cross-party dialogue". I would put these people and organizations squarely in the EA space. The choices these people and organizations made directly involve political parties*.

* or their abolition, in the case of some proposed electoral reforms, I believe.

I'd like to add a thought on the last point:

EA appears to largely ignore the developments of modern and post-modern philosophy, making EA appear like a genuinely new idea/movement. Which it is not. That means that there is a lot to learn from past instances of EA-like movements. EA-like meaning Western rich people trying to do good with Rationality. 20th century philosophy is brimming with very valid critiques of Rationality, but somehow EA seems to jump from Bentham/Mills to Singer/Parfit without batting an eye.

Abigail leaves open how we should do good, whether we want to pursue systemic change or work within the system, or even how we shall define what "good" is. I am sure this is intentionally put at the end of the video. She warns people who consider joining EA to do so with open eyes. I deeply agree with this. If you are thinking about making EA your political movement of choice, be very careful, as with any political movement. EA claims to be open to different moral standpoints, but it most certainly not. There are unchecked power dynamics at play, demographic bias, "thought leaders", the primacy of Rationality. If I had any advice for anyone in EA, I would recommend they go and spend a year or more learning about all the philosophy that came AFTER utilitarianism*. Otherwise, EA will be lacking context, and could even appear as The Truth. You will be tempted to buy into the opinion of a small number of apparently smart people saying apparently smart things, and by that, hand over your moral decisions to them.

* (for a start, Philosophize This is a nice podcast that deals at length with a lot of these topics)

I would appreciate if you could add a reference to the methods the Heterodox Academy is using to measure diversity of perspective s directly. 

Ops, thanks for pointing that out - should be fixed now!

Minor point: The two German local groups I’m familiar with focus most on their community of actively engaged people, and I suspect this is true for most other groups (instead of mostly on the „audience“ category).

It is true that there is variety in the groups' main projects, but the most popular activities the last time we took the data were EA intro events. Also in most groups, there is a "hard core", but it of the same size as, and sometime smaller than the total number of mildly engaged members. We wrote a post about the demographics in local groups here.

Our data are pre-COVID, though. So at the moment,  several groups have paused their outreach activities, but not all, see for instance, this awesome uni course on EA by EA Aachen.

I was surprised not to see former EAF people here, I suppose they have very useful expertise but still decided to fully focus on their new projects.

We consulted former EAF members during our re-structuring phase regarding strategy and organizational structure, and got very useful feedback. Stefan Torges is also an advising member still, but in the past few months we were more focused on implementing our strategy. And I got the sense that they are happy to focus on their new projects, too. 

Besides, did you think about organizing local group meetups or an EAGx? I thought it could fit well with your community building goals and I‘ve read about at least one other org making initial plans in case it’ll be possible this year.

The team that planned an EAGx in Berlin last year that was cancelled and turned into the EAGx Virtual last spring, still exists, and signaled interest in giving it another go this year, as far as COVID allows. But they probably prefer to speak for themselves.  I also forgot to mention that Manuel Allgaier organized a well-received EA Unconference in August - and if I am up to date he would be doing it again next summer. And in November, Jonathan Michel from EA Bayreuth organized a nation-wide virtual introductory event with a number of local groups attending. So, one reason why we held events at low priority so far was that there are people motivated and skilled to organize larger gatherings.

Another reason is, I believe, that NEAD has a comparative advantage when it comes to long-term coordination between larger groups of people. Events can be well organized in small teams who work together for a limited amount of time, so it may be a good idea to outsource, and play the supportive role by proving access to various resources. Again, I can see us re-evaluate this if, for example, one-shot events turn into regular ones, while the event organizing team composition changes. 

I didn‘t totally connect the dots here. Your goal to support scattered chapters with project-based services seems similar enough to startups. A Verein seems to resolve around having members, which doesn‘t seem directly necessary, no? Later you mention democratic oversight over the board, which I’m kind of skeptical about. It seems like you guys actively try to get feedback on your reasoning and strategy and try to be public and transparent about it here, and spontaneously I think this might be going a sufficiently long way for a small new EA org.

This is an ongoing debate in our organization, and I take this as another reminder to finally write a post about it. I admit that I probably have fallen short on explaining the reasons, listing pros and cons etc., in detail here, but I did not want to leave it unmentioned. I would be curious to hear what makes you skeptical about democratic oversight, but if you prefer to read the future post first, I won't insist on an answer, of course (I won't anyways).

Thank you for your thorough reading and thoughts, kind words, and encouragement!

Thank you for your encouragement, I appreciate it (and certainly not only me :)).

I have mixed feelings about leadership on climate issues, and prefer to leave the evaluation of that statement to others. I also suffer from an inside perspective, and I want to flag my uncertainty here. 

What I know for sure is that climate change is a regular topic in some local groups, popular not  least because it is a "low-barrier" cause in outreach.  There is also a loose group within the community who are considering engaging with our Green Party (Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen). I have no record of whether these groups are using the resources you mentioned, however.

I would love to hear from the local groups about it here in the comments ;)

Hi Holden,

the job description for Research Analysts says:

Research Analysts will receive intensive training and mentorship, and over time will become highly experienced with our approach to reasoning transparency, cost-effectiveness analysis, critical evidence assessment, grant investigation, and balancing thoroughness with efficiency."

Could you please elaborate a bit more on the training and mentorship part? E.g.: How much time is reserved for training? Who would be the mentors? What would the relation with the mentor(s) be like?

Thanks for offering this Q&A!

SP used to work on a research agenda with questions concerning sentience as a phenomenon itself, the list still resides here: SP former Research Agenda

SI's research is now much more advocacy centered, as you write:

Our mission is to build on the body of evidence for how to most effectively expand humanity’s moral circle, and to encourage advocates to make use of that evidence.

What is the reason for this strategic shift?