373 karmaJoined Jun 2020Working (0-5 years)Washington, DC, USA


I agree many people believe in the asymmetry, and that is likely one reason people care about animal welfare but not longtermism. However, I think you're conflating a person-affecting view with the asymmetry, which are separate views. I hate to argue semantics here, but the person-affecting view only is concerned only with the welfare of existing beings, not with the creation of negative lives no matter how bad they are. Again, neither of these are my view, but they likely belong to some people.

Very good points made! One objection I think you didn’t mention that might be on OP’s mind in neartermist allocations has to do with population ethics. One reason many people are near termist is because they subscribe to a person-affecting view whereby the welfare of “merely potential” beings does not matter. Since basically all animal welfare interventions either 1. Cause fewer animals to exist, or 2. Change welfare conditions for entire populations of animals, it seems extremely unlikely the animals who would otherwise have lived the higher suffering lives will have the same identity (eg same genes) as the higher welfare ones. To a person affecting view, this implies animal welfare interventions like corporate campaigns or alt protein investment merely change who or how many animals there are but don’t benefit any animal in particular and thus have no impact on this moral view. I personally don’t subscribe to this view, and I am not sure if most people at OP with a person affecting view have taken this idea seriously although it does seem like the right conclusion from this view.

re conflict of interest concerns: I'd go ahead and apply for both membership as a donor and for funding for your project. Others may do the same. We are still considering how to weigh COI concerns against potential value of allowing those applications in, and plan to arrive at a more conclusive policy before deciding whether or not to admit members/applications. 

Re referring other applications: similar to above, though I think there's less conflict here and would perhaps unfairly limit many good applications if we excluded merely because you are well acquainted with an applicant, so I would encourage them to apply and encourage you to encourage them too :)

Re $100K minimum: you do not need to donate $100K+ yourself, as long as you are in one way or another influencing $100K+ that could reasonably be expected to go toward applications from our circle. So advisors or grant-makers moving money to meta things are okay, although we prefer to maintain more distance from OP and EA Funds grant-makers. It is also ok if you expect to move slightly below $100K/year or you are uncertain how much it'll be – it'll be more of a judgement call from our circle there as to who we admit.

Since we're just getting started, we expect much of our plans and policies will change, though.

I'm curious why you and many EA's who focus on longtermism don't suggest donating to longtermist cause areas (as examples often focuses on Givewell or ACE charities). It seems like if orgs I respect like Open Phil and long term future fund are giving to longtermist areas, then they think that's among the most important things to fund, which confuses me when I then hear longtermists acting like funding is useless on the margin or that we might as well give to GiveWell charities. It gives me a sense that perhaps there's either some contradiction going on, or I'm missing something, but either way it makes it very difficult for me to get others excited about longtermism if they won't enter it with their career and even the die-hard longtermists are saying marginal funding is useless or at least worse than GiveWell charities.