Wiki Contributions


Moral uncertainty and public justification (Barret and Schmidt, 2021)

Would you be able to provide a plainer language summary of the papers conclusions or arguments? I think I'm interested in the topics discussed in the paper. But it’s unclear me what the arguments actually are, so I’m inclined to disengage. 

Take this sentence, which seems important: 

“We argue that while the moral uncertainty approach cannot vindicate an exceptionless public justification principle, it gives us reason to adopt public justification as a pro tanto institutional commitment.”

I do not understand this and so I do not see how this is a valuable addition to the critical topic of moral uncertainty.

What Motivates Unethical Behavior and How Does that Affect our Altruistic Response?

That crisis was resolved when President Dwight Eisenhower sent the National Guard to Arkansas to integrate Central High School.

Small note: A division of the US military  was called in response to Faubus ordering the Arkansas National Guard to block integration. I think the details show how the situation was one of the most precarious Federal-State conflicts since the civil war, and I think that'd influence how I would respond to the question. 

Invertebrate pain and suffering: What do analgesic studies tell us?

A related thought: 

Some humans are much less sensitive to physical pain.

1. Could an observer correctly differentiate between those with normal and abnormally low sensitivity to pain? 

2. For humans who're  relatively insensitive to pain, but still exhibit the appropriate response to harm signals (assuming they exist), would analgesics diminish the "appropriateness" of their response to a harm signal? 

A Primer on the Symmetry Theory of Valence

Edit: This comment now makes less sense, given that Abby has revised the language of her comment. 


I strongly endorse what you say in your last paragraph: 

Please provide evidence that "dissonance in the brain" as measured by a "Consonance Dissonance Noise Signature" is associated with suffering? ... I'm willing to change my skepticism about this theory if you have this evidence. 

However, I'd like to push back on the tone of your reply. If you're sorry for posting a negative non-constructive comment, why not try to be a bit more constructive? Why not say something like "I am deeply skeptical of this theory and do not at this moment think it's worth EAs spending time on.  [insert reasons]. I would be willing to change my view if there was evidence.

Apologies for being pedantic, but I think it's worth the effort to try and keep the conversation on the forum as constructive as possible! 

[Podcast] Having a successful career with anxiety, depression, and imposter syndrome

I found that this episode increased my faith in the EA community a little bit. One of my caricatures of other EAs when I first found the community was "it's good these people exist but they'd make terrible friends because they're so impartial they'd leave me in a rut to squeeze the epsilon out of an EV that bears a resemblance to a probability." 

It was a bit of an (irrational?) fear that EAs and EA orgs were constituted by hyper-utilitarians that'd sacrifice their friends / employees if the felicific calculus didn't add up. 

But most people I've met in (at least my section of) the EA community have been unusually kind  and compassionate people. Some I am very glad to call my friends.  And I don't think they would jettison me if I gained a debilitating illness, which makes me more motivated to do good. 

Note: Of course there's instrumental utilitarian reasons to act in a manner more consistent with commonsense decency.


This made me want to hear more narratives and cases like this that give a helpful but honest report of what someone's experience of mental health was like. I've thus far avoided the extant literature out of a fear that reading / listening to cases of people experience severe mental illness would degrade my own well-being. 

In particular, I'd like to hear about other people in the EA community and hear more stories (there've kind of been a few on the forum) who weren't as lucky as Howie. 

How much do you (actually) work?

I've tracked my time for a year working remotely doing research and it comes out to between 25 and 35 hours a week. 

I'd guess a little more than half is deep work where I am fully engaged and undistracted. Most of the time this means taking no breaks for a several hour stretch every day. It's not uncommon for at least half of the deep work to be misguided or not best spent on reflection.   

I'm not sure what to imagine when I hear an amount of weekly hours when working remotely. Working 40 hours a week at an office or on a job site can be relaxing compared to the weeks where I track 30 hours or less since it's common to spread five hours of work across a "normal" eight hour work day span of time. 

I next describe what different quantities of hours worked looks and feels like. Basically, my guess is that 1 hour of remote work for me = 1.5 hours of "office work" so 20 (40) hours worked = 30 (60) hours spent "at the office". 

In a 20-25ish hour work week (if not caused by low mood) I typically am balanced and happy, feeling like I have most of my afternoons and evenings free to exercising, see friends and create things. This would be ideal to maintain, and having these weeks keeps me from burning out. (Aside: normally the intensity of work weeks cycles between high and low intensity work weeks). 

25-30 hours. In these weeks I maintain the habits I find essential to keep going, but it feels like just barely. On half the days I finish work, and then immediately go for a run before it is dark, return home to frantically cook dinner then squeeze another hour working before winding down which normally does not include a discrete leisure pursuit beyond listening to a podcast while tidying up the office-house.  On two maybe three if I'm lucky work days I do something that's fun but not exercise for at least an hour. 

30-35. I have one or two periods of time during the work week spent doing something deliberately not work related. My relationships feel a bit strained, if there's a quiet time it's spent in transit or doing chores. I imagine this as hard to maintain, and in the deadline weeks (or god forbid months) where this persists I feel myself wearing thin. 

35-40. If I'm working this much something has gone wrong. There is nothing but work. It feels as if I spend the whole day, every work day engaged in work or thinking about it. I may not leave the house for a couple days. This normally means a few chunks of the weekend slipping back to do something "light" and "easy". Every non-dinner meal (which are often few and hastily prepared) is consumed at my desk which I'm at minutes after waking. There is sometimes a break for dinner, but if I can I'll eat that at my desk too. During these (rare) weeks things start to fall apart. 

These weeks are frequently followed by a hangover week where I crash, and work 20ish hours.  

What are your favorite examples of moral heroism/altruism in movies and books?

I am imagining movies with heroes where it wasn't their job (so not the soldier in 1917 / most war movies) or they weren't in some sense "chosen" (most superhero / fantasy movies). 

Seven samurai: where some samurai reluctantly attempt to protect a village. 

Princess mononoke: I just think this is a good hero story. 

Hacksaw Ridge (I didn't really want to include any war movies, but I think this merits inclusion because it's  about a conscientious objector. Very violent.)

Haven't seen Hotel Rwanda but it may merit inclusion. 

The title of this post did not inform me about the claim "that EAs have collectively decided that they do not need to participate in tight feedback loops with reality in order to have a huge, positive impact -- [and] this is a deeply rooted mistake." 

I came  very close to not actually reading what is an interesting claim I'd like to see explored because it came close to the end and there was no hint of it in the title or the start of the post. Since it is still relatively early in the life of this post you may want to consider revising the title and layout of the post to communicate more effectively. 

Some EA Forum Posts I'd like to write

After the apocalypse

I think this is interesting in of itself but also related to something I haven't seen explored much in general: How important is it that EA ideas exist a long time? How important is it that they are widely held?  How would we package an idea to propagate through time? How could we learn from religions?  

More directly to the topic: is this a point in favor of EAs forming a hub in New Zealand? 

  • Comparative lit studies of whether ambitious science fiction (might not be well operationalized) is correlated with ambitious science fact.

I've seen some discussion around this topic but I feel like it hasn't been satisfyingly motivated. For personal reasons I'd like to hear more about this. 

Proving too much: A response to the EA forum

Nice post and useful discussion. I did think this post would be a meta-comment about the EA forum, not a (continued) discussion of arguments against strong longtermism. 

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