All of jasonk's Comments + Replies

How should longtermists think about eating meat?
Answer by jasonkMay 17, 202045

I worry that longtermism can be used to justify, or rationalize (depending on your view), too much. Imagine turning back the clock to when many of the things we consider morally wrong and abhorrent were more commonplace and were widely accepted: sexual harassment, marital rape, human slavery, etc., and sticking one's neck out in opposition to any of them would at least cost some social capital if not more.

Does the longtermist in any of these contexts really not have any obligation to engage in any costly opposition to the wrongs because it would detra... (read more)

And it feels terribly convenient for the longtermist to argue they are in the moral right while making no effort to counteract or at least not participate in what they recognize as moral wrongs.

This is only convenient for the longtermist if they do not have equivalently demanding obligations to the longterm. Otherwise we could turn it around and say that it's "terribly convenient" for a shorttermist to ignore the longterm future too.

A naive analysis on if EA is Talent constrained

This is interesting and I look forward to reading more.

A more negative reading of this information would suggest that the issue may not be lack of fundraising skill within the organizations but rather that many of the interviewed ACE selected charities don't get the funding they want because most people, or the donors the charities care about, don't agree with ACE's or the CEOs' self-assessments that the charities are worth funding. That is, these folks may not donate for reasons having to do with the organizations not because of lack o... (read more)

1Jamie_Harris1yThanks for the input! If the above bullet points were evidence of funding constraints, then this "more negative reading" would be a plausible alternative explanation. But I'm not following how the above bullet points could be read in this way. Apologies if I'm missing something. Are you thinking this applies to all 5 of the above bullet points? Or specific bullet points within that group?
Is being vegan the most moral option when it comes to eating animal products?

You'll get a different answer if your moral system doesn't equate morality with minimization of animal suffering.

Regan's and Francione's rights-based theories are worth looking at as alternatives, for example.

Resource Generation: Inheriting-to-give, for systemic change

I don't know but I sent their info@ email a message to ask. I'm curious as well. If I get a response, I'll post it.


And Giridharadas does argue that the wealthy have undue influence on policy and further that the kinds of philanthropy the wealthy engage in doesn't actually affect the unfair systems that helped make them wealthy to begin with and that perpetuate inequality.

Is promoting veganism neglected and if so what is the most effective way of promoting it?

What do you think? What're your views on its neglectedness and the most effective ways of promoting it?

The Moral Circle is not a Circle

On the subject of recognizing the moral worth of animals, Subhuman: The Moral Psychology of Human Attitudes to Animals by TJ Kasperbauer offers a good summary of issues. In particular, he argues that there are psychological processes at work that humans frequently use to distance themselves from animals that are different than what they apply to humans, though there are cases of overlap too.

Fwiw, I didn't find anything particularly actionable in the book. But I do think he argues well that different approaches to motivating people to morally care abou... (read more)

The Happy Culture: A Theoretical, Meta-Analytic, and Empirical Review of the Relationship Between Culture and Wealth and Subjective Well-Being

Thanks for the link.

Did they have any suggestions for possible interventions based on these findings? Do you have any?

1alexherwix2yThey do not really address any specific interventions but provide some insights into factors influencing SWB and income. They also highlight that coming up with interventions might be a challenge given the complexity of the topic. Thus, this paper is more of a conversation starter and may provide some good inspiration for further inquiries. Personally, I am not an expert in the field and wouldn't be able to make any informed suggestions beyond basic brainstorming. Hoped that other people deeper into the topic than me would be able to make good use of the paper.
"Moral Bias and Corrective Practices" and the possibility of an ongoing moral catastrophe

I'm not in a position to evaluate the strength of the argument of the paper you make versus any other scholarly work on the topic, but there is a book out there that makes the case that moral arguments have played a role in slavery abolition, though perhaps more so in other countries.


See 'Argument and Change in World Politics: Ethics, Decolonization, and Humanitarian Intervention' by Neta Crawford.

Projects I'd like to see

This advertisement for a Faculty Ethics Bowl on investment in the far future made me think of the anti-debate type concept. It's not exactly that, but they say: "But this won’t be your ordinary run-of-the-mill debate. Ethics Bowl is very different from traditional debate formats. The teams are docked for using rhetoric, spin, aggression, and clever rationalization. Instead, each team is judged on the basis of active listening, flexibility, collaboration, and analytical rigor—essential ingredients for a meaningful discussion on difficult topics."

See https://news.ucsc.edu/2019/05/faculty-ethics-bowl.html

[Link] "Radical Consequence and Heretical Knots" – an ethnography of the London EA community

Since I just listened to it I can't help but see parallels to Mauricio Miller describing the certain visions the poor need to latch onto in order to be lifted from poverty: http://www.econtalk.org/mauricio-miller-on-poverty-social-work-and-the-alternative/

I doubt there's a good way of manipulating EA culture to present the variety of visions people would need to jump on board. I suspect it will take a decent amount of time for EA to mature and develop before there are the multiplicity of alive paths that will attract a greater number of people.

Where I Am Donating in 2016

Thanks, Michael. When you talked to GFI or researched them did you find anything indicating they would be able to meaningfully spend $2.6 million? Or are you taking it on faith given your positive interactions with you had with them and their strong evidence mindedness?

I ask because I'm similarly interested in donating to spur the development of animal product alternatives. To date, it's seemed like GFI has had no issue raising money.

New Harvest has also done pretty well in raising money, and one thing I've liked about them is that they continually find ne... (read more)

1MichaelDickens5yFor visibility: Bruce Friedrich from GFI replied here [http://effective-altruism.com/ea/134/where_i_am_donating_in_2016/8w0].
1MichaelDickens5yI talked with folks at GFI about their plans, they have a budget for $2.6M that sounds reasonable to me. I have no doubt that they could spend that much, and they could probably spend a lot more than that since they're trying to do a lot of stuff. I'm not concerned about that. What I am concerned about is: 1. Does more funding help GFI today, even though it's still working on scaling up? 2. Could GFI just raise the money anyway? I think there's a decent chance that GFI could raise the money anyway, like I said in my original post. But donating means they have to spend less effort on fundraising, and it helps in the scenarios where GFI struggles to raise money (which I expect won't happen but it's not that implausible).
The need for convergence on an ethical theory

In contemporary ethics, Derek Parfit has tried to find convergence in his 'On What Matters' books.

0Vidur_Kapur5yYeah, I'd say Parfit is probably the leading figure when it comes to trying to find convergence. If I understand his work correctly, he initially tried to find convergence when it came to normative ethical theories, and opted for a more zero-sum approach when it came to meta-ethics, but in the upcoming Volume Three I think he's trying to find convergence when it comes to meta-ethics too. In terms of normative theories, I've heard that he's trying to resolve the differences between his Triple Theory (which is essentially Rule Utilitarianism) and the other theory he finds most plausible, the Act Utilitarianism of Singer and De-Lazari Radek. Anyone trying to work on convergence should probably follow the fruitful debate surrounding 'On What Matters'.
Why Animals Matter for Effective Altruism

This is a nice article. Thanks for writing it.

Regarding: "Consideration of the far future is the strongest factor in favor of prioritizing animal advocacy for many long-time EAs, including myself."

How do you see animal advocacy as a cause area stacking up against work on existential risks?

4Stefan_Schubert5yIt is a bit surprising that such a small part of the article is explicitly concerned with the far future, if considerations of the far future is the strongest factor in favour of prioritising animal advocacy. In general, the amount of space one spends on a consideration should probably be at least roughly proportionate to its significance.
4thebestwecan5yGreat question! Yeah, I personally favor animal advocacy over reducing extinction risk. (I use existential risk to include both risks of extinction and risks of well-populated, but morally bad, e.g. dystopian, futures.) Here's another blog post that talks about some things to consider when deciding which of these long-term risks to prioritize: http://effective-altruism.com/ea/t3/some_considerations_for_different_ways_to_reduce/ [http://effective-altruism.com/ea/t3/some_considerations_for_different_ways_to_reduce/] Also note that some work might both decrease extinction and quality risks, such as general EA movement-building and research. Also, "animal advocacy" is kind of a vague term, which could either refer to just "values spreading" (i.e. trying to inspire people, now and/or in the future, to have better values and/or act more morally), or just generally refer to "helping animals." If it's used as the latter, then it could include extinction risk if you think that will help future animals or animal-like beings (e.g. sentient machines).
Month-long EA movement building experiment: Effective Altruism: Grow

Please accept my apologies!

I learned the application was made using a different email address than I sent the invite to. Not the best customer experience but it makes sense why it happened.

Month-long EA movement building experiment: Effective Altruism: Grow

It seems kind of obnoxious that this message was sent to people who were already explicitly rejected.

Hey NAME, quick update for folks that aren't going to be able to attend EA Global this year.

For the next few days, if you nominate five people who you think might want to go to EA Global we'll send each of them a free copy of Doing Good Better for applying and we'll give you a free EA t-shirt. We'll stop giving away tickets when we run out. Sound fair?

Did some mailing lists get mixed up?

4Kerry_Vaughan5yDid it go to the same email address as the one that was rejected? We scrub these lists of everyone that has applied for EA Global, so you shouldn't get an email if you already applied.
Scenarios for cellular agriculture

This is a very nice post. I very much agree with these statements:

  1. "This means that the relative value of donations to cellular agriculture research and animal activism at any given point will largely be constrained by how promising cellular agriculture appears at the time, and its need for funding."

  2. "This does not mean the mix of strategies which constitutes animal activism at present is optimal. For instance, the non-negligible possibility of cost-competitive cellular agriculture may imply the need for a greater balance of liberationist

... (read more)
1JesseClifton5yThanks a lot! I've made the correction you pointed out.
Lessons from the history of animal rights

"So welfarism did not prevent European countries from eventually adopting rights-like reforms."

What do you have in mind when you mention rights-like reforms?

1JesseClifton5yIn the EU, prohibitions on battery cages, gestation crates, veal crates, and cosmetics testing, and the adoption of the Five Freedoms as a basis for animal welfare policy. In the UK, Austria, Netherlands, Croatia, & Bosnia & Herzegovina, bans on fur farming.
Institutional Change in Animal Rights vs. Global Poverty

I'm also increasingly skeptical about persuasion on its own, so I'm interested in this line of thinking.

Can you say more about what you mean by "institutional change" in the context of animal rights? What are some examples of what would qualify?

2zdgroff5ySome examples would be things like the Nonhuman Rights Project, efforts to replace animal products in entire businesses, schools, hospital chains, etc. and corporate or governmental welfare reforms, although I think those should be framed in a more anti-speciesist way than they are currently and I have concerns about whether cage-free leads to welfare improvements. I also count DxE's work, which is aimed at institutional change ultimately but is currently in the movement building stage (we will be doing more concrete work in the near future though).
MFA Ad Study Targeting Former Vegetarians

"Given the extremely high recidivism rate, we reasoned that most of the people who had “liked” a vegetarian Facebook page in the past would have gone back to eating meat."

What reason do we have to believe that people don't curate their profiles? That is, is there evidence that people don't update their profiles as their beliefs and behaviors change?

"The average cost of getting a person in the former-vegetarian community to pledge to go veg (again) and order an MFA Vegetarian Starter Guide was about 2-3 times less ($2.65) than for the general... (read more)

0jonathonsmith5yExcellent thoughts here. As I mentioned in another comment, a follow up study could probably handle that second issue by including a question asking if the requestors of the VSG are current, former or (aspiring) new vegetarians. This would probably shed some light on your first point as well. If most of the people requesting the VSG identified as current veg, then that would indicate either the ads aren't working at enticing former vegs to try again, or there just aren't any former vegs in the audience. Either of these would be enough to kill this as a strategy for reengaging recidivist. Although, this would open up the question of why so many current vegetarians are interested in a Vegetarian Starter Guide?
Might wireheaders turn into paperclippers?

This is a thought-provoking post.

It makes me wonder how much Homo erectus or even early agriculturalists would find our values and projects desirable and worthy. Or have we already diverged too much for them?

There must be a literature on this at least. Maybe as it relates to moral progress?

On Values Spreading

I'm curious under what circumstances we can judge thinking to be better or worse but can't make such judgments of "metamoral reasoning".

0RyanCarey6yI'm saying that on some views, you might want to make people do better things on their values, so long as those values are supported by good metamoral thinking. One way to do that is promote good clear thinking, or philosophical thinking in general, rather than just promoting your personal moral system. And for some reasons, perhaps signalling-related, it's much more common to see people profess and evangelise their personal moral beliefs than metaethical or general philosophical ones.